#013: Spymaster’s Prism – Jack Devine
Hollywood has James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, and Jack Bauer. But the real world has Jack Devine and he has a far more interesting story to tell. The author of Spymaster’s Prism, Jack spent 32 years in the CIA as the Acting Director and Associate Director of the agency’s Global Operations directorate. In those three decades, he has led and orchestrated some of the most well-known clandestine operations, including providing covert support to the Afghan mujahedeen fighting against the Soviet Union and hunting down drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar. Today he is fighting the next war in the cyber and information domains.
Perhaps no one will ever be more qualified than Jack to talk about strategic thinking and leadership in dynamic environments. In this episode he joins our host, Fran Racioppi, to talk about the history of leadership in an ambiguous world, how to manage a host of various and eccentric personalities, and how the future security of our nation lies in our ability to protect our phones, computers and the information we consume on a daily basis.
Listen to the podcast here:
What are James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan and Jack Bauer all have in common? None of them is Jack Devine and none of them is a real spymaster. Jack Devine spent 32 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, serving as both the Acting Director and Associate Director of the CIA’s global operations. He led the Afghan Task Force, where he covertly supported the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union. He also led the CIA’s Counter-Narcotics Center in the Latin America Division, where he led the effort and the war against international drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar. Jack has been involved in almost every covert and clandestine operation since 1967. He has made and changed history in every corner of the world. Jack joins me on this episode to discuss his book Spymaster’s Prism, where he details the history of America’s covert war with Russia and how the future battlefield is in the information, cyber warfare and the control of the very technology we hold in our hands every day. Jack also defines the character traits of the spy and what happens when leaders of any organization think too myopically and fail to see the big picture. Jack shares his leadership lessons on culture, risk, failure, how to manage a room of eccentric personalities and how every day should start with a few minutes of strategic mind.
Jack, welcome to the show.
It’s great to be talking to you, Fran.
For decades, you’ve led organizations at every level of complexity threat risk level. These have ranged from single operators in hostile environments to thousands of people at the CIA headquarters. You even built and led an Afghan resistance force before most of us even knew where Afghanistan was on the map. You’ve done this in every corner of the world. The decisions that you have made have had a truly global impact and shaped the course of history. You have seen individuals, teams, organizations and nations at their best, and you have seen them at their worst. As a leader, you remain pragmatic, rational, grounded in a defined set of principles that are dedicated to winning at the most strategic level with the highest degree of effectiveness.
Operation Jedburgh was created by the Office of Strategic Services and General Bill Donovan during World War II. This was the clandestine and paramilitary arm of the US government in World War II. The OSS and the many Jedburghs that made up that operation went on to form the CIA after the war. You are one of the ones who knew these gentlemen. I am tremendously jealous of that. We named this Jedburgh podcast because of leaders like yourself, those who came before you, transformational leaders with no choice but to achieve victory. It is truly an honor and privilege to be here with you.
Thank you for inviting me and giving honor to my predecessors because they’re the ones that I want to give credit to. They got it right. It was a special generation. There are a lot of things we can learn from the past and we’re going to hit on a number of those points.
Congratulations on the release of your second book, Spymaster’s Prism. This follows Good Hunting. I read the book and I have many questions about leadership, impact, and your thought process as you went through your career in the Cold War and the fight against Russian aggression, vision and execution. There’s also so much in the book about spying, insider threats, covert action, failure, the new battlefield of cyber warfare. How do you even lead some of the smartest and most dynamic people in the world? Every operation starts with a plan. I’ve given you the plan for this operation being this show. If you’re ready, I’m ready to get into it.
This show is focused on the characteristics of elite performance and specifically the nine characteristics as defined by Special Operations Forces. How do we recruit, assess, select, train special operators? This was developed with our predecessors back in World War II as they selected operators for Operation Jedburgh and then these traits carried forward into the development of the CIA and then later special operations. Those are drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, effective intelligence, team ability, curiosity and emotional strength.
You open the book by identifying that a spy requires a specific set of character traits, which immediately when I read it, I thought, “Yes, I love it.” You said, “Spying is not for everyone. It takes unique DNA to fit the mold of a spy. It requires a willingness and ability to navigate ambiguous terrain fraught with acute risks that can sometimes be fatal. The best spies have maintained a steadfast sense of mission.” Mission also being a large topic that we talk about here because it’s relevant to building organizations and teams. My first question is, how do you define a spy and what are the characteristics that make up the best ones?
Let me begin with some terminology. First of all, if you’re in the CIA, you never use the word spy. We’re elegant. We’re intelligence officers and division chiefs. If you want to communicate on the outside, what does that mean? The director of plans, that was the name of the spying director when I first joined. What plans? What are they doing? There’s nomenclature in and outside of the building. For a good reason, it’s worthwhile to talk about that every person understands spy and not so many spymasters. There are different characteristics in both.
Let me pick up on the first point as it relates to a CIA person, a Jedburgh person and many of the people that serve their country out there. The building block or the cornerstone is always a sense of mission. When I say mission, it’s not taking the hill. The mission is I love this country and I love what it stands for, the sense of democracy, opportunity, openness and frankly, the founding fathers of this country and their principles. It’s not about waving the flag. What stands behind that? It becomes important in the spying business.
How do you get people over the hill? They have to believe in that. That’s the first ingredient, whether it’s a spymaster or a spy. We’re going to talk about spies because sometimes they’re motivated by base interest, self-interest. When you’re talking about the professionals that are in our respective governments and national security elements, that mission is important. When people come to me and say, “I want to join the CIA. I want to see the world. It sounds like fun.” If I don’t smell that dedication to the flag and the country, I’m going to say, “You’re in the wrong place because you’re going to find a lot of sacrifice in this.”
If you see James Bond, you don’t see him writing reports, going home and trying to tell his wife, “I didn’t do anything today.” You’re in the middle of the war. You’ll be a failure. The other thing is you won’t be able to implement your nine principles if you don’t start with that. I promise you, every Jedburgh that went in there defeated the Nazis. Virginia Hall jumped behind the lines with a prosthetic leg over her shoulder. At the time, somebody’s briefing people after the war. A fellow, with my counselor, organized the resistance as well. These are hard-boiled dedicated Americans. You start there.
Let me go to my terminology. The spy is the foreigner. That’s the person that works in another government. They’re in the military, in the Intelligence service, the economic technology arena. The spymaster is the American officer who’s trained down at the farm, learns language training, goes abroad and meets and handles clandestinely these spies and recruit spies. That’s a big difference. We’re elegant. We call them agents. If you would say that around the FBI, they think you’re talking about them. They call themselves agents. This is where the nomenclature gets different. What makes for someone to work for a foreign government? I felt the American side had the edge to collaborate. If you want to know about the DNA, then we can talk about spymaster. Having done that little introduction, let me give it back to you to see, which part of that do you want me to pursue?
I want to go to spymasters because everybody’s got to be led. Leadership is what sets the culture of an organization. It provides the vision, direction and resources to be successful. The book is called Spymaster’s Prism because it’s the lens through which those leaders have to look at the world. I’m going to give you a quote from the book and then open it up to this theory. You said, “Spymasters are not spies. Their mission is to run and handle foreign spies and spy networks. They make life and death decisions. The distinguishing characteristic of a spymaster is the ability to look at the world dispassionately through a prism that refracts political events into multiple nuances, dimensions, distilling centers of power, areas of leverage and risk, and the key dynamics that can determine the course of history.”
When I read this, I think about strategic thinking as a critical component of leadership. The ability to see the whole field if you think about it in terms of sports with the world being that field in the intelligence community. I think about the difference between youth soccer, where the ball gets kicked and all the kids flock to the ball, and you become myopically focused. Whereas in professional soccer where the professional stays back and sees the whole field. They have people in different positions ready for any event and ready for the ball to be kicked over everyone’s head and there’s someone to respond. Leaders in business and government must constantly be assessing their environment with respect to the operations of competition in the market. If they become too narrow-minded, they miss opportunities. You define this as the prism. What is the Spymaster’s Prism in this lens that leaders must understand and view their world, which will refract differently depending on their industry?
The military does a great job of developing leaders. There are many things in the military that’s extraordinary. People confuse different words. It’s leadership, legend, hero. They all get blended in. Let me start with something that’s going to feel unexciting. You got to remember that whether it’s the Defense Department or an armed unit, you’re talking about an organization. It’s an organization. Before you get the leader, get yourself a good manager, someone that knows how to move things.
I’m not quite done because I put it aside and think of the Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant against Robert E. Lee and everyone starts to say, “Robert E. Lee, the brilliant general leader.” Ulysses S. Grant was a Quartermaster out in the West somewhere. He had a spying career. It wasn’t that he was flamboyant and had a feather in his hat. He was a logistics guy. He didn’t even know how to move an army and get an army into the right place. I want to talk about leadership qualities. My personal view is that they’re so far a few between. Real leaders are the type you’re talking about that changed history. I’m not going to take some of their characteristics as my own but that’s a unique breed. You want to strive for it.
When you sit down with a spymaster and you probably look through this prism, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying, the spymaster, it’s his prism. How do you look at it? You find it well and probably accurately. Once you’re a trained spymaster, there’s a way of looking at the world but then you have to introduce these other nine ingredients into how you look at the world and what matters and what doesn’t matter. I didn’t have a clue about the CIA when I joined. At the end of the month, I come to the conclusion that I belong there. They may disagree. My file may indicate it. “How did this guy get in and how can we keep him?”
We can dissect this. My generation was fighting the communists. My predecessors were fighting the Nazis. There isn’t that much difference when you start to peel them off. I knew little about it. In hindsight that I identified with it. We can walk through it. What I’m saying to you and I’ll throw it back to you so you can give me another question within this, the leaders are rare. There’s a paucity of strategic thinking that is much smaller than I dreamed of when I was growing up through the agency. I kept looking at the next level for strategic thinking. What I find is that you’re going to have a roomful of people with the same IQ. Let’s give them 140. They will get the job done. They are good. Tell them that you want that and they’re going to do it.
I can’t tell you how in many ways, people will often say, “Tell me what you want me to do. I don’t want to deal with the strategic stuff.” When you’re talking about leadership, it’s a much smaller group to find. First of all, make sure you’ve got all your office covered with at least the first group that said, “Tell me what you want me to do and I am going to execute.” I’m saying there’s a paucity of it. It’s not like you can amass more leadership. I once had a discussion with somebody about this. He was making the point, “Now all these people go through training. Leaders are born.” There’s this little thought in that. I happen to believe in the training side but I do believe in some extra DNA with some people that have the capacity to lead. Let me bounce it back to you.
If we go into the pitfalls of becoming myopic and if you go down this road, the subordinate in the organization is telling you, “I don’t care about the strategy. I want to be told what to do.” As the leader, you then stop thinking strategically. You get myopically focused. You can run into some pitfalls. At times, I would argue necessary, focus on the war on terror post the 9/11 attacks. You believe that this myopic focus hindered the US’s ability to apply resources against Russian aggression and ultimately allowing for Russia to gain significant ground in cyber capabilities. Eventually, through the whole time, the use of covert action operations.
In referencing 9/11, you stated, “From that moment on, nearly all eyes turned towards this new asymmetrical stateless ideological and seemingly existential threat to the West. The other policy priority was subjugated to it. Because of the military engagements that followed, intelligence collecting covert action was modified to be used primarily in service of those military engagements. Twenty years on, we can see the results of the opportunities lost from this strategic posture.” Can you speak more about what happens when we allow ourselves to become myopic if we adopt that sense of, “I don’t care about the strategy. I care about the tactics?” Too often, we realize that we have become tactical in our focus when it’s too late when the event happens and then we’re forced to say, “We missed that.”
I would start at the top. You get nine characters of the Jedburghs and they’re all good. The humility one, I’ve had too much of that but we can teach that up. When I would start down my list, the first thing is the mission. You believe in the CIA. More importantly, you believe the United States. That’s your first step. The second step is you’re going to be a manager. I’m not even going to the top leadership. In some element in that agency, you keep the station, different places, you need to state things strategically. All I was saying there is there’s a paucity of that. There’s more burden further up the line.
We get to the top level. We’re talking about the strategic thinking that you’re in and everybody well better be a leader. The third thing, if you’re strategic, is the entrepreneurial spirit and how you build things out. We’ll get to that. When you do strategic thinking, you have an audience that is known or up close. Most generals are not anxious to go to war because they know the cost. One of the things to note here and highly praised for me is they send their promising offer that education is not military. They’re trying to broaden it so they develop a sense of history and strategic thinking. When you start getting to the stars on the shoulder, you start to see this strategic thinking. The same thing needs to take place if you would hop in the political arena. If you’re sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee, or you’re in the White House. To be an effective person, you have to think strategically.
You then have the big calls. You’re an armchair general now. In a compound, maybe some are good points that people better remember, you put troops on the ground and you own it. Getting in is good. No one is going to stop the United States from going in. We’ve got the best force in the world. We’re talking about 2,500 people in Afghanistan. How do we get them out without a crisis? That’s a good point, how you get out. Remember, I ran the Afghan program in its heyday to drive the Russians out. One of the things the Russians and Brits learned is when you go in, you better figure out how you’re getting out.
What I’m saying is we go into Iraq. This is where this big strategic thinking is narrow. When you go in, you have to think about the consequences of it. You can’t say, “They will pay for it.” I am hard on it. I happen to believe in the Jedburgh concept because I’m for running forces on the ground and bringing our special forces and CIA in. If there are people on the ground that want to fight and are capable to fight them, let’s give them what they have. Be temperate and think about the strategy. We did a great job in the United States, specifically, Special Forces and CIA, when we went into Afghanistan and brought the Taliban down but then we put an army on the ground. Once you did that, you’ve changed the strategy.
It took place in the United States without anybody stopping. If there was somebody, I didn’t hear their voice. They got louder as time went on. There’s the big thing, big strategy and then there’s down at the cheapest station level or the commander. There’s a strategy about, “How do we accomplish that mission of taking the hill?” It’s layered. Nowadays, we’re facing some huge strategy and you can take cyber. The decision by the President of the United States is to put stronger sanctions, including sovereign debt and to undertake unseen, which to me means cyber. These are big decisions. What is our strategy? In the White House, we’re thinking about, “What is the road forward here when we start?”
I’m not knocking at what’s happening here. I’m going to your point about the paucity of strategy and how important it is to have what I almost call the vault at one point. In all cases, it sparked because I had people come in, “Let’s go in. We’re ready to go.” You have to say no. Usually, you’re Ulysses S. Grant. What do you have on the ground? If they don’t want to fight, you can’t force-feed it. They had lessons. You didn’t have to study history much to understand that the strategy required the people on the ground and share your common view of what Afghanistan looks like. The Russians misread it. The Brits misread it. Ours was good, we went in and then we left. We’ve spent a lot of treasure and won with heroes of all sorts and sacrifices by people. On the tactical side, we’ve done extremely well. I don’t know if I have a solution to the problem other than we train people and give them a job and say, “You need to think about the long run.” They don’t say it the way I described it, “Stop bothering me.”
“Tell me what has to happen.”
There’s a nice way of saying it. It’s like, “Jack, this is interesting.” “I’ve got a 5:00 meeting. What are you going to do at 5:00?” I don’t mean to make this harder than you may think. I also want to make sure that people understand it. You keep looking up the level for the colonel and then you look for the general, and then the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense. You might keep looking.
To develop a strategy, whether it be strategy or tactics and whether it’s in business or government work, it comes down to information. In the private sector, you call it information. In the public sector, you call it intelligence. It’s essential to running any organization in any industry. We always call it in Special Forces that you have to know your operational environment. What’s around you? What’s going on? Make an honest assessment of it. Information is what allows leaders to make informed and educated decisions about strategy or policy direction.
There’s a quote from the New Testament that you reference in the book. If you’ve ever been to the CIA headquarters, it sits at the entrance and it says, “You shall know the truth and it will set you free.” You have called this the foundation of the US Intelligence business, “Seek to see things as they are and report objectively.” I find this profound and incredibly important in whatever you do in life to see things as they are and report objectively.
I honestly do believe that too often we’re swayed by our perception, especially in nebulous, subjective environments, which is certainly where geopolitics live. It’s also where most businesses live. Leaders have to make real decisions in real-time every day that have residual effects. I call it The Four-Dimensional Sphere, where every action has a reaction to it. In counterinsurgency, we call it the balloon effect, where you squeeze one end of the balloon but then the other side gets bigger and then you go on to squeeze that other side but then somewhere else gets bigger.
You’re always in this evolving world where every action has some reciprocal reaction. When you have to make these decisions, you tend to view data as you want to see it. That can be positive or negative and objectivity becomes difficult. When you look and evaluate intelligence and information and you have to use it for decision-making, how do you remain objective, especially in the face of information that may not align with what you want?
I’m glad you point it out because it’s a hallmark of the intelligence agency. The building was built in ‘47. That means the people that built that building and put those words on the wall were products from World War II. The Jedburghs were sitting around deciding what went on the wall.
There was a statue of Bill Donovan out there too.
We have to know that it is etched and it’s in marble. In other words, you can’t get rid of it. You can’t erase it. To put some new slogan, I’m going to take the whole wall out. On the other side, you have a set of stars that are etched in the wall. This is the price you pay when you come in here. When you walk into the store, don’t forget, this is what it’s all about. The answer to your question is you need to have a culture. The people that walked into that building in 1947 believe that their job was to produce. There’s Sherman Kent, a very famous guy who wrote the rules for intelligence analysis for the agency. This is back to the ’50s. It still holds nowadays.
One of the things your audience will find amazing in a way, and you don’t think about it until years later. In the CIA, just as you don’t talk about spies, you never hear the word Democrat or Republican. You can’t bring it in. It’s against the culture to discuss politics and domestic politics. You don’t do it. Maybe you have a friend over coffee. For many years, you have to create an environment. As an individual, if you don’t decide, “I finally realized that intelligence is the core of all things when you’re going to go to battle, whether it’s in politics or anything else.” It is critical. It’s the most fundamental thing.
I can get into the private sector but that’s what I do for a living. I bring the same mindset that Spymaster’s Prism looks at. You don’t look at the way the world you want it to be or wish it would be or suit your political and social-economic agenda. Take a look at it. It’s discipline. There’s another word that applies to the analysts. I grew up on the operational side. It’s tradecraft. You have to learn the trade. You have to learn how to start to do the writing. If you write something, that’s still tradecraft and you post it. We don’t do it that way around here. There’s tradecraft.
I learned a lot on the farm. It’s a lot of fun, by the way. You may just jump out of a plane and make five jumps. I did it. It was a one-time jump. This was a lot of fun. You also learn the setup that you have instructors and these instructors train. One of the greatest trainers in the world is the military. It requires training discipline so that you don’t have to talk to me, “Are we going to write this report straight or we’re going to write it another way?” No. You’re going to think of it. You sit down and write it that way. That’s how you build the Spymaster’s Prism, “Just give me the facts.” I like them but I’ve got to deal with it.
You brought up the founders. This is a good point to dig a little bit more into the founders. You classify them as young with no experience leading large complex operations. You said, “Still, they managed to turn the CIA into the most effective and sophisticated intelligence organization in US history.” This place to our core belief in Talent War Group that you hire for character and you train for skill. You knew that these people had this set of experiences. They had this set of character skills that could define success for what they believed they wanted the agency to do. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t done it, specifically in this way before. They could be trained and develop these hard skills. When you think about how they applied that and that theory of hiring for character and train for skill, how did they do that?
Let’s take a moment on history then. Wild Bill Donovan was a Wall Street lawyer in New York. He had a law firm. He came off Wall Street and put on a uniform and become a spy chief. Remember, your predecessors used to be called Oh So Social. In other words, who was in the OSS? The rich and elite. Donovan wasn’t rich but he hung out with the founding fathers. A lot of them went to Ivy League schools. I’m a blue-collar guy. I’m the product of that second wave. The first wave was well-educated but there was sophistication with the way of the world.
Let me self-reveal again. I was the first one to go to college. I’ve got 2,000 cousins, probably. My big trip abroad before in the agency was with the Boy Scouts in Canada and we’d go to Honeymoon in Bermuda. The fellas that first walked into the CIA, not only in their twenties had they been to Paris. Virginia Hall lived in Turkey and that’s how she blew off the bottom part of her leg with a shotgun. Turkey, it was Thanksgiving dinner when I was there. What I’m saying is they were people in the world, cosmopolitan. They knew what force to use and so on in the diplomatic circles. It was a collective.
Julia Child was cooking in the OSS but she lived in Paris. As a hobby, she went and learned some cooking and made a fortune out of it. Hemingway was in there. Donovan brought all types of people from all walks of life. They were young. They’ve gone through the war. They did amazing things. Many of them died heroically, jumping behind the lines. First of all, they dissolved the OSS. There is no intelligence. We should talk about this at a point. America is uncomfortable with secrets. It’s uncomfortable with intelligence services. Washington used it. Every war, we dissolve it. After World War II, we dissolved it.
It took two years until the Cold War started in visible form in ‘47 that we then began to build it. The building was built in ‘54 but the charter was set up in ‘47. They had a place along the reflecting plan to start. These are young people. They came in at the very top. In other words, if you’re 27 and you go into the agency, you start at the bottom. A lot of them came in and became the chief of station at 30. They stayed around for 30 years in command positions. One of the ingredients that a spymaster needs is you need to have credentials. You need to have worked in the streets. If you’re going to be a leader, people have to say, “He’s the real thing.” You didn’t decide if your father brought you the job.
When you look at the foundation of the CIA and the group, they were sophisticated in the world. Also, in the book, I talk about The Georgetown Set. What you had was a clubby world, the CIA top people. Allen Dulles was the head of the CIA but his brother was the Secretary of State. They had dinner with the head of The Washington Post every week and some of the journalists. They lived in Georgetown. The policy got a little mixed. You can’t replicate that nowadays. Most people don’t speak to each other. It’s a little bit hard. The founding fathers, when they came in, one of the things they came in with which is a rigid view and rightfully so is the information.
There’s one piece that we’re not touching. That one statement is about the intelligence side. Most people are comfortable outside of the CIA. Espionage never causes a lot of headaches for the CIA. Inside, it doesn’t, what happened to region. The problem with the way the agency views it is often its action part, which is not espionage. You need intelligence as you say rightfully. You need it for anything. When you think of the CIA’s operational director of the plan, the National Clandestine Services is what is called nowadays, you have the intelligence side. Know the truth and it will set you free. In that charter 47, there’s a clause in there that says, “Carry out those special activities as directed by the President of the United States.” That is the charter for the CIA that says, “What was your role in Vietnam? What was your role in Chile, in Afghanistan.” That is not espionage.
Do you need intelligence? That’s 100% true. That’s the dimension that becomes public. One of the reasons I can write books is because I touch so much of that and it became public. I’ve gotten into the habit now of talking about what’s good covert action and not. When the founding fathers started the place, they came out of the Jedburgh World War II Action Part. Right away, there was a struggle between action and intelligence. I want the audience to realize that these are two big disciplines. You mentioned the third, counterintelligence. We’ll touch on some other point. I want to put a marker down. When you walk into the building, yes, it’s all about intelligence in that aspect. You need to understand that there’s a big function that the country needs, that’s action and it’s controversial.
I would argue also that the agency is founded on this idea of risk and risk tolerance. I would say that both of these sides or all three, whether you have intelligence collection and espionage, you have covert action or counterintelligence, these are the highest degrees of risk versus reward. In episode one, we spoke with Mike Sarraille who classified risk as an opportunity. He talked about the fact that special operations are trained to see the upside potential of risk. Understand the downside but then create mitigating controls to manage that risk and then use that information to make educated decisions.
The people that you talked about who came out of World War II entered with a profound tolerance for risk. You even talked about it where you say, “The agency’s founding generation was coming off the bloodiest war in history with tens of millions of deaths and casualties. Their appetite for risk and quick action was forged in the crucible of World War II. A key binding ingredient among them was their unbridled can-do spirit that shaped the OSS ethos of running bold in high-risk operations. There was no task too intractable and no risk too perilous. This ethos became the cornerstone of the CIA.” As you followed them and you understood that they built this organization with the highest levels of risk tolerance, the world was changing at this time. How do you then define risk versus reward risk tolerance and then shape your information collection and analysis to make the best decisions based on what you’re willing to assume?
The agency was down where the Lincoln statue is. They moved out to the forest, the wooded area of Virginia. They moved that to Langley. Nowadays, it’s a huge city. When they went out there, it was to get away and be hidden out there. Everybody knew it was there but it was to build this new building and it’s a beautiful building. It was a mistake to take it out of the city. We’ll leave that aside for now. When you think about risk, you have to realize that even if the CIA wants to live by itself in West Virginia, your risk tolerance is correlated with the outside world.
In World War II, a lot of people fought in the war. There’s a higher risk tolerance among the American people. As the risk tolerance shrinks in the American people, it shrinks in Congress. Your oversight of risk begins to narrow. This is not as critical as it sounds. It’s a natural flow of history. You have the same types of people I would like to think. You go into the CIA with the same dedication. I never met anybody that wasn’t prepared to take a physical risk in the CIA. They’re willing to do that. When you’re running the operations, you’ve got to think about one of the risks. You should always do it no matter what environment you’re in.
The thing that is interesting is that heroic people sometimes are afraid of bureaucratic risks. There are two things. There’s a risk where you’re out on the battlefield. Another one is when you’re making decisions, you’re worried about bureaucratic risks. That’s where the environment starts to kick in. The people are ready to take the risk but the systems aren’t prepared to take some of the risks. That’s been shrinking. Your second point is if you got to think about mitigating risks, you don’t want to gung-ho, “Let’s jump over the hill,” and lose all your men. There’s no sensible office or whatever would ever do that. Mitigating risks, how do you reduce them. The upside is to take no risk unless there’s an upside. Why take a risk? The risk should be commensurate with the risk.
Unfortunately, some people are glibber about this. I’ve never found it in generals. I found that in civilians where they’re not thinking through the lines that are at stake. It’s a small number but you’ve got to be careful when they’re in command that you’re keeping an eye on them. They don’t do something stupid. Taking risks is important. The CIA will continue and the Special Forces will take the risk. They’ll do it. It’s the leader’s job to measure and mitigate. One of my characteristics in any leader is the courage to go into combat, for sure. There’s courage in this other area that’s non-kinetic and that is the courage to stand up and take risks in the non-kinetic environment.
There has to be also courage and a certain sense of strength and emotional strength to be a leader in this organization and to be a spymaster, to sit there in front of all of these people who come from these dynamic backgrounds. There’s an allure. You talked about James Bond. You see the TV shows. We read about it in the news. Working for the CIA is probably considered one of the most coveted jobs not only in the government but people dream about these things. There’s this allure of eliteness. I call it the title of all titles. The Director of the National Clandestine Service. That sounds great. These are some of the most educated, diverse and dynamic people in the world. You talked about their Ivy League educations. They have the highest professional degrees, certifications, business experts and policy experts.
Then there’s me.
People who’ve come up through the ranks.
I had a lot of colleagues that also weren’t so social.
Experienced operators, that’s what I would call them.
My wife helps me put the right time. We’re okay.
You speak about leaders who created an intentional aura of mystery and authority, people who sat in the dark so that they could work in the shadows because it made people think that they were more spooky, and others who believe that they needed to create folklore of themselves to lead effectively. Leading this dynamic group of individuals requires a very agile and open-minded leader where you have to understand all of their backgrounds and what is going to motivate them. In episode six, we spoke with Claudius Conrad, who’s a doctor at Tufts Medical Center. He’s a pioneer in minimally invasive pancreatic surgery but he’s also a concert pianist.
He also has to work in this surgical team with all of these brilliant minds who approach the same problem from a different lens. The common thread that binds them is what you call good of the patient or for the betterment of the patient. That’s what matters. They can have differing opinions but it all comes down to what’s better for the patient. There’s a humility that goes with expressing your opinion. As you lead organizations that have all of these people from different backgrounds, skills and perspectives, how do you have that courage that we spoke about to stand up and focus on them?
The first is people blend leadership, legend and popularity. There’s a style. When you talk about leadership, different people create leadership. You create a leadership style. If you look at the legendary figures like Ulysses S. Grant and Lee, they are night and day in style. If you look at General MacArthur and you compare him to General Eisenhower, you take General Patton and you compare him to Bradley and Marshall, the style sometimes did matter. Patton had his pearl-handled guns. There is an allure that he created.
I had a discussion with a legendary guy in the CIA. I got along well with him but we disagreed on different things. When you think of leaders, you got to create folklore around them. You wanted to be a particular type of leader like Lee. You’re describing angles that the famous or infamous, depending on where you’re sitting, Head of Counter-Intelligence and CIA from its formation up until ’73. He had sit in a room with the light out. He created what would look like a spy. Joey had been in Italy. We’re walking around the building. People wore JCPenney. He had the fancy silk suit with silk handkerchiefs out. We were having lunch in the executive dining room and he pulled out money. We had a staff meeting in Latin America. He parked right in front of the building. He had a tire of his car with an Eagle. In other words, he went out of his way to create this mystique about and there’s a style of it.
I would suggest this to all aspiring leaders. Save it until late the game because if you start doing it too early, people are going to say, “There’s a bad guy” and he won’t get it. There is a conscious effort on some people’s part to create this folklore. There are some insecurities in that, honestly. You do need to realize that people below you are ambulated. What was interesting when Jimmy Carter became president, he wore this sweater vest and I hadn’t seen one in a long time. I’m walking down the hall and one guy has a super-vest. He comes in with a brown suit and white shirt. The next thing you know, everyone’s wearing brown suits.
There’s a desire by the world for us to emulate. It helps to have a persona. It allowed you to be self-deprecating for a moment. I remember I was going out to meet an agent and Tom Polgar who was a legendary Chief of Station, the last one out of Vietnam. He was my boss. I said, “I’m Jack Devine.” He said, “You’ll be that big sinister.” I was 40 years old. It struck me like, “Did he said I had two heads?” I began to realize what was part of the persona of Jack Devine? I realized I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, but to the outside world, you look at that face all the time. My mistake was I didn’t have to go buy a silk handkerchief.
I don’t mean to minimize leadership. I’m just saying people play with it too. The real leadership is when Bradley, Marshall, Eisenhower comes in and some of those characters is cool. When you’re in crisis, looking less so much about you, “What about the team?” That is another one I’m hearing. When you start to crack off the Jedburgh things, you start to see that. I make fun of the monocles and the light. They were leaders that are, “Do we have a strong following?” They go over the mountain for them. It worked in his case but he had a lot going for him as well. He was a strategic thinker, an entrepreneur and some of the other characteristics as well.
If you become a legend, that doesn’t mean you’re a leader. When you start calling me a legend, that means it’s time to start calling me an undertaker for making reservations. The legend is about what you did at a certain point. It’s not necessarily the time and popularity. You can be a popular chief but history tends not to treat you so well the further you get away. For instance, you think you’re a good guy and a funny guy. The other thing is if you are a leader, everybody laughs at your jokes because they are afraid not to. You want to have the force feeling good and positive about yourself. If you strive for mass popularity, you might not be able to make the tough ones. Some people say, “I make those decisions and that’s why I’m not popular.” My point is that some people are at the top of organizations because they’ve been popular through it. They try to find a consensus and keep everybody happy. In the end, history treats them poorly because when the going gets tough, if they’re lucky, maybe they get out before something goes bad. That characteristic is not helpful.
Every organization wants to believe that they have the best people, the highest work ethic, most integrity, most dedicated to their mission, company, their country, as you talked about. The reality is that there are traders, as you’ve called them, that exist in every organization. In the business world, we call them insider threat, where they’ll take information about policy, business plans, intellectual property, technical data that they steal, download, take to their competitors, give it to your enemies. They terminate employees who take plans and IP to their new companies. When we first met, we met about this insider threat program that I was building and that was what started to form the basis of our relationship. I always have defined insider threat as the potential for an individual who has authorized access to an organization’s assets and information to then use that information negatively against their own organization.
There are well-known cases of this that you have documented that we’ve seen in the press that has had a severe impact on the government and on the private sector. American spies like Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, Edward Snowden, Jack Dunlap, Robert Lee Johnson who you called the first scoundrel spy, which I thought was funny when I read it. What’s the motivation behind people who do this? Insider threat is something that has been huge in the private sector security industry over the last couple of years. It’s at the forefront now as we look at the rise of cyber because humans, to some effect, have allowed them to some of this access. What is the motivation behind people who engage in this type of activity?
It’s not a well-understood subject. Spymaster’s Prism is focused on the Russians, although there are some other things as an example and there are lessons in it. One of the chapters in there is called It Takes Spy to Catch a Spy. What I say was take the spy cases of the past, bring them up to the spy cases today, look at the covert action of the past, bring it up to today as President Biden’s election. In that, history begin to emerge lessons. We get to the spy part. At the very beginning of your program, when you think of the role of the Jedburghs. After they came back, there were places where they were using action but then they got into the spying business. We begin to look at the spy cases, agents who run in Russia. Most run here.
What we talked about in the beginning is the mission. Most people think that defections and trading your country are rooted in some big political issue. It is true. I feel I had it easier than the KGB does. Why? The whole world was more sympathetic. We had countries that worked with us. People wanted to work for our system. They liked our style and democracy. More people came our way. More people help us. If you’re on the Russian side in the ‘60s, they’re selling Stalin’s product. We’re going to have communism. People didn’t want any part of it. They are hard to sell. The recruitment process was a little harder edge and you got more into the underwriting thing.
If you take into the big spy cases that I personally close. In the case of Ames, I went to his wedding. Ames is the CIA officer that works for the Russians and led to the execution field agents. When I start to look at the cases, it’s not because of communism and capitalism. What you find is this guy hires people in the same category and some people who are smarter than others. By and large, they got good credentials and they’re patriotic. You have a point on your list. I keep coming back to your list. Why don’t you know it? We’ve got to be careful with the super-ego when it’s married to an underperformer. Snowden wasn’t an agent in my view when he left, but he’s an agent of influence. Once you decide to live in Russia, your soul has been bought.
What happened with Aldrich Ames was he was a true believer. I knew him as a kid in the agency and his father was a CIA officer and he lived in Thailand. We exchanged books. He gave me a book called A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler. It’s a big counter-intelligence case. I gave him one on the psychopathology of leadership. He was in this spying in the CIA part. He learned Russian and then became a Russian expert. What happened is he was a lazy guy. He didn’t want to work hard or do some things he didn’t like to do and other things. The piece we missed is sometimes we see people and we go, “They probably don’t have self-esteem.” We probably say it too much. I think they’re good. Snowden has the credentials so he thought he was smarter. Hanssen thought he was better than all of us. He’s so much smarter but when you look at their personality, there are flaws.
When you have a big ego and you’re underperforming, what happens? Your career starts to diminish. This is in every country. This is not a US-only syndrome for spies. What happens is when that ego gets so big, you are dissatisfied. It’s the system that’s throwing you in and you’re going to get even with the system. That’s where you get your spot. You can have great counter-intelligence training. In the CIA, after Ames was arrested, one of the non-operatives was handing out free buttons that say, “Never again.” I pulled him to the side. I said, “The business your in, there are always spies inside.” The problem was I knew that Hanssen was a spy. We thought he was in the CIA. The team of us are running, trying to find Hanssen and here’s a guy handing out buttons, “Never again.” That meant these people don’t understand how this works.
What usually happens, not at all cases, but with great research of trying to find Hanssen. There were many missteps. There’s a whole story around it. At the end of the day, what turns the tide that took Hanssen was he never identified to the Russians who he was. He gave them information. They didn’t know who he was but he put the documents in a plastic bag and didn’t bother putting gloves on. He had his fingerprints on the bag and they’ve kept the bag for years, then there was a telephone call. Even though it was their agent, they recorded the call and it sat in the KGB’s files. When the country fell apart in ‘91, enterprising people were left with the documents.
In the end, now Hanssen is in the process. It’s one thing to know who the spy is. We knew Hanssen long before they arrested him. You have to get evidence. You have to bring it to court and you can’t compromise certain things. Enhancing the case, they got the tape and the bag. They sat around and played the tape. Half the people around the room said, “We know who that is.” Often they’re giving you ingredients for a spy. You can’t just identify them. It’s not as simple as people think. People do drink their problems. CIA does everything possible to rehabilitate people because they know too much. That’s a harsh way. We like to think we’re humanitarian and consider it and put them back into St. John’s so you’re not penalized. It’s not just drinking or these other things.
In Aldrich Ames’s case, he wanted money. Some people just flat out want the money and they don’t care about their country. They are for sale. We’ve had our fair share of those that came our way and some. Usually the big spies, it’s in their head that it’s about the system. Catching them is good if you have agents inside the other guy’s backyard. Russians, when they got Ames, he was sitting on the crown jewels. There were a lot of people with big jobs in the agency but they weren’t sitting on the names of their best assets inside the country. He met with the Russians, walked in and he had a reason because he was the CIA’s Russian officer. The FBI didn’t think anything out of it. He was going to give them just a little bit and give them some extra money. They gave him $50,000.
In the next meeting, he brought the identities of the eleven. He has to sit there and realize, “What are the consequences?” One last thing on the incident, he was interviewed. I’ll never forget the interview because it was a routine interview. There’s not many of them. A woman’s interviewing. She said, “Did you ever have trouble sleeping when you turned over the names?” It was a microsecond of hesitation. He said, “No, I thought I would. I didn’t have any trouble sleeping.” That’s a psychopath. When you diagnose people in that head and diagnose the motivation that’s sitting there, the visible signs are harder to detect. Specialists are collecting little tidbits of information, trying to build them. That’s how you catch a spy. It’s a hard discipline. Not a lot of awards and presents are given to you because you bring bad news to the head of the agency, “We’ve got a spy and I know who it is now.”
Spymaster’s Prism is your detailed account of how we got here now. You bring us to now and then you go into the next battlefield. You’re identifying the next battlefield as the effort to undermine US elections, destabilize democracy. If we think about the Cold War, it was fought through this fear of nuclear war, mutually assured destruction. It led to the detente between the two sides but today’s battlefield is the cyber domain. The traditional battlefields that existed of uniformed soldiers, of nations and states fighting for territories, are gone. Now the cyber battlefield brings in not only the government but the private sector. We’ve seen this in things like the Sony hack from several years ago, where the North Koreans took down Sony. We’ve seen in the SolarWinds attack that has happened. We see the administration putting sanctions on the government and accepting that, “This was done by the Russian government against the United States.” You’ve called it weaponizing of information. Where do we go from here? What is this new battlefield? Are we ready for this?
If you look at the spy cases that I talked about, and then I talked about the covert action, and how things are done with new technologies. The ingredients over several decades were not the work of fundamental change. It was just enhancing technology. How do you communicate better with satellites? When you get to the cyber area, it is a new way of warfare. Intelligence warfare on the battlefield is a new era. I haven’t read every book on it anywhere near but the policy level, it’s still a struggle to come up with the strategy. Let me take a couple of pieces from the book that are germane to this. One is called the Spymaster’s President. Right below, there’s a quote. “You shall know the truth.”
There’s no such thing as an ex-KGB officer, Vladimir Putin. In other words, he has a mindset and we need to understand the mindset as we look at cyber. How is he looking at the world? Why was 2016, in my mind, is such a seismic shift in the strategy from the Cold War? This is important. What about China? We all recognize geopolitical and economic that China is a big threat. When you look at intelligence operations, the Russians are still in the first position. When you say who in the United States is involved in espionage and meddling in internal affairs, there are the Russians and the next one is very far behind. That’s what is there. There’s a Cold War strategy. It was raised in his early youth.
When the world fell apart, he was looking at the world through the spymaster’s prism of the Cold War. What is he doing now? He’s rebuilding the Cold War strategy. We can regain control of Ukraine, take the Crimea, get more reports in the Middle East, meddling around the world, in places where there will be friction with us, looking for some alliance with the Chinese which we’ve been talking about. This is a Cold War plan and he’s executing on it. One of the ingredients is that the United States is an implacable enemy. Therefore, we need to keep them weak. One of their charisma, one of the chiefs of staff of the army in 2014 wrote the theory called The Hybrid Strategy or How Do You Go to War. It’s all the things that you’re familiar with but he added as an instrument of war, disinformation and the use of cyber to keep you weak politically.
Let’s move forward to 2016. I’m sitting there watching television and they go into hacking the DNC. I thought, “Is that a real big priority that they’re hacking in?” Countries around the world can talk about cyber because they are all going for the maximum of what they can. The shock was he took the information and introduced it into our political environment, 470 Facebook, 2,700 Twitter feeds of troll factories. I don’t think it meaningfully chased the election but he was meddling. Why is that important? I was sitting there and I could see it all. There were rules. It was called the Moscow rules.
There’s a moderate version of it which is how do you operate Moscow so you don’t wear a Yankees cap or talk with the New York accent and allow the voice of your operative. The meaning of it is a very serious thing. The real Moscow rules go back to the Jedburgh issues. We’re not going to counterfeit each other’s money because it will destroy the economy of the world. We’re not going to rough up CIA guys and we’re not going to rough up yours. If you talk about my career in Chile, Afghanistan and Iran, it was all outside of Russia and the United States. We did not meddle in each other’s internal affairs.
It’s not about the politics of 2016. It’s seismic and they are now using cyber as an instrument of war to weaken us. They’ve done a pretty good job in looking at our belly button politically for the last few years. The cyber and its use have no ground rules. What are the rules? Somebody tell me. We have nuclear weapons. You can come up with a treaty. What I’m saying and it’s in the book but right now, because of the sanctions that we’re going, every discussion and every chance I get, I say, “We have that another discussion, a private discussion.” No one’s going to sign up in public. It has to be national security experts. The President can set this and said, “Sure, we need to have a talk with some of our gang.”
We need to have rules of what we will not do. You don’t need the treaty and all the things we’re going to do in cyber together. No. What are the ground rules? We need to reset that they’re not operating inside the United States. That’s not the collection part. We know they’re in and they are doing everything they can. They’re not alone all around the world. These are the early stages of warfare. Now you have the President says, “We’re taking unseen steps.” I’m only in my conjecture assuming that means we are going to be doing something. That is not inside information. I don’t know what they’re going to do. When you say unseen, there’s a lot of unseen things you can do. We’re going to respond. How are you going to respond? Many people have a good fix on them but I’ll deal with them. He’s not going to back down. He’s going to respond.
This is a good thing that we’re doing because both parties need to become in a position of strength to have a real negotiation. We have to do this for him to take us seriously. He can’t be seen as a weak guy. He’ll come back and that should provide an opportunity. They’re going to have a meeting on climate issues. It’s unclear whether Putin will or will not attend. This has nothing to do with what I know. I would like to think one of the things is, why don’t we recruit some of the gang and see if we can work out some rules? He may not want a fight. We then need to brace ourselves for a new Cold War, which we’re already in its early stages and the miscalculation that can take place.
Most, unfortunately, it’ll be largely invisible because we’re not going to be able to have it out in public what the inside is instilling. It poses unique challenges for democracy that needs oversight of its intelligence community. This is a big deal to me. General MacArthur once said, “Old soldiers never die, they fade away.” I would say, “Old spies never die, they fade away unless they have a pen.” I went to say my peace and people just turn it off and they’ll buy my book. My point is I didn’t write the book to make money. These issues are drawing. We’re going to come in here to a point where we wrap up for volume 1 of 22 volumes.
The importance of strategic thinking was at a critical point and all the different elements in the agency, Congress and the public. This is why your program, I’d like to think of a small way where we’re contributing at least to a dialog about it. You need to think about this new world we’re living in because we’re right at the crash here of entering a new period of counter-punching the dangerous times. Strategic thinking is called for by our best minds and a lot of real talents from your time, our military, our youth and our government agencies. Hopefully, we’ll see our way through it but it’s a dangerous time.
Jack, you spoke about the weaponization of information and that’s where you see the future battlefield going. Do you believe that the government and the private sector are prepared for this weaponization of information?
First of all, for the reader’s understanding, at least from where I sit, the United States is still the most powerful country on the face of the Earth. When it comes to cyber offensively, we have tremendous capabilities. We’re not going to be able to prove this. We’ll be able to prove it in public. My sense of where our military is, where intelligence is, we have the capability to act offensively but that’s not your whole question. What about defensively? The difference is we’re in a democracy. We have diffused much of our rifle-in in the hands of the private sector. Much of our defense work is there and most of our infrastructure. The government doesn’t have the type of power that you can mandate, dictate and insist on different types of protection.
There’s a vulnerability on our side and we need to take the steps that we think will harden our defenses. There’s a sense I’ve had over the years that a lot of people in the industry are interested in big science and providing all the technology. At the end of the day, that’s a pretty expensive proposition. You don’t want to forget the intelligence collection because when you know what they’re doing, you can prepare your defenses better. From a technological point of view, we’re very vulnerable. Offensively, we could turn out everybody’s lights on the face of the Earth, if you so choose. That gets to another issue and that is, do we have the role to use those capabilities? That remains to be seen. The Russians are meddling inside our country. How are we going to respond?
We have that capability to respond. The question is, how do we respond under what conditions? We gave adequate attention to it. It’s a complicated question but I don’t want anyone to think that the US isn’t powerful in this space. We are vulnerable and let’s not think that money is the problem and playing defense of technology because the enemy can always find its way in. We need to have first-class intelligence about the plans, intentions and current activities that are produced by humans. I know I come from that world. I have a lot of respect for technology but there’s an inexpensive way of making sure we’re better prepared. How many intelligence clearly have those resources? Even as much as I dearly love them, I’m agnostic about them.
It’s the true Spymaster’s Prism, the world through the foundation of intelligence. For the foundational purposes of our discussion, we close out every episode with a quick discussion about the Jedburghs. In World War II, the Jedburghs had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to shoot, move and communicate. If they could do these three things, it didn’t matter what other challenges came their way. That was the foundation of what they did in their job. They could achieve anything and solve complex challenges. What are the three things that you do every day as the foundation of your world to be successful every day?
One of the best pieces of wisdom I got was from the head of the 690 Plumbers Union in Philadelphia. That was in ‘15 or ‘16. He said, “Jack, never have your picture taken with a drink in your hand. They will think you’re an alcoholic. Make sure you have a handshake like a farmer or a seafarer.” It now comes to wisdom. The last thing he said was, “Every day before you get out of bed, take ten minutes and think about a strategic world that you live in. What are you going to do strategically that day?” It’s a rarely fundamental thing on how we need to function. That is don’t get up and just brush your teeth and start down with, “I got to do this. I got to take the laundry. I got to go there. I’ve got to answer, Fran. I’ve got to go whatever it is.” Make sure you take contentment for the time in your life and it becomes a habit for strategic thinking.
You need to be able to shoot, move and collect the information. You need to be able to be versatile and go all around the world in different places. There’s nothing like the military for great reaction and the Jedburghs and getting something done. CIA can do. Let’s get it done. Remember, the Jedburghs are led by people. The CIA is led by people. The further up you go to the line, the great responsibility. What are all these men and women doing? Why? What are the objectives? Am I doing it the best way? It’s the thought process before you put your feet and you stand tall.
You have to know what do you want to do and the why in order to understand the how.
Getting It done. We do that. You, your team, my team, we’re trying to do that. As I grow older, the paucity of thinking about it and we don’t spend enough time. Most people run away from it. They’re going to talk about the weather, the affiliates, the nationalists or whatever. There’s a fear of thinking about strategists, “Tell me what you want to do?” I think that’s inadequate. The world was much more complicated. Life is more complicated than that.
Jack, earlier in the program, we spoke about the nine characteristics of elite performance started back with the Jedburgh. That’s how special operations assess, recruit, select and train. We’ve defined the drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, effective intelligence, team ability, curiosity and emotional strength. I always say that you don’t execute as an elite performer all nine of these at the same time but you’d have all nine. They come out at different times, depending on the situation that you’re in. I contradict myself at the end of every one of these. I assigned one to every one of my guests. I say, “This is what you’ve exuded in this conversation. When I look at you, this is how I define you.” I believe for you, Jack, it’s emotional strength. I define emotional strength in terms of emotional control in stressful situations to bring calm to chaos.
You have seen so many things over the course of your very long career. You’ve been involved in conflicts in every corner of the Earth, overt operations, covert operations, clandestine operations. You have seen history, made history and changed history. Spymaster’s Prism was an amazing read. It’s an amazing lens on the past. It’s an amazing look into the future. There are some quantifiable things that every one of us can learn about the environment in the real world in which we live. You’ve been an amazing mentor, coach, friend, national hero, a true spymaster. Thank you for joining me on the show.
Thank you. It’s a great pleasure, friend, as always.
- Jack Devine
- Spymaster’s Prism
- Good Hunting
- Episode one with Mike Sarraille – Past episode
- Episode six with Claudius Conrad – Past episode
- A Coffin for Dimitrios
About Jack Devine
Jack Devine spent 32 years in the Central Intelligence Agency serving as both the Acting Director and Associate Director of the CIA’s global operations. Devine joined the agency in 1967, after his wife gave him a book about the CIA and its role in U.S. national security. During his tenure, Jack led the Afghan Task Force where he covertly supported the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union tipping the balance of power during the Cold War in favor of the United States.
Jack also led the CIA’s Counter-Narcotics Center and the Latin America Division where he led the effort in the war against international drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar. Jack has made and changed history in every corner of the world. He is currently the President of The Arkin Group, where he provides boutique consulting on international intelligence and investigative services. He is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations and is seen regularly on all major new networks and publications.
Jack recently released his second book, Spymaster’s Prism, where he provides his in-depth analyis of intelligence, counter-intelligence and covert action activities between Russia and the United States.