Senior CIA Ops Officer John Atwell on Culture Change, Working with Five Eyes and Career Advice – Episode 48


    Welcome back to the Grey Dynamics Podcast! Today, we are talking to John Atwell. John spent over twenty-three years of experience in operational and analysis roles at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since leaving the agency, John has spent time as a consultant, become a columnist for the Haiwaii-Tribune Herald, became editor of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and a college lecturer at Haiwaii Community College. We discussed the culture shift in CIA after 9/11, views on allied and adversarial agencies around the world, advice for a career in intelligence and much more.

    Find John Atwell:

    We Spoke About:

    • 0:32 – John Atwell’s background
    • 4:59 – What made John suitable for an operational role at CIA?
    • 9:10 – The shift towards paramilitarism at CIA after 9/11
    • 12:21 – Will CIA return to its pre-9/11 culture with its focus back to strategic targets? 
    • 15:04 – CIA and diversity
    • 19:40 – Which international intelligence agencies was John impressed by during his career?
    • 21:31 – Thoughts on adversarial intelligence agencies
    • 23:44 – The growing use of intelligence and counter intelligence by non-state actors
    • 26:56 – Is the swing to OSINT, geospatial and cyber at the detriment of HUMINT?
    • 29:38 – Why John did not join the private sector after leaving the intelligence community
    • 32:06 – John on working with his wife at CIA
    • 33:08 – What advice would you give someone who wants a career in intelligence?
    • 35:59 – Ahmed’s career journey
    • 40:51 – Cultural Recommendations

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    Ahmed Hassan
    Ahmed Hassan
    Ahmed is the CEO of Grey Dynamics. He has worked as a HUMINT specialist and focuses his writing and research on counterintelligence, Infosec, Covert Action and Space Operations. Ahmed also hosts our weekly Grey Dynamics Podcast.

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