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I Spy

Foreign Policy

News, Society & Culture, History

4.8 • 2.8K Ratings

Overview

Spies don’t talk—it’s the cardinal rule of the business. But on Foreign Policy’s podcast I Spy, we get them to open up. We hear from the operations people: the spies who steal secrets, kill adversaries, and turn agents into double agents. Each episode features one spy telling one dramatic story.

38 Episodes

After Hotel Rwanda, Part 2: The Backstory

Tensions between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda began long before the 1994 genocide—a vestige of Belgian colonial rule in the country. On this episode, we trace the events leading up to the mass killing—and how they affected Paul and his wife. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 14 May 2024

After Hotel Rwanda, Part 1: The Trap

An old friend persuades human rights activist Paul Rusesabagina to travel from his home in San Antonio, Texas, to Burundi for a speaking engagement. But the friend turns out to be collaborating with the Rwandan government and the journey is a trap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 7 May 2024

Introducing: After Hotel Rwanda

Hello I Spy listeners. We're back in your feed to introduce you to a remarkable new podcast made by the producers of I Spy called: After Hotel Rwanda. The show tells the story of Paul Rusesabagina, who in 2020 was lured from his home in San Antonio, Texas, to his former country of Rwanda, were he was tried on terrorism charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Rusesabagina had been a national hero in Rwanda for saving the lives of more than twelve hundred people during the 1994 genocide there. His story was told in the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda. Our four-part series describes how Rusesabagina went from hero to dissident in Rwanda—and how a team of supporters in Washington and elsewhere managed eventually to bring him home. You can hear an extended trailer in this feed right now—and all four episodes, also in this feed, starting May 7. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 24 April 2024

The Negotiators is Back!

Hey there I Spy listeners. Here at Foreign Policy, we’re dropping season 3 of our podcast, The Negotiators. On each episode, one former diplomat or troubleshooter tells the story of one dramatic negotiation. If the tagline sounds familiar, that's by design. We think of The Negotiators as the sister show of I Spy. We’re actually inserting the season 2 finale of The Negotiators into this feed because it’s especially I Spy like. It’s about a Texas rabbi who is taken hostage at his own synagogue—and ends up negotiating with his captor. Like the episodes of I Spy, this one is non-narrated. You'll hear our host, Jenn Williams, introduce the story, followed by nothing but rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker. The show is a collaboration between Doha Debates and Foreign Policy. If you want to listen to season 3, find The Negotiators in your favorite podcast app. The first episode of the new season focuses on one of the most famous diplomatic negotiations ever: The Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Meantime—we're working on more episodes of I Spy, so keep watching this space. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 28 September 2023

Introducing: Alphabet Boys

This week, we’re sharing an episode of Alphabet Boys. Alphabet Boys takes you inside secret investigations that the FBI, DEA, CIA, and other alphabet agencies never wanted the public to know about. These cases are both dangerous and absurd … and they raise a troubling question: Are America’s top cops catching criminals -- or creating them? In this episode, you’ll hear real audio from an illegal arms deal and meet our central character, who, despite being arrested, claims he works for the CIA. But does he? Listen to Alphabet Boys at https://link.chtbl.com/ispyalphabetboys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 29 June 2023

Introducing: Conspiracyland, Season 4

Our friends at Yahoo News produce this seasonal show about conspiracies, real and imagined. We liked season 4 so much, we decided to share the first episode with our listeners. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 15 December 2022

The Skeptic

Long before Joe Weisberg created the award-winning television show The Americans, he served in the CIA. His brief period in the agency informed story lines in the show and helped shape Weisberg's views on espionage. Eventually, he came to believe that spying does more harm than good in the world. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 28 June 2022

The Investigator

The Secret Service is known for its VIP protection unit but it also investigates international crimes, including hacking cases. On this episode, we feature a Secret Service agent who helped nab one of the biggest hackers in the world, Roman Seleznev. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 21 June 2022

The Handler

Michele Rigby Assad joined the CIA just weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and spent much of the next decade working undercover in the Middle East.In 2007, she helped investigate an ambush in Iraq that killed an American woman.  Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 14 June 2022

The Spycatcher Part 2

This is part two of Eric O'Neill's story. O'Neill was an FBI agent who went undercover to catch a suspected spy in the bureau: Robert Hanssen.  If you haven't signed up for our newsletter yet, go to https://foreignpolicy.com/ispynewsletter/. Each week we'll send you bonus content you won't find anywhere else, including photos, illustrations, and expanded show notes—for free. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 7 June 2022

The Spycatcher

On this episode, FBI agent Eric O'Neill goes undercover to catch a suspected spy in the bureau: Robert Hanssen. O'Neill is just 26 at the time. Hanssen turns out to be one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history. This is part one of a two-part story. If you haven't signed up for our newsletter yet, go to https://foreignpolicy.com/ispynewsletter/. Each week we'll send you bonus content you won't find anywhere else, including photos, illustrations, and expanded show notes—for free. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2022

The Trainer

Well, listeners, it's taken us a while but here it is: the first episode of our fourth season. We begin with Ric Prado, a former CIA officer who trained the Contras in Central America in the 1980s. For those of you who don't remember, the Contras were trying to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. America's support for the group eventually led to the Iran-Contra affair, a government scandal that nearly brought down the Reagan administration. For more on the Contras, go back and listen to season one's The Jumper. Eugene Hasenfus, who helped deliver arms to the Contras, describes parachuting from a burning plane and getting captured by Nicaraguan forces. We spent several years tracking down Hasenfus and getting him to tell his story. Also, our show now has a newsletter! Sign up for free to get bonus material after each episode, including photos, illustrations, and other content you won't find anywhere else. https://foreignpolicy.com/ispynewsletter/ I Spy is produced by the podcast team at Foreign Policy, the premiere website for intelligent news and analysis from around the world. The best way to support the show—and keep those episodes coming—is by subscribing to Foreign Policy. Save 15% by going to https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and entering ISPY at checkout. Okay, enough verbiage. Enjoy the show. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2022

I Spy Season 4—Coming May 31

Hey there I Spy listeners, here's the trailer for season 4. We'll have new episodes starting May 31. More spies, more Margo Martindale. This season, we'll also have an I Spy newsletter, with photos, very cool illustrations, and a bunch of other bonus content you won't find anywhere else. Yes, it's free. Sign up at foreignpolicy.com/ispynewsletter. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 18 May 2022

The Cassandra part 2

This is part 2 of Frank Snepp's story. Snepp was a CIA analyst based in Saigon during the Vietnam War. In April of 1975, he discovered that Communist forces were preparing a large-scale attack on Saigon—but the higher ups refused to believe it. When the attack began later that month, the Americans conducted a frenzied evacuation, leaving behind many Vietnamese allies. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 9 March 2021

The Cassandra

Frank Snepp was a CIA analyst based in Saigon during the Vietnam War. In April of 1975, he discovered that Communist forces were preparing a large-scale attack on Saigon—but the higher ups refused to believe it. When the attack began later that month, the Americans conducted a frenzied evacuation, leaving behind many Vietnamese allies. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 2 March 2021

The Special Agent

The FBI's Ali Soufan specialized in Al Qaeda investigations both before and after the attacks of September 11th. In 2002 he was sent to question Abu Zubaydah, a high-level jihadi captured in Pakistan. But after several rounds of interrogation at the secret site, he was sidelined by a CIA contractor who had helped develop a new torture program for the agency. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 23 February 2021

The Hellraiser

Jay Dobyns was a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In 2002, he infiltrated the Hells Angels biker gang and spent two years undercover—a period in which he says he worried every single day about getting exposed and killed by the group. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 16 February 2021

The Infiltrator

The British spy agency MI5 recruited Willie Carlin to infiltrate Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. He spied on the group for 11 years until his cover was blown.   Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 9 February 2021

The Interrogator

FBI special agent George Piro spent seven months interrogating deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, establishing a rapport and then getting him to reveal the truth about the country's weapons of mass destruction. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 2 February 2021

The Narc part 2

This is part 2 of the story with DEA special agent Steve Murphy, who goes to Bogota, Colombia, to hunt for the head of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 28 January 2021

The Narc

Welcome to Season 3 of I Spy. On this episode, DEA special agent Steve Murphy is sent to Bogota, Colombia to hunt for the head of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 19 January 2021

I Spy Season 3—Coming January 19

More spies, more Margo Martindale.Hey there I Spy listeners, here's the trailer for season 3. We'll have eight new episodes starting January 19. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Transcribed - Published: 12 January 2021

The Analyst

CIA analyst Sarah Carlson spent a year at the U.S. Mission in Libya after the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi. When battles between rival Libyan militias edged closer and closer to the U.S. compound, she and the other personnel there were forced to flee the country in a harrowing overland journey. Carlson’s story wraps up Season 2 of I Spy. We’ll be back soon with more episodes. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 16 June 2020

The Operative

Mubin Shaikh poses as a Muslim extremist to nab Canadians who planned to stage large-scale attacks on government targets. The group he infiltrated would come to be known as the Toronto 18. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 9 June 2020

The Bookseller

Naveed Jamali worked at his parents’ specialty book business, a little company that counted among its regular customers one very unusual client: a Russian spy. Jamali hatched a plan to nab the Russian that turned into a three-year odyssey, requiring him to work as an FBI informant and pose as a Russian asset. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 2 June 2020

The Widow Spy

Martha Peterson handled one of the most valuable Soviet spies of the Cold War, code-named TRIGON—until the KGB got wind of the operation. Peterson was a young undercover officer working at the American embassy in Moscow in the mid-70s. She was the first female operations officers assigned the Soviet Union for the CIA. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 26 May 2020

The Whistleblower

Thomas Drake joined the NSA in 2001 to help deal with the glut of data created by the huge rise of Internet use around the world. But he grew increasingly troubled by something else: the way the U.S. government was targeting its own citizens for surveillance after the attacks of September 11. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 19 May 2020

The Chaperone

On this episode, CIA officer Milt Bearden helps a KGB defector make a new life in the United States. But the Russian, Vitaly Yurchenko, discovers America can be a strange and lonely place. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 12 May 2020

The Targeter

On this episode, CIA targeting officer Nada Bakos leads a two-year hunt for one of the most dangerous militants in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 5 May 2020

The Survivor

Welcome to Season 2 of I Spy. On this episode, CIA officer Richard Holm is sent to Congo in 1965 to organize local agents against an anti-government rebellion. But a fiery plane crash leaves him in hostile territory, fighting for his life. This season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and access to weekly bonus episodes right in your favorite podcast app, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 28 April 2020

I Spy, Season 2 - Coming April 28

Foreign Policy’s hit show returns Tuesday, April 28 with the first of eight new episodes. From a former CIA officer’s retelling of how he survived a plane crash in the Congo to the hunt for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq – tune in to hear more spies tell the stories of clandestine operations in their own words. And this season, there’s more I Spy with I Spy Plus. Get ad-free I Spy episodes and weekly bonus episodes right in your podcast feed, plus more exclusive espionage content. Subscribe to I Spy Plus today at foreignpolicy.com/ispy. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 23 April 2020

The Jumper

A man jumps from a burning plane, exposing a covert U.S. operation and nearly bringing down the president. This week on I Spy, Eugene Hasenfus tells his story. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 10 December 2019

The Art Dealer

Amaryllis Fox worked for a decade as an undercover agent at the CIA, cultivating arms merchants and preventing them from selling fissile material to terrorist groups. On this episode, she describes courting one particular dealer whose ties to terrorist groups in Indonesia and elsewhere raised alarm bells at Langley. Fox has changed some of the details of her story to avoid exposing the agency's assets and methods. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 3 December 2019

The Counterspy

The CIA thought it had thoroughly penetrated Cuban intelligence, with scores of agents and informants in Havana, until one day a Cuban officer walked into the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and broke the news—the agents were actually double agents. James Olson was the CIA station chief in Vienna at the time. He would go on to serve as the agency’s head of counterintelligence. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 26 November 2019

The Man With the Antidote

On this episode, the Israeli Mossad operative Mishka Ben-David is sent to the Jordanian capital of Amman to help assassinate Khaled Mashal, the political leader of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas. But the mission doesn’t go quite as planned. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 19 November 2019

The Sleeper Agent

On this episode, we talk to Albrecht Dittrich—aka Jack Barsky—who was born in East Germany, recruited by the KGB, and sent to the United States to influence U.S. policymaking. Barsky began his mission in 1978. He was one of hundreds of sleeper agents the Soviets planted in the United States over the years. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 12 November 2019

The Master of Disguise

On this first episode of I Spy, CIA agent Jonna Mendez is sent to a capital city in Asia to help steal a top-secret encryption machine from a Soviet Embassy. Mendez’s job in the operation is to fashion disguises for the team. She would go on to become the chief of disguise at the CIA’s Office of Technical Service. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 12 November 2019

Trailer: I Spy

Spies don’t talk—it’s the cardinal rule of the business. But on Foreign Policy’s podcast I Spy, we get them to open up. We hear from the operations people: the spies who steal secrets, kill adversaries, and turn agents into double agents. Each episode features one spy’s most thrilling story. Coming November 13. Check out I Spy's merch by going to https://store.dftba.com/collections/i-spy Save 15% on FP subscriptions. Visit https://foreignpolicy.com/subscribe/ and enter code ISPY at checkout to claim this offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Transcribed - Published: 3 October 2019

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