Latest Podcasts

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.

September 28th, 2023 The Fight

Level Setting the Ukraine War with General (Ret) David Petraeus

Hello and welcome. I’m Suzanne Kelly, your host for this edition of The Fight. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ve already seen many of the behind-the-scenes images I’ve been sharing from The Cipher Brief’s latest trip to Kyiv. It was our third trip to Ukraine this year and Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian and I were there this time as part of a delegation led by General David Petraeus. Our delegation was impressive group of experts that included two former senior CIA officers, Paul Kolbe and Glenn Corn as well as Nataliya Bugayova from the Institute for the Study of War and Michael O’Hanlon, from the Brookings Institution. After a week of fast-paced, high-level meetings with members of Ukraine’s government, including their new defense minister, I sat down with General Petraeus to level-set on the state of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Here’s my conversation with General David Petraeus.

September 27th, 2023 The Fight

The Fight Podcast- Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of The Fight Podcast. In this show we're cutting thru the disinformation about the Ukraine war, and bringing you perspective from those who are there, fighting for Ukraine's survival against the Russian invasion, and also from those who are supporting Ukraine.

Managing a Crisis by Putting the End Game First

A new book, End Game First by Cipher Brief Expert Vice Admiral Mike LeFever (Ret.) and Concentric Chairman Roderick Jones draws on the experience of both men to take crisis management from their military and law enforcement backgrounds to the boardroom, sharing what they learned guiding their own company through the COVID crisis.

Spy Ops on Netflix

Netflix has just started streaming a 8-episode series called “Spy Ops” which they where intelligence operatives from the CIA, MI6, Mossad and elsewhere share insider stories of spy craft, Cold War campaigns, and coups carried out by covert operatives. Featuring interviews with real officials, officers, and spies. We will get a preview of Spy Ops from one of executive producers, John Loew, and consulting producer, former CIA officer (and Cipher Brief Expert) Mark Kelton.

What do Spies, Aliens and Authors have in Common?

CIA Alum turned author Alma Katsu takes a ‘ripped from the headlines’ story about what happens when a CIA Case Officer spots a UFO while stationed overseas. Katsu is definitely exploring new territory here, not only in the subject matter, but in how she is reaching readers as well. Cover Stories co-host Suzanne Kelly talks with Katsu about her new mission to reach more readers by coupling good writing with new publishing options.

Top Gun Intake

Like so many American teens in the mid-1980s, Scott Kartvedt saw the movie “Top Gun” and decided: “I want to do that!” Unlike most of them though – he actually pursued it. After graduating from college with a business degree he decided that a career in accounting didn’t offer the thrills he was seeking – so he joined the Navy, flying F/A-18s. He also joined the Blue Angels and ended up on giant posters in museums and saw an action figure made in his likeness. Kartvedt, whose call sign was “Intake,” commanded a couple squadrons, amassed thousands of flight hours and flew 91 combat missions. When he retired from the Navy, he became a motivational speaker and started flying at airshows. That’s what led him to help train the actors - and eventually - to fly, in some of the critical mission scenes filmed in the Top Gun sequel: Top Gun Maverick. Cover Stories Co-host Bill Harlow talks with Kartvedt about the twists and turns of a highly successful career.

August 3rd, 2023 State Secrets

Putting the National Cybersecurity Strategy into Practice

Cyber Initiatives Group (CIG) Principal and former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Cyber, Risk, Resilience and Infrastructure Matt Hayden sits down with CISA’s Executive Director Brandon Wales to dig in on just how the government will implement the new National Cybersecurity Strategy and what it means for business.

The Real Special Relationship

British former intelligence official and award-winning journalist Michael Smith has written a book about how U.S. and British intelligence formed a close working relationship at the start of World War II and continue to build on it to this day. The cast of characters ranges from Winston Churchill, Ian Flemming, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher and even Edward Snowden. The book was published in the UK in 2022 and very favorably reviewed in the pages of The Cipher Brief. But now a U.S. edition is being published and we take advantage of that event to have a special conversation with Michael Smith.

Surf’s Up: A Discussion with Captain Brett Crozier, USN, Ret.

Captain Brett Crozier’s Navy career was soaring. As commanding officer of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt - he was a shoe-in to make flag officer. And then COVID struck and he made a controversial decision to plead with higher command to protect his sailors. As a result he was beloved by the crew – and fired by the Navy. Now retired, Crozier has written a book that reflects not only on that incident – but on a lifetime full of lessons about the power of kindness, the importance of teamwork, and the value of standing up for what you believe in. We’ll talk with him about his book: “Surf When You Can: Lessons in Life, Loyalty, and Leadership from a Maverick Navy Captain.”

July 9th, 2023 State Secrets

The Hunt for Spies in the U.S.

Earlier this month, the National Counterintelligence & Security Center - better known in the Intelligence world as the NCSC – along with the FBI - issued a joint bulletin warning stakeholders in US companies, journalists, academics and researchers who work in China about how an updated counterespionage law passed in Beijing that could put employees of US companies at risk because of the broad definitions of what it means to spy. Closer to home, the NCSC issued another public warning about foreign regimes who are actively recruiting people inside the US to help them locate and target dissidents on US soil and the people they are hiring may surprise you. Listen to the State Secrets conversation with Acting Deputy Director Mirriam-Grace MacIntyre wherever you subscribe and listen to podcasts.

June 26th, 2023 State Secrets

An Overture of the Next Phase of US-China Relations

In this episode of the State Secrets Podcast Brad speaks with Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joe Detrani. Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is the former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea, as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, while also serving as a Special Adviser to the Director of National Intelligence. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a trip to Beijing, the first in 5 years for a Secretary of State, and while reactions to the trip were muted, the visit seemed to represent a small step forward in restoring dialogue between Washington and Beijing. Ambassador DeTrani is who we turn to for a level set perspective on what’s happening in Asia and how we should be thinking about the US-China relationship.  Here’s our conversation.

The Demise of A Spy in Plain Sight

On June 5, former FBI agent Robert Hanssen died in the SuperMax prison in Colorado. While few will lament his passing, his death gives us occasion to talk with New York Times bestselling author Lis Wiehl about her 2022 book “A Spy in Plain Sight: The Inside Story of the FBI and Robert Hanssen, America’s Most Damaging Russian Spy.” We ask her about how Hanssen got started betraying his country, how he got away with it for so long and how he was finally captured. Wiehl, a Harvard Law School grad, former federal prosecutor, and daughter of a former FBI agent shares new insights into the life and evil deeds of an odd and awful traitor.

June 19th, 2023 State Secrets

A Life of Secrets

A new memoir by former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Michael G. Vickers offers incredible insights into some of the most consequential intelligence and special operations missions of our time. From the killing of Osama bin Laden to his efforts to try and stop Iran from getting a bomb, to forcing Russia out of Afghanistan, the former Green Beret turned Intelligence leader shares lessons learned with State Secrets co-hosts Suzanne Kelly and Brad Christian.

Spies and Other Secrets

Historian and author Calder Walton shares some of the secrets he uncovered while researching his new book, Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West, including his unearthing of a document from more than one hundred years ago containing a desperate plea for the West to help push Russia out of Ukraine. Find out how history is repeating itself and what we’ve learned about Intelligence in this episode of the Cover Stories podcast.

June 12th, 2023 State Secrets

The Ukraine Debrief

We’re letting a secret out of the bag this week. The Cipher Brief traveled to Kyiv to host The Kyiv Economic & Security Forum on the eve of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Cipher Brief CEO Suzanne Kelly, COO Brad Christian and a group of national security professionals traveled in and out of the country with Cipher Brief Expert Gen. David Petraeus (Ret.) who – as former director of CIA and former head of five combat commands has a unique perspective on the counteroffensive. Today, he’s a partner at KKR, where he also chairs the firm’s global institute. That means that his perspective on this war – and the aftermath is incredibly unique. He not only is looking at the immediate combat strategy – but also at the aftermath and the ability for Ukraine to attract global investors to help it rebuild.

Five Years After

The thought of what would happen in the United States in the face of a massive power outage has intrigued authors and television producers for years. Dr. William R. Forstchen is partly to blame due to his popular book, One Second After, first published in 2009. The fictional tale imagines life after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that takes out power across much of the country. Now, he’s back with Five Years After, which follows the main character John Matherson as he deals with new threats to a fragile new global balance.. Cover Stories co-host Suzanne Kelly and special guest host Brad Christian talk with Dr. Forstchen about what brought him to Five Years After and the frightful path forward.

The Turkish Triangle

Bill Rapp was an academic historian before joining the CIA where he spent 35 years as an analyst. Among his assignments was as White House PDB briefer for Condoleezza Rice. After retiring he combined his past careers to become a prolific novelist. We talk to him about his latest book set in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis - but the action is in Turkey where CIA Soviet assets are mysteriously dying.

Ghosts of Beirut

Imad Mughniyeah was a Lebanese terrorist responsible for more American deaths than any other individual – until 9/11. He is now the subject of a 4-part Showtime dramatic series that debuts on May 19. We talk with Greg Barker who directed and co-wrote this unusual series that tells from American, Israeli and Lebanese perspectives the story of the man who was behind many suicide bombings, hijackings and murders in the Middle East and who evaded capture for two decades until he was killed by a car bomb in Syria. The drama also weaves in first-hand, real-life interviews with prominent officials from the CIA and Mossad.

May 18th, 2023 State Secrets

Ukraine’s New Cyber Force

One man knows better than most, just what cyber tactics Russia has been using to attack Ukraine – not just since the full invasion in February of 2022 – but since the war began in Crimea in 2014.  Since then, Ukraine has served as an unwitting testing ground for Russian cyber aggression with an impact that has often spread well beyond the country’s borders.  State Secrets host Suzanne Kelly sat down in Kyiv with the head of Ukraine’s Department of Cyber and Information Security at the Security Service of Ukraine to dig in on Illia Vitiuk’s frontline perspective on what he calls the first cyber war in history.

May 11th, 2023 State Secrets

A Strategic View on Global Security

Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly interviews the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen Robert Ashley to discuss Ukraine, Russia, China, and the impact of technology on todays complicated world. Listen in on what Gen. Bob Ashley has to say about the private sector’s mission in today’s security landscape.

Age of Danger: Keeping America Safe in an Era of New Superpowers, New Weapons, and New Threats

Former New York Times correspondent Thom Shanker and defense expert Andrew Hoehn have crafted an important new book looking at the challenges the United States faces from Russia and China – and from emerging threats like pandemics, AI-enabled weapons and cybersecurity. We talk with them about how to address these challenges which they say will require revamping the U.S. national security structure.