The Lawfare Podcast


Marc Polymeropoulos on the CIA, 9/11 and Havana Syndrome

Marc Polymeropoulos served for 26 years in the CIA. He joined the agency working on Afghanistan in the 1990s and moved on to operational roles across the Middle East, recruiting spies and hunting terrorists. Later, he became a senior officer responsible for operations in Russia, which as you'll hear, led to a fateful trip to Moscow that altered the course of his career and his life. Marc has chronicled all of this and more in a new book, “Clarity in Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the CIA.” It's part memoir, part management handbook. Shane Harris sat down with Marc to talk about his career and to look back at the past 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. Marc talked about what the CIA got right, what it did wrong and how he has come to peace with an unexpected sense of betrayal after he developed symptoms of Havana Syndrome, a mysterious and debilitating brain injury. 

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The Broken Rube Goldberg Machine of Online Advertising

Today, we’re bringing you another episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem.In a 2018 Senate hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to a question about how his company makes money with a line that quickly became famous: “Senator, we sell ads.” And indeed, when you open up your Facebook page—or most other pages on the internet—you’ll find advertisements of all sorts following you around. Sometimes they’re things you might really be interested in buying, even if you’ve never heard of them before—tailored to your interests with spooky accuracy. Other times, they’re redundant or just … weird. Like the aid for a pair of strange plaid pajamas with a onesie-style flap on the bottom that briefly took over the internet in December 2020.Shoshana Wodinsky, a staff reporter at Gizmodo, wrote a great piece explaining how exactly those onesie pajamas made their way to so many people’s screens. She’s one of very few reporters covering the business of online advertisements outside industry publications—so Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to her this week about what it’s like reporting on ads. How exactly does ad technology work? Why is it that the ad ecosystem gets so little public attention, even as it undergirds the internet as we know it? And what’s the connection between online ads and content moderation?It’s the Lawfare Podcast, September 16: The Broken Rube Goldberg Machine of Online Advertising