Matthew Pines: Cyber, Bitcoin, and Aliens | E186


Jacob Shapiro: Hello, listeners, and welcome to another episode of Cognitive Dissidence. As usual, I’m your host. I’m Jacob Shapiro. I’m a partner and the director of geopolitical analysis at Cognitive Investments. Rejoining us on the podcast is one of my favorite guests Matthew Pines. He is the director of security advisory at Sentinel One.

we have a mind bending conversation about the United States and China, in the cyber realm, what the kinetic threshold might be for global cyber conflict, explore some dystopian theories and close with some thoughts on Bitcoin and aliens. So not an episode to be missed. And I’m excited about this one.

I hope you are as well. If you want to email me about anything you heard on this podcast or about anything you think that I need to have on my radar that I don’t email me at Jacob at cognitive dot investments. Take care of the people you love. Cheers and see you out there. All right, Matt, there’s no way we’re going to get through everything.

I want to get through with you. So let’s just dive in and get as far as we can get in an hour. And I’m sure you’ll be, you’ll be gracious enough to come back on if I don’t scare you away. Good to see you. Good to see you. I wanted to start, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, earlier this year he was talking to the House Select Committee on strategic competition between the U.

S. and the Chinese Communist Party. We need shorter names for these things. and he talked about, The CCP being the defining threat of our generation. That’s not particularly new, but he said it in the context of Chinese hackers and about an FBI operation that helped take down Volt Typhoon, which maybe many listeners have not heard about, but anybody who’s doing anything related to cyber security has obviously heard about.

There’s a lot of different places we could start, but I wanted to start at the very broad level. Do you agree with that characterization? That China and specifically Chinese hackers are the defining threat of our generation? And then we can back into what the hell is Vault Typhoon? What is iSoon?

Why should listeners who are not familiar with this stuff care? But I wanted to just start with setting perspectives. Do you agree with him on that? Yeah, I think it’s fair. I think it’s a fair assessment. Not like nothing else scares you more like climate change wouldn’t scare you more or your aliens coming and destroying everything or AI like taking over the systems or North Korean nukes.

Matthew Pines: it’s how you define your terms in terms of threat to what, right? yeah, Chinese hackers aren’t going to bring down civilization, right? If that’s your sort of, reference point for evaluating different threats in terms of to the United States’s position and sort of its geoeconomic, power and sort of its status in the world system.

what is the main threat vector to that? and where has China had the most success thus far in achieving its strategic objectives? That’s by far the most, important and significant threat, to, to, United States, global interest.

Jacob Shapiro: Honestly five other things that are way more important that aren’t like probably if it’s reached the media It’s been a threat that’s diffused on some level But maybe like just help us understand like what’s going on because all these Weird hacker gangs are getting thrown out there and I think it’s very hard unless you’re deep in the weeds on this stuff to actually Like assess and rank importance.

Matthew Pines: Yeah. It’s important to think about how China views and uses cyber as a tool in their overall approach to statecraft and how, the set of tools that they’ve developed sharpened, I don’t know, wielding at scale are contributing to their larger sort of geopolitical strategic objectives, right?

So these stories sit, in the news cycle and they get a lot of play and they’re significant in their own right, but they matter much more in terms of how we interpret the unfolding kind of us, China. Geopolitical competition, and what these sort of spillovers and sort of tail risks from that competition mean for, businesses for individuals for kind of the evolution of the future order.

So it’s these are not isolated sort of cyber stories, right? They’re cyber stories that are matter to the audience inside cybersecurity industries and security professionals and security officials. But they reflect on a larger, theme, which is going to be the defining theme this decade that I think Christopher Wray was pointing at, which is, China’s emergence as a peer competitor across many domains of state power, and they have, implemented, a pretty effective strategy to develop cyber security capabilities, and often it’s a capacity to drive and achieve those strategic objectives.

and so this has taken, many forms, the traditional sort of trope has been cyber espionage for the purposes of, acquiring valuable intellectual property, trade secrets, and that has certainly been a very successful strategy for them over many years. It’s still ongoing.

but that’s not the Volt Typhoon story and that’s not what those four senior security officials were really. They’re testifying about they were testifying about China’s, efforts to essentially do pre operational surveillance and reconnaissance on American critical infrastructure networks with the objective of establishing persistence so that if they got the command to disrupt or destroy.

Those networks that they could effectively execute that command. and you only, perform those operations if you’re, planning for a potential scenario where you want to disrupt, for example, the ability United States to use a civilian aircraft fleet to support, U. S. Troop mobilization, whether you want to disrupt the ability of ports to take in and out supplies where you want to take down, emergency communication systems, whether you want to disrupt, other forms of communication society.

And so these are civilian infrastructures that are targets of Chinese military in, preparing for a potential conflict scenario where they get the order to, act. to destroy and disrupt these networks. So that’s why it was very important for the senior officials to highlight as, a particular feature of U.

S. political economy when it comes to these critical networks, which is they are not controlled or run or own to first order by the U. S. Government. So they have to try to, you induce or coerce the regulation or peer pressure or public pressure private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure networks spanning, wide diversity of industries and maturity levels to try to up their security game.

and so this, testimony, had, one important audience, which was the sort of senior leadership and the political, Audience, that can change security, posture and investment decisions inside those private companies that are responsible for maintaining our critical infrastructure.

So it was trying to raise the salience of this is an issue to try to drive momentum in those decisions. And that’s what, Jen Easterly, the assistant director, her main job is ensuring the security of those critical structure networks, but she can’t mandate to, to a large extent.

those folks to. to improve the security posture. General Nakasone, who’s the NSA director, also dual hatted as the Cyber Command Director. That was actually his last day in office. he had a different audience in his testimony. His audience essentially is a sort of strategic competition communication with China to try to convince them that, when we know what you’re doing, we have visibility into your operations and that we will not be effectively deterred.

By the threat of your disrupting these networks that we are prepared and that we are ready to challenge you in the theaters of conflict and we can retaliate in kind if not more forcefully if you take these actions against us. So each of those leaders had a different audience and they’re trying to message strategically either to a domestic or international audience in particular to our adversaries.

And this is a high stakes game in terms of trying to. Try to set, increasingly strict or clear boundaries around what is, appropriate in cyber, operations. what, targets are, in scope or out of scope? I think we were trying to send a strong signal that, targeting critical infrastructure that could severely impact, U.

S. society and lead to, major, disruptions, if not, threatens, social order, is off limits. whether China has received that signal, whether they’ll adjust their operations accordingly is TBD. But that was a major impetus is that the scale of China’s operations and activities to infiltrate and established persistence successfully across a wide swath of U.

S. critical infrastructure networks, raised the alarm bell and I think motivated a kind of all hands on deck kind of public testimony.

Jacob Shapiro: There’s so much to dive into just there, but I wanted to first ask, does the U. S. actually have recip Reciprocal capabilities like is there a version of Matthew Pines and Jacob Shapiro having this conversation in the Chinese media context talking about how well really it’s the U.

S. That is pre positioning these things on our civilian infrastructure. And we’re doing this as a response. do we actually have that capability?

Matthew Pines: So we certainly have, extreme capabilities. the question is whether we have it. the similar doctrine that China has. So our, current doctrine is involved defend forward, where we need to establish persistent and adversary networks in order to disrupt them.

our current doctrine, as far as I understand it, I think all the details are classified, is that we have, rules of engagement that prescribe, viable civilian targets, I’m sorry, viable military targets that exclude, and try to assess collateral damage, just like we do in other contexts. and so we have, obviously a large sort of set of lawyers that review the sort of pre operational battle plans and how we would effectively use different capabilities, including cyber capabilities to accomplish military effects.

And there is like a, analysis of what sorts of things would be within scope. my understanding is that is certainly not at the scale of what China has currently, indicated in terms of their broad strategic effort to compromise, core critical infrastructure to our basic social existence.

and whether we would respond in kind in a cyber domain or whether we would escalate in an alternative domain, e. g., our strategic deterrence is a, is an open question. and that gets into like larger complex policy discussions about at what point does cyber trick, trip a kinetic threshold.

if you, take that, if you open up a dam and it floods and it kills a thousand people. You didn’t bomb us, but you effectively caused the deaths of our citizens, and we’ll respond, accordingly. it gets, complicated, but that is, those are live discussions.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah, I, wanna, that question, but There’s one question I want to ask you before we get into a discussion about that, because that’s where your world bleeds into my world in a pretty huge way. The other big thing that’s been in the headlines for the last couple of months when it comes to China Cyber is this leak from iSoon that, they posted a bunch of stuff or somebody posted a bunch of stuff on GitHub.

And it showed that there’s a lot of private contractors in China that are doing this work. whether they’re doing it opportunistically, they go and get some data and try and get a contract from the Chinese Communist Party after the fact, or whether they’re being told by the CCP to go and do this. and you talked about, state to state sort of conflict.

It seems to me that releasing the dam is not at all. That’s a bomb right there. But what if it’s a private contractor? That did it. And what if it’s not actually the state? What if a private contractor goes rogue? And you even were mentioning this in the context of the U. S. the U. S. government can’t control all of these private companies with their infrastructure and things like that.

So do we have this strange world where, the states may be looking at each other and, huffing and puffing and scaring and deterrence, but there’s a bunch of private actors that don’t give a shit. They’re just running around doing whatever they want. And, Dark Knight style want to see the world burn.

Like, how do we, find, or understand that relationship?

Matthew Pines: Yeah, so certainly, what you’ve seen in China is similar to what in any industry. It’s like when the government invests, in an industry, especially from a state perspective. Usually there’s remora fish, right?

There’s a whole ecosystem that then develops around that sort of state priority, right? So the state has decided that, offensive cyber capabilities are a national strategic priority and they’re going to invest in the sort of bureaucratic, programs and processes and tools and educational and training pipelines.

And of course, It’s, that generates a lot of contract opportunities for the, private sector in any country, including China to try to capitalize on that. And China is very much a, a top down sort of strategic direction, but then they a lot of autonomy is given to individual provinces and bureaucratic offices.

to execute against that top level kind of political mandate. and there’s also opportunities for a lot of backscratching and like influence peddling that you see in a lot of these ISUN contractor type leaks where, it looks like typical bribes and, how can I get in, good with the, political, officials to get the contracts.

As far as the, tactical or operational impact. So I wouldn’t expect that, like just a freelancing contractor is going to go hack a dam right from China, right? Like they, one, they don’t have the incentive to do that, right? so what the ecosystem says is that they have an eco, they have a, a, Rough gray market for access and also like certain data that they happen to steal.

And, there are certain idiosyncratic cases where they steal something and they’re like, I’m desperate for cash. And they try to sell it to somebody. And that does happen, but there is also a more organized kind of top down state directed set of Sort of targeting priorities that translate through different, proportions of the bureaucratic ecosystem.

So a large portion of that goes from okay, we want to gather, effectively as industrial espionage, economic intelligence for strategic science and technology, targeting priorities. And those kind of filter through different bureaucracies, including the sort of Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

And they are more in terms of here are the industries that we want to target. Here’s the technologies, the critical technologies that we are interested in. They have a whole cadre of science and technology diplomats that are scouting, different companies and sort of industry associations and writing technical reports.

And they’re not technically intelligence officers. They’re just essentially science and technology diplomats. But that information flows back into the intelligence bureaucracies. and China has different ways of going after it. Sometimes they try to, use like legal gray zone means, whether it’s just.

joint ventures, actual acquisitions. They try to like induce a recruit insiders to come over, and just transfer the IP with them. but they also use, illicit means where they want to hack it. And there’s a whole ecosystem of contractors that actually China, rates and gives them different tiers in terms of, you have to, one on one, side is just developing vulnerabilities, right?

There’s a whole, portion of cybersecurity industry, which is just You know, develop unique access points and ways of exploiting software. And so you’re trying to incentivize companies to, do that hard work of identifying vulnerabilities that, that can be exploited. and so there’s a rich ecosystem inside China of that, both cybersecurity competitions, where they incentivize companies to come and compete, develop vulnerabilities.

And then those vulnerabilities get fed into kind of these national databases that just so happen to make their way into, PLA or MMSS. cyber hacking units. My colleague Dakota Cary has mapped that whole ecosystem. But I wouldn’t worry too much about contractors like taking down a dam.

there’s not much of an incentive for a lot of those private sort of, privateers to do that. But they would spray and pray sometimes in terms of targeting different firms, and then maybe try to find a willing buyer. there’s a complicated ecosystem in terms of this matchmaking service between, getting information that does or doesn’t fit a particular targeting priority by a particular entity inside the ecosystem.

It could be the PLA that really is targeting us defense, industrial based targets, or a strategic, critical infrastructure for the purpose of some tactical battle plan. In which case those are like definitely on the PLA is they’re going to tightly manage and control any activities that go after those targets.

And there’s a broader sort of ecosystem of folks looking at. general diplomatic information, what you know, the Tibetan leadership is saying about whatever, of course, there’s a huge portion of China cyber efforts. That’s that involves overseas repression of political dissidents and trying to identify, politically, sensitive speech, by citizens or other activists, in other jurisdictions.

So a lot of these tools are being developed and then wielded by the state. and there is certainly top down management of a lot of those, especially strategic, strategically important activities. But there’s a lot of sort of freewheeling, entrepreneurial activity as well.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah, my sense of this, and I feel like this is true in the approach to intelligence in general, whereas if you think about the Western approach to intelligence, it’s, the James Bond going in and getting the piece of information or diffusing the bomb, and very precise, everything, a mission that has been planned with, Plans within plans.

Whereas China, I feel like it’s just throw everything at the wall. We have a billion people. Let’s send out 50 million soft agents and maybe one of them stumbles upon something and then we go visit him and get the information or activate this, person in that particular way. It seems less like it’s just a different approach in general, which I think bleeds into all of their geopolitics.

Do you think that’s fair?

Matthew Pines: Yes, that’s certainly has been the trope in assessments of Chinese intelligence over decades is, the famously, they’ll pick up, every grain of sand, right? And then, assemble it back home into some, mosaic. I think they’ve become a little bit more sophisticated recently.

they’ve certainly, they’re struck their, their, bureaucratic system sense of this intense competition between the M. S. And the P. L. A. recently, the M. S. Which is elevated in importance and kind of bureaucratic system. and the M. S. I think accordingly is trying to up their trade craft across the board.

and so cyber is just one, one element of that. And it’s really very capable cyber actors, but their approach to human asset recruitment, the sort of tried and true Western methods that the British pioneered. And then the U S and the Soviets really turned into an art form in the cold war, the Chinese, we’re late to that game.

And the MSS was this, backwater in the political circles in the eighties effectively and took into the nineties to get really themselves together. but they weren’t really What we would see is like a tier one national, foreign intelligence service. And really in the past 15 or 20 years, they’ve like up their game substantially, in particular recruiting deeply sourced human assets where they have intelligence requirements and they can compromise Western individuals.

And it isn’t just people with Chinese heritage. That’s the trope is they’ll, induce a recruit. or coerce, folks with family connections they can exploit. there’s a lot of Western, Westerners, American blue blooded folks that will sing for their, that will, sing for, money.

and they’ve had success in compromising even our intelligence services. so I think it’s important not to underestimate their, abilities as an intelligence service. but yeah, they do also have just a ton of have a lot of people. And, yeah, there’s also, that’s vulnerabilities that, that they have that we can exploit, Is this, I assume leak toll is you see these hackers working for this contractor, they’re making like a thousand dollars a month, And they’re complaining about their poor pay and their, and I think that exists in every bureaucracy where there’s, resentment. There’s, especially Chinese economy isn’t doing so well.

the boom times that would have mana falling from heaven on this whole ecosystem are starting to, potentially, dry up a bit. And that, that creates opportunities on the other end. but yeah, I think, they have become very successful in, recent years and, accomplishing what they need to accomplish.

And on the flip side, there was a story 12 years ago, I think when China, effectively rolled up dozens of U. S. intelligence assets in country. And I believe Daily Beast reported about how that happened, and it was effectively our poor tradecraft. we had a covert communications app that we programmed for use in battlefield operation environments by a contractor for the CIA.

Basically to give to some guy in the street in Afghanistan or Baghdad to help alert us to when, like an IED was going to be planted. So you wouldn’t put a whole lot of effort into protecting that app, right? But then the CI officers went to China and they brought this app along with them and they were comfortable with using it.

And we decided to, use it in some of those source operations. And apparently Iran Found an exploit in Iraq or Afghanistan, wherever it was. And they shared that with China and Russia and trying to then use that maybe along with other information they had from potential insider in the CIA that they had recruited to roll up essentially a large swath of our in country asset network.

And it took many, years. I think, Will Burns has talked about the CIA director, that they’re now reconstituting their human collection network, but it’s, China is a hard, it’s a hard target for a reason.

Jacob Shapiro: and this is where I worry about the bureaucratic gridlock in the US government as well.

We could argue whether it starts with Obama or Trump, but appointments and recruiting and replenishing human capital in all of these different organizations when the Within the U S from my point of view is stopped just because of all the partisan back and forth, you’ve got backlogs of years for people like completing interviews and things like that.

I worry about that too. Let’s dig into the sort of big question that I avoided until now, which was, and you described it as a kinetic threshold, which is a good phrase for what is the kinetic threshold for China flipping the switch? I think for a lot of people, that day I was in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when, The AT& T network went out. And by the way, I’ve said this on the podcast already, absolutely loved it. I hope AT& T crashes a few more times. I actually had to get a map to get where I was going from point A to point B. I, nobody bothered me for a whole day. Cause nobody could get to me on my phone. It was like, really?

I felt like I was in the nineties again. It was really special. and obviously that didn’t, at least, Nobody is saying that was a hack. It looks like it was AT& T messed up or something like that. what is the threshold for China to say, okay, here, self service for three top networks goes away or the port at New Orleans, we’re going to stop having that function or is it an invasion of Taiwan?

Is it a response to something the U S does? Is it world war three? Like, how do we think about that?

Matthew Pines: This is a critical question. and it’s one we think a lot about and it’s one that there’s no, I think, answer to, but there’s certain, I think, plausible scenarios that are worth. seriously thinking through, in particular, I think the scenario that I, anchor on a lot is one where there is, an escalating, diplomatic tension between the US and China.

It could be over many different things. It could be India, Pakistan, it could be an India, China border dispute that spills out of control that then cascades into other sort of regional theaters. It could be a pure, Taiwan. like we’re going to, increasingly constrict what looks like a de facto quarantine that isn’t a declared, blockade.

It could be a, tit for tat, escalation of the Scarborough Shoals with the Philippines that we get involved in. It could be a North Korean thing that then bring us, so there’s lots of potential geopolitical triggers that could bring US and China into an acute diplomatic fracas, where now they’re trying to wield whatever levers of coercive power they have against each other within, certain limits to try to contain the escalation, but try to send deterrent or compellent signals to the other side.

And that would trigger potential escalation ladder. And I think along the escalation ladder is when you might see the use of more overt cyber operations on the United States. And the question is how far along the escalation ladder. But in, in our assessment, it isn’t, going to be China is invading Taiwan now, missiles are flying and then the cyber stuff is happening the same time.

It’s much more likely the cyber stuff portions of it would be deployed along that escalation ladder for the purposes of, really two, two key purposes. One, probably the most important one essentially is, strategic communications to the American public, right? It’s essentially, trying to, dissuade or undermine, the political unity that would be necessary for politicians to, say mobilize for conflict, right?

Say Hey, we can we don’t want to have our internet down for a week. We don’t want, half the airlines to be grounded. We don’t want to have, port, snarls and new inflation, rippling. It would be a deterrent effect, to try to coerce us domestically and change our political, decision making to, force us to back down along the escalation ladder before there was even a conflict.

And then of course, if things, if that doesn’t succeed, then there is actual, objectives to disrupt our ability to effectively mobilize for and conduct a conflict, right? And so those are separate capabilities to disrupt our military mobilization, our command and control communication systems, aspects of our, infrastructure.

That support military operations, and those would be specific to, the assets and capabilities that we would be moving into theater, or the capabilities we already have in theater, e. g. in Guam, Hawaii, and our allies in Japan and South Korea. and of course, on Taiwan itself, they would, look to, in, in advance of, immediately in advance of an invasion, probably use cyber.

to soften it up, right? It could be cutting off its communications, hitting power infrastructure, emergency communications, et cetera, to, try to soften up, for an actual invasion. and that would probably be used in combination with physical sabotage, other, political potential assassination attacks.

So that’s like where along the escalation, Ladder in the scenario you are, in terms of how much of what cyber capabilities would be used. I think we’ve seen from the Ukraine is a lot of been written about after boom, right? Like the value of cyber goes down dramatically, right? Like we seen cyber hasn’t really been strategically relevant in the Ukrainian conflict.

There’s been, high profile incidents via sat, satellite attacks early on, there’s also been, counterattacks in terms of Ukraine hitting the Russian tax service. there’s been, successful examples of Ukraine able to compromise the command and control infrastructure for some of Russian’s drones.

But these are mostly like nuance, oh, sorry, more like niche kind of tactical activities. They haven’t really changed the strategic balance, which is, men and missiles and tanks. And, like at that point, cyber becomes less strategically relevant. so I think that’s one of the most interesting things that I think about is we haven’t really tested this for real, right?

We don’t really know. what the, really the social impact of these activities are as opposed to the sort of the battlefield impact.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah. part of that is, is the nature of the Russia Ukraine conflict. I imagine if you’re in a multi theater conflict with China and we’re now talking about, coordinating Naval with air, with human power.

I mean that you can see how that would require more than just Russia and Ukraine slogging into each other in a world war one style conflict in general. but Another way to ask this question. We’ve talked a lot about the U. S. And China here for good reason. But the big news, I think this might end up being the biggest news of 2024 is the Houthis and what they’ve accomplished with the United States.

what the kinetic threshold for the Biden administration was to intervene. Still not capable of quelling the Houthis at all now. Did they, intentionally cut the cables? Was it, did they sunk a ship that the anchor accidentally cut the cables? I don’t know, but you’ve got like the, main disruption to the physical infrastructure of the digital world is.

Coming because of a ragtag non state actor backed by Iran in the Red Sea. so who should we be thinking about besides the United States and China? Because in some ways, probably the threat’s not going to come from those two. Because as you said, those two will have rules of engagement and will have strategic goals.

And there’ll be open lines of communication. Like it’s probably going to be somebody who doesn’t care. Care about all those things that’s going to do something.

Matthew Pines: Yes, and I put this in a I say a larger maybe theoretical Constructor schema, which is the combination of two things. One is like the neo media Neo medievalization of our sort of global institutions, in the sense that, non state actors are becoming like, de facto sovereigns in many respects.

And that applies not just to groups like the Houthis, but to multinational corporations like Elon Musk and SpaceX and, multinational banks and, hedge funds operating out of the Caymans that have trillions of dollars. And so it’s like the global order, the system that we think of that dominates sort of power relations is definitely not, only state dominated in terms of the sovereign interests and realist view of international, relations.

So that’s to first order, the model of the world you have in terms of which groups have power, to influence strategic events is changing dramatically. And that is enabled by my sort of my second main sort of thesis, which is like, what is enabling that, that, changing sort of the institutional power structure is a lot of it is essentially the digitalization of the world system.

and that sort of provides, asymmetric opportunities to use, smaller sets of actors to accrue and deploy capabilities and, wield those capabilities at a strategic scale. And so this is, it takes, and it, the structure of the global system certainly magnifies the ability for that, And the Houthis is a great example where, Like the Red Sea is a, both a maritime choke point for global trade, which has now become increasingly globalized system, China trade through the Red Sea and, essentially vice versa is like one of the key nodes in the global trade system.

So that’s a maritime choke point, but it’s also a digital choke point. Because a large portion of the internet traffic from Europe to Asia goes through fiber optic cables that go through the Red Sea. and you can just look at a map. It’s essentially literally a choke point for both trade and, and digital, sort of information flows.

And yet you see this sort of ragtag militia group that, essentially is, exerting de facto sovereignty, and effectively area denial, to the world’s most powerful Navy and its coalition of allies to effectively, act as like in the ancient Roman empire, like bandits on the, roads, right?

That, when you saw that and the Roman empire wasn’t able to effectively project its hegemonic force along that sort of. globalized network that it was building. You saw a change in the reaction by local individuals, right? That was the beginning of what you saw as the medieval era is like these institutions grew up in that power vacuum.

And you saw traditional kind of, okay, like boundaries of who I trust and who I’m loyalty and who now I have to pay essentially new taxes to, right? Or protection money, right? And so the Houthis are playing that old game, which is this is a global choke point that now we can effectively extort taxes from, global traders.

neo private, a new form of, both real piracy as well as, sort of digital piracy. What playing out with ransomware. So I see like ransomware groups and who these are different manifestations of the same underlying phenomenon, in this, world that allows actors to essentially, conduct traditional forms of extortion and blackmail, protection racket.

type operations, like mafia type operations, but wield the fact that the global system is both asymmetrically exposed to a few choke points and as well as digitally, like digitally interconnected. And so they can conduct those operations at scale around the world. It used to be like a mafia could only extort, the shops in its local area.

Now you can have criminal ransomware gangs, in, Belarus or whatever extort, every American business at will. So that’s a fundamental change to how the state system has traditionally operated. And I think governments are still trying to play catch up. they still don’t quite understand how to fit this into the model.

Maybe these are a good example where, 10, 000 drone. requires a 2 million SM 2 missile to take down. And that cost asymmetry is not going to work in the favor of an already indebted and overstretched, hegemonic military force. So these are not great trends for the United States. and these are trends that, our adversary is looking to exploit.

and so the Houthis are not just the lone actors, right? They’re proxies of a state adversary, that’s in a sort of loose coalition with our main, great power competitors. And there’s a lot of material technology and financial, collaboration among that group, to challenge the Western liberal led order and to try to rewrite the economic and security architecture.

of that global system. So these things are all, I think of a piece. Essentially, we’re competing over, the, who’s going to own this, these new global networks, whether it’s trade networks, financial networks, digital networks, and we’re seeing the competition play out for, how do you wield effectively surveillance and choke point, control over these global networks.

us has typically had dominance over those networks, right? Whether it was, the NSA sort of nobody, but us, we have all the capabilities, passing anybody else. so we have unquestioned dominance over the digital high seas. That is now, I think, no longer the case. and so you’re seeing this multipolarity play out, not just in okay, traditional economic terms, but in terms of like hard network power terms, who has the power to corral both capital resources, as well as data flows, computing resources, trade flows, and wield those powers in, in a strategic objective.

So that is a, That’s like the, that’s the 10, 000 foot level view. And the Houthis, I think are, a case study.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah. It’s, a scary view. first you’ve probably seen the meme about how often men are thinking about the Roman empire. So it only took us 30 minutes in the podcast to get there. I think that probably puts us standard deviations above, most men in the world.

but it’s funny, and, I fully cop to somebody who is a, who focuses on geopolitics, like geopolitics and realism, as you mentioned, is all about state actors. When it’s created, when the state actor is rising and replacing sclerotic, multi ethnic empires and kings and things like that. And I used to have, long arguments with Roger Baker, who comes on this podcast sometime about whether you could apply geopolitics to a non state actor.

He would say, absolutely not. Like the discipline was designed to understand states. If it is not a state, like you can’t. You’re going to have to find something else. I, always said yes, but the Houthis are a good thing because, or a good point, I think for another reason, because, and maybe this is a bias of mine.

I don’t lose that much sleep about China over the next five, 10 years. And it’s because I feel like I know what they want to do. I know what their constraints are. I know what they’re not going to push past. there is order there. And even if it’s a different form of order and one that I might personally oppose, fine.

But China’s not going to surprise me. Like I know what they want to take. back for themselves. whereas the Houthis, I don’t know. And you mentioned, Iran is backing them. look at other Iranian proxies like Katabal Hezbollah, which killed those U S soldiers in Jordan. And then immediately came out and said, oops, because Iran probably told them that wasn’t what they wanted.

Like you can’t control the proxies that well. I tweeted about this last week. I was flabbergasted because I forget which a mainstream publication it was in, but they were talking about the Houthis and they like just like it was normal, reference the Huthi telecommunications ministry. And I was like, the Huthis have a telecom ministry?

So how, long until they have a hacking network that actually goes and goes to a dam or goes to a port and does exactly what you’re talking about. that scares the crap out of me. And in a, in the context of a multipolar world, what started World War I? The black hand, like an assassin in some part of, I forget if, the Archduke where he was assassinated, was it in Vienna or Belgrade or whatever else?

But it wasn’t the state actors that pushed the things forward. It was the random bandit on the roads, as you say. So that’s the sort of stuff that keeps me up at night.

Matthew Pines: I think you’re right. I think this, I would say fragmentation of traditional sovereignty, is taking place at two different levels, right?

One is the level of kind of traditional ethnic. groupings like the Houthis are have, you just come out of nowhere, right? They have a long sort of ethnic and cultural, heritage and sort of unity in, in, Yemen that was always politically suppressed. And it took like a tipping point of technology becoming democratized enough, that’s the, Ideological and political aspirations of that grouping and the fact that they’re in a geographically favored area that could be aligned with the, ambitions of a particular, like regional hegemon converge to then give them this asymmetric capability, right? That is now changing, strategic decision making.

and I think you can see that play out in many different, domains, not just this traditional kind of cultural regional domains. I think you’ve seen it play out just like in the, I think it’s an under assessed, it was just like non state power and sovereignty at the level of corporations.

Like April Haynes gave a fireside chat last year at the Special Competitive Studies Project, their inaugural conference in DC, I went to it and she said something very interesting. She basically said in a bit of a halting manner, she was like, we don’t have to assess global trends and global dynamics with a new player in mind.

And that is big, mainly big corporations, but specifically like big tech. And they had to sort of bargain with these entities as if they were, Pure powers, right? They have to use mechanisms that they would otherwise use against like states with how to bargain with Elon Musk how to bargain with Sam Altman, right?

How do you know, these are these are different Levels of power that have never traditionally been in the private sector. There’s always been a nice, you know from the US From the U. S. government’s perspective, there’s an umbrella of the state, and they will incubate technology, from, the space, race and developing a whole bunch of spin off technologies that became the internet, everything else.

there’s been a modus vivendi with private industry that was always aligned to U. S. government interests, right? and, we would globalize the world system and create all sorts of opportunities for liberal capitalism to exploit, those markets. And it was like the, there was a mutual alignment of interest here.

I think you’re reaching a point where like multinationals have saturated the global system and now it’s, they don’t trust the U S government is going to be able to effectively open new markets anymore, right? It’s not happening. In fact, those markets are closing. China’s market is now becoming more sovereign.

European markets becoming more sovereign, like every nation is both, is retrenching in terms of their approach to globalization. They still want globalized trade, regarding comparative advantage, but they want to put more sort of security gates around, what sorts of trade policies are going to be employed, what sorts of, data flows are going to be allowed, like AI regulation, privacy regulations, all these things are essentially leading to a balkanization or fragmentation of global markets, especially digital markets, which is what global multinational corporations effectively sell.

they require globalized platforms to really achieve the economies of scale and look at the traditional relationship they had with, US government as the security guarantor or the sort of the underwriter of a certain economic architecture is not being there anymore. or being fundamentally discounted.

And so then they have to change the terms of how they operate, and who they choose to do deals with and how they calibrate against different centers of power in the global system. And they also have the juice, they have the hard capabilities. SpaceX can launch more rockets than And into space than any other, even nation state on the planet, right?

Like foundation frontier model labs. So some of the, most advanced capabilities, in those strategic domains, TSMC, ASML, like these are private companies that are like, have strategic technologies and choke point. And so the state is trying to use them to accomplish the strategic objectives.

So he’s for example, like the chip and export controls. And you’re seeing, I think, a real time test of how much actual sovereign power can the state effectively wield over these strategically powerful private entities to pursue their own sovereign ends. And where is that line? I think will be the litmus test of how far that sort of, how far the, order has shifted.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah. as, a fellow nerd about Ricardian economics, I’m pretty sure security gates and Ricardian economics don’t work together. So if you’re talking about security gates and sovereignty, Ricardo is probably rolling over in his grave. I agree with everything you just said, it also makes me think that Blade Runner is much closer to our reality than ever, than it ever was in the past.

but something you said earlier that I wanted to go back to, which touches on this is, we, talked about how the state is behind on a lot of these trends and by that I don’t mean the United States, just the state in general is an abstract concept. and the question is it?

Can the state actually catch up? it goes to your question. In China, we’re seeing that China’s trying. So Jack Ma, you do you say something that the party doesn’t like? Okay, like China’s gonna fuck up your company. And it’s gonna make sure that you understand that you don’t get all the treasures and everything else that you used to get.

In some sense, the Chinese tech environment was defanged relatively easily. Now, she has moved on to the real estate sector and that is proving to be a lot harder than bringing the tech companies, to, reign, in, in China. do states, especially in West, in the Western context where things like, freedom and free markets and things like that still hold such currency, do they even have a chance?

take that one in whatever direction you want.

Matthew Pines: So I’m not like the full, we’re going to go, devolve into a anarcho capitalist, right? Like the state’s going to collapse. I just think there’s a lot of institutional inertia. These systems tend to last a lot longer, like even in the Roman empire case, it was centuries before, and it was a very slow.

from inside those systems on any given sort of individual bureaucrats lifespan, it didn’t look like a whole lot was changing. It was like, it was okay. Things aren’t quite as effective or efficient, or now there’s a new problem I have to deal with, but from that sort of zoomed in scale, it doesn’t look like a systemic regime shift, but if you zoomed out on the scale of, at least decades to probably centuries, it would manifest as a pretty significant regime shift.

and so I think it matters the timescale, right? Like in this decade, is this dominant Westphalian state system going to let go away? No. in the next several decades, could we evolve to a fundamentally different state defined international system? I think that’s probably true. The question is what it’s going to look like.

I think it’s going to be. heavily dependent on the future evolution of technology, right? Fundamentally. And what are these sort of substrate, often state systems are, founded on a certain economic substrate and the technology and the economic substrates have felt is it’s itself technologically determined, right?

If you have an industrial evolution that can concentrate urban populations and that gives you a new political systems. sort of space to evolve. You can see something that, dramatically unfold in terms of a changing pattern of technological development that shifts patterns of human migration, communication, political power, et cetera.

And I don’t know, I have no crystal ball how this would unfold. But I think you’re seeing such massive radical changes in the technology landscape and substrate that I think those inevitably will have massive political ramifications. I think we are heading to a, somewhat of a divergence though, is like you can see in this chaotic system, like two equilibrium points, right?

One is like a Chinese style equilibrium point, which is Essentially, like the fantasy of the gas plan, which is that you could use essentially, potentially AI to actually centrally manage a control, a, political system and an economic system. if, that’s possible, right. And I don’t know, like we’ll see, but I don’t think it’s something you can rule out.

Certainly in the 20th century, it was not possible. but that would potentially enable a form of like totalitarian digital control and also effective economic, governance. We’ll see, everyone has philosophical arguments, but I think fundamentally it’s it’s an empirical question.

and everyone says, Oh, China’s going to collapse. China’s going to collapse. I’m like, they haven’t. So it’s I wouldn’t just put our strategic chips in the basket of assuming that communist, central planning is ruled out a priori. Like it is, there’s new things in the world, right?

There are new capabilities that states can, wheel to reinforce the their institutional power and maybe potentially delay indefinitely this, potential decay process. Whereas Western institutions, right? Like we have a, a political, hard line potentially against going towards that type of centralization.

And, is there like a, is there a different model, right? A decentralized equilibrium point. The question is how far does that go, right? There’s the Bitcoin or anarcho capitalist, like Balaji type, like network state, equilibrium mode. And I think that’s still probably too far on the end, right?

I think we’re probably gonna end up somewhere in the messy middle with new institutions that just will look somewhat similar to the ones we have now. But fundamentally will be structurally different. but they won’t, I don’t think it’ll be like a radical shift and it will be a, it’ll be an evolution there that will look natural over time.

But the end point we get to will be very different.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah. the only analyst I know out there that is still doing the China’s going to collapse thing is. Peter Zaihan, who people ask me about all the time. And I just want to say, Peter, if you’re listening, come on any time, and I will be, I will happily debate this point with you, because it would be fun, to take apart why China’s not going to collapse.

And I will give you all due respect, and it will be very, it will be very sweet. I’ll be very gentle. And maybe you’ll be writing in, and maybe I’ll look like an idiot. Sorry, go ahead.

Matthew Pines: so the one connection point to those very theses is, yeah, like China’s, his main point is China’s, demographics are collapsing, they’re indebted, et cetera.

One fascinating sort of corollary of this thesis about digital network competition, that China’s strategy to do like the digital, silk road is effectively trying to. effectively expand its sovereign borders, right? Without changing the political terms of those borders, right? But effectively changing which populations and effectively billions of people in the global South, across Eurasia and Africa, South, Asia, that are effectively in its digital sphere of influence that contribute to it’s like essentially a super block of tradable goods economy, right?

And where they have essentially. a lot of structural demand from growing populations in Africa. They have got all the, resources of the Middle East for like hard, hard, commodity inputs with Russia and, OPEC they’ve got. their own vertically integrated kind of tech stack, right?

the big loophole there is TSMC and ASML that might hold them up, for a few years, but can they never get there? I don’t think so. And so you have to look at it, not just in terms of China as like a traditional way, CIA would traditionally do like the world fact book and be like, what is their GDP going to show in five years?

That’s not the right question to ask. It’s What is the sort of the network system that they’re building and how is the contribution of that network system going to be geopolitically and geoeconomically and digitally aligned to their interests? Versus, what we think of as the traditional Western pull.

And that’s the most critical question.

Jacob Shapiro: and those interests also transcend the Chinese Communist Party. what you described, let’s say the Chinese Communist Party collapses tomorrow. Like it’s true that one of the scenarios would be a sort of warring states period. Like previous periods with warlords, but that’s not what China looks like today.

China doesn’t look like it’s fragmenting at all. If anything, it looks like the central government is getting more power. So probably just a new emperor would rise or some new political ideology would sit on top of this entire base that the communist party has built for seven or eight years. But, But besides that sort of random rabbit hole, I did want to go back into the Bitcoin thing and also energy from what you’re talking about.

And you can see this with these private companies too. Like all these companies are talking about building their own nuclear reactors, building their own solar fields, like no longer being dependent on a government for energy, which, now you’re taking away sort of core parts of the government. So if you do get To your point, if you get some kind of fusion breakthrough, or even if you can drive down the cost, of installation of solar and all these other things to the point where companies no longer like, the, threats that a government would impose upon them no longer, reign true, like then that sort of works and same from currency.

I’ve been a crypto skeptic for a long time, and you’ve still been willing to come on here. but in this world that we’re talking about, Suddenly something like Bitcoin looks a lot more interesting if you are trying to protect assets, whether you’re a business or an individual or even a rival state.

Suddenly these cryptocurrencies look a lot more geopolitically realistic than they did even a couple of years ago. Once you take this, this, scenario to its logical end.

Matthew Pines: Yeah. And I think, One great, place to look to see these different trends manifesting is the United Arab Emirates.

I think they are a prism that you can look through to see all of these sort of forces converging. And I was actually just talking to, a buddy of mine who was, works in the Bitcoin industry, was just in Dubai for three weeks. and I think in Abu Dhabi as well, meeting with government officials, about setting up essentially operations there.

And it was like, They rolled out the red carpet, right? They were in the white glove treatment. They were like, we want you, we’ll do whatever it takes. and they’ve passed laws in the past year or two sort of digital finance, digital asset laws. and if you actually talk to what they won’t say publicly, right?

Like the writing on the wall for a lot of you might say like techno capital and a lot of capital in traditional context, like Gulf capital oil money that put all their money in like Swiss banks, or German banks. or London real estate, they see, that those assets are not as safe as they used to be, right?

So to your point, right? Like where do certain pools of global capital look to for improved safety? Bitcoin might provide an opportunity for that. but not by itself. I think Bitcoin would have to be combined with certain legal jurisdictional, innovations, right? So like the Emirates have really, Pioneered this, in fact, it was city of London lawyers that basically wrote the legal framework for the Dubai finance and national center or national finance center, DFC.

This is a model after the city of London, which has its own autonomous sort of semi sovereignty inside England, and. The DIFC have the same, has essentially the same thing inside Dubai, where it’s it’s, has its own sort of securities laws, its own sort of legal framework, has its own judges.

They’re all like mostly Western judges. And so they’re creating this little like entre, a capital entrepot, to take advantage of this increasing sort of multipolarity. And also a lot of folks that maybe saw the piercing of the Swiss bank, Swiss bank secrecy laws and now the seizure of the Russian reserves as like the straw that broke the camel’s back of the traditional.

Kind of quid pro quo underlying the Western kind of geoeconomic system where the treasury security was the sovereign reserve asset that everyone had to hold. And it would be never politicized, no matter what you do. Cause it’s that’s the bedrock upon which everyone holds their national savings.

And yet, even though we haven’t declared war on Russia, we haven’t, trigger the sovereign sort of exception to those traditional norms. We’re actively pushing in the G7 to not just block, which we already did, but seize the Russians, Russia’s reserves. And this is a technical thing about where they are, whether in the Bundesbank, which would not look great historically, right?

Germans seizing Russian money has a bad sort of historical analog. I would feed into Russian propaganda. And so this is a, so the, so Dubai is setting themselves up to try to be like this, middleman, Where they can play off the Western and the Asian power centers against each other.

And I think Bitcoin and the similar ideas, like people talk about de dollarization and the Chinese Yuan taking over. I think, no, that’s not the way it’s going to go. And no one wants to hold the Chinese bond. And maybe on the margin, maybe the Saudis will hold like a tiny fraction of it to keep them happy.

And everyone will like rebalance a bit to keep different, competing multi polar centers, happy. But then I might see, okay, like this, in this much more competitive geopolitical dynamic, any given side can try to weaponize my exposure to them against me as a point of leverage in whatever future conflict or dynamic.

What’s an asset that I can hold that isn’t going to be subject to that type of leverage, right? And it could be gold. It could be hard commodities, could be rare, or it could be art in like a, a tax shelter somewhere it could be Bitcoin. And so I think now there’s an, increasing incentive is for a basket of neutral reserve assets to get, new flows into.

and I think, you can see that reflected in some of these, some of these moves. I think, I was told, this is, there’s like billions of dollars now that is on the move. and. Yeah, it could be, a major new, world we live in a few years.

Jacob Shapiro: If not trillions, and we’re, I’m going to step or at least a preview.

some of the podcasts that we’re going to do in the future is precisely that if you are in a Western jurisdiction, how companies like CI or spoke or these others are actually helping people protect their assets in this way, like this is something that’s become even real and tangible for us and how we’re helping manage wealth in that sense.

but it also, I joked with you before we got started that I’m going to try to write a book this year. And it’s not a joke. I’m really going to try and actually set aside the time to write a book. and I don’t know exactly what it all looks like. But there is going to be a chapter in there about the 21st century city state.

And Dubai is going to be one of them. And there’s going to be a couple other. Because this system that we’re talking about, the, economic system. The digitalization has not been there in the past, but we have seen the rise of these types of city state as actors who can grab an inordinate share of power and wealth from a global system that is becoming more chaotic around them.

And I joked that we were in Blade Runner world, but this is, the Hunger Games is The right dystopian analogy for that sort of world where you do have these cities that then take the resources around them and create networks around them that allows them to maintain a certain standard of living or life in one part and then suck those, resources from other places.

Again, that’s, extending it too far, but I do think we’re going to see those types of little. City states rising in parts of the world based on this sort of thing. Are you does that sound crazy or does that line up with what you’re saying?

Matthew Pines: No I think something that most people don’t talk about is just how much wealth there is That’s concentrated in a tiny number of people that have immense amounts of money resources and these are not names that anyone recognized. there are family dynasties that trace back to the Confucian era, right?

That have hid their gold in Switzerland. There are industrialists that never lost their money throughout World War II, right? In fact, probably made money, right? So that, no, it’s not a good historical story because it looks like The bad guys just kept winning. And, they have a huge amount of money and effectively, Like what the first order you can model international finance as just like what those people want. And it was fine when they were happy to set up shop in the city of London, New York, Hong Kong, maybe a bit of Brussels. Now they’re like, all right, we need to hedge our bets, right? We don’t trust Hong Kong anymore.

We’re gonna do Singapore. We don’t trust Singapore as much for some of those Chinese elites. So we’re going to do Dubai, right? And so they’re setting up the legal jurisdictional frameworks. They’re pouring trillions of dollars of capital in there to essentially make, buy a state, right? And those are always grafted onto, it’s always complicated to separate the numbers between those, like individual, it might sound like oligarch type interests and like state interests. And you can almost see it as like a bunch of competing mafias, right? That are like, developing safe territory for themselves. and like you can model the Chinese government to a certain extent as like a sophisticated mafia system that has taken over the state, same thing with Russia, might be politically incorrect to call the United States government a mafia, like we have democratic, I say like buffers.

but I feel like back to the World War II, it was a tiny number of like really rich sort of industrial powers that basically rewrote the architecture, right? It was, the Dulles brothers, Brown brother Harriman, a few banks that rewrote the security and economic system, right?

And they just, they created the CIA, did it all those things, right? So you just have to look at history and be like, This is what power does, and you have to see the signs that maybe they’re changing their mind, or at least they’re hedging their bets. And Dubai, I think, is a great example of this.

It’s every other day you see a venture capital fund, a hedge fund, a private equity company, they’re just taking planes, first class private jets to Dubai, doing business deals. And because that’s where the money is, right? That’s where the net new capital flows are being concentrated. And their business model is basically taking foreign surpluses and redirecting them into.

different assets that the West is good at creating, right? Technology, company equity, right? Private company equity. and that’s their business model. So they got to go where the money is and that money may or may not have strings attached to it.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah. To, steal from a, an old Chris rock bit. the next stop on the train that we’re talking about is the.

And it was all the Jews and I look forward to them figuring out how they’re going to craft. Oh, yeah, the Jews created the thing in Dubai. And that was really what was behind the whole system. Look, I know that you have to go and I have to go. But before we get out of here, I have to ask you a little bit about aliens.

the All Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, the AARO put out a report in what? Last month, they found no evidence. that confirmed any sighting of a UAP or represented that, represented extraterrestrial, technology. They found no empirical evidence for claims that the U. S. government and private companies have been reverse engineering extraterrestrial technology.

Where are you at? Is it bullshit? is it appropriately couched so that Oh no, there’s actually something to scratch at here. I know there’s going to be a volume two of the report. Have the aliens contacted you personally and you’re their emissary? tell me where you are.

Matthew Pines: Yeah. So this report came out of congressional mandate two years ago in the FY 23 national defense authorization act.

and it’s taken about 18 months to put, together. and, the way they wrote the report is very interesting. So technically they went beyond the scope of what. the Congress asked for. The Congress didn’t ask them to actually conduct the assessment that they did. It was supposed to be a historical review of the U.

S. government’s activities relating to UAPs going back to 1945, including an assessment of any efforts by the U. S. government to mislead or manipulate public opinion. That’s like what they put into the law. Arrow decided to write a report actually giving like evaluative statements that referenced essentially some whistleblower commentary in the public and in testimony to Congress, alleging that the U.

S. government and private industry that elements within there have, conducted, UAP related crash retrievals and reverse engineering of technologies of unknown origin and biological materials. This is the definitions that were put into the Senate’s UAP Disclosure Act, late last year. and so it’s created this open question.

And then Arrow took it upon themselves to do an evaluation in their report, with respect to that question, the way they did this evaluation, and I went to, Sean Kirkpatrick’s retirement ceremony last year, the Hayden Center, and I talked with him and, the current acting director of Arrow, Tim Phillips, at that, that off the record, session.

So I can’t go into what we talked about, but I learned about their procedure that has now become public. And the procedure was, witnesses were interviewed, by Arrow investigators. The witnesses say named a program A. that they alleged either have first or secondhand knowledge of being relating to some of these, UAP activities.

So AERO would then contact the Cognizant Special Access Program Coordinating Office, e. g. in the Defense Department itself, or in the intelligence community, or in NASA, or in DHS, or in Department of Energy, and say, hey, we have this program. we have allegations. It’s got, relates to UAPs.

Give us the program file. They would get the program file. They look at the program names, the contractors program, staff, and they would go in interview the program staff and they would basically say, This SAT program charter, special access program charter, says it’s for reverse engineering, say, North Korean missiles that we retrieve out of the Pacific Ocean, right?

Probably a covert program we have, right? Seems pretty obvious. Are you conducting illegal, technologies of unknown origin retrieval or reverse engineering activities without reporting those activities to Congress? And these aerospace executives, program officials, said no, and they signed a memo attesting to that fact, to Arrow.

Arrow took that and said, there’s nothing to see here. These guys said they didn’t do it, so they didn’t do it. you tell me whether that answers the fundamental question. in my view, it is it’s worth the paper. it was, printed up, right? if you’re going to ask the guys that are alleged to be conducting illegal activities, did you conduct illegal activities, especially something related to this?

And they, and they’re not, they’re under no subpoena, constraint they’re under no, legal penalty to lying to arrow investigators. The memo has no legal force. it seems like it’s is a meaningless, attestation. and so we’re in this sort of, he said, they said thing.

So he said, in this case, David Grush and then other whistleblowers that are alleged to have given testimony to the Senate, Select Media Intelligence, not Aero, attesting firsthand knowledge of these programs, and, giving testimony under oath to Congress, both closed and open sessions.

They have those statements and then you have. Anonymous, not legally, forced, forcible, perjurable statements by program officials who are alleged to be conducting illegal activities. okay, that doesn’t, for me, resolve the fundamental question, right? and I think you’re going to see some political movements there, right?

So the UAPDA, which was, like, the marquee bill late last year, the Senate passed, and that was effectively gutted in a conference committee, by House leadership, where they stripped out a core provision that would have granted, this new body, review board, sort of state of power and unilateral declassification authority over the entire federal government and also eminent domain authority over any technologies of unknown, origin and biological materials.

That provision was stripped out. And Mike rounds, who’s a Senator, who is one of the co sponsors with, with, with Senator Schumer, is still interested in this subject and gave a comment yesterday that there still need to work out what the differences of opinion are with the House. And so we’re ramping up for, on the legislative side, new negotiations over a version of that bill for, the FY25, the National Defense Authorization Act.

There’s also going to be potentially things happening just on the witness side, whistleblower side that are very angry with ARO for essentially. BSing in this report, it may actually come out and say things publicly, either in documentaries or in interviews or other forms. So I don’t think it’s the last word here.

it certainly was useful to from the Pentagon’s perspective, try to tamp down this, subject. I don’t think that’s going to last very long. we shall see though. It is a much more complicated issue. We can get into another pod. But I don’t think it’s going to go away.

so I would be on the lookout for certain things in the next few months.

Jacob Shapiro: Great. All right. I know you’ve got a hard stop, so we will pick it up there next time. Matt, this was great. Cheers, man. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the cognitive dissidents podcast brought to you by cognitive investments. If you are interested in learning more about cognitive investments, you can check us out online at cognitive dot investments. That’s cognitive dot investments. you can also write to me directly if you want at Jacob at cognitive dot investments.

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