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Chatter: Pandemics and Political Violence with Brian Michael Jenkins

Plagues periodically exact a heavy toll on human life—and much more. They devastate economies, exacerbate social disorder, shock governance systems, provide fodder for political violence, and interact in surprising ways with terrorism.

In this episode of Chatter, David Priess and longtime RAND Corporation terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins talk about the long nature of pandemics, the history of public resistance to efforts to protect public health, links between plagues and social unrest, how the concept of comorbidity applies to the effects of pandemics, the relationship between plagues and political violence, the challenges of rumors and rapid communication, the threat of biological terrorism, and pragmatic ways to counter domestic political violence.

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2/5/2023

Chatter: M. Todd Bennett on the Secretive Story of the Glomar Explorer

A sunken Soviet submarine. A secret CIA plan to lift it from the bottom of the ocean with a giant claw. And reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. It sounds like the makings of a Netflix series—and it should be. But the story of the Glomar Explorer is the stuff of fact, even if it has long been shrouded in secrecy.  In his new book, intelligence historian M. Todd Bennett pierces the veil surrounding this most improbable of intelligence operations and surfaces a riveting tale of underwater espionage and high-stakes foreign policy. The sub-salvage mission, which the CIA codenamed AZORIAN, was green-lit at a time of remarkable daring and ingenuity by the spy agency, which enjoyed only minimal oversight from Congress. But journalists brought the Glomar operation to light in another era, when scandals and excesses led lawmakers to rein in the intelligence community.  Shane Harris talks with Bennett about his book, “Neither Confirm nor Deny: How the Glomar Mission Shielded the CIA from Transparency,” which shows how the exposure of the secret program led to a public backlash against disclosures of classified information and helped reinforce the culture of secrecy that envelops the CIA’s work. The phrase “neither confirm nor deny,” which Bennett tells Harris has become a kind of coy cliche, originates from attempts to uncover the facts of the Glomar mission. Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.