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State Secrets

State Secrets is a weekly interview podcast featuring Cipher Brief experts and national security leaders.
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Now displaying: Category: general
Dec 31, 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, we review the relationship between the United States and one of its closest allies, the United Kingdom: how do they address the same security threats the U.S. faces? On this week’s episode of 15 Minutes, The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel, spoke with Nick Fishwick who spent nearly 30 years in the British Foreign Service, and served as Director of Security, Director for Counter-Terrorism, and Director General of International Relations. Looking ahead to 2018, Fishwick offers insights on threats to soft targets, the UK-US relationship, and cyber threats in the new year.

Dec 24, 2017

Is Israeli-Palestinian peace achievable? It’s a staggering question, and one that The Cipher Brief explores in this episode of 15 Minutes. Executive Editor Kim Dozier recently spent some time with Amos Yadlin at a forum in Washington D.C. Yadlin is a former Israeli Air Force general, Israel Defense Forces military attaché to D.C., and was head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate. Along with discussion around the two-state solution, the two examine neighboring threats to Israel, and the recent decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. 

Dec 18, 2017

As Former Deputy General of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, Ram Ben Barak is right on the pulse when it comes to Israeli security. And on this episode of 15 Minutes, he spoke on current Israeli security concerns and it’s partnership with U.S. intelligence channels with The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor, Kim Dozier.

Dec 10, 2017

On December 6, President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ordering the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move is seen by the international community as cementing Israeli soverignity over the holy city, and has drawn condemnation from leading figures around the world. On this episode of 15 Minutes, Cipher Brief executive editor Kim Dozier spoke with Farah Pandith to get some insight on the effects this move will have on Muslim communities in the region. Pandith was the first person to hold the position of Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the US State Department under Secretary Clinton, and had much to share.

Dec 3, 2017

The White House recently released a charter providing transparency into the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, known as the VEP. Around the conversation of how the U.S. government handles software vulnerabilities, The Cipher Brief asks, how are our allies handling the same issues?

 

On this episode of 15 Minutes, Cyber & Technology Analyst Levi Maxey speaks with Robert Hannigan, the former director of GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s counterpart of the NSA. Hannigan provided some insight on the practices applied in the U.K., and how it differs from the U.S.

Nov 26, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief brings you a special best of episode of one of our most fascinating guests, John Nixon, the first CIA analyst to question Saddam Hussein. As we come upon the 11-year anniversary of Saddam’s death, we hear from Nixon about his time with the Iraqi leader, Nixon’s interrogation tactics, what he uncovered about the weapons of mass destruction, and his views on Saddam’s trial and execution.

 

Nov 19, 2017

Drone warfare, Russian cyber hacking, new advances in genomics: Peter Warren Singer not only researches and covers it all, but can tell you what’s going to happen next.

 

On the latest episode of 15 Minutes, The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor Kim Dozier interviews the strategist and senior fellow at his offices in New America, where they discussed his work, who is winning the cyber war between the U.S. and Russia (hint: not the U.S.), and what the future might bring.

Nov 12, 2017

From Syria to Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar, war and conflict across the globe have left some 65-million refugees and displaced people world-wide. How should the international community tackle this humanitarian crisis? To find out, Leone Lakhani spends 15 Minutes with David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee and author of Rescue: Refugees and The Political Crisis of Our Time.

Nov 5, 2017

In this episode of 15 Minutes, U.S. presidential candidate Evan McMullin talks about his decision to run on an independent platform in 2016 due to his belief that Donald Trump was unfit for office.  In the aftermath of the election, McMullin and his running mate Mindy Finn, founded Stand Up Republic and have become a voice for a Republican community that has felt forgotten, or at odds with the current administration.  In this extended wide-ranging discussion, McMullin tells The Cipher Brief Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier about how he made his teenage dreams of becoming a CIA operations officer a reality and how he ended up working on Capitol Hill.

Oct 29, 2017

For decades, intelligence recruitment has been taking place at American universities. This isn’t only done by the FBI and CIA, but by geopolitical rivals such as China, Russia and Cuba, that recruit students and professors to gain access to sensitive research and gain insight into U.S. culture and policy. In turn, the U.S. enlists foreign students and teachers to spy on their home countries.

 

Although many may not be aware of this practice, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dan Golden has spent decades researching it, and recently released a new book on the subject, “Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities”.

 

On this episode of 15 Minutes, the Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weigner spoke with Dan about his book, some of the examples and cases of intelligence recruitment in American schools, how it started, and what schools aren’t doing to stop it.

Oct 22, 2017

There are many issues on the world stage, but on this episode of 15 Minutes, we focus on two of them: national security and economy.

Although not often associated with one another, economic and national security interests frequently align. How does the U.S. generate the funds to pay for military power?  And in turn, how do wars and terrorist attacks affect a country’s economy?

Tyler Cowen, economic professor at George Mason University, spends 15 Minutes with The Cipher Brief’s International Economic Analyst Fritz Lodge to get to the bottom of some of the most pressing concerns, namely, has the U.S. lost its position of global economic leadership, and does it matter?

Oct 15, 2017

In September 1986, American Joseph Cicippio was abducted in Beirut by captors thought to be linked to Hezbollah. Held until his release in December 1991, Joe was moved to more than 20 locations and chained to another American hostage for four of those years. Here, he spends 15 Minutes with Leone Lakhani and describes how he coped, his views on U.S. hostage policy, and why he has no bitterness towards his captors, even after his ordeal.

Oct 8, 2017

At the young age of 33, Brett Velicovich has probably held more positions than someone could in a lifetime: Former US Army Intelligence, humanitarian, business owner, author and drone expert.

 

Brett recently released his book Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier’s Inside Account of the Hunt for America’s Most Dangerous Enemies. And the title really does say it all, offering readers an inside view into the world of drone warfare, and the toll it takes on the people who control the UAVs.

 

In this episode of 15 Minutes, The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel goes even deeper with Brett, examining the importance of the drone program in US military counterterrorism efforts, what drove his dedication, and the recent news of a man Brett spent most of his career hunting down: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Oct 1, 2017

Whether it’s the Equifax data breach, border security or Russian state-sponsored election hacking, identifying current and emerging technologies to secure public and private infrastructure is a critical priority for the U.S. government.  The Cipher Brief’s Deputy Director of Analysis, Bennett Seftel spends 15 Minutes with U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX) who talks about takeaways from his years working as a CIA operations officer and offers his thoughts on current issues: why a border wall with Mexico and the most expensive and least effective way to do border security, the North Korea crisis and the adversarial U.S.-Russia relationship.

Sep 25, 2017

A resurgent Russia, along with broader economic and social trends, is shaking up politics across the U.S. and Europe. Populist parties, like Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), that are supported by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are challenging the status quo. The AfD came in third in Sunday’s election in Germany, significantly gaining on the two major parties and winning seats in parliament for the first time. For now, the political center in Germany still holds, with Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Christian Democrat, winning a fourth term. This week, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spends 15 minutes with Rüdiger Lentz, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Germany. Here, they talk about the rise of populism in the West and how it’s impacting liberal democracies.

Sep 17, 2017

Military and intelligence professionals around the world view cyberspace and the internet differently. In the West, cyberspace is thought of as a facilitating agent, one that can be leveraged for espionage, disruption and sabotage. In more autocratic regimes, cyberspace is a mode of political control and influence of narratives, both domestically and abroad. To get deeper insight into the matter, the Cipher Brief’s cyber and technology analyst Levi Maxey spoke with Alexander Klimburg, Director of Cyber Policy and Resilience at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and author of a new book called The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace. Levi and Alexander discuss his work, the threats facing the West, and what the current conflict in cyberspace looks like.

Sep 10, 2017

On the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Leone Lakhani spends 15 minutes with Michael Leiter, who was Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center from 2007 to 2011. Mike worked closely on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 attacks. Here, he shares rare insight on the operation that killed bin Laden in May 2011.

Sep 5, 2017

In Part II of Suzanne Kelly’s interview with Bob Work, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense, Suzanne digs deeper into the challenges Bob faced in ushering new technology into the Defense Department - as well as the relationship between the public and private sector - when it comes to innovation. 

Sep 5, 2017

Artificial Intelligence, cyber warfare, C4I network grids: just a few of the things that Bob Work was keeping the Department of Defense updated and innovating on during his time as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. This week, The Cipher Brief brings you a special treat for the holiday week, two podcast interviews between Bob and CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly. 

In Part I, Bob and Suzanne discuss some of the biggest challenges he was facing in his position, most especially, convincing the culture of the Department to accept change.

Sep 1, 2017

This week Leone Lakhani spends 15 Minutes with Javier Peña, a former drug enforcement agent, who was instrumental in bringing down the notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Peña and his partner Steve Murphy – both depicted in the Netflix series Narcos – track the life and eventual demise of Escobar, as consultants on the show. Season 3 of Narcos enters a new chapter in the war on drugs, following the brutal Cali Cartel. While Peña didn’t consult on this season, he did track the Cali traffickers during his career. Here, he tells Leone about the show, his experiences, and what he learned from the hunt for Escobar.

Aug 27, 2017

Much of the emphasis of fighting violent extremism in the U.S. is on the Islamist or Jihadist threat. But the attack in Charlottesville earlier in August, was a reminder that other elements, including right-wing extremist groups, are also at play. Have these types of groups been ignored? What are the challenges of counter-terrorism in today’s America? Leone Lakhani speaks to Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center to find out. 

 

On the 16th Anniversary of 9/11, stay tuned for a special Part II of Michael Leiter's podcast, where he tells Leone about his part in the hunt for Bin Laden.

Aug 20, 2017

Former National Security Advisor to Joe Biden, Former Deputy Chief of Staff in the State Department, Former Director of Policy Planning, Senior Advisor during the Iran Nuclear Negotiations, Top Foreign Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton during her campaign, and now, a professor at Yale and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Jake Sullivan has lead a busy life, but he recently took time to sit down with the Cipher Brief's CEO and Publisher Suzanne Kelly to discuss our relations with Iran, the changes at the State Department, and what we can do to face our biggest security threats. 

Aug 13, 2017

The U.S. State Department recently revealed that some government employees working in the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba were sent home due to symptoms resembling a concussion, with at least one employee suffering from hearing loss. State Department officials have said this was an “acoustic attack,” using sonic devices outside the range of audible sound that were placed either inside or outside the diplomats’ residences. This week, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spends 15 minutes with H. Keith Melton, an intelligence historian, author, and board member of the International Spy Museum, who recently co-authored Spy Sites of Washington, DC with former CIA Director of the Office of Technical Service Robert Wallace. Here, they talk about the history of espionage activities between the U.S. and Cuba, and which country is the biggest espionage threat to the United States.

Aug 8, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief’s CEO and Publisher Suzanne Kelly spends 15 minutes with Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator. Prior to his role in the new administration, Joyce was chief of the NSA’s elite hacking unit named Tailored Access Operations. Joyce now leads the government’s coordination of all things cyber, a big job to take on considering the number of agencies, departments, and threats. Suzanne spoke with Joyce about his role, and what he sees as the biggest cyber threats today.

Jul 30, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief brings you a special best of episode of one of our most fascinating guests, Jason Matheny, Director of IARPA, the research branch for the intelligence community that works on ways to tell the future. The Cipher Brief’s CEO and Publisher, Suzanne Kelly, spoke with Jason about what exactly IARPA does, what keeps him up at night, and if there’s ways to predict political instability and unrest.

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