Some of Our Favorite Things
SpyTalk stories we especially liked over the past year
Mossad’s New Boss is a Gadget-Loving Killing Machine
David Barnea is going to walk softly and carry a big stick—or so he’s been saying to Mossad’s workforce and alumni.
Jonathan Broder Oct. 20
China’s Top Spy is a Working Class Hero
Chen Wenqing has risen from street cop to boss of China's powerful Ministry of State Security. Loyalty paid off.
Matthew Brazil Jan. 4
Frenemies: How the CIA and Polish Spies Went from Bitter Rivals to Post-Cold War Comrades
From Warsaw With Love is a basket of entertaining spy stories with hard lessons for wannabe US allies
Elaine Monaghan Oct. 25.
Former CIA Director: We Were Surprised by Arab Spring
Leon Panetta says CIA was caught flat-footed and didn’t ‘really understand what was going on’
Jeff Stein May 20
Unintended Consequences: Inside Story of an Unsung Counterterrorism Strike
The U.S. hit on ISIS in Libya saved Tunisia but led to an odd standoff with Serbia.
John Dinges and Jonathan Broder Feb. 25
Flynn Secretly Paid $200,000 in Middle East Nuclear Scheme—Report
Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad dug up internal audit documents revealing more unreported payments in wild scheme for Arab power plants
Jeff Stein Oct. 3
New Spy Thriller Has a Novel Twist on Syria Ops
Damascus Station, by ex-CIA man David McCloskey, is an impressive debut
Peter Eisner, Oct. 1
The 'American Taliban' and Me
A former CIA analyst digests a new film on the saga of John Walker Lindh
Gail Helt Sept. 8
Taliban Include Heroin Kingpins in Leadership
Obama and Trump scuttled a DEA-DoJ prosecution plan to spur peace talks with Taliban. Will Biden resurrect it?
Gretchen Peters and John Seaman Sept 28
Now, for the Accountability
The CIA and FBI also need a reckoning now that Kabul is gone. Two new startling insider accounts offer a roadmap.
Jeff Stein Sept. 2
Kabul Doomwatch: A Veteran TV Correspondent Recalls Escapes from Vietnam, Cambodia
Longtime ABC-TV international correspondent Jim Laurie also watched the Russians leave Afghanistan. It was more orderly than the US exit from Kabul.
Jim Laurie, Aug 15
Israel’s Fingers in Sudan
Longtime Middle East hand Jonathan Broder picks through the history
Jonathan Broder Nov. 6
A Dazzling Debut Spy Thriller Carved in Poison
Sergei Lebedev’s 'Untraceable' explores evil through the minds of both the hunter and the hunted
Matthew Brazil July 18
Kabul Falls...to Multiple Metaphors
Members of Congress add Dunkirk to the Kabul-Saigon metaphor. Or is it Phnom Penh, as some fear? The mostly useless comparisons are adding up.
Jeff Stein Aug 13
Interrogations: How Did We Get to Brutal?
From brute force to mindful strategies, the evolution of interrogation science
Maria Hartwig, July 2
Ex-Trump Spy Chief Grenell Celebrates Pro-Moscow Serb Strongman
Are Trump acolytes cultivating European autocrats and extremists for a White House return as head of a transatlantic Axis of Evil?
Jeff Stein Aug 25
New Russiagate Docs: Bombshell or Hoax?
The Guardian's scoop has many experts urging caution, questioning the "leak"
Craig Unger July 15
Chinese Defector Mystery Deepens
Beijing’s sketchy report of Dong Jingwei’s appearance at a spy-catcher seminar only adds suspicion that the top counterintelligence official fled to the U.S.
Matthew Brazil and Jeff Stein June 21
CIA Officer Became ‘Formidable Foe’ of U.S. Government
Janine Brookner took on the KGB, sexist rivals and Justice Department lawyers alike during a pioneering career as a spy and lawyer
Jeff Stein May 13
SpyTalk at the Movies: The Human Factor
An intense new documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is ‘a tortuous saga of good intentions and broken dreams,’ our reviewer in Jerusalem says
Stuart Schoffman May 6
My Jason Matthews
Praise keeps rolling in for the fallen former CIA master spy and novelist
Jeff Stein May 4
The Crazy CIA Plot to Kill the Other Castro
The CIA wanted a pilot to sabotage Raul Castro's plane—while he was flying it.
Peter Kornbluh Apr. 25
New JFK Assassination Documents? Meh
What's really stunning is the sensational media coverage and the National Archives' release of informants' personal data.
Gus Russo Dec. 15
Spooks on the Rio: U.S. Spy Agencies’ Little Known Homeland Security Role
CIA, DIA, FBI, satellites, military play major parts in U.S.-based globe-spanning network
Todd Bensman Apr. 4
Bill Burns' CIA and the Roads Not Taken
The spy agency’s new chief gets a second chance to tell truth to power
Jeff Stein Mar. 18