Inside the CIA / Rethinking Death

Hosted byGeorge Noory

Inside the CIA / Rethinking Death

About the show

J. Michael Waller, Ph.D., is a senior analyst for strategy at the Center for Security Policy, worked for the CIA in Central America, did groundbreaking scholarship after the Soviet empire's breakup, and taught history and methods at America's premier intelligence schools. In the first half, he discussed the history and operation of the CIA, and some of the organization's failings and problems. He also shared his insights into Russia (having traveled there in the waning days of the Cold War) and his impressions of Vladimir Putin, who at the time of his visit was an official of the St. Petersburg city government.

In terms of evaluating the CIA's performance, they do a good job collecting intelligence on the terrorists abroad and on specific targets like the Iranian nuclear program, he said, but as far as analyzing political intelligence, he believes they have fallen short. For instance, the CIA's analysis on Russia's invasion of Ukraine was inaccurate, leading to a lack of strategy for the US government. They had predicted that the Russians would conquer all of Ukraine within three or four days. As Waller sees it, one of the core problems with the CIA is that it has mirrored the current polarization of culture in many ways. "You've got a lot of disagreement within the agency and both supporters and critics of the agency," he remarked, adding that "they need to just stick to the basic stuff, collecting intelligence abroad, analyzing it objectively, and providing it to decision makers."


The founder of Going with Grace, Alua Arthur is the most visible and active death doula working in America today. In the latter half, she revealed why we need to change how we think about death and how it can help us lead more fulfilling and authentic lives. A death doula, she explained, supports dying people and their loved ones emotionally, spiritually, and practically. Dying, she pointed out, is a complex process, grappling with the ups and downs of illness and grief while preparing to leave behind everybody one has ever known and loved. "I find that many people, as they get closer to the end of their lives, have to reconcile a life that they thought that they should have had or could have had with the one that they actually have. And my hope is, by default to think of our lives as we live them as absolutely perfect as they were," she commented.

Arthur emphasized the importance of preparing for end-of-life while one is still healthy, through advanced directives and open conversations about death, including medical power of attorney and life support desires (the organization Five Wishes offers an online advance directive). In the case of a terminal illness, the dying person may start to disengage from the world around them, and certain physical characteristics can be observed like skin mottling, and a sort of shrinking of the body, she detailed. While there could be an appeal to dying in your sleep, "some people really want to live their death. They want to be present for it the entire time and see it going away with eyes open to whatever might be coming if there's anything," she added.

News segment guests: Christian Wilde, Kevin Randle

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