Latest Podcasts

Tons of Chaos

Best-selling NYT author Mark Greaney returns for his third appearance on a Cipher Brief podcast – this time to mark the publication of his latest novel “The Chaos Agent” which is the latest in his “Gray Man” series. In the new novel Greaney mines the headlines about artificial intelligence. The book connects a car accident in Japan, a drowning in Seoul, a home invasion in Boston, and someone killing the world’s leading experts on AI. We’ll talk to Mark about the challenge of producing a series of engaging thrillers – staying ahead of the news and satisfying his most discerning readers.

February 19th, 2024 State Secrets
State Secrets Podcast

Villains, Victims and Vendors in Cyberspace

Former Director of CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (and Cipher Brief Expert) Andrew Boyd talks to State Secrets about the dynamic relationship between villains, victims and vendors operating in cyberspace. The CIA, he says, has been paying close attention to cyberspace “since the dawn of IP”, so what lessons can he share about how spies, thieves and nation states are using the domain to find and exploit victims and how the private sector and government are partnering to track them down.

The Real-Life Spy Coast

Award-winning author Tess Gerritsen, perhaps best-known for her medical and crime thrillers (like Rizzoli & Isles that was adapted for television), is trying her hand at the espionage game with her new thriller The Spy Coast. It seems in real life, the award-winning author noticed something a little odd about her neighbors in the small Maine town she calls home. She did some investigating of her own, only to find that many of her neighbors are retired spies and diplomats. Like any good novelist, she went back to her keyboard and created an international tale of espionage involving a group of retired spies who refer to themselves as ‘The Martini Club’. Cover Stories co-host Suzanne Kelly uncovers the details that led Gerritsen down this path in the latest episode of Cover Stories.

February 11th, 2024 State Secrets

Iran’s Proxy War Against The U.S.

Recent U.S strikes against Iranian proxy groups in Syria and Iraq may be just the beginning of a multi-tier response by the U.S. after the killing of three service members in Jordan last month and it’s raising questions about just how far the U.S. should go in limiting Iran’s ability to use these groups to launch attacks against Americans. Former CIA Deputy Assistant Director of the Near East Mission Center and former Chief of Analysis in the Iran Mission Center Andy Dunn talks to State Secrets about what it will take to deter Iran.

The Wingmen

Just in time for the opening of spring training – we talk with author Adam Lazarus about his book: “The Wingmen: The Unlikely, Unusual, Unbreakable Friendship Between John Glenn and Ted Williams.” Lazarus tells us about iconic Americas met during the crucible of combat during the Korean War. USMC Captain Ted Williams, already a famed baseball player recalled to active duty to fly combat and soon-to-be famous Major John Glenn. Despite wildly different personalities, politics and approaches to life – the two formed a life-long bond that may be instructive to us during the current time of a divided America.

February 4th, 2024 State Secrets

Gen Z and CIA is a Relationship in Need of Counseling

Former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos recently wrote an article exploring the intriguing dynamics of Gen Z in the CIA workplace, sparking a controversial debate. While research suggests Gen Z may display slower independence behaviors and cause tension with older workers in professional environments, they're redefining things like work-life balance and what it takes to succeed in the workplace. We wanted to hear more from Marc about why he felt compelled to take up this issue and what he learned.

January 30th, 2024 State Secrets

The Innovation Gap

Former NSA Chief of Innovation Kevin Keaton left his government job last year – before the age of retirement - to accept a role as a founding partner at a venture capital firm.  Today, he’s focused on closing a gap between government and the private sector that he believes is a serious issue when it comes to U.S. national security.  In his first podcast interview since leaving government, State Secrets sat down with Keaton to talk about what he sees as the ‘innovation gap’, China is exploiting it, and how he’s now working from the private sector, to try and close it.

January 21st, 2024 State Secrets

Secrets of Espionage

Alan Kohler spent 27 years at the FBI, where his priority for decades, was hunting down spies who were operating in the United States. As Assistant Director of the Bureau’s Counterintelligence Division, Kohler had a hand in nearly every espionage operation the Bureau conducted. He also served as Acting Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch and was Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division before he retired last year and joined The Cipher Brief’s Expert Network. He is also President of Pamir Consulting. State Secrets sat down with Kohler to uncover some of the highlights of the cases he was involved in that made national and global headlines. In his first podcast interview, we also talked about why espionage and elections are still very top-of-mind for him – particularly when it comes to Russia and China.

January 14th, 2024 State Secrets

A Seasoned former CIA Officer Shares Stories of War & Espionage

In his first-ever podcast interview, former 6-time CIA Chief of Station and 35-year CIA veteran Ralph Goff talks with Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly about what’s happening now in the Middle East and the likelihood that the war will continue to spread beyond Gaza, Lebanon and the Red Sea. Goff also talks candidly about his career, which spanned the globe, from the Middle East to Europe to Central and South Asia and included postings in multiple war zones.

January 9th, 2024 The Fight

Life and War in Ukraine: A Conversation with Nataliya Bugayova

There are few who understand this war better than Nataliya Bugayova. She lived and worked in Ukraine for years. Her present focus – as a non-resident fellow and the former Russia team lead at The Institute for the Study of War, is on the analysis of the Kremlin’s operations and on what’s happening in Ukraine today. She also serves as Director of Strategic Intelligence at a company called Vertical Knowledge.

Bugayova was part of a visiting delegation with The Cipher Brief that was led by General David Petraeus last fall. We sat down shortly afterward, to get her perspective on how this war is ‘really’ going and how she sees it ending.

January 2nd, 2024 The Fight

The Long Road to Justice in Ukraine: Investigating and Prosecuting War Crimes

Colonel Eugene Vindman is well-known in D.C. circles. Not just because he and his twin brother Alexander grabbed headlines during the Trump Administration by raising alarms about the former president’s pressuring of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to open a corruption investigation against then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, but also because he has recently announced plans to run for a U.S. Congressional seat in Virginia. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child from Soviet Ukraine and then served a career in the U.S. military in places like Iraq before landing at the White House. He was dismissed from his job at the National Security Council after testifying in the impeachment case that was brought against President Trump – when you might remember the former president was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. We ran into him in Kyiv during a Cipher Brief trip to Ukraine in September, where he was working on documenting the extensive war crimes that have been committed there since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February of 2024. The scenes have been horrific – from civilians gunned down in the streets for nothing to the kidnapping and forced relocation of Ukrainian children. If this were to happen in the U.S. there would be outrage. But it didn’t happen here. As Ukraine struggles to keep the world focused on helping it win this war, I sat down with Vindman earlier this year in Kiev, to talk about his unique perspective on the documenting and prosecution of war crimes and about why he feels like justice – however long it takes – must be served in Ukraine.

Reel Life Stories of the CIA

Tammy Kupperman Thorp is chief spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency. Her principal role is communicating with major media organizations on matters of national security and helping CIA Director Bill Burns communicate with the Agency’s worldwide workforce. But an interesting side aspect of her job involves coordinating the CIA's contact with the motion picture and television industry and major authors and publishers. We’ll ask her how and why the Agency works with Hollywood and authors and will explode some myths about the CIA’s role in entertainment, documentaries and more.

December 4th, 2023 The Fight

What’s Really Happening in Ukraine

Former Senior CIA Officer Paul Kolbe has spent the bulk of his professional life focused on Russia. He spent 25 years at the CIA, where a large part of his work was centered on the former Soviet Union and the Cold War. After leaving government, Kolbe led BP’s global intelligence division and later served as Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Intelligence Project. Kolbe is also a Cipher Brief Expert and was part of a delegation that traveled multiple times to Ukraine this year. ‘The Fight’ co-host Suzanne Kelly sat down with Kolbe in Kyiv to talk about his unique perspective on the war and about whether what we’re reading in the media matches what’s really happening there.

How to Write A Book That People Will Read

Serial best-selling author George Galdorisi has written a ton of books, mostly novels including including several of the rebooted Tom Clancy Op-Center series . But now he and co-author Kevin McDonald are out with a very useful work of non-fiction giving aspiring writers tips on how to write, publish and sell a book. Practical advice from someone who has been there, done that – and will help you do so too.

November 3rd, 2023 State Secrets

Israel, Hamas and the Path to War

In this episode Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian talks with former CIA officer and Cipher Brief Expert Marc Polymeropoulos. Marc served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019. His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Eurasia and CounterTerrorism. Marc joined Brad to discuss what’s happening in the war between Israel and Hamas. What are the signs to watch for that the conflict could escalate? What are the regional implications for the war, and the real risks that the recent improvement in diplomatic ties between Israel and its middle east neighbors could be in jeopardy? What contributed to the intelligence failure, by many countries, to see the impending Hamas attack and finally, what is Russia’s role in the conflict and how might that impact both the future Russia/Israeli relationship, and the Israeli/Ukrainian relationship? Marc shares his very unique perspective on these and other issues.

November 2nd, 2023 The Fight

The Russian Mindset

In this episode of The Fight, Suzanne talks with former CIA officer, and Cipher Brief Expert Glenn Corn. Glenn is a former Senior Executive in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and has more than 34 years in the U.S. Intelligence, Defense, and Foreign Affairs communities. He spent over 17 years serving overseas. Glenn has an incredibly unique perspective on the mindset of the Russians. We sat down with Glenn on our most recent trip to Ukraine for his very first podcast. Suzanne and Glenn covered a lot in this conversation including why the war in Ukraine is so important and what it could mean for the US and the world if Putin is not stopped in his attempt to destroy Ukraine as a country. Glenn also has a special message for Americans.

October 30th, 2023 The Fight

Bringing The Fight to Ukraine’s Frontlines

As Ukraine’s Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin is charged with bringing the very best equipment possible to the frontlines of the war in Ukraine and he’s pretty creative about how he does it. While much of what he does remains classified, the minister sat down in Kyiv to talk with The Fight co-host Suzanne Kelly about how he’s working with defense companies to not only get better equipment to fighters but about how Ukrainians are able to improve some of the equipment they get their hands on, which, in Kamyshin’s opinion, goes far beyond just helping Ukraine.

The Sisters of the CIA

Former Washington Post correspondent Liza Mundy is out with a new book called: “The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA.” Mundy who previously wrote a New York Times bestseller “Code Girls” about female codebreakers of World War II turns her expert eye to telling the stories of three generations of women at the CIA. Mundy reveals a portrait of a workplace hampered by bias and male ego and yet an agency populated by intrepid women who found creative ways to work within – and expand – the confines of the roles to which they were funneled for decades. We will ask her to share some of the stories she has uncovered about the challenges and successes of a remarkable group of women.

Admirable Communications

Admiral Jim Stavridis has an amazing resume. Retired 4-star officer, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Dean Emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University and current Vice Chairman of the Carlyle Group and Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation. But our focus of this podcast (recorded live at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference at Sea Island, GA) instead is on his record as a master communicator. He is the author of 12 books, literally thousands of magazine, newspaper and professional journal articles and the subject of countless broadcast interviews. We’ll ask him why he devotes so much effort to communicating, whether his publications (which started when he was a midshipman) were ever frowned upon by his superiors, how he navigates subjects which are viewed as political –and his advice for national security experts who aspire to follow in his wake as a communicator.

October 5th, 2023 The Fight

Kyiv Stands

In this compelling episode of "The Fight," your hosts Suzanne and Brad sat down in Kyiv for a conversation with Solomiia Bobrovska. Solomiia is a member of the Ukrainian parliament, where she plays a crucial role on the committee of National Security, Defense & Intelligence, and also serves in the Ukrainian military. She previously served as acting governor in Odesa, where she earned a reputation as a formidable advocate for Ukraine. We delve into the pressing issues that Solomiia faces as a Ukrainian politician in a nation locked in a relentless battle for its very existence. With impressive determination and clarity, Solamiia shares her insights into the profound implications of Ukraine's ongoing struggle against Russia and articulates the nation's ultimate aspirations. Join us for an enlightening exploration of the challenges and aspirations shaping Ukraine's destiny.

Moscow X

Former CIA officer David McCloskey is out with his second novel. His first, Damascus Station, received glowing reviews. Now he is back with a tale that Cipher Brief Russia experts say “brilliantly captures the nuances of field work in hostile environments” and provides a “propulsive thrill ride and a moving portrait of life, betrayal, and vengeance in Putin’s Russia.” We will talk with him about writing a novel and the real-world facts that are the stuff of thrillers.

The Lessons of Modern Military Strategy

Michael O’Hanlon’s 2023 book, Military History for the Modern Strategist earned rave reviews from Cipher Brief Experts like General Stan McChrystal. Cover Stories co-host Suzanne Kelly sits down with the author to talk about the constant themes that emerged as he studied seven major wars and the three lessons that McChrystal called ‘required reading for policymakers’.

October 1st, 2023 The Fight

Target Critical Infrastructure

In the early days of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Moscow targeted the country’s critical infrastructure - including its telecommunications providers - with both cyber and kinetic weapons. ‘The Fight’ co-host Suzanne Kelly sits down with Kyivstar CEO Olesandr Komarov in Kyiv to talk about how the private sector telecommunications provider has survived and adapted in the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

September 30th, 2023 State Secrets

The Future of Open Source – A View from the CIA

Welcome to a special episode of the State Secrets podcast. Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly recently welcomed the Director of CIA’s Open Source Enterprise Randy Nixon, to the virtual studio for a special briefing to talk how CIA uses OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) in its daily analytic tradecraft. He also talked about a new tool CIA just launched to help IC analysts better navigate the vast amounts of open source information flowing in each day. Listen in to the briefing, which drew fascinating questions from former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence The Hon. Susan Gordon, former Deputy Director of Analysis for CIA, Linda Weissgold, and chief product officer at Janes, Ben Conklin.