Wednesdays in February (5–26) at 10:15 AM
Human intelligence (HUMINT) is concerned with helping policymakers better understand how our adversaries think. In this fascinating morning course, experts who have spent years examining the dark side of human psychology—delving into the minds and motives of traitors, dictators, and terrorists—share their insights and discuss implications for national security in the 21st century.
What Makes Traitors Tick?
He was the psychiatrist for notorious spy Robert Hanssen and interviewed him extensively in prison. David L. Charney knows better than anyone how Hanssen thought and even felt immediately after his long-term espionage was discovered. Did he feel remorse, did he worry about his family, did he care? The answers may surprise you. Charney has worked with a number of high-profile spies and has focused extensively on the psychology and motivation of traitors.
Does the Evil Mind Exist?
What makes a person choose evil as a way of life? Stanton Samenow, a noted forensic scientist and author of The Criminal Personality and Inside the Criminal Mind, has closely encountered truly villainous people—both notorious and unknown. If anyone can answer whether there are truly evil people, he can. Samenow was the prosecution's mental health witness in the trial of the younger of the DC snipers, Lee Boyd Malvo, and he participated in the longest in-depth clinical research and treatment study of offenders conducted in North America.
Dictators and Their Disciples in a Dangerous World
Today’s international security environment is much less stable than that of the Cold War. Rogue leaders of outlaw nations with access to weapons of mass destruction pose threats unknown in the past. It is crucial to understand what drives these leaders. Jerrold Post has devoted his career to this effort. He is director of the political psychology program at The George Washington University, and was founding director of the CIA’s Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior. He played the lead role in developing the “Camp David profiles” of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat for President Jimmy Carter, and testified before Congress on the political personality of Saddam Hussein. He also initiated the U.S. government program in understanding the psychology of terrorism. Dr. Post’s latest books are Leaders and their Followers in a Dangerous World and The Mind of the Terrorist.
Can a Terrorist’s Brain Be Rebooted?
What sets someone on a terrorist trajectory and, more importantly, what could divert him (or her)? Anne Speckhard, author of Talking to Terrorists, is a research psychologist who has interviewed more than 400 terrorists, their family members, hostages, and close associates worldwide. She has conducted psychological autopsies on more than half of the 112 Chechen suicide terrorists as well as dozens of Palestinian suicide terrorists to understand the motivations for and psychological underpinnings of terrorism. She also helped design the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq for more than 20,000 detainees held by the U.S. Department of Defense. Drawing on this expertise, she can suggest whether the terrorist mindset can be changed.
In collaboration with the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program.