Chatter: The People Side of Intelligence with Darrell Blocker

David Priess, Darrell Blocker
Thursday, October 6, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Darrell Blocker retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2018 after serving as an operations officer and manager in many countries, especially in Africa. His self-described lack of success recruiting assets during early assignments nevertheless taught him important lessons about the intelligence business, about how people work, and about himself; later tours of duty gave him the chance to make up for lost time by excelling at the job while also getting shot at and even gaining minor fame as the lead singer in an African jazz band. Blocker left CIA service as one of the most senior black officers in the Agency's history--and he was reportedly on President Biden's shortlist to become the Director of the CIA. Now, he's involved in several creative projects in Hollywood.

David Priess chatted with Blocker about his career and his activities since retirement. They discussed getting spy stories told on film, growing up as an Air Force brat, understanding the pledge of allegiance, stumbling early in an intelligence career, appreciating the operational environment in Africa, growing from mistakes, accepting lessons from 360-degree feedback, performing on stage in a jazz band, singing the national anthem, being considered as a CIA director, enhancing the CIA's interactions with the media, learning about the benefits of fictional representations of Hollywood's take on intelligence, and more.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

The TV series Condor

The TV series Homeland

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Star-Spangled Banner

David Priess is Director of Intelligence at Bedrock Learning, Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. He served during the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations as a CIA officer and has written two books: “The President’s Book of Secrets,” about the top-secret President’s Daily Brief, and "How To Get Rid of a President," describing the ways American presidents have left office.
Darrell Blocker is a former American intelligence officer who served for 28 years with the Central Intelligence Agency. He held prominent positions including deputy director of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC), Chief of Africa Division, and Chief of Training.

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