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Combat Story

Mar 18, 2023

This episode is also brought to you by CrayonEater Coffee. We’re proud to support CrayonEater coffee coming to you from, you guessed it, some former Marines (and current law enforcement officers!) You can order yours now at

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Today we hear a unique Combat Story from the former Director of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and long-time Case Officer Jose Rodriguez. Jose’s level at the CIA was equivalent to a general officer in the military, to give you an idea of his responsibility and impact.

Jose was a case officer and Chief of Station in several Latin American countries and would eventually lead Latin America Division at the CIA before transitioning over to CTC right after 9/11 where he served as the Division’s Chief Operating Officer (a title he made up in true Agency fashion) and then was tapped to lead CTC just months after the invasion of Afghanistan. 

Jose has a fantastic book titled “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives” which recounts not only some of the innovative HUMINT ops he ran as a CO (like his ability to use horses to gain access), but also some of the incredibly challenging decisions he made at the highest levels of the CIA, including the creation of the Enhanced Interrogation program.

This was a really special episode for me given Jose’s role and history at the Agency and hope you enjoy a glimpse behind the curtain of one of the most secretive organizations from someone who went from the bottom to the very top as much as I did.

Find Ryan Online:
- Ryan’s Linktree
- Merch
- Instagram @combatstory
- Facebook @combatstoryofficial
- Send us messages at
- Learn more about Ryan
- Intro Song: Sport Rock from Audio Jungle

Find Jose Rodriguez Online:
- Learn more about Jose
- Hard Measures book:

Show Notes:
00:00 - Intro 
00:41 - Guest Introduction (Jose Rodriguez)
01:59 - Interview begins
03:14 - Senior Leadership of the CIA
06:45 - Childhood
10:55 - Coming to the U.S. for the first time
13:20 - Interviewing for the CIA
17:38 - Fighting diversity in the Agency
19:05 - The importance of writing
21:30 - Deputy Director of Operations
30:58 - The relationship between Case Officers
33:02 - Becoming a good writer
34:48 - Loosing an Agent
37:55 - Becoming Chief of Station
42:47 - Tactics used to inspire
44:25 - First time in combat enviornment 
48:18 - The feeling going into CTC
56:50 - Restructuring the CIA
01:10:26 - Challenges of Controversy
01:17:25 - CIA casualties
01:26:00 - Complexity of CIA operations
01:41:50 - Afterthoughts on the CIA
01:52:15 - Miss most from the Agency
01:55:00 - Would you do it again
01:56:18 - Closing thoughts 
01:58:59 -  Listener comments and shout outs