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The Live Drop

An Intelligence Conversation

Venture into the elusive world of intelligence collection and espionage to spot, assess and debrief: spies, handlers, catchers, analysts, cut-outs, dangles, diplomats, security experts and occasionally the storytellers w
Latest Episode11/8/2021

A Spymaster and a Gentleman, Jack Devine Dispels CIA Myth and Dispenses his Truth

Ep. 56
Jack Devine's career at the CIA spanned from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, including the fall ofPresident Salvador Allendein Chile in 1973, theIran–Contra affairin the mid-1980s, andthe fight to push the Soviets out of Afghanistanin the late 1980s.Devine would go on to run the Counter Narcotics Center in the 1990s, and helped oversee capturePablo Escobarin 1993. In this interview we talk about his initial impressions of Santiago in 1971, the vast difference between liberalism and communism, and he clarifies the extent and limitations of US involvement in both of Pinochet's coup attempts. In his book Spymasters Prism Jack suggests we need a new Moscow Rules and what they might look like. This is a wonderful discussion with an experienced spymaster himself who's knowledge of intelligence history drives vivid and prescient insights from the past into the future. Jack dispels some persistently inaccurate mythology, and also clarifies why code phrases need not be improvised. Jack Devine - The Arkin GroupIf you've enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, please consider signing up as a contributing patron and join the community for exclusive commentary, transcripts and other content.A $10 a month donation will really keep us going ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedrop Alternatively, if you would like to keep us operational you could offer a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedrop Welcome Leslie Rosiak and thanks for joining Patreon!
11/8/2021

A Spymaster and a Gentleman, Jack Devine Dispels CIA Myth and Dispenses his Truth

Ep. 56
Jack Devine's career at the CIA spanned from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, including the fall ofPresident Salvador Allendein Chile in 1973, theIran–Contra affairin the mid-1980s, andthe fight to push the Soviets out of Afghanistanin the late 1980s.Devine would go on to run the Counter Narcotics Center in the 1990s, and helped oversee capturePablo Escobarin 1993. In this interview we talk about his initial impressions of Santiago in 1971, the vast difference between liberalism and communism, and he clarifies the extent and limitations of US involvement in both of Pinochet's coup attempts. In his book Spymasters Prism Jack suggests we need a new Moscow Rules and what they might look like. This is a wonderful discussion with an experienced spymaster himself who's knowledge of intelligence history drives vivid and prescient insights from the past into the future. Jack dispels some persistently inaccurate mythology, and also clarifies why code phrases need not be improvised. Jack Devine - The Arkin GroupIf you've enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, please consider signing up as a contributing patron and join the community for exclusive commentary, transcripts and other content.A $10 a month donation will really keep us going ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedrop Alternatively, if you would like to keep us operational you could offer a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedrop Welcome Leslie Rosiak and thanks for joining Patreon!
11/1/2021

George Koval Discussion: The Atomic Spy Who Got Away

Ep. 55
Ann Hagedorn discusses her new book SLEEPER AGENT – about the little known Soviet-trained atomic spy who got away.George Koval was born to Russian immigrant parents and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. At the age of 17, he emigrated back to Russia in 1932 where, after university studies, he was discovered and trained by the GRU.He returned to the US, registered for the draft and used his scientific background to secure an assignment at a Uranium and Plutonium production site at Oak Ridge, Ohio.There he had full access to all facilities and passed along information to Moscow via an electronics shop in Manhattan. He escaped back to Russia with out a scratch.It was only years later that the FBI finally identified him. By then it was too late. He might have faded into obscurity had he not tried to collect social security from the US Embassy in Moscow. And writer Alexander Solzhenietsen may have inadvertently outed him in his book THE FIRST CIRCLE, published in 1968.Ann and I spoke about her research and narrative technique, but mostly we just tried to figure out the motive, process, and timeline of the elusive George Koval.ANNHAGEDORN.COMIf you've enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, please consider signing up as a contributing patron and join the community for exclusive commentary, transcripts and other content.A $10 a month donation will really keep us going ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedrop Alternatively, if you would like to keep us operational you could offer a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropThank you for listening and your support,Mark Valleycreator/host
10/22/2021

Former CIA Senior Intelligence Officer Marc Polymeropoulos Offers Clarity In Crisis

Ep. 54
Marc Polymeropoulos has had to live with the consequences of decisions made under the most high-stress circumstances you can imagine as a senior intelligence officer in the CIA, retiring from his 26 years of service as one of the CIA’s most decorated field officers.In his bookClarity in Crisis,Marc shares how true leaders need to lead in and through times of crisis and thrive under conditions of ambiguity, rather than message their way out or duck from hard decisions. Far from mere theory, Marc outlines the unique and specific mindset and strategies he himself practiced and honed throughout his remarkable career.In this interview Marc starts with an explanation of an operational act: the Mad Minute, before we discuss some of the chapters of his unconventional and insightful book of hard earned leadership principles. There is a steady theme of humility in his advice and anecdotes. Marc shares examples to highlight some of his principles which include: giving recognition to less visible but no less important team members; maintain composure through authenticity; and his focus on constantly developing others with early opportunity. His advice is ambitious, effective and proven in some of the most dangerous regions of the past two decades.In 2017 Marc experienced a traumatic brain injury in Moscow from a directed energy attack. He discusses the doubts he had to negotiate, his treatment, art therapy, and advice to others who may be similarly afflicted.We wrap up with a timely discussion of Havana Syndrome. What is it? Who is likely responsible? What are the initial symptoms that tell you to 'Get off the X.' Marc decisively negotiates the Dirty Dozen questions with aplomb. Results? He's definitely tip-of-the-spear material. Sound-Off - Working to ensure anonymous, consistent quality mental health care for veterans.https://www.gq.com/story/cia-investigation-and-russian-microwave-attacksTwitter @MpolymerIf you've enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, please consider signing up as a contributing patron and join the community for exclusive commentary, transcripts and other content.A $10 a month donation will really keep us going ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedrop Alternatively, if you would like to keep us operational you could offer a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropShouts out to our first three Patreoners! Live Drop welcomes new operatives to the network: STANLEY, NEWFANG, and KIWICAT.Thank you for listening and your support,Mark Valleycreator/host
10/15/2021

Daniel Levin Negotiates Hostage Release and Mediates Armed Conflict in the Middle East

Ep. 53
In his new book Proof of Life,American author Daniel Levin dives into the Syrian shadows - an underground industry of war where everything is for sale: arms, drugs, even people.In this thriller/memoir he draws on his perceptions and experience as a a lawyer turned armed conflict negotiator who, for the past twenty years, has worked with governments and development institutions worldwide. After a fairly worldly upbringing, he served in the Israeli Special Forces, studied law, taught in Arabic, and now uses his extensive Middle Eastern contacts and cultural understandingfor diplomatic and mediation efforts as well.In this interview, I showed up for the story of a Syrian hostage negotiation, and stayed for the wide-ranging discussion of the importance of historical context in any conflict resolution and the potential institutional reforms that must also take that into consideration. We talked about the government/ruling situation in Afganistan, Lebanon, and Isreal - and the author’s uncanny sense of smell.More about Daniel Levin---> https://www.daniellevinauthor.comResources mentioned:Lichtenstein Foundation for State GovernanceEmpire of the Summer Moon, S. C. GwynneNothing but A Circus, Daniel LevinThe Martyr Made Podcast - Origins of ZionI hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode. I could use your help to make more...I like to keep the track clean of ads, and sales pitches. As such, meeting costs and finding time to produce this podcast is a challenge, so any support is appreciated. If you would like to help make Season Three operational, please consider a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropOr alternatively,join The Live Drop Patreon community for exclusive commentary and content starting with a $5 monthly donation ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedropAs always, please rate and review the show on iTunes. Your input is appreciated.Thank you for listening and your support,Mark ValleyCreator/Hostthelivedrop.com
10/8/2021

Todd Bensman Surveys the Southern Border and the Convoluted Path of Human Trafficking

Ep. 52
Back in April 2021, Todd Bensman talked with me about the nexus between immigration and national security in his book America’s Covert Border War: the Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration.  Todd is an award-winning journalist who transitioned to a career as a national security intelligence professional for the Texas Department of Public Safety and then returned to writing and publishing. We talk about the threat of muslim extremists crossing and the varied and circuitous international routes they may take - how some, like some Haitians now, can cross from Panama through the storied Darien Gap and across Mexico to seek asylum after crossing into the U.S.  Todd currently serves as the Texas-based Senior National Security Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a Washington, D.C. immigration policy institute. While we talk around the politics of the border,  his book is a story of the ambitious and intrigue-laden covert American counterterrorism programs built after 9/11 from the U.S. border to the tip of South America.  Todd raises the question: have we become a victim of our own counterterrorism success?Recorded earlier this year, on April 16th, 2021More on the author and recent articles can be found at:ToddBensman.com Todd Bensmen - Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)Twitter @BensmanToddAbid Ali Khan Indicted and Sanctionedhttps://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/pakistani-national-indicted-and-sanctioned-human-smuggling-conspiracy**Edited by Pete TurnerI hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode. I could use your help to make more...I like to keep the track clean of ads, and sales pitches. As such, meeting costs and finding time to produce this podcast is a challenge, so any support is appreciated. If you would like to help make Season Three operational, please consider a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropOr alternatively,  join The Live Drop Patreon community for exclusive commentary and content starting with a $5 monthly donation ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedropAs always, please rate and review the show on iTunes. Your input is appreciated. Thank you for listening and your support,Mark ValleyCreator/Hostthelivedrop.com
10/1/2021

Toby Harnden Guides Us Back Into Afghanistan With CIA's Team Alpha, ODA 595, and the Northern Alliance with his new book: FIRST CASUALTY

Ep. 51
Toby Harnden is an awarded journalist, foreign correspondent and former bureau chief of the Sunday Times.  His most recent book is  First Casualty: The untold story of he CIA mission to avenge 911.  After numerous interviews with key players and having visited Afganistan several times over the last decades, Toby documents the unconventional success story of CIA’s Team Alpha from their insertion into the Darya Suf Valley, coordination with Special Forces ODA 595, link-up and cooperation with Northern Alliance commander Abdul Rashid Dostum - leading to the fall of the Taliban at the end of 2001. Toby brings his well-informed insights about some of these initial players: Including David Tyson, JR Seeger, Alex Hernandez and their ride on horseback North with Dostum to Mazar I Sharif, along with the first casualty, Johnny Michael Spann and the events at the Qala-I Jangi fort complex.  We discuss the complexity and the accomplishment of how those few intrepid officers and operators transcended traditions, tribes, allegiances and history in an operation that holds clues to the future of Afghan resistance to the Taliban.  More about the author at:  Tobyharnden.comI hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode. I could use your help to make more...I like to keep the track clean of ads, and sales pitches. As such, meeting costs and finding time to produce this podcast is a challenge, so any support is appreciated. If you would like to help make Season Three operational, please consider a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropOr alternatively,  join The Live Drop Patreon community for exclusive commentary and content starting with a $5 monthly donation ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedropAs always, please rate and review the show on iTunes. Your input is appreciated. Thank you for listening and your support,Mark ValleyCreator/Hostthelivedrop.com
10/19/2020

A Moscow Station Conversation with John Sipher who Shares the Secret to a Good Spy Story

Ep. 50
The Live Drop's 50th Episode - John Sipher - CIA & Spycraft Entertainmentfrom Spycraftentertainment.comJohn retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service. At the time of his retirement, he was a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, the leadership team that guides CIA activities globally. John served multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and high-threat environments. He has significant experience working with foreign and domestic partners to solve national security challenges. John also served as a lead instructor in the CIA’s clandestine training school, and was a regular lecturer at the CIA’s leadership development program. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal.John is a sought-after foreign policy and intelligence expert. John speaks regularly on foreign policy and intelligence issues. His articles have been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Politico, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Slate, Lawfare, The Cipher Brief and Just Security, among others. He regularly appears on the PBS NewsHour, CNN, MSNBC, BBC and other outlets. Twitter: @john_sipherIn this episode John starts off with a discussion of his article  Murdering Reality: The Spurious Spies of Spy Fiction,  and some of the mistakes writers and filmmakers are prone to make.  After a thorough discussion of the history of Soviet intelligence into the rise of Vladimir Putin, John shares some of his experience and perceptions of Russia during his service with CIA.  Unwilling to go quietly into consulting, Sipher reveals why he  decided to take his expertise and storied career into the entertainment business.  The Live Drop Podcast is fortunate to have had John as a guest for such a fun and far ranging discussion.  References to links, and works are below:Putin's People  by Catherine BeltonThe Gerasimov Doctrine  by Molly McKewEuropean Values  - Prague Think Tank Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973)Episode 50I hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode. I could use your help to make more...I like to keep the track clean of ads, and sales pitches. As such, meeting costs and finding time to produce this podcast is a challenge, so any support is appreciated. If you would like to help make Season Three operational, please consider a one time donation of any amount right here ---> https://www.paypal.me/thelivedropOr alternatively,  join The Live Drop Patreon community for exclusive commentary and content starting with a $5 monthly donation ---> https://www.patreon.com/thelivedropAs always, please rate and review the show on iTunes. Your input is appreciated. Thank you for listening and your support,Mark ValleyCreator/Host