CIA, Yukon, Berlin Wall discussed on Pod Save the World



Some beautiful country really is so miserable. I mean this is Ozzy. I've got nothing. What what it does appreciate what we have in the West Wing. You can't get toilet. Paper Yukon toothbrushes here because my so I sort of a great big line of people. Yesterday's were driving for a cabbage. I mean that's ridiculous and the story goes that close Mina. Lead singer of the Scorpions goes in performance in this concert. And he takes a boat ride on the Moskva River and he so inspired by all the change he sees happening around him that he writes this song wind of change. And there's a few things about this. That are weird so the Berlin Wall hasn't fallen yet at the point where he writes the song he actually writes. It was released just after the wall comes down but he writes it before he also never wrote songs before that. So this is like there was another guy in the band who wrote all the songs up to this point but he writes this song he done lyrics before but this time it's like the music listening basically shows up and he's like look got a song and they released the song and it becomes this huge huge hit by the way. This is what this show does. Deal is every episode. You End Thinking this is Bullshit or Oh my God. This actually happened. It's like constantly jerking you back and forth until the end which we will not spoil in the process of this interview. But I'm glad you said that for me that it's those switch backs along the way that made it such a kind of fun but also maddening experience for me. As part of the reason I want I wanted to do it as a podcast. Was this idea. In a way that you wouldn't really do a New Yorker article I wanted to create a situation in which you're you're basically sort of riding shotgun with me as I go through those moments of do I believe this is this thing. What at first appears and trying to kind of capture some of those twists and turns along the way yeah and it makes so much fun so in the process of reporting this story. You talk to all these ex spies prize. How did those conversations go like? Were they wary of you? Did you ever worry that you know? You're trying to extract information from people who are trained to lie to you and deceive you. Yeah it was a weird one. I mean I've written certainly written about espionage before and had sources who were expyse and and friends who were Were former spies. This was especially weird because of the nature of the thing I wanted to ask about right so if it happened if the CIA was involved. Which certainly what I knew from the start as like that's a story that's told inside the CIA. The one thing I knew for sure was that it still highly highly classified. And so then it becomes this weird thing where you're talking to people who in some instances take some coaxing to talk at all and then you're asking them about something that you know if they do know about it it would probably be illegal for them to tell you about it. And we had few crazy instances in the podcast of people really freaking out and There's one instance where there's a woman who was a former clandestine officer who interesting. The level of precaution it's like we used a pseudonym. I interviewed her. We transcribe the whole interview. We use the audio from me talking and we an actress read her audio and we cut them back together and it sounds great but this will give you a sense of the level of of sack associated with this thing. Yeah and what I love about. That particular interview is is the interviewee who is transcribed. And then her words are handed to an actor who then reads it kind of talks. Shit you a couple of times and it comes through your weight. Well I know the part referring to and I think that was part of what Again that we were trying to capture as there are some people along the line. Who Basically said you shouldn't be doing this right. And they had their reasons but it was important for me that the listeners. Hear that right the right that I not try and and You know hide the ball in terms of that kind of critique of the whole enterprise were engaged in you know along those lines I mean I imagine that if The write a rock song that helped bring down the USSR that would be viewed as a great success within the agency. But there's also this dark history of supporting coups propping up dictators otherwise meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations. Do you get the sense that that those kinds of activities are looked at with pride or is that a bygone era of things that shouldn't have been done and no longer are done. It's a great question and and we talked to a whole bunch of people who had different points of view. Some of it I think is a question of when people come into the agency. So it's fascinating. Because there's there's a big generational divide where a ton of people flooded into the agency post nine eleven and for those folks they talk about the battle days you know of the fifties and sixties as though that's ancient history and we don't do that stuff anymore is that there's like a turned page. The lessons learned but then we talked to some folks who were around in those days and it's like Hell. Ya was involved in the operation. You know I mean they`re. They're not not particularly apologetic. There was some of these Irvy's that didn't even end up in podcast on was sort of surprised at the the degree to which people were willing to defend that kind of thing now in terms of songs and propaganda. This was another really interesting thing is that we interviewed a bunch of ex-spies of people and I don't think we encountered anybody who first of all whether they knew about the or not. Nobody blinked and I asked the question of like could the see. I have written a pop song. Would they have done it? Everybody was like yeah absolutely. We wouldn't necessarily be rooted in house. We would have somebody outside do it. But that certainly is within the realm of the possible. We also didn't encounter anybody who who said. Yang that would be pretty fucked up if we did that There was a general sense that that'd be fair game the flip side though. Is You know we went to Ukraine? We went to Moscow. We went to Saint Petersburg. We interviewed fans. I went to a Scorpion concert in Kiev. We talk to people who for not music means a lot and that song means a lot and are these weird moments along the way where I would kind of be laughing. As if it's all a big goof to me and you talked to someone for whom the song wind of change is this like transformational political moment in their youth. And you tell them it might have been written by the CIA. And I had these modern. We have him on tape. But these moments where people are people are basically fuck you. Don't tell me that you know spokeman. Sergei and his friend Gary to beefy guys with bleary eyes and shaved heads. They look like bouncers or guys who may be freelance for the mob but they're wearing scorpions. T shirts and big smiles and arguing about the origins of wind of change. The song that according to the story I heard may have actually been written by the CIA..

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