Learn about the dangerous and daring life of the Polish CIA operative code-named Jack Strong.
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Throughout the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the United States used espionage extensively to gather information about the opposing side. To do this, they often relied on individual operatives to provide the information that technology often couldn’t.
This episode will focus on one lesser-known Eastern European operative named Ryszard Kukliński, an officer in the Polish Army and a spy for American intelligence. We’ll discuss how Kukliński joined the army and his swift rise through the ranks. We’ll try to understand why he became disillusioned with the army and decided to work with American intelligence. Towards the end of the episode, we explore how his fascinating story can help us to better understand the nature of Cold War espionage.
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[02:46] Kukliński’s early years
[06:00] What made Kukliński decide to work with the CIA?
[09:50] How did he communicate with the Americans?
[12:15] A few of the close calls Kukliński experienced
[13:20] The end of his mission and the exfiltration
[17:30] Putting Kukliński’s mission into the wider context of the Cold War
[22:40] What happened to Kukliński after the fall of communism in Poland?
Benjamin Weiser / for kindly explaining all the details of Kuklinski’s mission to us. Benjamin Weiser is a reporter covering the Manhattan federal courts for New York Times. Before joining The Times in 1997, he worked for 18 years at The Washington Post. There he received the George Polk Award and the Livingston Award. @BenWeiserNYT
David E. Hoffman / for providing us with an outsider’s perspective and putting Kukliński’s deeds into a wider context. David E. Hoffman is an American writer and journalist for The Washington Post and the PBS flagship investigative television series, FRONTLINE. He won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his book The Dead Hand about the legacy of the Cold War arms race. @thedeadhandbook
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner & Michael Keller