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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
Jul 23, 2017

A U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, envoy to Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia: James Dobbins has had years of experience representing U.S. interests abroad. Along with his numerous positions, he was also lead negotiator to the Bonn Agreement, which re-created the state of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion. In this week’s 15 Minutes podcast, The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge speaks with Ambassador Dobbins about his experiences as a diplomat, what role the U.S. has abroad under the Trump administration, and his new book, Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Policy.

Jul 16, 2017

It’s a rough time for liberal democracies – with fake news and election hacking creating a growing erosion of trust in governments. Estonia, a small country in eastern Europe and previously under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, was hit by a wave of cyber attacks in 2007, which many believe Russia orchestrated. Since then, Estonia and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves have been focused on building up cyber defenses. This week, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spends 15 minutes with President Ilves, who is now a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Institute for International Studies. Here, they talk about fake news, twitterbots, and the future of artificial intelligence.

Jul 9, 2017

The U.S. Navy protects our seas around the clock. But what else does the Navy do? It innovates – a lot. Ray Mabus, who was Secretary of the Navy under both Obama Administrations and held that post longer than anyone since World War I, created a fully green fleet during his tenure. Now, 65 percent of energy on navy bases around the world comes from non-fossil fuels. This week, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spends 15 minutes with Secretary Mabus, who was previously the Governor of Mississippi and U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Here, he tells Kaitlin about other innovations in the Navy, like unmanned underwater vehicles that compete with Russia and China on underwater capabilities.

Jul 2, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief celebrates Independence Day by looking back at interviews we did with men who have served this country in the Armed Forces. From Robert 'Buzz' Patterson, air force pilot and military aide to President Clinton, to Senator John McCain, a former naval pilot and POW, to Jack Keane, a retired four-star general, these men worked tirelessly for the greater good. 

Jun 25, 2017

As the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force under President Obama, one of Deborah Lee James' principal concerns was U.S. advancement in space. She believes its mission-critical for the United States to better protect its satellite communications and missile warning systems. The Cipher Brief's Fritz Lodge joined Secretary James for a discussion on the role of U.S. armed forces in space - and some of the game-changing advancements that may come soon in space-based missile defense. 

Jun 18, 2017

From 1985 to 1994, CIA officer Aldrich Ames was actually a spy for the Soviets. At the time of his arrest in ’94, he had compromised more CIA assets than any other mole in history. This week, The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spends 15 minutes with former CIA officer Sandy Grimes, who was instrumental in uncovering Ames. She had worked beside him as a young officer with the CIA’s Soviet bloc division. Here, she shares her personal experiences with Ames and why she believes he was such a valuable Soviet target.

Jun 11, 2017

There’s seldom a day that we don’t hear about cyber attacks, hacks, and how governments and the general public should protect against cyber threats or criminals. One company says its mission is to use technology to do just that: keep people safe online. The company’s called Jigsaw. It’s a technology incubator created by Google. But how do they do it? The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spends 15 minutes with Jigsaw’s Managing Director Scott Carpenter to find out.

Jun 4, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief's Suzanne Kelly spends 15 Minutes with Ali Soufan. Ali is a former FBI special agent, who recently wrote The Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State. What's unique about the book is that he wrote it like a novel, to bring the readers into the world of Bin Laden and help them better understand it. So how did he come up with the idea?

May 28, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief looks back at five groundbreakers in the national security space. Each in his/her own right has blazed a trail for others to follow — in policy, spycraft, and law enforcement. From Pentagon pioneer Michele Flournoy to Steve Murphy, who co-led the demise of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, take 15 Minutes to hear from some of the leaders and change-makers in national security and intelligence. To listen to the full podcasts with each of these trailblazers, search The Cipher Brief podcasts.

May 21, 2017

How important are the Balkans to U.S. national security? The region remains volatile, with ethnic and socioeconomic tensions rising, and increased Russian meddling in internal affairs. So, this week, The Cipher Brief's Kaitlin Lavinder spends 15 Minutes with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who recently returned from a trip to the Balkans. He also voted in March for the state of Montenegro to become NATO's newest member. Here, he tells Kaitlin what he thinks Montenegro will bring to the table. 

May 14, 2017

What is the most stable country in the world? Which is the most fragile? What determines those qualities? This week, The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spends 15 Minutes with JJ Messner, Executive Director of The Fund for Peace, which projects the annual Fragile States Index. Judged on 12 indicators – based on social, economic and political factors – the index ranks 178 countries from the most fragile, to the least. So, which countries ranked the highest in 2017? And why does it matter?

May 9, 2017

In a world of evolving threats, how can the United States innovate to stay ahead in the national security space? That’s a question The Cipher Brief's CEO Suzanne Kelly puts to Milo Medin, a member of the Defense Innovation Board, an initiative set up by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter in 2016. Milo, who is also Google’s Vice President of Access Services, speaks to Suzanne about potential solutions, on the sidelines of Georgetown University’s “Hacking 4 Defense” innovation panel.

Apr 30, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer Leone Lakhani speaks to Adam Meyers from the cyber-security firm CrowdStrike. As the Vice President of Intelligence, Adam heads a team that identifies the perpetrators of cyber-crimes, both in the private and public sectors. CrowdStrike helped to identify the hackers behind the Democratic National Committee's email leaks last year, and more recently the mastermind behind the Kelihos Botnet. Leone speaks to Adam about the challenges and procedures in identifying these cyber criminals. 

Apr 23, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief's CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly spends 15 minutes with Michele Flounoy, CEO & Founder of the DC-based think tank the Center For a New American Security (CNAS). She was formerly the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. When President Barack Obama nominated her for the position, she was the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon’s history.

 

After President Donald Trump’s election, General James Mattis asked her to be his Deputy Secretary of Defense, a position she turned down. So, what are her views on the new Administration? And what does she see as the most pressing challenges ahead, from North Korea to Yemen, Syria and Iraq?

Apr 16, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to Jonna Mendez, who spent 27 years at the CIA, eventually becoming the Chief of Disguise. She’s also a founding board member of the International Spy Museum, where she aims to educate people about the world of espionage. Here, Jonna educates Leone on how she learned from Hollywood makeup artists and magicians, to master illusion and disguise.

Apr 9, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to Carmen Medina, former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence and a long-time advocate of diversity in the Agency. She’s also the co-author of Rebels at Work, a book in which she shares the virtues of being a rebel in the workplace. A self-styled rebel herself, Carmen tells Leone how she shook up the Agency, and why she sees the world differently.

Apr 2, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge speaks to Michael German, author of “Thinking Like a Terrorist” and a former undercover FBI agent, who infiltrated white supremacist groups in the 1990s. Fritz asks Michael how his experiences shaped his understanding of terrorism and how to best fight violent extremism both at home and abroad.

Mar 26, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief's Senior National Security Editor Steve Hirsch speaks with James Mitchell, a psychologist - and author of Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America. Along with his partner John Bruce Jessen, James carried out debriefings of high profile detainees like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, on behalf of the CIA from 2002 to 2009. Together they created what's known as "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" - or EITS - to question the prisoners. James spoke with Steve about the EIT program and the role they could have in the future. 

Mar 19, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani speaks to Robert “Buzz” Patterson, who held the “Nuclear Football” for President Bill Clinton. If the United States faces an imminent threat from a foreign power, did you know the President can order a nuclear attack at a moment’s notice? How? One option is by using the “Nuclear Football.” The Football – also known as the President’s Emergency Satchel – is a briefcase that accompanies the President, at all times. So what’s in it? And how does it work? Buzz gives some insight on these questions. 

Mar 12, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief's National Security Reporter and Europe Analyst Kaitlin Lavinder speaks with Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, former Deputy Secretary General of NATO (2012-2016). A changing external threat environment, internal security concerns, and the rise of populist anti-EU political parties leave Europe in a vulnerable position in 2017. Alexander tells Kaitlin how NATO can play a vital role in European security, and how the United States plays an indispensable role. 

Mar 5, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief’s Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to John Nixon, author of “Debriefing The President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.” 

John was the first CIA analyst to question the Iraqi leader after his capture. He specialized in profiling world leaders for the CIA and spent much of his career studying Saddam. 

In the second part of the interview, John describes the interrogation process, and the challenges of analyzing high-profile targets like Saddam. 

 

Feb 26, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief’s Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to John Nixon, author of “Debriefing The President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.” 

John – who spent much of his career profiling Saddam – was the first CIA analyst to question the Iraqi leader after his capture. 

In the first part of the interview, John describes his thoughts when he finally came face-to-face with the Iraqi leader, what he uncovered about the weapons of mass destruction, and his views on Saddam’s trial and execution. 

Feb 19, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief’s Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to Vince Houghton, the curator and historian for The International Spy Museum. With all the intrigue and mystique surrounding the world of spies, the museum attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. But as Vince tells Leone, its main mission is to educate the public about the real-life world of espionage – and how spies have shaped the course of history.

 

Feb 12, 2017

This week The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Makhani speaks to Chris Taylor, who leads a course at Georgetown University called "Hacking for Defense". Despite the name, the course isn't just about cyber threats; it uses unique new methodology to find solutions to pressing challenges in national security, brought directly to the class by U.S. government agencies. 

Feb 5, 2017

This week, The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani speaks to Haras Rafiq, CEO of Quilliam—a UK-based organization whose mission is to counter extremism, in every form. Much of its work surrounds counter-messaging Islamism by creating alternatives and empowering moderate Islamic voices. Leone spoke to Haras about how Quilliam conveys its message.

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