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Inside the Minds of Traitors, Dictators, and Terrorists
4-Session Daytime Course

In Collaboration with the International Spy Museum

Wed., Feb. 5–26, 10:15 to 11:45 a.m.
Code: 1M2699

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Human intelligence (HUMINT, in the espionage world) is concerned with helping policymakers better understand how our adversaries think. In this fascinating morning course, experts who have spent years examining the dark side of human psychology—delving into the minds and motives of traitors, dictators, and terrorists—share their insights and discuss implications for national security in the 21st century.   

Feb. 5   What Makes Traitors Tick?

He was the psychiatrist for notorious spy Robert Hanssen and interviewed him extensively in prison.  David L. Charney knows better than anyone how Hanssen felt immediately after his long-term espionage was discovered. Did he feel remorse, did he worry about his family, did he care? The answers may surprise you.

Charney has worked with a number of high-profile spies, and has focused extensively on the psychology and motivation of traitors. 

Feb. 12   Does the Evil Mind Exist?

What makes a person choose evil as a way of life? Stanton Samenow, a noted forensic scientist and author of The Criminal Personality and Inside the Criminal Mind, has closely encountered truly villainous people—both notorious and unknown. If anyone can answer whether there are truly evil people, he can.

Samenow was the prosecution's mental health witness in the trial of Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and he participated in the longest in-depth clinical research and treatment study of offenders conducted in North America.

Feb. 19   Dictators and Their Disciples in a Dangerous World

Today’s international security environment is much less stable than that of the Cold War. Rogue leaders of outlaw nations with access to weapons of mass destruction pose threats unknown in the past. It is crucial to understand what drives these leaders. 

Jerrold Post has devoted his career to this effort. He is director of the political psychology program at The George Washington University, and was founding director of the CIA’s Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior.

He played the lead role in developing the “Camp David profiles” of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat for President Jimmy Carter and testified before Congress on the political personality of Saddam Hussein. His most recent books are Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World and Inside the Mind of a Terrorist.

Feb. 26  Can a Terrorist’s Brain Be Rebooted?

What sets someone on a terrorist trajectory and, more importantly, how can that direction be changed?  Anne Speckhard, author of Talking to Terrorists, is a research psychologist who has interviewed more than 400 terrorists, their family members, hostages, and close associates worldwide. She has conducted psychological autopsies on more than half of the 112 Chechen suicide terrorists as well as dozens of Palestinian suicide terrorists to understand the motivations for and psychological underpinnings of terrorism. She also helped design the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq for more than 20,000 detainees held by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Drawing on this expertise, she can suggest whether the terrorist mindset can be shed. 

4 sessions

Other Connections

Anne Speckhard discusses her findings from psychological autopsies of Chechen suicide terrorists and how they relate to the Boston Marathon bombing.


International Spy Museum
800 F Street, NW Washington
Metro: (Gallery Place,Red/Green/Yellow lines)