The Burn Bag Podcast – Dissecting National Security and Foreign Policy-logo

The Burn Bag Podcast – Dissecting National Security and Foreign Policy

News & Politics Podcasts

The *hottest* national security and foreign policy podcast featuring conversations with leading policy practitioners, thinkers, and leaders. In each episode, we open up a 'burn bag' to breakdown some of the most pressing security challenges of today's world with the people who have worked and lived them.

The *hottest* national security and foreign policy podcast featuring conversations with leading policy practitioners, thinkers, and leaders. In each episode, we open up a 'burn bag' to breakdown some of the most pressing security challenges of today's world with the people who have worked and lived them.


United States


The *hottest* national security and foreign policy podcast featuring conversations with leading policy practitioners, thinkers, and leaders. In each episode, we open up a 'burn bag' to breakdown some of the most pressing security challenges of today's world with the people who have worked and lived them.






Caught in a Cyber-War: Fmr. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Bolstering Cyber-Resilience for Businesses and the Private Sector

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan are joined by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to discuss cyber vulnerabilities and solutions. As a cyber expert, Andrew helps us understand why state and non-state actors target the private sector and what the threat landscape looks like today. Andrew also discusses what businesses and individuals can do to better prepare for and defend against malign cyber action. In woking with companies to become more resilient, Andrew has adapted an intelligence...


Israel's Government Collapses: Crises, Coalitions, and Yet Another Election with Neri Zilber

This week, A'ndre and Ryan talk to Israeli journalist Neri Zilber about why Israel is now facing its fifth general election in less than four years, as the coalition government led by unusual allies Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid collapsed amidst Benjamin Netanyahu's maneuvering to reclaim his old job as long-time prime minister. Neri takes us through the current underpinnings of Israel's political landscape, explaining how Bennett's right-wing party and Lapid's center-left party (in...


The End of the World: Geopolitical Strategist Peter Zeihan on America's Retreat, China's Fall, and the Collapse of Globalization

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk to geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan about the looming collapse of the world as we know it. With the United States backing away from its post-WWII role, Peter helps break down why the globalized world is on the precipice of rapid change. From demographic decline to the unviability of current economic models, Peter argues that supply chains will shorten, manufacturing hubs will shift, and disorder will prevail. This conversation is based off of...


Who is Russia?: Identity, Nationalism, and Autocracy with Professor Yoshiko Herrera

In this episode, A'ndre speaks to Professor Yoshiko Herrera about the Russian state, its people, and autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin. Professor Herrera begins by breaking down how she understands Russia and why it is not a democracy and how the turbulence of the 1990s helped cement Putin's power. She also addresses whether or not the Russian people prefer "strongman" leaders and how glimmers of democracy exist, particularly online. The conversation then moves to Russian identity and...


When the Revolving Door Hits: Fmr. FBI Senior Official Holden Triplett on Foreign Agents and Counterintelligence

In this episode, Holden Triplett returns to talk to A'ndre and Ryan about foreign agents and counterintelligence. In the wake of the FBI and DoJ investigation into Brookings Institution President GEN (ret.) John Allen's alleged illegal lobbying for Qatar, Holden, who served in the FBI for over a decade, helps us break down the facts. GEN Allen's actions likely implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and, since violations of FARA have led to the prosecutions of high level...


To the Seventh Floor: Fmr. CIA Director John Brennan on Counterterrorism, Innovation in Intelligence, and a Changing CIA

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan speak with John Brennan, the 5th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, about the national security landscape. The conversation begins with Director Brennan's story of joining the CIA in 1980, his expertise in counterterrorism, and what the CT threat matrix looks like today. They also discuss how the US pullback from the Middle East impacts operations in the region, as well as the Agency's reorientation towards nation-state threats. Director Brennan's...


The Law Enforcement Response to Uvalde

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan are joined by Javed Ali, a former FBI and DHS senior official to discuss the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas last week. The conversation begins with an overview of what occurred and the lapse in response. Javed then discusses how the U.S. government has worked with state and local officials since Columbine to improve training, resources, and coordination for such mass casualty events. They conclude with potential solutions and what options federal authorities...


Afghanistan's Last Finance Minister: Khalid Payenda Reflects on Afghanistan's Fall, the Economy, and Taliban Rule

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk to Khalid Payenda, the former Finance Minister of Afghanistan. Mr. Payenda, who served as Minister from January-August 2021, discusses his life, work in the Finance Ministry, and state of Afghanistan. Having fled to Pakistan as a child to flee civil war, Mr. Payenda recounts his experiences and his dedication to serving his country. The conversation then moves to his experiences with and perspectives on the U.S. intervention and difficulties of...


Standing with Ukraine: Polish Embassy DCM Adam Krzywosądzki on the Russo-Ukrainian War, European Security, and the Path Forward

In this episode, Ryan talks with Adam Krzywosądzki, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Poland to the United States. They discuss the Polish perspective on Russia's war against Ukraine and why Poland has been such a steadfast supporter of Ukrainian sovereignty. Adam delves into the ways in which Poland and other NATO and EU countries are pushing back against Russian aggression, but also notes what else can be done. The conversation then turns to Ukraine's humanitarian crisis and...


The Price of Dissent: Gulalai Ismail on Pakistan's Military Establishment, Women's Empowerment, and her Exile

This week, A'ndre speaks with noted Pakistani human rights activist Gulalai Ismail on Pakistan's security forces and military power, her work on women's empowerment, and her exile from Pakistan. Gulalai, who managed to escape to the United States in 2019 after being placed on a "kill list", discusses her story, from founding Aware Girls at the age of 16 (an organization that trained thousands of young women including Malala Yousafzai) to speaking out against the military for crimes committed...


Special Release: Reporting on the President with AP Reporter and Former WHCA President Zeke Miller

To celebrate the 2022 White House Correspondents' Dinner, we're re-releasing our conversation with Zeke Miller, AP reporter and former White House Correspondents' Association President. At this year's dinner, Zeke and his colleague Mike Balsamo won the Award for Excellence in Presidential News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure - Print for their story on the CDC mask order. Here is the original description for this episode: "On this special Presidents’ Day episode, A’ndre and Ryan talk with...


What in the World?: Elon's Twitter Deal, the Russo-Ukrainian War, and Biden's "Ministry of Truth"

In this week's episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk about Elon Musk taking Twitter private and the potential implications at home and abroad. They also consider Musk's ties to China and whether concerns raised by some regarding possible Chinese Communist Party influence is valid. The conversation then moves to the controversy surrounding the new Disinformation Governance Board within DHS, which is being compared to 1984's "Ministry of Truth" by conservatives. The wrap with an update on the...


India's 'Deep State': Investigative Journalist Josy Joseph on Illiberal Democracy and Corruption in India

This week, A'ndre and Ryan speak with renowned investigative journalist Josy Joseph, founder of Confluence Media, on the state of India's democracy in a conversation covering corruption and India's security apparatus. The first leg of the interview draws on Josy's book Feast of Vultures, as he discusses 'middle-men' -- those who manipulate government decision-making and manage access to decision-makers -- at the center of corruption that has led to the success of big businesses and the...


What in the World?: Ukraine's Eastern Flank, France Goes to the Polls, and Tensions Rise in Israel (04/23/22)

In this week's episode, A'ndre and Ryan began with an update on the Russo-Ukrainian War, the U.S. military assistance package and how India is playing both sides. They also discuss the French Presidential election and crisis in Sri Lanka. The conversation concludes with a brief conversation about the latest spike in Israeli-Palestinian tensions.


#GoHomeGota: Sri Lanka's Historic Mass Protests and a Ruling Family on the Brink with Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa

This week, A'ndre speaks with Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa, a leading Sri Lankan researcher and citizens journalist, on the recent mass protests that have taken ahold across the island nation against the ruling Rajapaksa Family. Sanjana, who was the Founding Editor of Sri Lanka's first and only award winning citizens journalism website Groundviews, discusses why protests against the strongman President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have been mobilized amidst Sri...


Cyber-Threats at Home and Abroad: Russia's Cyber-Offensive, Disinformation, and Fighting Back with fmr. NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk to former NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell about the cyber aspects of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The conversation begins with an overview of Russia's use of cyber against Ukraine and the likely ramp-up of cyber capabilities as the conflict continues. Glenn also discusses his assessment of potential cyberattacks against the U.S. and how the Biden Administration would respond. The conversation then delves into disinformation, why Glenn views it as the...


Russia in Retreat?: Former DNI Jim Clapper on the Russo-Ukrainian War, Putin, and the U.S. Response

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk with LTG (ret.) Jim Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017). Director Clapper discusses his assessment of Russia's war against Ukraine, as well as how well the Biden Administration has responded. Director Clapper, a retired Air Force General, breaks down the Russian offensive and failure to gain air superiority. He also responds to the controversial U.S. intelligence disclosures and whether or not they have been effective. The...


"Slava Ukraini": Ukrainian Student Sofia Polishchuk on the Ukrainian Perspective

In this special episode, A'ndre talks to Ukrainian student and Director of the Children of Ukraine Foundation, Sofia Polishchuk. Sofia shares her perspective and insights about Russia's war against Ukraine. The conversation discusses the situation on the ground, the diplomatic meetings in Istanbul, Ukraine's unlikely and incredible defense, and Russian propaganda. To support the Ukrainian people, please check out the Children of Ukraine Foundation.


Fact or Fiction?: Former CIA Officer Jim Lawler on Nonproliferation, Chemical Weapons, and Counterintelligence

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk to Jim Lawler, who served for 25 years as a CIA operations officer. The conversation begins with Jim's story of joining the CIA and how he found himself working on nonproliferation issues. Jim details how he and his team disrupted the A.Q. Khan network and the threats of state and non state actors. They also discuss Jim's novels, Living Lies and In the Twinkling of an Eye, as well as his forthcoming novel The Traitor’s Tale.


"First Casualty": The CIA's Secret Mission in Afghanistan After 9/11 with Author Toby Harnden

In this episode, A'ndre and Ryan talk with Toby Harnden about his new book, First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11. The conversation begins with Toby's inspiration to write about this incredible story, including his interactions with the former CIA officers on Team Alpha. They then discuss how the eight CIA officers on Team Alpha were dropped into the mountains of northern Afghanistan on October 17, 2001 to take down Al-Qaeda. Team Alpha, an eclectic band of...