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The Live Drop

Author: Mark Valley

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Host Mark Valley ventures into the elusive world of intelligence collection and espionage to spot, assess and debrief: spies, spy catchers, analysts, diplomats, security experts and occasionally the storytellers who bring them all to life - a HUMINT Experiment.
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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 50thelivedrop.comTwitter  @thelivedropInstagram  @thelivedrop
Live Drop guest Kao Kalia Yang is a celebrated Hmong-American writer. She holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir  winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice, a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. The book is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read title and on the roster of the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Program. Her second book, The Song Poet  won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize. The story has been commissioned as a youth opera by the Minnesota Opera and will premiere in the spring of 2021. Yang’s debut children’s book, A Map Into the World  is a American Library Association Notable Book of the Year, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, winner of the Northstar Best Illustrator Award, and winner of the 2020 Minnesota Book Award in Children’s Literature. Her co-edited collection titled What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color  is a groundbreaking work that centers the poetry and prose of women whose voices have been neglected and silenced on the topic despite the fact that they experience these losses disproportionately. The book was named one of the ten best books of the fall of 2019 by the Star Tribune. Her most recent Children's book: The Most Beautiful Thing   was just published on October 6th, 2020. Kalia is also a teacher and public speaker.I wanted to talk to Kalia about the legacy of the Secret War in Laos - how it is remembered in the Hmong diaspora. A civil war fought alongside Vietnam's in the shadows by the CIA, with Hmong fighters against communist insurgents. I ended up having an enlightening cultural conversation with a poet in real time about birth, life, suffering, loss, death and grief in Hmong tradition and in current-day America.  Her next book Somewhere in the Unknown World  – a collective memoir about the lives of refugees - is available for pre-order and comes out on November 8th, 2020. You can find out more about Kalia and her work at  kaokaliayang.comEpisode 49
Jonathan Dyer spent three years during the Cold War living and working in Berlin as a Russian Linguist for the Army's Intelligence and Security Command at Field Station Berlin. From 1983 through 1986, Dyer worked at the NSA’s intercept site on Teufelsberg in what was at the time West Berlin. He was a SIGINT intercept operator and transcriber - his job was to keep tabs on the USSR’s military activities in the Group of Soviet Forces Germany. The Nick Temple FilesHis experiences in Berlin serve as the background for his Cold War thrillers, the Nick Temple Files, and his 21st century thriller, The Holy Lance. Dyer's eclectic body of work includes a post-modern existential novella, Judging Paradise,  and a coming-of-age novel, Let Me Explain, that draws heavily on his adolescent years at a New England prep school.You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @JPDyer, and his website below contains links to find his books and posts about Cold War Berlin and Espionage Writing.JonathanDyerAuthor.comthelivedrop.comEpisode 48
Mike Croll has been around a crisis or two - some violent and some peaceful - starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall. He's worked for the Halo Trust in Cambodia, and with the British Foreign Office, European Union, United Nations and more recently, Facebook.  He's an old friend of your host Mark Valley and they share a few laughs as Mike offers some thoughts about Security from ancient times to the present and into the future.  And there's a bonus guest around 48:52 who drops in - Mike's son, Ben Croll, shares his experience as 17 year-old young American in the times of the Black Lives Matter Movement and Covid-19, and his hopes for the future.   Episode 47Books by Mike Croll:History of LandminesLandmines in War and PeaceResources:The Halo Trusthttp://www.death-clock.orgLinkedIn.com/in/mike-croll
American photographer Dan Kane has a vivid memory.  He got to Berlin in 1983 and experienced some of the major events like the Nicholson shooting of 1985, the LaBelle bombing in 1986, the Wall coming down in 1989 - and he has some stories to share.Dan was a civilian, fluent in German, and an ex-pat with a variety of jobs in the American sector. He taught English, narrated ads for AFN Berlin (88FM,) and taught photography for the US Army – worth noting that his students were involved in surveillance operations with Detachment A, USMLM, and others.  We postulate about one fairly relentless recruitment approach by the Stasi on a road trip to Rostock, East Germany, and Dan shares the realities of living in the spy capital of Europe in the mid 80s. This conversation was recorded in 2018 in Dan’s apartment in NeuKölln, and unfortunately, the audio sounds like listening in on a real Live Drop - with the ashtray bugged on a coffee table.  Dan's made Berlin his home and studio to an extensive body of work. His exhibits, links and publications can be found at:   Dan-Kane.com  Episode image is from Dan's 'Kulisse' collection of photographs (scenery and nudes) from a former Soviet Military Hospital at Beelitz, Heilstätten.The 1962 spy novel Dan read and summarized to his Stasi driver/captor: FAIL-SAFE, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey WheelerComments, suggestions or questions?  thelivedrop@protonmail.comEpisode 46
Author Trevor Barnes talks about his new book Dead Doubles – about the Portland spy Ring – their Portland, not our Portland.  In the late 50s Soviet illegal Gordon Lonsdale (Konan Molody) ran a group of spies who managed to penetrate a British research facility at the Portland Naval Base, and communicate effectively to Moscow. The compromised intelligence ranged from sonar to biological technologies.  A famous counter-intelligence investigation led by MI-5 was an example of early cooperation between CIA, FBI and MI-5, along with revealing the depths of the Soviet Illegals program in Britain, some of whom were likely never identified.  Trevor Barnes is an intelligence historian who shares the varied connections of this case to much more at the time.  Dead Doubles, by Trevor BarnesSpy Catcher, by Peter WrightA Pack of Lies, by Hugh Whitemore (NYT Review by Frank Rich)Episode 45
In this episode we gather some expert intelligence about global health supply chains, and how they are adapting to the demands and limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic. My guest Maeve Magner is an industry renowned global health supply chain advisor who’s clients include: Foundation for New Diagnostics, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Global Fund, and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance.  Maeve informs from Ireland about the fundamentals of supply chain management from manufacturing, forecasting, and distribution of testing kits, vaccines and production of PPE across the world.  From her almost thirty years of experience Maeve offers us a prognosis for how the pandemic could likely play out. The good news is that there have already been some remarkable innovations and initiatives that are helping bring this crisis under control - some of which are:WIA – Optimization of buildings using internet of things and now being leveraged to manage the return to officeParsyl – Risk Management via Smart Temp Monitors & Data driven insurance products Clinic 365 – Patient engagement platform, scaled up during covid as GPs went to virtual appointments.Zenysis – Interoperability Platform, scaled up virtual control rooms for governments in covid response.Wingcopter – Drone delivery company from vaccines in Vanuatu to insulin in Ireland For those interested in Supply Chain Management:Association for Supply Chain Management Council of Supply Chain Management ProfessionalUniversity of MichiganRelated Resources:GAVI - The Latest on the Covid-19 Vaccine RaceFIND - Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Covid-19EU eyes COVID-19 vaccines, shuns WHO-led allianceLive Drop Episode 044 
"Fake news" is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. But that doesn’t mean that we should just give up on the idea of finding the truth.In True or False, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis will take readers young and old through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them. Then, she shares lessons learned in over a decade working for the CIA, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biases, so that we can think critically about important issues and put events happening around us into context.Find more information about the author at  cindyotis.comOrder True or False, by Cindy Otis releases on July 28, 2020#1 new release in teen and young adult modern historySites mentioned:Snopes.comPoynter InstitutePolitifact.comFactcheck.orgHoaxslayer.comBotcheck.meEpisode 43
Lovers Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen formed an unconventional and enigmatic network of artists and intellectuals to resist the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s Berlin.  As an officer of the Luftwaffe and Nazi film worker Harro and Libertas sought to operate in plain site, and combine friendship with opportunities for espionage. This gripping spy tale asks the question of how much we are willing to risk to challenge the status quo and change society. Norman spoke to me from Berlin about his research and the Nazi’s unsuccessful attempt to erase all memory of Harro and Liberta’s spy ring. Look for us to talk about the unique authentication and flow of information within this ad hoc intelligence network that was never compromised from within.  Find out more about the author at:  NormandOhler.comThe Bohemians by Norman OhlerBlitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman OhlerLive Drop Episode 042
Emily Whalen is a historian of U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. She is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Texas - Austin, and an Earnest May pre-doctoral fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Soon to be Dr. Whalen essentially offers a thorough country profile starting literally with ancient history to the present unrest in Lebanon. We discuss how the political system represents the various ethnic and sectarian groups and their identities in modern day Lebanon, along with an explanation of the rise and resiliency of Hezbollah. With Covid-19 pressuring an economic disaster, Lebanese are at a crisis point. In this episode we hear from someone who’s lived in Beirut, and made the troubled and fascinating country her life’s work. So far.  This was recorded just before the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Civil strife in the streets of Beirut only weeks early reflects a surprising similarity. Out of political and social division has risen a popular consensus for the need for reforms. You can find Emily Whalen on Twitter @eiwhalen  and more information at  emilyingridwhalen.comLive Drop Episode 041Links to resources mentioned:The Impossible Solution, Yassin al-Haj SalehAugustus Richard NortonThe Belfer CenterThe Good Spy, Kai BirdAgents of Innocence, David IgnatiusBeirut Rules, Fred BurtonThe Daily Star Lebanon
The Secret War in Laos was sponsored by Americans, fought by Laotians, Thais, Vietnamese, American advisors and pilots while almost entirely eclipsed by the war in Vietnam.  Jessica Pearce Rotondi’s book What We Inherit – is a poignant memoir of a family’s loss and search for answers over generations to find Jack Pearce whose AC130 gunship was shot down over Laos in 1972. Decades later Jack's niece Jessica picked up the search where her mother and grandfather had left off.  Her quest led her to Vientiane, to revisit the Secret War in Laos in which the CIA aided Laotian fighters against the North Vietnamese seeking to secure their supply lines along the Ho Chi Min Trail.  Jessica’s memoir, published last month is ten years in the making, and started with finding a closet of classified documents her mother had assembled.  Jessica talks about the Secret War, the legacy of loss, cost of war on a family, the nature of grief, and the healing powers of storytelling. What We Inherit,  Jessica Pearce RotondiPublished by Olivia Smith at unnamedpress.com – Untold stories, uncharted territory, undiscovered writers.  Check them out.Jessica is on twitter and Instagram @jessicarotondi and there’s further information on her website jessicapearcerotondi.com Opening music is from "Lao Phene" a piece of Lao classical music. Performed here by Musiciens du Palais Royal, Luang Prabang. Please consider donating to the  HALO TRUST whose work is focused in Savannaket Province, Laos, where 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Most families are almost entirely dependent on growing rice, but unexploded bombs make cultivating rice potentially life threatening. Since 2012, they have destroyed over 50,000 explosives and taught communities how to recognize and report dangerous items, so families no longer need to choose between taking risks or going hungry.Live Drop Episode 040
Latvian Aviator Hubert Cukurs was a popular figure before WWII, but the Charles Lindbergh of Latvia would soon become the Butcher of Latvia responsible for the murder of some 30,000 Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, and fleed to South America after war’s end.  In 1965, with the improbable German war crimes statute of limitations about to expire, the Mossad mobilized their own ace and master spy - Jacob “Mio” Meidad, a brilliant agent who’d already helped kidnap Adolf Eichmann three years prior.  Citing his thorough research, author Stephan Talty describes this incredible operation in which Meidad traveled to Brazil in disguise to befriend Cukurs, gain his trust, and bring the nazi collaborator to justice.  STEPHAN TALTY is the best-selling author of  The Black Hand,  Agent Garbo, and A Captain’s Duty.  His books have been made into two films, the Oscar-winning  Captain Phillips  and Only the Brave.  He’s written for many publications, including the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and Playboy.  He lives outside New York City.  Talty’s book The Good Assassin  is available now.  Episode 039The Good Assassin, Stephan TaltyRise and Kill First, Ronen BergmanHaaretz Review of The Good AssassinSTEPHANTALTY.COM
This episode isn’t so much about espionage or intelligence collection as it is an example of how understanding how what you don’t know can help shape your reality. How do you take precautions against an unseen and undefined threat - in this episode - to public health.  After getting his Phd in Chemistry, Sergei was called to duty by his reserve military unit for the clean-up at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor site in 1986.  As a ‘nuclear jumper’ he was in charge of 28 soldiers tasked with the dangerous duty of removing debris from the roof of the remaining structures. His 2011 book The Liquidator is a poignant memoir and scientific appraisal of these events.   Sergei discusses the vigilance and awareness necessary to manage an individual and public health threat: radiation or viral.  Sergei now runs his own nano-technology business based in Singapore which faces its unique challenges to contain the pandemic. With his 30 years in the chemical-pharma industry Sergei offers his recommendations. Episode 038WNYC Public Radio InterviewLiquidators of Chernobyl - YoutubeLiquidator: The Chernobyl Story, Sergei BelyakovSergei Belyakov Biography:Sergei A. BELYAKOV received his Ph.D. in organic/polymer chemistry (1984, USSR). After moving to the USA in 1992, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Prof. Alan R. Katritzky (University of Florida).In 1998 Sergei moved to the pharmaceutical industry, joining Guilford Pharmaceuticals, a spin-off of Johns Hopkins University, where he developed novel drugs for CNS/metabolic diseases (collaboration with Amgen). In 2005-2006, with MGI Pharma, he led the team of scientists, which developed second generation (SG) Dacogen®, a promising anti-cancer drug.From 2009, Sergei worked at AMRI Singapore, a CRO with expertise in the pre-clinical research, where he held a position of Assistant Director. He successfully guided multiple research teams totaling over 50 researchers in the areas of CNS, HIV and cancer diseases, collaborating with a range of the world-class pharma/biotech companies (Merck, GSK, Takeda, Sanofi etc.). In 2016, Sergei has started a new scientific research company, Theracross Technologies, co-establishing another start-up, Wintershine Health and Skincare, in 2018. Both companies focus on the development of novel delivery nano-systems for biomedicine, food industry, and personal care.Sergei is an author and co-author of over 60 scientific papers and presentations, and of over 20 patents/patent applications, located in the areas of organic and medicinal chemistry and material science.Sergei is a veteran-liquidator of Chernobyl NPP accident (1986); his accounts are gathered in his book “Liquidator: The Chernobyl Story”. He is the author of science fiction novels, and an avid basketball player and coach.
Focusing on the motivations, The Anatomy of a Spy  by Michael Smith tells the story of why spies spy, presenting a wealth of spy stories—some previously unknown and some famous—from the very human angle of the agents themselves. He breaks them into categories that go beyond the widely shared MICE - Money, Ideology, Compromise/Coercion, Ego. We discuss some classic examples from his book: Operation Diamond where the Mossad used sex and coercion on pilots to fly a MIG-29 out of Iraq in the early 60s; Gabriele Gast - who was caught up in a Stasi Romeo-operation; Polish spy Ryszard Kukliński was a patriot who shared the Warsaw Pact operational plans. We touch on the intentions and needs of spies like: Oleg Penkovsky,  Aldrich Ames, Stephen Hanssen, and Ronald Pelton - what was the nugget they were after?Michael shares some of his experience working for the BBC Monitoring Service - listening in on Cold War transmissions across Poland and East Germany. We also discuss the similarities to journalism with both terminology (stringer, fireman, source) and tradecraft from his experience as an award-winning journalist for the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times. Smith is the author of a number of books, including The Secrets of Station X, Killer Elite and Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews, and MI6: The Real James Bonds. He is a visiting fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford.Look for the debut of the #dozendecions that Michael makes in under a minute that reveal if his true nature is that of a spy, handler, or analyst.  I’m thinking he’s secret agent material. Episode 037More on the author at  michaelsmithauthor.comResources Cited:An Alternative Framework for Agent Recruitment: From MICE to RASCLS, Randy BurkettRyszard KuklińskiKuklinski Documents on Martial Law in Poland
Author James Stejskal talks about his secret Berlin unit during the Cold War.  Their mission, should hostilities have commenced, was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific war-time persona. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, and intelligence tradecraft and able to act as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move. Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit with no parallel. It left a legacy of a new soldier: expert in irregular and unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for missions such as the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the US government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told. Episode 036Special Forces Berlin, Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army’s Elite 1956-1990, by James Stejskalhttps://www.detachment-a.org/James on Cold War ConversationsAuthor’s Facebook Page Live Drop theme performed on electric cello by Danica Pinner danicapinner.com
Fred Burton, one of the world's foremost authorities on security and terrorism, tells the harrowing story of the hunt for William Buckley - CIA station chief abducted by Hezbollah in Beirut on March 16th, 1984. Mr. Burton was deputy chief of counterterrorism at the Diplomatic Security Service, where he was in charge of preventing and investigating attacks against diplomatic personnel and facilities. During his 14-year career, Mr. Burton was involved in many other high-profile investigations including: the search for and arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing; the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane and al Qaeda's New York City bombing plots before 9/11; and the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel and Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.Mr. Burton is the author of four books, including the best-selling memoir, GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent , in which he tells the story of his role in the fight against the burgeoning terrorist threat in the 1980s and beyond. His second book, Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice), follows his 35-year quest to solve the case of an Israeli diplomat assassinated in Mr. Burton's childhood neighborhood. Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, is a New York Times best-seller and provides the first detailed account of the infamous assault in Libya in September, 2012. Beirut Rules is his fourth book.Fred currently oversees Stratfor's analysis of global security developments and consults with clients on security-related issues affecting their business assets or personal safety. Beirut Rules: The Murder of a CIA Station Chief and Hezbollah's War Against America Daniel Pearl FoundationOther works mentioned: Agents of Innocence  by David IgnatiusThe Good Spy  by Kai BirdNo Shadows in the Desert  by Sam KatzRise and Kill First  by Ronen Bergman
Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) have been on the front lines of securing diplomacy for over a century. From the Fall of Saigon to the U.S. embassy bombings in east Africa, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, special agents of the DSS have relentlessly put their lives on the line to protect their fellow diplomats around the globe. Agents Unknown reveals the story of Cody Perron, a former Special Agent of the DSS, and his journey through the Middle East and Southeast Asia, negotiating international fugitive returns, interviewing ISIS hostages, and protecting the highest level U.S. government officials in some of the most volatile places in the world. Raw and unfiltered, Perron offers the perspective of a ground level agent revealing the unconventional duties and accomplishments as one of many “agents unknown.” Cody also offers his experience as a US Marine posted at the US Embassy in Moscow during the 911 attacks and Vladmir Putin’s rise to power.  Episode 034Agents Unknown: True Stories of Life as a Special Agent in the Diplomatic Security Service   by Cody Perron On camera interview with KUSI San DiegoFor more information on the author go to  codyperron.com
Ilya is an asset protection practitioner and sought after security specialist.  After immigrating to the US from Moscow, he graduated and later taught at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  He spent his formative professional years at Prudential Financial HQ in Newark, NJ, under the tutelage of Paul DeMatteis.  He then went on to Kroll Security for eleven years - starting in New York and then moving to Hong Kong.  Ilya now consults and coaches under his own brand - Sphere State - and closely collaborates with a team of practitioners at Current Consulting, based in Hong Kong and mainland China.  Ilya is helping clients protect people, information, reputation, and environments.  He has worked for governments, corporations, and high net-worth individuals.I wanted to talk to someone about corporate security and the spycraft and counter-espionage that goes into other than governmental operations – what I got was something I hadn’t expected - a nuanced discussion of the theory and application of security in our lives with terms like: digital pause, shoulder surfing, video analytics and my favorite fundamental aspiration. Ilya and I talked a bit about the psychology and history of security then veered into current events and ways to process the diluge of information available today.  This was recorded in mid march of 2020 just as the world was becoming aware of the surge of Coronavirus cases. Two weeks later it already seems like the before-times, but this episode is a look into future challenges in the security industry.  Resources mentioned: Talking to Strangers by Malcom GladwellThinking Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanThe Gift of Fear by Gavin deBeckerThe Benefits of Traveling Grey, by Scott Stewart, StratforMisfit, by Ilya Umanskiy in Medium
My guest Neil Graham Hansen began his aviation career as a pilot for Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. He then spent more than a decade in Southeast Asia as a captain for Air America - the CIA's airline that operated during the Vietnam era and the 'Secret War' in Laos. Upon returning to the States, unable to let go of the thrills of high stakes flying, his career trajectory veered off course into a Federal prison for smuggling narcotics - where he began his redemption as an advocate for his fallen Air America colleagues.Neil talks with me about the history Air America (the world’s most shot-at airline) that could go anywhere anytime, especially where military wasn’t allowed.  He talks about his relationship to the customer - the CIA, and he clarifies the daring, diverse, and patriotic culture of Air America pilots and crew.  Look for him to explain terms like: sticky brick, blackpearl, hard rice, the customer, and five-dollar turns.Neil has recently written a great book FLIGHT with co-writer Luann Grosscup – An Air America Pilots story of Adventure Descent and Redemption.This historical aviation narrative incorporates the pathos of a war zone, humor, and candid insight. Neil pulls the reader directly into the cockpit, onto dirt mountaintop landing strips, into the raunchy brothels of Laos, alongside his first toddling steps into Buddhism, aboard the plane he flew out of Cambodia hours before it fell to the Khmer Rouge, down the road of self-destruction and beside him as he regains a foothold on the path to integrity.Neil's tireless in telling the story of Air America’s heroes. His appearances are currently subject to confirmation, but look for his presentation at:  AIRVENTURE in Oshkosh, WI Other links and resources mentioned:Air America Historical Social ClubFlight Facebook PageAir America, by Christopher RobbinsExperimental Aviation AssociationVeteran’s Channel Flying Men Flying MachinesEpisode 032
Tracy Walder,  ex-USC sorority girl joined the CIA at age 22, hunted down the most dangerous terrorists, then joined the FBI to uproot domestic spies and wrote a fantastic book about it - The Unexpected Spy.  “I’d show up in countries where armies of terrorists wanted to kill Westerners. I’d wear red lipstick, curl my hair and stand firmly on the rock of my convictions.”  Tracy talks about her select experience in the early drone program at CIA during the Bush administration's push into war with Iraq. Seemingly at the vanguard of the agency’s critical missions, Tracy went on to hunt dealers and suppliers of WMDs across Europe and Africa, before joining the FBI to complete a counterintelligence operation and convict a pair of spies in Los Angeles, CA.  What she always wanted to be was a teacher, and now is on the board of directors of the non-profit girlsecurity.org which seeks to increase representation of women in national security by building a pipeline for girls and young women through learning, training, and mentoring support focusing on building a future workforce of women national security decision makers.   Episode 031More information at thelivedrop.com
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