• Turning the tide in the Pacific at the Battle of Midway, establishing secure communications on the beaches during D-Day, staving off nuclear Armageddon – what did cryptology ever have to do with anything, right? To discuss these big themes – and to celebrate our partnership on the exhibition “Codes, Ciphers and Mysteries” – we brought back you know who, Executive Director of the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM) and former SpyCast host, Vince Houghton (Retd). Through the end of September 2021, you can see the NCM’s superstar artifacts here at SPY before they return to their home base at Fort Meade. Sssshhhhh, though…No Such Museum.

  • Codes. Ciphers. Mysteries. This week’s guests are fascinated by codebreaking and cryptography: as well they should be! The Voynich Manuscript, the Dorabella Letter, The Beale Papers, the Zodiac Cipher, Kryptos – so much history, intrigue, and speculation. Andrew sat down with Elonka Dunin, code-breaker extraordinaire, and Klaus Schmeh, a world leading expert on the history of cryptography, to discuss the cat-and-mouse game between code-makers and code-breakers across the ages from ancient cuneiform up to quantum cryptography.   Word to the wise: their book has been described by Sir Dermot Turing as “the best book on codebreaking I have ever read, a must for would be recruits to GCHQ and the NSA.”

  • Is Edward Snowden a traitor a hero? Does the surveillance state threaten freedom or secure it? Andrew sat down with investigative reporter Barton Gellman, author of Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, and part of the team that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden, to discuss these issues and more. Bart has a serious resume: The Atlantic, The Washington Post, LA Times Book Prize, Emmy Awards (yes, plural), another Pulitzer Prize (greedy!), but I think you get the general idea…this one might make you scream yourself to sleep, sleep like a baby, or not want to waken up, but it will definitely get you thinking. If it does – our work here is done.

  • Have you ever felt like “cyber” is changing so quickly, it is difficult to keep up? This week’s guest has seen Cyber-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. How? He hosts no less than 10 podcasts per week on the topic! From the Cyberwire Daily to Hacking Humans, and from Career Notes to Recorded Future, Dave Bittner is what you might call: busy. Dave and Andrew talk the Silicon Valley of the East, state-affiliated hackers, organized crime and staying cyber-safe – because it’s a jungle out there, people.

  • Counterintelligence. Security. Two words that have serious pull in Washington D.C. The problem is, how do you ensure the strings, woodwind, brass and percussion are all playing the same music? Welcome to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC). Acting Director Michael Orlando was this week’s guest, where he sat down with Andrew – yes, literally sat down, poor Hammond is actually getting to do what his predecessors did and do podcasts face-to-face – to discuss how he helps conduct the orchestra. Michael is fascinating all by his lonesome – he came to the job via the U.S. Army, CIA and the FBI – but add his story to that of the NCSC and the current counterintelligence landscape, and you have the makings of Beethoven’s Ninth.  

  • "Deeply, deeply, disturbing." This is how Alma's Katsu's book, The Hunger, was described by Stephen King. Ok, I'll repeat that, that's how her book was described by Stephen King, author of Carrie, The Shining and Misery! The Hunger was based on the infamous Donner Party trip of the nineteenth century, but her most recent book, Red Widow, turns to intelligence and espionage - something Alma knows rather a lot about having spent over thirty years at the NSA and the CIA. Since leaving the intelligence community, Alma has settled into life as an award-winning and bestselling author (with a side-gig as a technology forecaster!). Want some tips on writing your own book or want to know how the NSA and CIA compare? You'll need to listen to find out.

  • Last week’s episode focused on “Karen Schaefer, CIA Operator,” while this week’s episode looks at her time as a “Serial Collaborator.” Karen specialized in making sure the heart, brain, left hand and right hand had a better idea of what each was up to and were functioning in unison  – whether as Director of Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council (NSC), in the leadership group at the FBI (then Director James Comey was fired two days after she arrived), or with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in a warzone. There is always a lot of focus on the arteries and veins of intelligence – this week we look a little more closely at the capillaries.

  • From counternarcotics to counterterrorism, from Latin America to the Middle East, and from the back streets of a warzone to the center of events in Washington DC – Karen Schaefer has had, how should we say, an “eventful” career as an intelligence officer. Charming, smart, thoughtful, and you haven’t even met Karen yet…but seriously, it was a pleasure to talk to this week’s guest who had all of those qualities, and more; so enjoyable it will be released as a double-header. This week, Part I focuses on her time as an operator; while Part II focuses on her time as a “serial collaborator” who worked with Special Operations, the FBI, and the NSC. Stay tuned…

  • Cheesesteaks. Baseball. Rocky. Espionage?   Hear about the Philly you never knew – as the birthplace of American espionage. From the Committee on Spies during the Revolution (now there is one committee, that actually sounds like it would be good to be on!) to Allen Pinkerton and Kate Warren during the Civil War, up through the A-bomb, a former Director of Central Intelligence, and a conspirator for the Mumbai Bombing of 2008 - Philadelphia has all kinds of fascinating links to the world of intelligence and espionage. Andrew sat down with H. Keith Melton, the world’s pre-eminent collector of espionage related artifacts, and Bob Wallace, former Director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services who has been called the real life “Q” of the CIA, to discuss their latest collaboration: Spy Sites of Philadelphia. Happy Birthday America!