Can doing the wrong thing ever be the right policy? That’s a question we’ll tackle this week as we look at the possibility of letting some very bad people get away with their crimes…in order to prevent them from causing further damage. From drug kingpins to dictators, is it ever a good idea to just let them get away with it?
This week’s episode features journalist Jaime Yaya Berry; human rights advocate Tutu Alicante; former Ambassador Charles Stith; and journalist Ioan Grillo.
You can support our work here: Patreon.com/powercorrupts
And you can pre-order Brian’s new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, here (or wherever you buy books):
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The Invisible Hook
46:13Pirates can teach us quite a lot about democracy and economics. What can Blackbeard teach us about signaling theory? Why were pirates racially progressive for their era? And is it possible that pirate ships were laboratories for experiments with constitutional democracy? In this episode, we speak to Professor Peter Leeson of George Mason University, and Dr. Rebecca Simon, an expert on pirate history. You can get Professor Peter's book, The Invisible Hook at https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Hook-Hidden-Economics-Pirates/dp/0691150095 You can support our work here: Patreon.com/powercorrupts And you can pre-order Brian’s new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, here (or wherever you buy books): https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 Follow us on social media: Twitter - twitter.com/powrcorrupts Instagram - instagram.com/powercorruptspodcast
55:21Can doing the wrong thing ever be the right policy? That’s a question we’ll tackle this week as we look at the possibility of letting some very bad people get away with their crimes…in order to prevent them from causing further damage. From drug kingpins to dictators, is it ever a good idea to just let them get away with it? This week’s episode features journalist Jaime Yaya Berry; human rights advocate Tutu Alicante; former Ambassador Charles Stith; and journalist Ioan Grillo. You can support our work here: Patreon.com/powercorrupts And you can pre-order Brian’s new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, here (or wherever you buy books): https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097
Hitman for Hire
47:28What if you hacked a hitman-for-hire website and found out the identities of people who were slated to die before the murder? How much does it cost to hire a hitman on the Dark Web? And what if all of these supposed hitmen were just part of a giant, lucrative hoax? In this episode, we explore the stranger-than-fiction tale of hitmen services being sold on the darkest corners of the internet. Guests include Gian Volpicelli of Wired UK; Eileen Ormsby, a journalist and author; and Randy McAlister of the Cottage Grove, Minnesota police department. Support our work here: patreon.com/powercorrupts And buy Brian's new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us here: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097
54:04Could you fake your death and get away with it? In this episode, we look at fake identities, from people who've tried to fake their own deaths to an audacious wine fraudster who made millions as he sold new wine in old bottles. We speak to a private investigator who proves that people are, in fact alive, and a wine merchant who decided to act like an FBI agent in his quest to stake out a man who was making fake bottles of his wine. And in the process, we see glimpses of how identities are harder to forge in the 21st century. Guests in this episode: Steven Rambam, private investigator; Laurent Ponsot, master winemaker; Peter Hellman, author of In Vino Duplicitas; and two eminent historians, Helen Watt and Paul Dryburgh. Support our work here: patreon.com/powercorrupts And buy Brian's new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us here: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097
Do Not Disturb
53:07Is going into exile safe any longer? A few years ago, a former Rwandan intelligence chief hiding out in exile was found strangled to death in a Johannesburg hotel room. Hanging on the door outside was a “Do Not Disturb” sign. It had been placed there to buy the assassins a bit of extra time as they fled the country. This episode looks at the alarming rise in transnational repression and cross-border killings, where dictators and despots hunt down their enemies no matter where they are in the world. In the process, we ask whether dissidents can ever be safe in the 21st century, or if it’s just a matter of time before their murderous authoritarian regime hunts them down. This episode features Michela Wrong, a phenomenal journalist and author of Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, which you can and should buy here: https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/michela-wrong/do-not-disturb/9781610398435/ It also features the voices of Isabel Linzer and Nate Schenkkan at Freedom House, and you can find their report on transnational repression here: https://freedomhouse.org/report/transnational-repression And we speak to Geoffrey York, who has reported on Rwanda for years as the Africa Bureau Chief of the Globe & Mail. You can find his reporting here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/geoffrey-york/ Pre order Brian's book - https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts
Click Here To Kill Everybody
48:36In early 2021, hackers infiltrated the software that controlled the city’s water supply in Oldsmar, Florida. Through dumb luck, they caught the intrusion shortly after the hacker tried to poison the city’s water. This hack was part of a growing array of attacks against the Internet of Things, objects that used to operate offline but are now connected to the internet—and therefore vulnerable to hacking. From Wi-Fi enabled tea kettles to cars that can be taken over remotely to knocking power out for entire countries using smart thermostats, the risks are everywhere. We’re just lucky there hasn’t been an Internet of Things attack that has been on the scale of 9/11 or Hiroshima – yet. Guests this episode include Bruce Schneier, the author of Click Here to Kill Everybody; Nicole Perlorth, a reporter for the New York Times, Ken Munro, an ethical hacker, and Chris Valasek, a hacker who remotely took over a Jeep a few years ago and now works as the Director of Product Security at Cruise. To check out Nicole’s book, click here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/this-is-how-they-tell-me-the-world-ends-9781635576061/ To buy Bruce’s book, click here: https://www.schneier.com/books/click-here/ And to read about Chris’s Jeep Hack as reported in Wired, click here: https://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/ Pre order Brian's book - https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts
The Shell Game
46:04When it comes to understanding the underworld of corruption and criminality, you can’t just look at the rich crooks. You also have to look at the lawyers who help them dot the i’s and cross the t’s as they try to stash their illicit cash somewhere offshore. And to accomplish that goal, you have to understand the world of shell companies, corporate entities that often exist only on paper to shield vast sums of wealth from the taxman or the prying eyes of journalists. It’s a dangerous world, and it has led to the assassination of at least one journalist who tried to expose the secrets of the world’s super rich. In this episode, we speak to the two journalists who broke the Panama Papers – the largest leak of offshore documents in the history of illicit finance. They walk us through the world they uncovered at Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama, that helped set up some of the world’s shadiest shell companies for some of the world’s shadiest people. Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier (who are not related) took immense personal risks to blow the story wide open. They tell us how they did it – and what secrets they uncovered about the ways the world’s richest people make up their own rules. For further information about the Panama Papers, go here: https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/ And for the Daphne Project, visit this site: https://www.theguardian.com/world/series/the-daphne-project Pre order Brian's book - https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts
The Billion Dollar Shack
42:19We all know that offshore areas of financial secrecy exist. In this episode, we’re going to take a look at the origin story of one of them. It’s a story that will make you question the caricature you probably have in your head about why shadowy offshore economies develop. And it’s a story that involves, quite improbably, seabirds that made people rich, a failed musical about Leonardo Da Vinci….and a shack worth a billion dollars. You may not have heard of it, but you can rest assured that terrorists, Russian mobsters, and rich oligarchs trying to set up their own banks know its name. This is a tale of greed, corruption, environmental destruction, and how – and why – the Davids of the globe can become Goliaths of illicit finance. This episode features interviews with Jack Hitt, an award-winning journalist; Selena Shannon, a former journalist and a senior producer at Audiocraft; and Lisa Hollander, a former actress who starred in a doomed musical about Leonardo Da Vinci’s love life, funded by seagull droppings on a little island in the Pacific that you’ve probably never heard of. To read Jack’s New York Times reporting about Nauru from 1999, click here. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/10/magazine/the-billion-dollar-shack.html And for a review of the Leonardo Da Vinci musical published in 1993, go to this link: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/fertiliser-island-scents-musical-success-first-night-leonardo-1489451.html Pre order Brian's book - https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts
Power Corrupts Season 3: Returning 31st August 2021
2:22They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But when it comes to the underworld of corruption, murder, and greed, from drug cartels to hackers to political psychopaths, what you see is often just the tip of the iceberg. To understand how the world really works, you have to look at what's hidden below the surface. From Brian Klaas, professor of global politics and Washington Post columnist, the award-winning Power Corrupts podcast returns on August 31, 2021. Subscribe now to make sure you don't miss an episode.
50:14Pandemics are horrifying. But what if one could be unleashed deliberately? How did ancient armies from the Greeks to the Mongol hordes use germ warfare? Why did America conduct tests on unsuspecting people in New York and San Francisco? Can biological weapons be developed to only infect a single person? And why is the US government researching how to use insects as taxis for viruses? Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts