The Lawfare Podcast Shorts: How Do You Spy When the World is Shut Down?

Jen Patja Howell, David Priess, Alex Finley, Jonna Mendez
Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Like a marriage, a healthy relationship between an intelligence officer and an asset usually features ample attention and extensive energy. And of course, a lot of time spent with one another. But how do intelligence officers have the necessary face-to face-meetings when going outside is all but forbidden? What about conducting surveillance detection or servicing dead drops on empty streets in the coronavirus era?

Three former CIA officers—Alex Finley, Jonna Mendez, and David Priess—explored this tricky topic in a recent article on Lawfare, which David reads in full for this edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts.

Jen Patja Howell is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
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.
Alex Finley is the pen name of a former CIA officer. She has written for a number of media outlets and is the author of two satires about the CIA. “Victor in the Rubble” looks at the absurdity of the war on terror, and “Victor in the Jungle” explores the pitfalls of populism.
Jonna Mendez, a former CIA officer, is a writer and speaker with 27 years of service in the Office of Technical Service, the CIA’s equivalent of “Q” in the British service. She retired as the CIA’s chief of disguise and together with her husband Antonio Mendez has co-written a number of books on intelligence. Their most recent book is “The Moscow Rules,” detailing the extraordinary measures the CIA takes when working in the most difficult city in the world for intelligence collection.

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