Listen

Greg Myre

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.

He was previously the international editor for NPR.org, working closely with NPR correspondents abroad and national security reporters in Washington. He remains a frequent contributor to the NPR website on global affairs. He also worked as a senior editor at Morning Edition from 2008-2011.

Before joining NPR, Myre was a foreign correspondent for 20 years with The New York Times and The Associated Press.

He was first posted to South Africa in 1987, where he witnessed Nelson Mandela's release from prison and reported on the final years of apartheid. He was assigned to Pakistan in 1993 and often traveled to war-torn Afghanistan. He was one of the first reporters to interview members of an obscure new group calling itself the Taliban.

Myre was also posted to Cyprus and worked throughout the Middle East, including extended trips to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. He went to Moscow from 1996-1999, covering the early days of Vladimir Putin as Russia's leader.

He was based in Jerusalem from 2000-2007, reporting on the heaviest fighting ever between Israelis and the Palestinians.

In his years abroad, he traveled to more than 50 countries and reported on a dozen wars. He and his journalist wife Jennifer Griffin co-wrote a 2011 book on their time in Jerusalem, entitled, This Burning Land: Lessons from the Front Lines of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Myre is a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, PBS, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox, Al Jazeera and other networks. He's a graduate of Yale University, where he played football and basketball.

As President George W. Bush flew back to Washington on Air Force One on Sept. 11, he was accompanied by Michael Morell, the CIA officer who briefed the president daily.

Morell was in touch with CIA headquarters, which gave him heart-stopping intelligence that he had to urgently deliver to the president.

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, a former Afghan army colonel named Mohammed became part of the massive crush of people trying to flee at the Kabul airport last week.

Mohammed and his family — a wife and five children — waited for hours to reach a Taliban checkpoint outside the airport. He presented identification documents that included his U.S. Social Security card and a Texas driver's license, both acquired during two training stints at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, more than a decade ago.

He hit a wall of hostility.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time's running out for the U.S. evacuation effort from Afghanistan. The White House says more than 100,000 people have been evacuated, including more than 5,000 U.S. citizens. But people still continue to gather around Kabul Airport, even after this week's attacks by the group by ISIS-K. Master Sergeant Kevin Haunschild leads the team that's responsible for air traffic control at Hamid Karzai International and joins us now. Master Sergeant, thanks for being with us.

KEVIN HAUNSCHILD: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Updated August 24, 2021 at 10:09 AM ET

CIA Director William Burns met Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.

The meeting between Burns and Baradar marks the highest level meeting so far between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the group took over in Afghanistan on Aug. 15.

Journalist Hollie McKay was in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif when Afghan security forces fled ahead of advancing Taliban fighters last weekend. In the aftermath, the road out of town was littered with U.S.-made armored vehicles that the Afghan military had left behind.

The last time the Taliban rolled into Kabul and took control of Afghanistan, back in 1996, they immediately established a reputation for harsh rule and brutal tactics.

Public executions were carried out by stoning at a soccer stadium. Women were barred from work and girls from school. Television, videos and music were banned. Men were beaten if they didn't pray five times a day or cut their beards.

The Taliban quickly alienated many Afghans, who now fear more of the same with the group seizing control of the capital on Sunday.

A memo obtained by NPR lays out the emergency preparations being made by American diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul — including the destruction of sensitive documents and computers — as most of them prepare to leave the country.

The memo was written for staff at the embassy and shared with NPR on condition of anonymity.

CIA Director William Burns says he has redoubled the agency's efforts to uncover the cause of Havana syndrome — the mysterious set of ailments that has afflicted more than 200 U.S. officials and family members around the world.

Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, a handful of CIA officers were the first Americans sent into Afghanistan. Gary Schroen was one of them, and he recalled his marching orders.

The recent ransomware attacks on the U.S. gas and meat industries have sparked renewed conversations about the possibility of an international cyber agreement that would set the ground rules for what is and isn't permissible, and spell out sanctions for violators.

This could have been the day that finally answered the burning question: Are there aliens out there? Sadly, we'll still have to wait.

A U.S. government report on UFOs says it found no evidence of aliens but acknowledged 143 reports of "unidentified aerial phenomena" since 2004 that could not be explained.

If you want to extort millions of dollars from a large U.S. company, you can't do it alone. It takes a village. A village of hackers with advanced computer skills, who hang out on the Dark Web, and most likely live in Russia.

"Ransomware has become a huge business, and as in any business, in order to scale it, they're coming up with innovative models." said Dmitri Alperovitch, head of the technology group Silverado Policy Accelerator in Washington.

The problem has long plagued bank robbers and drug smugglers: how to transport and hide huge sums of ill-gotten gains without getting caught?

In the past few years, ransomware hackers have found an almost perfect solution — cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It's fast. It's easy. Best of all, it's largely anonymous and hard to trace.

President Biden received no grace period when it came to cyber hacks.

"The cyber pressures that this administration has faced so far have been relentless," said April Falcon Doss, a former National Security Agency official who now heads a technology program at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Biden and his Pentagon chiefs say the U.S. will assist Afghanistan's military from afar after American troops pull out. They haven't announced the details, but they do have a common refrain: "over the horizon."

"We will maintain an over-the-horizon capacity," Biden said in his recent address to a joint session of Congress.

"We will continue to support (the Afghans) with over-the-horizon logistics," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a recent new conference.

Exploding cigars. Poisoned pens. Booby-trapped seashells. These were just a few of the outlandish CIA plots to kill former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who died of natural causes in 2016 at age 90.

Yet new details have emerged of the first such plan, which was actually directed against Castro's brother Raúl Castro, in July 1960, just a year and a half after the Castros had come to power in a revolution.

The NBA's Houston Rockets were hit by a ransomware attack earlier this month. Now it's the Washington, D.C., police department. The common thread is a ransomware group called Babuk, which was unknown and likely didn't exist until it began posting on the dark web early this year.

The U.S. intelligence community said Tuesday that it views four countries as posing the main national security challenges in the coming year: China, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea.

"China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas — especially economically, militarily, and technologically — and is pushing to change global norms," said the report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The National Security Agency considers itself the world's most formidable cyber power, with an army of computer warriors who constantly scan the wired world. Yet by law, the NSA only collects intelligence abroad, and not inside the U.S.

U.S. rivals like Russia are aware of this blind spot and know how to exploit it, as the NSA director, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, explained recently to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A new report by the U.S. intelligence community on Tuesday says Russia sought to help former President Donald Trump in last year's presidential election. But the document also emphasized there was no indication Russia or any other country attempted to alter actual votes.

More than 300 suspects from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol face a variety of charges — illegal weapons, assault, property damage and conspiracy. In the latest development, two men have been arrested and charged with spraying a chemical at policeman Brian Sicknick, who died the following day.

As the top U.S. intelligence official for just over a month, Avril Haines has an overflowing inbox.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia's crown prince approved the operation that led to the brutal 2018 death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report released Friday.

President Biden has been critical of Saudi Arabia and the report is expected to further harm the increasingly fraught relations between the two longtime allies. He said Friday that he will hold Saudi Arabia accountable for human rights abuses.

President Biden's nominee to lead the CIA, William Burns, spent more than three decades as a diplomat. Yet Burns sounded very much like a national security chief at his confirmation hearing Wednesday as he described how the U.S. should be wary of China and its leader Xi Jinping.

"There are a growing number of areas in which Xi's China is a formidable, authoritarian adversary," Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee in his opening remarks.

As COVID cases began to rise a year ago, a Chinese company contacted several U.S. states and offered to set up testing labs. As a byproduct, the Chinese firm, Beijing Genomics Institute, would likely gain access to the DNA of those tested.

Last year, cyber expert P.W. Singer was asked to write the introduction to a big government report by a group called the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission. Instead of the usual bland summary, Singer produced a fictional account of what Washington, D.C., might look like in the aftermath of a devastating cyberattack.

The riot at the Capitol appeared to be almost all chaos and anarchy. But as private researchers and ordinary individuals scrutinized online video and photos, they identified some of those who took part and assisted law enforcement.

John Scott-Railton from Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto focused on individuals who seemed to have a real purpose amid the mob — like two men who were spotted with plastic handcuffs that could be used to detain people or take them hostage.

In a day filled with shocking images, one of the most startling was a mob of President Trump's supporters surging into the U.S. Capitol with relative ease.

Pages