CIA's Secret History / Life Off-the-Grid

Hosted byGeorge Noory

CIA's Secret History / Life Off-the-Grid

About the show

Annie Jacobsen is a journalist and author who writes about war, weapons, US national security, and government secrecy. In the first half, she discussed her exclusive interviews with members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service (equivalent to the Pentagon's generals), its counterterrorism chiefs, targeting officers, and Special Activities Division's Ground Branch operators who conduct today's close-quarters killing operations around the world. While some might consider these paramilitary missions to be a kind of rogue operation, Jacobsen pointed out that the US President generally signs off on them and they are considered a "third option" for managing foreign policy. Operators are trained to infiltrate (sometimes parachuted secretly into locations), and then "exfiltrate" (leave stealthily), all, she explained, for the goal of plausible deniability.

She spoke about her conversations with Billy Waugh, a legendary CIA and Special Forces operative, who took on missions over five decades spanning an assassination attempt during the Vietnam War, to when he was 82, and tasked with going after Gaddafi in Libya. Waugh's cover at that point, Jacobsen related, was that he was an "old man." While the CIA often has covert teams that work together, Waugh did most of his missions alone and took the first surveillance photographs of Osama bin Laden in 1992. After 9/11, she pointed out, the CIA's paramilitary operations significantly expanded and their covert actions, while morally complex or questionable, became woven into the vast foreign policy apparatus.


Author and educator Gary Collins was a former special agent for the FDA, investigating food and drug crimes and public health dangers. In the latter half, he detailed his life off-the-grid and how living with simplicity became a way to optimize health and well-being, as opposed to relying on more technology. Collins defined living off-the-grid as being independent from the public utility companies – "so you're your own power company, sewage company, and water company." Living in an RV on a remote 40-acre piece of land in northern Washington state, he is able to run appliances such as a computer and washer/dryer using a solar system, and he plans to add wind power in the future.

Working (as an author) from home in a self-contained world, he finds a peacefulness and freedom, and has many more hours in the day to himself for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. He also grows and hunts much of his food. While he offers guideposts to off-the-grid the living, he noted that people who want to experiment with this lifestyle will need to figure out various things on the fly. By disconnecting from the constant diversions of media and the stress of urban environments, people can obtain simplicity and do wonders for their mental health, he observed.

News segment guests: Jerome Corsi, Mish Shedlock

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