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CIA case officer, lawyer, now acclaimed first-time novelist—Ilana Berry has done a lot in her handful of decades on this Earth. 

And she’s a longtime SpyTalk fan.

“SpyTalk is my news wellspring for all things espionage,” she says. “Deep, thoughtful, balanced coverage, plus interesting angles and insider perspectives you rarely find in mainstream media.” 

“It's singular,” she raves on. “There's literally no other news source I know of that's so focused on intelligence-related news."

Last summer Berry’s debut novel, The Peacock and the Sparrow, arrived to enthusiastic notices. But that was just the start. In short order it would be named a best book of the year by both The New Yorker and NPR, and nominated for an Edgar Award (the highest honor in the mystery book world, named after that Raven guy) in the category of Best First Novel.


“I'm a subscriber, supporter, and huge fan of SpyTalk. I look forward to it landing in my Inbox every day,” says Ray Bonner, the acclaimed foreign correspondent and investigative reporter for The New York Times, staff writer at The New Yorker and contributor to The New York Review of Books. “Jeff Stein's intelligence sources have sources. His SpyTalk is the New York Times for intelligence reporting—and intelligent readers. And it's fun to read.”


“SpyTalk is entertaining, informative, and always well-sourced,” says former CIA officer Valerie Plame. “I'm a fan and relieved to have a reliable and thoughtful resource for all things espionage and intelligence related.”


“I turn to Spytalk for deep insights into today's events from experts in the know,” says former CIA analyst Diana Bolsinger, head of graduate intelligence studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. “I enjoy Spytalk's range of topics and the way Spytalk authors draw on history and personal experience to put developments into context. Add in the occasional flash of humor, and it's a great way to start my day.”


“Congrats on what you've built SpyTalk into—a news source that breaks news, gets big guests, and is smartly deployed (I especially enjoy listening to the podcasts!),” says Mark Greenblatt, the award-winning investigative journalist for Scripps News who is now executive editor of the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Really smart stuff.”


*"I supported your work, because it is intelligent and balanced. I am a counterterrorism specialist, and have other experience.’

* ”Great quality content”

* ”I am ex-CIA, retired military intelligence, and find it very interesting.”

* ”Great stuff, really wanted to read about the Yom Kippur war."

* "You provide a viewpoint and educate us on topics that would never really rise to the surface of regular media."

"Because there are a few good spy, reporting blogs."

"You are so important encountering Russian disinformation.”

* “Jeff, love your vision for this. Wanted to give you my support with a paid subscription.”

Now how about you?

Hi there, I’m Jeff Stein, the founding editor of SpyTalk here on Substack.


You may remember me as the Spytalk columnist for years at Newsweek, and before that, at The Washington Post and before that, Congressional Quarterly (where I was also the founding editor of the groundbreaking CQ/Homeland Security). In the 1980s I was deputy foreign news editor at UPI. Over the years I’ve also authored three books and freelanced investigative pieces for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, from the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe to GQ, Esquire, Playboy and Rolling Stone to The New Republic, Huffington Post, Salon.com and Foreign Policy.

I got started down this path by serving as a case officer with US Army intelligence in Vietnam. (My way of draft dodging.)

I’m blessed here by a team of veteran journalists and experts who offer original reporting, scoops and analysis on national security topics, with an emphasis on U.S. intelligence operations, both foreign and domestic. Among them:

*Henry Allen, a former U.S. Marine in South Vietnam and longtime feature writer at The Washington Postwho won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2000. 

*Jonathan Broder, a former CQ foreign news editor, Newsweek writer and foreign correspondent for the A.P. and Chicago Tribune in the Middle East

*Matthew Brazil, a former US government officer in Beijing and co-author of the authoritative, Chinese Communist Espionage, An Intelligence Primer.

*John Dinges, a former NPR News managing editor, Godfrey Lowell Cabot Professor of Journalism Emeritus at Columbia University, and author of The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terror to Three Continents.

*Peter Eisner, a prolific investigative author and former deputy foreign editor at The Washington Post. Today he’s also co-host of the influential podcast, Unconventional Threat.

*James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor (shortened to three days for the 1975 Watergate-zeitgeist movie) and several other novels including his latest, Smoke In Our Eyes.

*Seth Hettena, SpyWeek columnist, former A.P. correspondent, author of Trump/Russia: A Definitive History, contributor to The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.

*Elaine Monaghan, former Reuters correspondent in London, Moscow, Kyiv, Minsk, Kosovo and Ireland, and Washington columnist for The Times. Co-author of On The Brink, the memoir of CIA officer Tyler Drumheller.

*Gus Russo, a nine-time author (including two books on the Kennedy assassination), documentarian, and musician. His latest book is his first fiction, Gaia.

*Frank Snepp, the former top CIA analyst in South Vietnam who went on to become a Peabody-Award winning TV journalist specializing in national security issues. His CIA memoir, Decent Interval, triggered a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

*Adam Zagorin, former senior correspondent, TIME magazine.

Stars all. Subscribe to get full access to these writers and our website. Never miss an update.

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Intelligence for Thinking People


Founding editor SpyTalk.co. Veteran natsec reporter. Pvsly Newsweek, WaPo, founding editor CQ/Homeland Security, dep foreign news editor UPI. Tips welcome via text at Signal 202-812-3034, email via spytalk@me.com and Twitter @talk_spy and @spytalker
A contributing editor at Rolling Stone, Hettena writes about national security and politics from San Diego. He is writing a book about the Navy SEALs and the CIA in Iraq.
Peter Eisner a, contributing editor to SpyTalk, is an award-winning reporter and author, formerly at The Washington Post, Newsday, and the Associated Press.
Jefferson Morley is a Washington journalist and author of three books about the CIA: Our Man in Mexico, The Ghost; and Scorpions' Dance. He is co-founder and editor of the JFK Facts Substack newsletter.
Patricia Ravalgi spent 28 years serving in intelligence positions on the House Intelligence Committee, at the FBI and U.S. Central Command.
Gus Russo is a nine-time author (including two books on the Kennedy assassination), a documentarian, and musician. His latest book is his first fiction "Gaia."
Author of SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR, other novels and short stories, screenplays, investigative reporter. He lives inside the Beltway.
Adam Zagorin is a former Senior Correspondent at Time magazine
Douglas London (@douglaslondon5) is author of “The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence.” He served 34 years with the CIA in the Middle East, South and Central Asia and Africa, including three assignments as a Chief of Station.
Psychiatrist specializing in minds of insider spies. Met weekly for a year with three spies, including Hanssen. Read three white papers on website: NOIR4USA.com
Dr. Robert Gaudet has been primarily involved in working on education achievement and criminal justice research.
Derek won the 2020 Truman Book Award, and, in 2023, published Unlikely Heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, His Four Lieutenants, and the World They Made. He cofounded Harvard/MIT’s journal International Security, and helped launch the Museum of the US Army.
Gail Helt is a former CIA analyst on East Asia, and provided support to the Obama Administration’s effort to transfer Guantanamo detainees. All views expressed here are mine alone.
Filip Kovacevic (@ChekistMonitor) has more than 20 years of university teaching experience in Russia, the Balkans, and the U.S. He specializes in Soviet/Russian intelligence/counterintelligence history & spy fiction.
C. Tatum is the pen name of a writer who observed efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghans from Kabul.
Peter Kornbluh directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive in Washington D.C. He is author of Bay of Pigs Declassified, among other books on U.S.-Cuba relations.
Stuart Schoffman was a staff writer at Time Magazine and a film teacher at USC before moving in 1988 to Israel,, where he worked for many years as a columnist for the Jerusalem Report. He is also a translator of Israeli literary fiction.
Gary Thomas is a former Army spook, foreign and domestic news correspondent, and wine writer.
Political Scientist Stephen R. Weissman, former Staff Director of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa, has written widely on CIA covert action.
Former NCIS Deputy Assistant Director and Homeland Security Senior Executive. Was the former Special Agent-in-Charge of the Pentagon task force established to bring suspected terrorists to justice before military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.
Todd Bensman currently serves as Senior National Security Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies. Previously he worked in journalism and intelligence
Executive Director of the Center on Illicit Networks and Transnational Organized Crime, as well as the Alliance to Counter Crime Online.
Franz J. Marty has been living and working as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan since December 2014. He writes on a broad range of topics, but focuses on security issues and jihadism. For more of his work, follow him on Twitter @franzjmarty.
She began her career in the late 1980s as a Washington-based foreign correspondent. Over the years she has freelanced and authored investigative pieces on security and corruption. Lates book: “Mexico, A Challenging Assignment.”
Danny Biederman is author of “The Incredible World of SPY-Fi,” writer/producer of Discovery Channel’s “Hollywood Spytek” & served as an expert James Bond consultant to MGM. His SPY-Fi Exhibit has appeared at the CIA, the Reagan Museum & other venues.
A journalist & analyst focused on Russian society, mentality, the tactics of Russian propaganda, “soft power,” & foreign policy. Author of several hundred articles, including researches for the Atlantic Council, Stratfor, & the Jamestown Foundation
A veteran reporter, editor and foreign correspondent, Broder writes about defense and foreign policy from Washington.
Matt is a China analyst at BluePathLabs.com, a Fellow at Jamestown.org, and the co-author of Chinese Communist Espionage, An Intelligence Primer (2019). www.mattbrazil.net; matt.brazil@hushmail.com; matthew.brazil@gmail.com
Elaine Shannon is a veteran national security correspondent for Time and Newsweek. Latest book: Hunting LeRoux (HarperCollins/Michael Mann Books)
Marine in Vietnam, Washington Post, critic and feature writer, Pulitzer Prize, novelist, poet, artist
Frank Snepp, a former top CIA analyst, now a Peabody-Award winning journalist, specializes in national security issues. His CIA memoir, Decent Interval, triggered a landmark US Supreme Court ruling.
Henry R. Schlesinger is an author and journalist who has been writing about things espionage for more than two decades. His most recent book, Honey Trapped, is available on amazon.
Michael Isikoff is an award-winning investigative journalist and best-selling author who has reported for The Washington Post, Newsweek, NBC News and Yahoo News.
Ronald Marks III is a former CIA and Capitol Hill official, and DC based tech executive. A Council on Foreign Relations member, he is a Visiting Prof at Geo.Mason Univ. and author of Spying In America in the Post 9/11 World
Formerly of The Washington Post, NPR, and Columbia U. Writes on Latin America, U.S. policy, dictatorships and security forces. Latest book, The Condor Years
Former co-founder, The Japan Digest
Researcher/analyst focusing on Russian intel ops Senior fellow CEPA Senior Investigative researcher IEI: Institute for European Integrity Coordinator Syria Ukraine Network For investigative tips: innam07@proton.me https://linktr.ee/olgalautman
Dr. Mark Stout is an intelligence historian and a former US intelligence officer. He was the founding president of the North American Society for Intelligence History.
Jim Laurie is an international writer and broadcaster. He roamed the world first for NBC News (1972-1978) and ABC News (1978-2000). He is the author of ‘THE LAST HELICOPTER: Two Lives in Indochina’ (2020), a memoir of Cambodia and Vietnam.
A Scot, ex-Reuters London, Moscow, Kyiv, Minsk, Kosovo, Ireland, State Department. Covered foreign policy for CQ. Reported for The Times in DC. Authored Times Online column Abroad in America. Co-authored CIA memoir On The Brink with Tyler Drumheller.
Former spy. Spy novelist. Author, The Peacock and the Sparrow.
Associate prof of intel studies, historian, attorney. Author of Nixon’s FBI: Hoover, Watergate, and a Bureau in Crisis
Dr. Emma L Briant is an internationally recognized expert and academic of propaganda and information warfare whose work was central in exposing the Cambridge Analytica scandal and continues to inform politicians, NGOs and industry.
Craig's five books on the GOP's assault on democracy include NYT bestsellers American Kompromat; House of Bush, House of Saud, and House of Trump, House of Putin. He has written for Vanity Fair, New York, Esquire, the New Yorker, etc.
Howard Altman is an award-winning journalist with a long track record of shining the light where needed.
Dr. Hartwig is Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Director & Co-Founder, Project Aletheia. She is an internationally recognized expert on deception, counter-deception, and interviewing and interrogation strategy.
I am a former Retired DEA Supervisory Special Agent with over 30 years’ experience in the Rule of Law Field who specialized in anti-corruption and establishing Rule of Law programs for both DEA & DOJ.
Heidi Lane is an educator and academic who specializes in politics of the Middle East at the U.S. Naval War College.
“Robert W. Wallace is the former director of the Office of Technical Service at the Central Intelligence Agency and author of Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to al-Qaeda
Screenwriter, tracksuit addict, and recovering journalist. Loves Philip Roth and Ghostface Killah. Ex NYT, WSJ, ESPN, and NWK. Email: rmschneiderman@protonmail.com.
Mike German is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and formerly served as a special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.