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Blogs of War

John Little has been breaking national security news and leveraging thousands of conflict, intelligence, security, technology & political sources to provide level-headed analysis in a complex news environment since 2002. @blogsofwar

Counterterrorism Challenges – Pondering Seemingly Unsolvable Problems with Phillip Smyth

Covert Contact Episode 11

The first Covert Contact interview features University of Maryland Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics researcher Phillip Smyth. Phillip is also well known for his Hizballah Cavalcade project on Jihadology

Phillip specializes in Shia militias, and we touch on that topic, but most of the interview is spent looking at the big . . .

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December 22, 2014

The Senate Torture Report

Covert Contact Episode 10

It is always disheartening when America does not live up to the standards many of us expect and in the adoption and execution of enhanced interrogation we have failed to do that on many levels.

The primary failure is that our elected officials and the people who serve them strayed into territory where most of us instinctively know America . . .

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December 10, 2014

Art in Afghanistan: Francesca Recchia Updates from Kabul

Covert Contact Episode 9

Episode nine focuses on the unusual work of Francesca Recchia. Francesca is an independent researcher and writer who has worked in many challenging places including Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine. She is currently in Kabul and this episode features several daily updates that I asked her to record shortly after I started this project. . . .

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November 28, 2014

The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama bin Laden and the Heroes You’ll Never Know

Covert Contact Episode 8

In episode eight I look at the case of Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill and the culture that lures men and women like him out of the shadows and into a world of fame, ego gratification, and financial reward. I examine the role that military leadership and our culture at large plays in chipping away at the notion of quiet professionalism and share . . .

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November 14, 2014

Dr. Aaron Mannes: A Veterans Day Reflection

Binding the Past & Present

The battalion change of command ceremony was not long. There was no elaborate pageantry. The core components of the ceremony were straightforward. The officers, sympathetic to the soldiers standing in formation under the West Texas sun, spoke briefly. Yet the event carried the weight of centuries.

On June 5, 2014 I visited Fort Bliss’ . . .

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November 11, 2014

Why Daesh’s Social Media Campaign is a Massive Failure

Covert Contact Episode 7

In episode 7 of the Covert Contact podcast I’m pushing back at the notion that Daesh’s social media visibility equals success. The group might have mastered trolling and they can shoot and edit passable HD video but are these activities going to help them achieve their goals or are they, in fact, undermining themselves with every tweet and . . .

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November 05, 2014

Robots and the Future of Warfare: The Advantage Might Not Lie with the Inventors

Covert Contact Podcast Episode 6

In episode 6 of the Covert Contact podcast I am looking at the evolution of unmanned platforms and speculate about the impact that they could have on warfare. The technology is evolving faster than our appreciation for the complications it will bring so while there will be countless positive benefits there will also unquestionably be a dark . . .

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October 30, 2014

Establish Covert Contact

How You Can Participate in the Podcast

Sharing your take on a Covert Contact episode, national security, intelligence, or tech topic with the Covert Contact community is easy. Just call 1-443-681-9430 and leave a message. You can call at any time and on any subject but you must avoid profanity and keep the message under three minutes in length.

Can't think of a topic? Here are . . .

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October 26, 2014

Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Importance of Perspective

Covert Contact Episode 5

In episode 5 I take a look at the real impact of lone wolf terror attacks, why ISIS seems to have been more successful than al-Qaeda at motivating these individual actors, and how the average citizen can put these acts of violence in proper perspective. I also briefly touch on the unfortunate role that the media plays in ratcheting up our . . .

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October 25, 2014

What the Attack in Ottawa Teaches Us About Terrorists – And Ourselves

Covert Contact Episode 4

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As promised earlier today this episode of Covert Contact is focused entirely on today’s attack in Ottawa. I had originally intended this to be a discussion about a particular type of attack and terrorist strategy but much is still unknown in this case. I decided to save those thoughts for another day. Instead, I look at the contrasts between . . .

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October 22, 2014

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