Covert Contact

Covert Contact

Covert Contact covers the key national security, intelligence, and technology stories that are shaping our world. Covert Contact is hosted by Blogs of War creator John W. Little. His work and analysis has been featured on the BBC, CNN, CBC, ABC (Australia), PBS Newshour, Fast Company, CBS, and other international media outlets.

Episodes

October 1, 2020 32 min

Scot Terban joined me to discuss the use of shortwave numbers stations, recently declassified KGB investigative techniques for identifying recipients of those broadcasts, how shortwave has changed with the introduction of the internet, and technologies such as software defined radio (SDR) that make capturing mysterious signals affordable (sometimes free) and easier than ever.

 

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The regular counterintelligence chat with William Tucker is a day late but full of new Chinese espionage activity in the NYPD, the EU, and beyond. We also touch on intelligence history and why literature from the Middle Ages or beyond is not only fascinating but still relevant.

 

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September 18, 2020 24 min

William Tucker returns to discuss the incredible case of Garrison Courtney and Alpha-214. Posing as a CIA NOC Courtney was able to engineer a scheme that duped numerous beltway contractors, intelligence officials, former military officers and others.

 

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William Tucker joins me for our weekly counterintelligence chat. In this episode we discuss the recent report for Microsoft that details Russian, Chinese, and Iranian attacks on individuals and organizations tied to our presidential campaigns and the recent move to revoke the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese grad students and researchers who have been deemed security risks.

 

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William Tucker joins me to discuss two high profile cases this week, sloppy Chinese tradecraft, and why it always pays to visit the FBI before the FBI visits you.

 

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Scot Terban is back to discuss the plot, common points of vulnerability, and what you can do it, like a Tesla employee, you find yourself in the middle of a Russian criminal plot.

 

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Welcome to the launch of Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast. In episode 1 I am looking at the notion of intelligence failures and why they’re often more complicated than they seem – or not failures at all.  I’m also taking a look at  the new biography of Murad Storm, the towering red-haired Danish agent who infiltrated al Qaeda. Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA is a fascinating read that raises many questions ...

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William Tucker joins me to discuss the Zhengdong Cheng case, how Chinese espionage might need to evolve, global awareness of the scope of China’s spying, and how organizations can protect themselves if they haven’t started evaluating their own risk.

 

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Dean Baratta joins me to discuss the rapidly diversifying and expanding non-traditional career paths in intelligence. We also touch on some tips for those looking to enter the field.

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William Tucker joins me again to look into yesterday’s indictment of Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, a former Green Beret alleged to have worked for Russian intelligence for over a decade.

 

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William Tucker returns to look at the apparent poisoning of Alexei Navalny and yet another Chinese espionage case, this time involving Alexander Ma. It’s a classic case, with a Hawaii connection, and there are likely more interesting details to come.

 

 

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Former CIA officer Maggie Gwynne joins me to discuss how those interested in pursuing a career in intelligence should manage their profiles, online and off, and conduct themselves (even at a young age) to prepare for a challenging recruitment and training period.

Maggie Gwynne is a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, where she served in the Middle East and North Africa. She is an active mentor for several organiz...

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Alon Pinkas, who served as foreign policy advisor to Ehud Barak, political advisor to Shimon Peres, Chief of Staff to four Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Consul General of Israel in New York City returns to Covert Contact for a quick dive on the drivers behind the deal and what it means for the region.

 

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William Tucker returns to discuss the Edward Snowden case after President Trump made remarks on the case that sparked new speculation about a potential pardon.

 

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Today’s decision to force the Confucius Institute to register as a foreign mission is the subject of my regular Thursday evening counterintelligence chat with Covert Contact regular William Tucker. We look at why it was necessary and where we, and China, might go from here.

You can follow William Tucker on Twitter @tuckerwj

 

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With experience that includes serving as foreign policy advisor to Ehud Barak, political advisor to Shimon Peres, Chief of Staff to four Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and service as Consul General of Israel in New York City Alon Pinkas deeply understands the complexities of both societies and how these dynamics manifest in the special relationship the two countries share.

Alon joins Covert Contact to look at the state of the relati...

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Australian journalist Stilgherrian, who's been covering internet policy for more than a decade, and has been closely following Australia's cybersecurity and digital surveillance laws for global tech site ZDNet returns to Covert Contact to discuss Australia's recently released 2020 cyber security strategy.

 

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William Tucker returns for our regular Thursday evening counterintelligence chat. We start off by discussing the resource and coordination challenges in addressing Chinese espionage but quickly pivot to thoughts on Russian cases, honey traps, and the universally terrible outcomes experienced by American defectors and spies.

 

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A massive explosion has rocked Beirut at a critical time in Lebanon's history. In this quick take I share some concerns about what could happen next.

 

 

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Houston rarely finds itself at the center of geopolitical drama but that changed overnight as firefighters and police surrounded the Chinese consulate as staff there began burning massive amounts of documentation in the building's courtyard.

 

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