Culturally Speaking

In 2017, Doug sat down with former Navy SEAL and FBI Special Agent, Errol Doebler, to discuss the similarities and differences between the cultures of the CIA, FBI, and US Military. Errol and Doug served in many of the same areas in Afghanistan & Middle East but both now work in the private sector — the cultures of which they also discuss.

Errol Doebler is a 1991 Graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. During his time as a Naval Officer, Errol served as Assistant Operations Officer onboard the USS Monongahela, Assistant Platoon Commander at SEAL Team FOUR, and a Platoon Commander at Seal Team ONE.

After spending time in the private sector as a sales leader, Errol joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) where he investigated International Terrorist Organizations out of the FBI’s flagship office in New York City and also served as a member of the FBI’s New York SWAT Team. Because of his background and experience, Errol was attached to the United States Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment while serving as a Special Agent for the FBI. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Errol participated in extensive combat operations and was subsequently presented with the FBI’s second highest award for valor, the Shield of Bravery, for his actions on the battlefield.

Errol left the FBI after 13 years of service to begin his leadership consulting firm, Leader 193, in 2016. Errol has worked with executives and teams from Fortune 100 companies, professional sports organizations, small technical startups, and individual executives across a vast array of industries around the world as the Founder of Leader 193.

How Do I Get In?

Doug is interviewed about the common misconceptions of how one joins the CIA and its corresponding recruitment activities. Contrary to popular belief, there is no “back door” into the CIA and while the Agency does actively promote the organization in public, Doug explains that the only way to begin the process is to apply online at

While there are a lot of people out there claiming to have spent time in the CIA, Doug is one of the few former case officers and operatives that has been confirmed directly by the Agency. The CIA even went as far as acknowledging and redacting much of his memoir before it was published.

Follow The ROB Podcast YouTube Channel to learn more about his time in the CIA and to pick up tips and tricks to help you determine if you might have a friend or relative that is also leading a version of a spy’s double-life or if you’ve simply encountered another ‘operative by osmosis.’

Is That Really Necessary?

In the Fall of 2019, Douglas sat down with students from Stanford University to discuss career opportunities at the Central Intelligence Agency. The students asked Doug to share his opinions on the top five skills necessary for the Case Officer (Operations Officer) career track. Doug shared his insights based upon his personal experiences — while the following is how the CIA describes Doug’s position on their website

“As an Operations Officer for the CIA, you will focus on clandestinely spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and handling non-US citizens with access to foreign intelligence vital to US foreign policy and national security decision makers. You will be expected to build relationships based on rapport and trust using sound judgment, integrity, and the ability to assess character and motivation. Operation Officers spend most of their careers serving in multi-year assignments in a variety of overseas locations.

As such, all Operation Officers must be able to be medically cleared for world wide deployment. All Operations Officers address a highly diverse and dynamic set of intelligence requirements on country- and region-specific issues, as well as transnational issues such as counterterrorism, counter proliferation, and cyber. All Directorate of Operations (DO) officers are hired at an entry level and train as they are expected to work – as one team.

Operations Officers begin their careers spending one to two years learning the foundations of clandestine operational tradecraft via classroom training, practical exercises, and on-the-job experience gained through a series of interim assignments. Following successful completion of the foundational training, each DO officer will transition into advanced training activity to prepare them to serve effectively in their respective career occupational specialty.”

Digital Pearl Harbor (Part Two)

Part Two is the finale to the abridged version of a June 13th article published in the New Yorker about former CIA employee Joshua Schulte. This curious case explores the question of whether in the years since WikiLeaks was established, in 2006, public attitudes toward both the intelligence community and the act of leaking itself might have shifted? Endless revelations concerning warrantless wiretapping, the use of torture, and extrajudicial killing have done little to enhance the prestige or the moral standing of America’s defense and intelligence establishment. And many people consider Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, along with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to be heroes.

A particular personality profile dominates these times: the boy emperor. How could the CIA have missed the obvious combustibility of Schulte and given him a security clearance? Perhaps, as the agency took up digital spying and sought to bolster its hacking capability, it deemphasized qualities like emotional stability, and turned a blind eye to the sorts of erratic or antisocial tendencies that are widely accepted in Silicon Valley (and even embraced as the price of genius). The agency may have been blinkered about Schulte’s destructive potential because it had concluded that this was simply how coders behave. Of course, in Schulte’s case, there did not appear to be any moral imperative driving the leak. If he did it, he wasn’t blowing the whistle…but seeking payback.

Digital Pearl Harbor (Part One)

The following episode is an abridged version of a June 13th article published in the New Yorker about former CIA employee Joshua Schulte. The entire world, of course, knows about the CIA/NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified information to journalist Glenn Greenwald in 2013…but few have heard of Schulte — who has been behind bars and cycling through the legal system for exposing classified information since 2018.

There is one key distinction between these two men, however, in that Edward Snowden was a contractor to the CIA, and therefore, never an actual federal employee — the reason for this, is that to be a federal employee with the CIA, one must have a college degree…which Snowden does not. While he was ostensibly good with computers, he is certainly not an engineer — as that would be an unaccredited title entirely undeserved. Edward Snowden had access to classified information, no doubt, but it was no where close to what Joshua Schulte could access…

Part One explores Joshua Schulte’s character and employment with the CIA, including commentary from his former colleagues and management. Listening to them describe Schulte, it becomes abundantly clear that he had serious psychological issues, which played a major factor in his decision to commit treason. After an extensive investigation by the FBI, it was determined that his actions were not because of ideology or morality…but out of petty revenge.

Pop The Gate

Today, 07/06/2022, marks the beginning of this year’s Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain, after two years stagnant due to COVID. In June of 2010, Doug attended the Festival to run with the bulls. He wrote about this experience in his memoir and narrates his story in this episode, while also sharing his personal thoughts on the affair.

Selling The Black Dahlia

In January of 2022, Doug published a podcast series on Audible titled “Solving The Black Dahlia.” It is routinely stated in the series that Doug spent eight years investigating the crime — but few know that it took four consecutive years of pitching the project to sell it. This is a behind the scenes look at what it was like to take a project from conception to publication in the all too often sordid streets of Hollywood and New York.

Who We Wish To Become

Eighteen years ago, former NFL star and Army Ranger, Pat Tillman, was killed in Afghanistan on 22 April 2004. Eleven years later, Douglas Laux, was asked at a Georgetown University event if anyone in particular had inspired him to go to Afghanistan. Laux responded with this essay to the Walsh School of Foreign Service on 22 April 2015.