Spies Like Us

There are no secrets at Ricochet: the web’s best place for civil conversations. That’s why we’re happy to have Amy Zegart join us to divulge the details of her soon-to-be-published Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence (pre-order your copy today!)

We rely on Amy’s decades of research on the Intel Community to help us make sense of dizzying changes that have upturned the world of espionage. Ever wonder about how technologies from A.I. to your iPhone have changed the game? Amy’s got answers!

The hosts also disclose their thoughts on Stephen Breyer’s “vacancy”; the fallen heroes of the NYPD; Neil Young, Joe Rogan and Gutfeld! And Rob’s got an announcement about some new features coming to Ricochet.

Music from this week’s podcast: Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon

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  1. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Trigger discipline, Peter.   Shame.

    • #1
  2. Icarus213 Coolidge
    Icarus213
    @Icarus213

    Lileks’ transition into the Byju’s ad was ninja-level transitioning.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Why would any of the guys take Bill Kristol seriously?  Or was that just a “head-fake?”

    • #3
  4. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Why would any of the guys take Bill Kristol seriously? Or was that just a “head-fake?”

    I intended that as a sign of the ridiculousness of the idea. 

    • #4
  5. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    I didn’t realize that Breyer’s retirement announcement had strings.  I suspect that he was public about it because the administration leaked his intention to retire.

    But Mickey Kaus is incorrect about the constitutionality of what Breyer’s proposing.  All the constitution says is that the president makes appointments on the advice and consent of the senate.  It doesn’t require a vacancy, it doesn’t even require a nomination.

    It doesn’t happen that way, but theoretically, a president elect could announce his new cabinet, and the senate could advise and consent to those appointments before the new president took office without a formal nomination.  After taking his oath of office, the president could sign those commissions.

    I do vaguely remember a cabinet officer in the Nixon administration announcing his upcoming resignation, where the president nominated his successor before the vacancy occurred.  I suspect this is very routine, especially with high level military appointments where the upcoming vacancy is known 4 years in advance.

    • #5
  6. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    The question of our time is if the authoritarian model is going to win or what we are purportedly supposed to be. The second the Soviet Union fell, we did every single thing wrong in this respect. Too much centralization and we aren’t competing with the people that really like authoritarianism. 

    https://www.realvision.com/shows/mike-green-in-conversation/videos/is-the-golden-age-of-liberal-capitalism-over

     

     

    • #6
  7. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.

    Everything Moves Towards Communism All Of The Time™

     

     

    • #7
  8. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

     

     

     

     

    • #8
  9. Arnold Falk Member
    Arnold Falk
    @acfalk

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude.  I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary.  Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold Falk

    • #9
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary. 

    • #10
  11. Wolfsheim Member
    Wolfsheim
    @Wolfsheim

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary.

    Thank you for this clarification, though I for one simply assumed what James Lileks is saying–not that I am all that media-savy…The podcast invites most interesting guests, and the questions posed are invariably just as interesting…I am looking forward to Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge meeting with Amy Zegart.

    • #11
  12. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Arnold Falk (View Comment):

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold Falk

    It’s an ad-supported podcast.

     

    • #12
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do.  They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country.  Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing.  Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years.  Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    • #13
  14. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Arnold Falk (View Comment):

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold Falk

    As others have noted, it’s necessary. But rest assured that I am not making her sit through the spot; I use the interruption as a placeholder, and then we go on with a discussion. I add the spot later. Usually I have a load of three spots which means one before the guest, one in the middle of the guest sequence (unfortunately) and one before the final sequence. It’s my job, I like it, and I try to make it pleasant for all.

    • #14
  15. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Dropping by to express appreciation for the cover art, and to agree with giving @roblong the Austin Powers treatment. 

    • #15
  16. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Dropping by to express appreciation for the cover art, and to agree with giving @ roblong the Austin Powers treatment.

    I was going to do the same, but decided not to.

    • #16
  17. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary.

    Easy comrades, he appears to be a newbie to the camp.  Once we take his bread rations away, he’ll come around.

    • #17
  18. Quickz Member
    Quickz
    @Quickz

    I like the (un)intential homage to Mr. Loaf when Amy Zegart said, “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”

    • #18
  19. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    • #19
  20. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    It seems to me that due to news media, entertainment and advertising many people are of the opinion or at least the sense that the country is half black and half white. In that case a black woman represents 25% of the population, of course, percentages shouldn’t matter in any case but it would be more like 7 or 8 %.

    • #20
  21. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

     I’ve been reading James for over 20 years but I have to say the item he calls pizza just … isn’t. I myself enjoy Pizza Hut on occasion as something different but I don’t consider it pizza. Frozen pizza is beyond my ability to even contemplate . 

    • #21
  22. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    It might be (mostly) true for the rank-and-file types that she may have mostly interacted with, but it’s clearly not true for the upper echelons/leadership.

    • #22
  23. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    It might be (mostly) true for the rank-and-file types that she may have mostly interacted with, but it’s clearly not true for the upper echelons/leadership.

    Don’t buy that.  The federal government is a Democrat, liberal enterprise.  Any GOP or conservatives that work there keep their heads down, are not promoted or get raises.  The liberal federal unions will not defend them.  The only way you do not see that or do not know it is that when you work there is because you are a liberal Democrat and do see an issue with their abuses of power.  Thus this author is most likely a very liberal Democrat and her writings and views should be seen through that lens.

    • #23
  24. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    It might be (mostly) true for the rank-and-file types that she may have mostly interacted with, but it’s clearly not true for the upper echelons/leadership.

    Don’t buy that. The federal government is a Democrat, liberal enterprise. Any GOP or conservatives that work there keep their heads down, are not promoted or get raises. The liberal federal unions will not defend them. The only way you do not see that or do not know it is that when you work there is because you are a liberal Democrat and do see an issue with their abuses of power. Thus this author is most likely a very liberal Democrat and her writings and views should be seen through that lens.

    Or she’s another Andy McCarthy.

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary.

    The post-production introduction of the ad is so smooth, I thought the guest was being interrupted.  Even if the guest isn’t actually being interrupted, it sounds that way and comes across as rude.  People not on the inside might not know this and think the worst . . .

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    I think a better way to put it is most Federal employees really want to simply do their jobs, not “serve all Presidents”.  Even so, I submit “serving the people” is more accurate . . .

    • #26
  27. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Stad (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    I think a better way to put it is most Federal employees really want to simply do their jobs, not “serve all Presidents”. Even so, I submit “serving the people” is more accurate . . .

    Not even the people.  The Constitution — period end of sentence and all that.  In the following, I italicize that portion of the Oath which does not relate directly to the government employee’s allegiance to the Constitution:

    5 U.S. Code § 3331 – Oath of office

    An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.

    — Courtesy of Cornell’s Legal Information Institute

    Nowhere does an officer or civil servant swear allegiance nor even obedience to any person, office, organization, nation, state, or ideal — It’s Constitutions all the way down.  That and nothing more.  Enlisted military also swear to obey the President and Officers appointed over them, but officer have neither of these clauses — nor does any civil servant.

     

    • #27
  28. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Stad (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary.

    The post-production introduction of the ad is so smooth, I thought the guest was being interrupted. Even if the guest isn’t actually being interrupted, it sounds that way and comes across as rude. People not on the inside might not know this and think the worst . . .

    Ah! So we’re sayin’ I did too good a job at cutting it in? Gratias, y’all!

    I see your point, though. It was actually Rob who got interrupted–and that dude had it coming!

    If I’d have kept that part in it’d have been messier, but I suppose all would’ve been forgiven. Mea culpa, y’all.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arnold Falk:

    For James Lileks:

    Your habit, or perhaps it is a conscious policy, of suddenly interrupting the flow of a serious conversation with a guest, such as Amy Zegart, in order to make an ad, is really rude. I don’t like it because it is so unnecessary. Would you please stop doing this.

    Arnold, it’s all done in post production. Join us sometime as we make the sausage.

    Compared to, say, cable television news where a 2-minute hit can consume 2-hours of a guest’s day, we’re very conscious of doing just the opposite: We try to get our guests on with a minimum wait time, we do mid-interview spots in post and we give them time to actually make their points.

    The reality is that, for most guests who have media experience, interrupting them for a commercial spot would be no big deal since almost 100% of news production is done live.

    As for the spots being unnecessary, we are not a state broadcaster. They are very necessary.

    The post-production introduction of the ad is so smooth, I thought the guest was being interrupted. Even if the guest isn’t actually being interrupted, it sounds that way and comes across as rude. People not on the inside might not know this and think the worst . . .

    Ah! So we’re sayin’ I did too good a job at cutting it in? Gratias, y’all!

    I see your point, though. It was actually Rob who got interrupted–and that dude had it coming!

    If I’d have kept that part in it’d have been messier, but I suppose all would’ve been forgiven. Mea culpa, y’all.

    I think James gets some credit for consistent sound.  I’ve heard a couple other cases where I think it was Rob who recorded a promo before or after the actual podcast, and I don’t know if he was using a different mic or what, but the sound was obviously very different.

    • #29
  30. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    From what I can tell the intelligence community does not really care what foreign countries or even foreigners within the borders do or plan to do. They are way too concerned that some good old boy in the midwest likes Trump or may not take their four vax shots this year or maybe disagree with Leftist education policy..

    I keep hearing that White Supremacists and the Far Right are the TOP Terror Threat facing this country. Which to me means these guys are just political hacks doing nothing but sucking up government money and promoting Left wing policy and thwarting the right wing. Her contention that the intelligence community does not have a dog in the policy fight and want to serve all the same has been proven to be a lie over the last 4 or more years. Sadly just makes it so I am not even going to bother with her book since it does not seem to reflect known reality.

    The biggest failure in this (relatively humdrum) episode of the Ricochet podcast is that, when Amy Zegart claimed that U.S. intelligence personnel are equally eager to serve all Presidents of all parties, nobody pushed back against this far-fetched assertion.

    It might be (mostly) true for the rank-and-file types that she may have mostly interacted with, but it’s clearly not true for the upper echelons/leadership.

    Don’t buy that. The federal government is a Democrat, liberal enterprise. Any GOP or conservatives that work there keep their heads down, are not promoted or get raises. The liberal federal unions will not defend them. The only way you do not see that or do not know it is that when you work there is because you are a liberal Democrat and do see an issue with their abuses of power. Thus this author is most likely a very liberal Democrat and her writings and views should be seen through that lens.

    Or she’s another Andy McCarthy.

    Is that pre-disillusionment Andy McCarthy, or post-disillusionment Andy McCarthy?

    Remember, early in the investigation of “Russia collusion”, McCarthy cautioned conservatives that there had to be something there, or the FBI wouldn’t be investigating.   Later he learned better.

    • #30
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