62 episodes

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 who bring them all to life. Check your electronics and subscribe, do a thorough surveillance detection route, find your Live Drop location, and after a mad-minute introduction, listen in on conversations with our fascinating guests who illuminate a complex universe. A HUMINT experiment with host Mark Valley.
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The Live Drop Mark Valley

    • History
    • 4.3 • 63 Ratings

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 who bring them all to life. Check your electronics and subscribe, do a thorough surveillance detection route, find your Live Drop location, and after a mad-minute introduction, listen in on conversations with our fascinating guests who illuminate a complex universe. A HUMINT experiment with host Mark Valley.
Get bonus content on Patreon
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Berlin Author Bernd von Kostka Duels in the Dark with Cold War History

    Berlin Author Bernd von Kostka Duels in the Dark with Cold War History

    Bernd von Koska is the curator of the Allied Museum in Berlin and co-author of Capital of Spies. For almost half a century, From summer 1945 until 1990, NATO and the Warsaw Pact fought an ongoing duel in the dark. Espionage was part of everyday life in both East and West Berlin with spies of numerous nationalities and loyalties. In this conversation Bernd describes the highlights of his book and intelligence activities in Berlin: the success, failures, famous and the infamous to include: the Crash of the YAK28P, The Spy Tunnel, The Meister and James Hall, James Carney, a visit from Marcus Wolf, Benno Ohnes shooting, Dean Reed, Rosenholtz Files and the Berlin Airlift. Capital of Spies (co-authored with Sven Felix Kellerhoff) is a great starter reference to the important intelligence events in Cold War Berlin. Bernd is a Berliner and no stranger to the spy world. Aside from his work at the museum, he’s recently helped produce British drama Spy City on AMC with author William Boyd.  
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    • 42 min
    John Pomfret and Polish American Intelligence Cooperation

    John Pomfret and Polish American Intelligence Cooperation

    John Pomfret is the author of From Warsaw With Love: Polish Spies, The CIA and the Forging of a Unlikely Alliance
    This book starts out in Los Angeles with a particularly effective Polish spy who’d penetrated the aerospace industry. Along with a history of U.S. and Polish collaboration dating back to the Colonial period, Pomfret identifies the threads of eventual cooperation between the intelligence organizations.  
    I'm interested  about how Poland gained entry into NATO in 1996 along with Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. John’s book covers a little-known clandestine operation undertaken by the Poles to get Americans out of Baghdad.  He reveals Poland's deft diplomatic maneuvering involving the U.S., Germany, and the Soviets that led to their entry into the alliance.
    The results of this initiative can be seen in the Ukraine today.  Had the Poles not actively sought membership in NATO decades ago, we may be looking at an entirely different landscape in Eastern Europe. More about the author at: https://www.johnpomfret.com
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    • 32 min
    Author Rebecca Donner Enters Hostile Archives to Find Anti-Nazi Spy Mildred Harnack.

    Author Rebecca Donner Enters Hostile Archives to Find Anti-Nazi Spy Mildred Harnack.

    Rebecca Donner is the author of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days. Mildred Harnack was twenty-six when she enrolled in a PhD program in Germany and witnessed the meteoric rise of the Nazi party. In 1932, she began holding secret meetings in her apartment—a small band of political activists that by 1940 had grown into the largest underground resistance group in Berlin the Rote Kapella. She recruited Germans into the resistance, helped Jews escape, plotted acts of sabotage, and wrote leaflets that denounced Hitler..When war broke out Mildred became a spy, sending top-secret intelligence to the Allies. On the eve of her escape, she was ambushed by the. On February 16, 1943, she was strapped to a guillotine and beheaded. Mildred Harnack was the only American in the leadership of the German resistance. In this episode, Rebecca Donner tells the story of her great-great aunt Mildred.Find out more about the author here --> https://www.rebeccadonner.com
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    • 53 min
    Taking a Hard Look at the Five Eyes Agreement with Dr. Anthony Wells

    Taking a Hard Look at the Five Eyes Agreement with Dr. Anthony Wells

    It's not often you get to meet your heroes. As an Operations Research major in college, I Idolized the Bletchley Park giants. Dr. Anthony Wells was trained by these greats like his mentor the cryptoanalyst Sir Harry Hinsley. Fifty years of working in the British intelligence community leaves Dr. Wells with plenty to talk about -- and quite a lot to be kept secret as well. We discuss his book BETWEEN FIVE EYES - Fifty Years Inside the Five Eyes Intelligence Community which reads like a historical witness of key events, and remains a lasting contribution to the institutional knowledge of the intelligence field. Anthony has another book to look out for --> Crossroads in Time: Philby and Angleton, The Story of Treachery. The first dedicated work to explore their treasonous relationship.
    From the author's Amazon page:
    Dr. Wells is the only living person to have worked for British Intelligence as a British citizen and U.S. Intelligence as an American citizen. He has worked in C4ISRT, counter terrorism, as well as asymmetric and irregular warfare. Dr. Wells has led programs in the U.S National Intelligence Community to mitigate the effects of terrorist and adversary attacks on personnel, infrastructure, political systems, and communities. He was trained in the 1960s by the most distinguished exponents of deception and other clandestine operations from the World War Two period. His mentors included Professor Sir Harry Hinsley, the Bletchley Park code breaker and operations specialist. Dr. Wells is a foremost expert in the science and art of modern Information and Deception Operations, in both the offensive and defensive modes. Dr. Wells while in the Royal Navy served in Washington DC with the US Navy and Intelligence Community, and at sea in the Third Fleet, US Pacific Fleet. He became Head of Special Programs in one of the lead British Intelligence Directorates and as a US citizen was the Technical Director of Fleet Battle Experiments Alpha and Bravo in the Pacific Fleet. He is a recognized expert on threats, strategy, and tactics in the INDOPACOM area of operations.
    Dr. Wells is the third Chairman of the Board of the USS Liberty Alliance. He succeeded the late Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of Naval Operations, and the late Rear Admiral Clarence “Mark” Hill, distinguished battle group commander and naval aviator. He was made an honorary crew member of the USS Liberty by surviving crew members. USS Liberty is the most highly decorated warship in the history of the US Navy for a single action. He is an acknowledged expert on the Middle East, and the 1967 June War.
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    • 43 min
    McCloskey Deconstructs Damascus Station

    McCloskey Deconstructs Damascus Station

    Though this episode was recorded in November of 2021, David's recollections and impressions of the Syrian Conflict are eerily similar to what's happening in Ukraine right now. A former CIA analyst, he's now a spy novelist to keep your eye on. David McCloskey reveals part of his process and some unique elements of craft that he brought to this auspicious first novel. Episode 58
    From a CBS article by Kate Gibson, here are some links to help Ukranians:
    Convoy of Hope. The disaster relief group says it's partnering with a local Polish organization to provide meals to refugees entering Poland, as well as to deliver food, water and other basics across the region. Donate here.
    International Committee of the Red Cross. The Swiss-based organization is supporting the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross in helping those impacted by the war. Donate to the ICRC.
    International Medical Corps. The first responders' organization has teams inside Ukraine and in the surrounding regions to offer medical and mental health services. Link to contribute.
    Kyiv Independent. The English-language news site has launched a GoFundMe campaign asking for support.
    UNICEF. The global group devoted to safeguarding children is working to provide humanitarian supplies to families without safe water or electricity due to the conflict. Contributions can be made here.
    Voices of Children. The Ukraine-based charitable foundation has been offering psychological counseling, including art therapy, for children affected by war in the country's east since 2015, according to its site. The group is currently helping children and families across Ukraine, including helping with evacuations.
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    • 45 min
    Spending Time on Target with Author Douglas London

    Spending Time on Target with Author Douglas London

    Author of The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Espionage, Doug London was happy to get right into his book's revelations and talk about his process. With 34 years of experience in the CIA, this memoir is rich with the authentic personal encounters of a case officer. Doug walks me through some of the many things going through a case officer’s mind during all stages of Spot, Assess, Develop, and ultimately Terminate—sounds more violent than it is.
    Doug has a profound appreciation of those who’ve put their trust in him, and claims it’s an unethical job that has to be done with ethics. He continues to shares his thoughts on intelligence, espionage and current events at justsecurity.org.
    Twitter: @douglaslondon5
    From Hatchet Books:
     
    This revealing memoir from a 34-year veteran of the CIA who worked as a case officer and recruiter of foreign agents before and after 9/11 provides an invaluable perspective on the state of modern spy craft, how the CIA has developed, and how it must continue to evolve.
    If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a modern-day spy, Douglas London is here to explain. London’s overseas work involved spotting and identifying targets, building relationships over weeks or months, and then pitching them to work for the CIA—all the while maintaining various identities, a day job, and a very real wife and kids at home.
    The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence captures the best stories from London's life as a spy, his insights into the challenges and failures of intelligence work, and the complicated relationships he developed with agents and colleagues. In the end, London presents a highly readable insider’s tale about the state of espionage, a warning about the decline of American intelligence since 9/11 and Iraq, and what can be done to recover.
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    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
63 Ratings

63 Ratings

TravelSprout ,

Great spy stuff; skip the snide political quips

There’s lots of excellent behind-the-scenes information on trade craft & the practical aspects of intelligence work. The guests are experts in their fields & the host does his homework , asking well-crafted questions which allow the guests to shine. The only downside is the host’s distracting habit of inserting references to his own political views into the interviews. The host doesn’t like Trump; I get it. I also don’t care. I’m tuning into the podcast because of a shared interest with the host and I’d really appreciate being able to focus just on that shared interest for the length of the episode.
After the first three episodes, I will soon start the fourth with anticipation, waiting for the politics snark. It’s just distracting and unnecessary.
Aside from the above small reservation this is an excellent podcast.

puggle5786 ,

Engaging interview, lively and great listen

I’m new to this podcast but just listened to the Damascus Station episode and the entire time was caught up the detailed and wide ranging knowledge from both Mark Valley and the author as they spoke.
This podcast was relaxed but also found the razor thin balance of high intellectual discussion with enough current events commentary to engage listeners who may not have nerd knowledge of spycraft or spy thrillers. I personally really get into how political authors and intelligence professionals see and interpret current on the ground events around the world because their livelihoods are wrapped in investigating the bigger picture of the world’s power structures. I find that the behind-the-scenes players have nuanced observations I would never have heard from loud political wonks. Kudos for the quality of the episode and I will definitely be going back and listening to more of them now.

mted8 ,

Improved interviewing since inception

I’ve been listening since first episode and agree with the interruptions breaking the flow of conversation, but I also enjoyed the ease and sense of camaraderie. Just listened to two most recent interviews back-to-back and found the topics and host/interviewee thoroughly informative and engaging. I like the interjection of personal stories.

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