Jason Hanson
Spy Sight

What's cool about being in the CIA is that you can take any training you want, even if it's not your specific job. They want you to have a diverse background in your training.

Jason Hanson
Listen Now
Show Notes

Guest Jason Hanson(@SpyEscape), former CIA officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life, shares invaluable insights on protecting and defending yourself. Jason trains individuals on the art of survival. You can join him for evasive driving training and more at his 320-acre spy ranch in southern Utah.

“I always tell people too, like, let me tell you how to bribe the police overseas because you may need this depending on where you go.”

-Jason Hanson

Key Takeaways:

  • Deep State: The actual deep state is not the president of the United States. It’s not some Senator. The deep state in the government is the middle manager, the ones not doing their jobs but can’t get fired due to their level of security clearance. Ultimately, the deep state is the bureaucracy of the government organizations.
  • SDR(Surveillance Detection Route): Pretend you are a spy and will attend a meeting in Russia with your asset. When you leave your hotel for the meeting, you do not go directly to the location in case you are being followed. First, you go to the grocery store, a coffee shop, and a gas station. Once you have hit all those different places while running surveillance, you can see if you’re being followed in five minutes. 
  • Situational Awareness: It is proven that when you come under stress, you lose 50% of your IQ, so your IQ is not functioning well in a crisis situation. People need to be aware that that’s what the stress response does; it literally sucks your brain, there is a good chance you will go into tunnel vision. In times of duress, your response rises to your training level. 
  • Home Defense Plan: Everyone should have a home defense plan. One simple and effective strategy is to grab a flashlight, open your gun safe, grab the gun, and go take care of the intruder. It shouldn’t be much more complicated than that. 

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Hi, welcome to the Mark Divine Show. I’m your host, Mark Divine. Super stoked to have you here today, we’re going to have an awesome show. On this show I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of some of the world’s most crazy, cool, inspirational, courageous leaders. I like to talk to a broad range of folks from all walks of life, martial arts grandmasters, top CEOs, and even CIA experts who teach civilians like you, how to save your life, or a loved one’s life. So I’m super stoked to have my guest Jason Hanson on today, who is a former CIA officer, New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets that can Save Your Life. Jason is a frequent media guest and has appeared on the Today Show, Dateline, Fox and Friends, Shark Tank, and he runs a training school at his 320 acre spy ranch in southern Utah. Super stoked to be talking about your knowledge and insights. Jason, thanks for joining me on the Mark Divine show. 

Mark Divine 0:57

How’re you doing today, buddy?

Jason Hanson  0:57  

I’m good. Thanks for having me.

Mark Divine  0:58  

Yeah. Now it’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to our conversation. So, just talking also before about Utah, like what an interesting State. So you have, you run your spy training camp down in southern Utah, that’s interesting. So what’s that? Like? Tell us a little bit about that? 

Jason Hanson  1:11  

Yeah, I love Utah. So I was born and raised in Virginia, just right outside of Washington, DC, 

Mark Divine 1:16


Jason Hanson 1:16

As soon as I left the agency, I was like, I want to get out of this traffic, I want to get out of this nonsense. And we also wanted to open up our spy school. And Southern Utah has got good land and cheap land. It’s a wonderful place. And so we’ve got our 320 acres spy ranch where we do a bunch of training out there. 

Mark Divine  1:32  

That’s cool. You know, you said you grew up in Virginia, what was your childhood like? What were some of the biggest influences and challenges and kind of like inspirations that led you to you know, even join the agency and whatever. I don’t know much about your background, but tell us a little bit about yourself.


Jason Hanson  1:47  

So, I had a fairly normal childhood, very blessed nothing crazy, no trauma and nothing outrageous like that are horrible like that. So dad owned his own business, mom was a schoolteacher, born and raised just a few miles outside of DC. I always loved just doing boy stuff quote unquote, running around the woods shooting each other with BB guns. 


Mark Divine 2:07

Haha, Same same,


Jason Hanson 2:09

So being in the the Boy Scouts, being in the Eagle Scouts, I was camping all the time. I was doing the wilderness survival activities. It was kind of that was like you know what, when I grow up, I don’t want a real job. I don’t want to be sitting behind some desk, like shuffling papers for the next fourty years. So the the scouts had a big, big influence on me. Where I was at, we had some woods behind our house and just going in the woods and playing there was a river not too far, and all that. So I’ve always loved activities and outdoors.


Mark Divine  2:34  

I had the same experience. And so I grew up in upstate New York. And upstate New York, as you know, is not like the city at all, like it’s just tons and tons of land. And so I could just go out and just go cross country skiing on my own, in the wintertime. During the summer, we would go up to the Adirondacks and go to Lake Placid. We had a house on the west shore, Lake Placid, which had no road access. So we had either hiking or take a boat. So we had a small fleet of boats, and it was pretty nice setup. But my backyard was the mountain range. My front yard was a lake. And I was in 6 million acres of protected wilderness called the Adirondack State Park. I tell you what, like that was the better than any teacher I’ve ever had, or any academic degree I’ve ever received. It’s extraordinary. And I really fear that kids don’t really have access to that, for the most part, especially in the coastal cities, and where most people are packed in, and the way people are living with their constant connection to the digital devices. They’ve really lost that. So I hope to get to help people get back into nature and you know, back outside, it’s such a powerful thing that we had that maybe we took it for granted, you know.


Jason Hanson  3:36  

I agree with you. So I’ve got six kids, and we have a four wheeler, they go right around the four wheel on our land, they go play, they go do things, and like get out and go here. I mean, you know how much I wish I would have had 320 acres growing up even though I had a great childhood and had that land like I wish I had a four wheeler and we actually own two ATVs because we got the six kids so they can split up like Yeah, I wish I had two ATVs growing up you guys go out there, ride them around and don’t kill each other, so.


Mark Divine  4:00  

You know what was kind of like, took you out of the woods and got you into the path you’re on. Or you were on.


Jason Hanson  4:06  

So you went to school in Southern Virginia at a school called Radford University is basically the redheaded stepchild of Virginia Tech. I was getting ready to graduate college. Knew I wanted to do something not a desk job. And being from DC. I mean, everything was in your backyard, right every government agency. So I applied at police departments, I applied to the Secret Service, I applied to the CIA, I applied to probably a dozen different agencies. And my very first job out of college was a local police department of Virginia. But very soon after, it was the exact same week that the Secret Service in the agency offered me a job. Incredibly blessed again, I was like well, I think the agency is probably going to be a bit more enjoyable, a bit more fun. And so I joined the agency and did look back and didn’t regret it one bit.


Mark Divine  4:51  

How many people do they hire right out of college? That’s interesting. I have a bunch of peers as you are aware of who are in ground branch but you know, they…


Jason Hanson 4:58



Mark Divine 4:58

…they shifted over the agency after 15 or 20 years in Special Ops, and that makes sense to me. But taking someone right out of college, I guess you got to train them up from scratch. That’s their thing. And just like the SEALs would.


Jason Hanson  5:08  

Well, yeah, you just set up perfectly. So the agency kind of takes a combination of people. Meaning they want really well rounded. And so I was pretty much the size of police department, but I was pretty much right out of college. I was 23 when I joined the agency. So with the agency, there was a bunch of college kids with me. And then as you said, a bunch of former Special Forces guys SEALs, Delta whatnot. And so that was kind of a mixture of us. It was just a real well rounded, motley crew.


Mark Divine  5:33  

Did the agency hire you to be like a field operative? Or, you know, because like, I had a CPA, they could have hired me for the like finance division.


Jason Hanson  5:41  

They did not hire me to be a CPA, I can tell you that much. So yeah, I was doing surveillance, counter surveillance, some EP of protection type of work, that kind of stuff. 


Mark Divine 5:48



Jason Hanson 5:49

Not smart enough to be an analyst.


Mark Divine  5:50  

Jack Ryan’s the analyst, but they kind of like take a little bit of liberty with that guy, right? 


Jason Hanson 5:55

Right, exactly.


Mark Divine 5:55

He’s doing everything. He’s this. He’s a super SEAL and the analyst. 


Jason Hanson 5:59



Mark Divine 5:59

There’s probably not too many of those guys. 


Jason Hanson  6:00  

Not that I knew. I mean, maybe they’re out there. But yeah, yeah, the analysts are usually I mean, they’re awesome. They’re great. But they’re doing their analyst stuff, and they’re not out there on the streets, doing stuff. 


Mark Divine  6:09  

Most of the listeners are unfamiliar with the farm. Tell us about the experience of indoctrination, and the initial training through the farm, which is kind of like BUDs for you guys. What was the career like, like, what is it, what’s it like to work for the agency? To me, it sounds terrifying. You don’t know who to trust?


Jason Hanson  6:26  

Right, right, yeah, yeah. So the farm I’d say, and again, remember, I’m police and then CIA didn’t serve in the military. But the farm is militaristic, it’s in a boot camp in a way, meaning they want to weed out the weak, they want to get rid of the people are gonna make it you know, you do PT and then make them miserable, doing your push ups and sit ups and all that. So of course, there’s a psychological element, they want to make sure you have the mental toughness. And I don’t have to tell you this is that mental toughness is really what it’s about. I had college guys who are college football players in my class, like breaking down in tears at times. And while I’m certainly never gonna be the strongest guy, I enjoy suffering and I can now suffer most people. I mean, it was good. It was good training. I mean, amazing training. A lot of the instructors are former SEALs, former Delta, you know, a lot of contractors that you said ground branch guys. So incredible shooting, driving all kinds of training.


Mark Divine  7:15  

Did they really get into field craftsmanship at the farm? Or is it like BUDs, just basic stuff? 


Jason Hanson  7:22  

Different things you go more in depth on, depending on what you’re going to do long term, they get it to it, they teach it to you, you run scenarios, obviously, a lot of scenario based stuff. You know, I’d say, I’m trying to think of my class, I don’t remember how many, how big my class was, let’s say 24. So if you wash out, it’s not like you get completely fired, you go to the proverbial basement, where you’re doing some horrible boring job, and they just like, okay, you washed, here’s your, here’s your desk job in the basement where you’ll never be seen again. But you have your TS SCI clearance. So we don’t want to wait.


Mark Divine  7:52  

Do you get a second chance? If you wash out? 


Jason Hanson  7:55  

That was a great question. Because I know the guys who washed out and pretty much I never saw him again. Maybe I like bumped into a once in a headquarters building. So yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know if you ever get out of that basement job. And if there’s other opportunities, that’s a good question.


Mark Divine  8:06  

So what’s it like, I know without revealing anything that you can’t reveal what’s the career path like?


Jason Hanson  8:13  

So, the wonderful thing is, is the agency really wants you to be well rounded. So you can do a job for three years. And then they’re like, hey, now we want you to go here for three years. And now we want you to do this for three years. And what’s really cool is you can take pretty much any training you want, even if it’s not your specific job. So I could be looking at our training options. And even though I had no need and I’m just making this up, but let’s say it was safe, cracking 101, right. Even though my job now requires safe cracking, I’d be like, You know what, I want to take that they’re like, okay, go, go ahead and take it. So they were very open to education, to be well rounded to all this kind of stuff. I mean, they were gonna pay for me to go get my master’s degree before I decided I was going to leave the agency. So they’re all about education. And they’re all about just making sure you can, again, move around and you’re not working at the exact same spot for 20 years. 


Mark Divine  9:02  

That’s fascinating. How many years were you in the agency?


Jason Hanson 9:04  

So I was there seven years.


Mark Divine  9:05  

So you weren’t there long enough to see what was going on at the higher echelons? And I’m just curious, like, what is your what is your view on the agency today, in terms of its reach, and its accountability or lack thereof? You know, it’s seems to me that, you know, whenever something really bad goes on, there’s some sort of tangible, that you could trace back to the agency.


Jason Hanson  9:26  

Yeah. So yeah, I didn’t stay at the agency, 30 years, 40 years. But I had many mentors, who did. I joined at 23. They were in their 50s at the time, amazing men and women. So I would say as we know, most of the stuff you hear that the agency stops, you never hear about.


Mark Divine  9:40  

Yeah, same thing with Special Ops. You only hear about the fuck ups right with the SEALs. 


Jason Hanson  9:44  

Exactly, exactly. So what I will say about the agency, and this is I don’t care about anybody’s politics. I mean, I’m very conservative. That’s no secret. But when there’s a Republican President, the agency is allowed to do more, they’re allowed to get more boots on the ground, they’re allowed to take more risks. The country is safer, because they’re allowed to gather more intelligence. And ethically I’ll tell you this again, regardless of your politics. When a Democrat comes in as president, they’re like, You know what we don’t want as many people on the ground, we just want satellites to do it. We just want like signals intelligence. We don’t, we don’t want anything that could cause a problem and be the international incident. So there’s a lot less risk taken. So that’s probably the biggest thing. I mean, the men and women are great. They’re awesome, they work very hard. Is it just the problems of who’s president at the time because that dictates how many risks the agency is allowed to take and how much you know, gathering intelligence actually happens.


Mark Divine  10:32  

That’s really interesting. You know, we saw with COVID, just how intertwined Big Pharma is with some of these other health organizations, FDA, CDC, even you know, the UN-WHO level? Is any that play out at the agency that you’re aware of? Where their corporate interests are kind of like interweaving. I know that, like in Q-TEL is, you get your own venture fund, and there’s a lot of cross pollenization with the tech world, could that influence the CIA’s outside of are extra political?


Jason Hanson  11:00  

I didn’t see any of that. I mean, obviously, you said in Q-TELs agencies incubator, and they’re always looking for the private sector to, hey, what’s the next greatest thing? What’s the next greatest tactic or spy thing? But no, the agency, I mean, as much as everybody likes to bash them as much as everybody likes to say they’re controlled by so and so or this or that is are pretty independent. People often ask me, Hey, Jason, what is the real deep state? Did you see the deep state of CIA? And I say, Yes, I will tell you 100%, what the real deep state is, because I’ve seen it. It is not the president of the United States, because he’s gone every four to eight years. It’s not some Senator, that deep state in the government is the middle manager…


Mark Divine 11:36

It’s the bureaucracy, yeah. 


Jason Hanson 11:36

And I saw this, I had supervisors, and thankfully, it was only one supervisor. And she was a typical example of the deep state causing problems, not doing her job, but you can’t fire her because she was a government employee with her top secret security clearance. 


Mark Divine  11:49  

Yeah, I agree with you. And I have a particular view on this too. Like, generally, whenever president was elected, he would bring in, you know, a handful when I say a handful up to 100, maybe of his loyalists and friends and put them into the alphabet soup, executive branch agencies. And so over time, you know, we really had a balance of viewpoints in the agencies. Well, Obama changed all that. Because when he came in, he brought in 3000 people into the federal bureaucracy. And you can guarantee those people were of one ilk, right. And so that was really where the deep state, which was just basically the bureaucracy, started to actually look like a deep state that was having an agenda that was not as balanced as we were used to. And that’s my theory.


Jason Hanson  12:31  

I mean, I saw it. I know, it’s in many other agencies. And that’s yeah, that’s the problem.


Mark Divine  12:36  

So let’s shift focus, because you got some cool stuff that you do. Your book, Spy Secrets that Can Save Your Life, and the stuff you teach down in Utah. You know, why did you write the book? And was it something that happened in your life, or, you know, just your desire to protect your family? Like, what was the impetus and to turn this into a business and a lifestyle?


Jason Hanson  12:54  

When I left the agency, I mean, I loved what I did, right. I love personal protection. I love safety, self defense, you know, all that stuff. I really loved it. And I was doing a bunch of corporate work. And it was almost these huge corporations, like literally sneak me in the back door and say, hey, sign this NDA, you can’t tell anybody a blah, blah, blah, oftentimes stuff. And then, you know, I hated that. Well I didn’t hate it, I mean it was great money. But I didn’t like the corporate lawyers and the bureaucracy and all this stuff that was like the government. But there was this Shark Tank, the television show, I had never seen it, but some buddy mine was like, hey, there’s a show you should go on it. And I was like, no, I don’t want publicity out. You know, I don’t that’s not me. It’s like the exact opposite of what I do. And I had a business mentor, because I was trying to learn how to run a business, obviously, I didn’t know how to do that. And he said to me, are you good at what you do? Will it help people? I said, well, yeah, you know, I am it will. You said well, then you actually need to get out promote yourself and stop being an idiot who’s hiding behind the curtain kind of thing. Went on the show, Shark Tank, and it worked out. I got a deal with Danna and John, and that kind of transitioned me to the masses, meaning before I was doing corporate, high net worth individuals, only friends and family type of thing. 


Mark Divine  14:00  

So you were doing actual security or, or teaching or?


Jason Hanson  14:03  

Both, both. The executive protection, also security training, like some very wealthy guy, well, he said, hey, I’m going to Europe for two weeks, and I want to bodyguard for two weeks in Europe only not when I’m in the States or, Hey, I want to come into my house and teach my college aged kids self defense, how to protect themselves. Stuff like that. And then after Shark Tank, it grew to more than masses. It’s not just the super wealthy billionaires, or people like that, or politicians. It was evasive driving, it was hand to hand self defense, it was hey, you know, teach me concealed carry stuff. So it kind of morphed and I like working with ordinary Americans, quote unquote, much better than the corporate bureaucracy stuff.


Mark Divine  14:40  

Has your business ticked up since the COVID crisis?


Jason Hanson  14:44  

So my business and many other the security industry just took off like a rocket during COVID. The only thing that hurt during COVID was the executive protection business. So obviously, you know, the award shows and music concerts because we do a lot of musicians, but as far as the training, yeah, our phone was ringing off the hook of hey, can you come in and teach my clients this or teach my family this? 


Mark Divine  15:05  

What’s the name of your company?


Jason Hanson  15:06  

So, Spy Briefing is the name of the company.


Mark Divine 15:08

Spy Briefing. 


Jason Hanson 15:09

Yep. Spy Briefing.


Mark Divine  15:10  

So about the um, kind of like the juicy takeaways that we can get into on a podcast, probably not going to teach any self defense in terms of hand hand combat, but let’s talk about an individual’s you know, let’s say there’s a woman listening who’s concerned for safety in a parking garage, you know, dark at night, or even just leaving the house early in the morning, you know, some of the basic scenarios, what are some of the things you recommend for, you know, an individual to protect themselves?


Jason Hanson  15:37  

Yeah, one of the things I always teach, and I say it’s the world’s most important spy skill, but it’s not the world’s sexy spy skill is an SDR, which stands for Surveillance Detection Route. All that means is okay, let’s say your goal. Let’s pretend you all are spies, everybody listening, watching. Let’s say you’re going to a meeting in Russia with your asset, you’re not going to go from your hotel room to McDonald’s, your meeting, right, cause you can be followed. So first, you go to Walmart, and then you go to Starbucks, and then you go to get your dry cleaning, you’ll get gas. So you get all those different places, running a surveillance detection route, so you can see if you’re being followed. So I teach people how to do that. And I say, Listen, let me tell you a real life story. I had this woman, she was in the Macy’s shoe department. There were some guys she made. She said, hey, this guy’s making me feel uncomfortable. So she went over to perfume. two minutes later, this guy shows up at perfume. And she goes over to the housewares, two minutes later, the guy shows up at housewares. Then she goes over to women’s clothing, guy shows up at women’s clothing. So she said, I saw a security guard, I went into the security guard, I pointed out this creepy guy. And the creepy guy took off running out front of Macy’s shoe department, and they never saw him again. And she had the security guard walk her to her car. So I said, Listen, all of us can run an SDR in five minutes. I mean, if you think you’re being followed home, go around the block. If that car is still, you know, following you after you’ve gone around the block, you know, you’re being followed. So that’s a simple, important spy skill that anybody can do.


Mark Divine  16:57  

Without being overly paranoid, how would you know if you’re being followed in a car? 


Jason Hanson  17:02  

If you’re if the agency right you can’t make it obvious you can’t start doing crazy turns the turn everything because then surveillance will know you’re trying to evade them. And they’ll say, hey, this is intelligence. But luckily, us civilians here in the US, we don’t have to keep anything a secret, meaning go down one way street. Is that car still falling down a one way street? Okay, flip a U turn does that car immediately flip a U turn. So things that are not normal human behavior. Somebody may happen to take a right and then a right like you, but they’re probably not going to go around the block and flip a U turn.


Mark Divine  17:28  

Right. But are there any tells I mean, we drive every day cars are behind us all the time. So what’s the tell that maybe someone’s following you?


Jason Hanson  17:35  

So, if you had the pros following you check their tires, meaning overseas, they may be driving a let’s just say a Toyota Corolla, right, but they’re gonna have really fancy tires on it that do not match Toyota Corolla, because so everyone’s always has good tires. So somebody’s new and you’re like, hey, this is a junker Honda Accord from 1997. But hey, he’s got tires that are $2,000 tires each, well, that’s probably surveillance, or somebody’s got too much money.


Mark Divine  17:59  

That’s interesting. I imagine that’s just because they they expect to drive fast and burn some rubber. 


Jason Hanson  18:05  

Yeah, and they don’t want to lose you. Yeah, they want to make sure they got great tires, so they can always keep up with you. What I always tell people is like, listen, and you’re gonna this well too, if you screw up in the US government, the joke is you get promoted, right? 


Mark Divine 18:18



Jason Hanson 18:18

If you screw up in other countries, you may get killed, or your family may get imprisoned. So they really take their job seriously. They really want to make sure that they’re not losing you while they’re following you. Because that’s a big, big deal. They can get in trouble.


Mark Divine  18:29  

Right. What about home defense? The most important things to do there?


Jason Hanson  18:34  

Yeah, so I tell people like listen, when we go overseas, we taste everything. And casing is simply okay. Where are the cameras on this building? Where are the one way streets? Where’s the security guard? Well tell me, casing everything about it. So one of the things I do is a home security audit. People bring me in, they have me go to the house and I say listen, I’m gonna case your neighborhood first, because we don’t want your house to be the weakest link on the street. I’m going to make sure that we’ve got your alarm signs. I want to make sure that we got your cameras. Driveway alarms are huge like every home very few people have a driveway alarm.


Mark Divine  19:06  

What does that do? So when someone drives in you get an alert. 


Jason Hanson  19:09  

Yeah, yeah, so it’s it’s just think of it like it’s literally a stake with a passive, passive, excuse me, infrared sensor on it. Nail the stake in the grass and it’s your driveway. And anytime somebody drives down your driveway it’s a chime inside your house and so a lot of the high net worth guys they have these very long driveways and like you want to know somebody’s coming, and so we put a passive infrared sensor, PIR, at the top and we put it towards the bottom because sometimes you know an animal runs through one right? So we’ve got two so we know Okay, two chains, we know someone’s coming, and even on my personal residence. I’ve got one of these PIR alarms because I want to know if the boogeyman is coming. Obviously I’ve got cameras. I’ve got an alarm system inside. I’ve got my gun on my nightstand. My wife has her gun on her nightstand, in safes rapid access safes.


Mark Divine  19:56  

Are rapid access safes, like a thumbprint or how do you, so how do you get in it rapid access?


Jason Hanson  20:01  

So, have a good old non-electronic simplex safes where I just push for keys  in still, but it’s not electronic, it pops open. I grab my hand gun. And same thing with my wife. So I use a handgun for home defense just because I’ve got six kids there in the basement or all over. I can’t just hunker down in my master bedroom and point a gun to the door and wait for the cops door. I’ve actually got to go clear my house and and see where the threat is.


Mark Divine  20:24  

I’m curious about the electrics. I have a push button safe, but it is electronic. And I was worried like, what if the battery dies? But is that the only reason? Can you disable electronic keypad with some mechanism? 


Jason Hanson  20:35  

Well, so the electronic ones, I have a backup of that, meaning the ones where you just pushes electronic, and I have a simplex, the biometric where you have to put your fingerprint. Those are the ones I don’t trust. But I also have had electronic safes the batteries die without giving me that battery warning, which is why it’s a backup. And it’s not the main thing I rely on. 


Mark Divine  20:53  

That’s what I was thinking would be the issue. I’d worry about that. Yeah, my wife does not want me to have a weapon inside the house. So that’s a problem. Mine are out in the garage, which you know, hey, can you hold on a second? I gotta go get something.


Jason Hanson  21:07  

I had a guy once, guy hires me, and he says, my wife will not let me keep a round in the chamber in the house. And I said, listen, that’s a bad idea. Because in a stressful situation, you’re going to forget to chamber that round, you’re going to forget to tap and rock, right? He’s like, well, as you know, it’s an agreement with my wife. So he calls me about six months after I trained him. He says Jason, because what happened the other night, middle of the night, somebody’s pounding and kicking my front door, I’m sure is a home invasion. So I grabbed my gun. I go to the front door. I’m screaming and yelling, you know, I’ve got a gun, get out of my house. Probably 20 seconds, he’s down there point the gun. He says the noise stops and everything right? He later finds out it was some crackhead going around the neighborhood trying to kick in doors. And the police arrested him. But he says when I was done, you know, I’m shaking. I’m nervous. I realized I never chamber that route. In a stressful situation, your mind goes to mush, which is why you should have a load of guns.


Mark Divine  21:59  

We just finished our, we have a like a three day training we call Sheep Dog for SEALFIT. And so we teach basic firearms handling just for the pistol right. So we want civilians have never really handle a firearm or even that they had to really understand how to do it safely and, and you know, not be a threat to themselves or their family, right? Because most people are right. And then we teach trauma first aid, right? So what if someone does get hurt, right? You need to know what to do. And you can’t wait for the ambulance. And then basic Krav Maga, right? So and we put all this together into scenarios, it’s really effective training, that whole thing about, you know, just situational awareness, when you’re come under stress, and we really hammered it home, you literally lose like 50% of your IQ, you know, if you’re, if you’re at 150 IQ, which is pretty high, and you suddenly get into a crisis situation where some of your life is threatened or your family life, you literally go down to 75 IQ, which is, you know, pretty much clinically lock up, you know, kind of IQ not functioning well. So you have to realize that that’s what the stress response does. It literally sucks your brain, you’re not going to remember you have to rise to the level of your training, instead of stoop to the level of your intellect in those situations, right? 


Jason Hanson  23:11  

Well, yeah, and I remember and you’d know this better than I do is tunnel vision. I remember people telling me like, hey, when you if you ever have to use your gun or draw your gun, or get tunnel vision, and until there was an agency incident happened to me, you know, I was like, yeah, you know, not gonna happen to me, you guys are idiots. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I was like, holy crap, you get tunnel vision. You don’t see anything around you type of thing. So yeah, I don’t think most people realize how stressful it’s going to be how your mind is gonna go to crap, which is why you need to make it as simple and easy as possible. So you might home defense plan is literally grab flashlight, open, safe, grab gun, go take care of intruder. It shouldn’t be much more complicated than that. 


Mark Divine  23:46  

Yeah, that reminds me, I meant to ask you what was the most effed up thing that happened to you while you were at the agency?


Jason Hanson  23:53  

I’m trying to think here, honestly, I’m going to say things that gettin me in trouble. I mean, there’s always, you know this from the military, there’s always just like, the joke was like, we’re the best and the brightest, like after something would happen, or somebody would go down. And it was very, I mean, it was infrequent didn’t happen. Yeah. Everybody thinks like, you know, the agency or the federal government in the general. Like, you’re always going to have the most amazing weapons the most amazing back up, the most amazing gear.


Mark Divine  24:17  

Like Tom Cruise every day, ya know, right. Yeah.


Jason Hanson  24:20  

Where, you really gotta be resourceful. Let’s just leave it at that.


Mark Divine  24:25  

Thanks for that very generic answer. I love it.


Jason Hanson  24:29  

Here’s a funny story. When I leave, the everybody who not everybody, but when you work at the agency, obviously, there’s a big seal, the big agency seal and headquarters building.


Mark Divine 24:37

Oh, yeah.


Jason Hanson 24:38

And so a lot of people when they get the job there, you get a picture taken in front of it, right. It’s that cliche picture of you in your suit. And so I had that picture taken. Obviously, I couldn’t use it. But after I left the agency, I put on my website, and it said former CIA officer, right. And so I get a cease and desist letter from the agency that says you can’t use this picture because it looks like we’re endorsing you. So I call a buddy of mine who’s in this general area. I say, here’s what happened, tell me what’s really going on? He says, well, the truth is you can use a picture. However, the agency doesn’t like being told no. So we’ll send you the Justice Department and bankrupt you. Just because you didn’t listen to us. And I love the agency, I do have a great relationship with them, and…


Mark Divine  25:14  

Yeah, I have the same. I have a similar love hate relationship with the SEALs, not hate, love hate. But you know, when I launched NavSEALs.com, you know, they literally tried to steal it. They’re like, we need that. I’m like, well, you, you can buy it from me. And so they tried to take it from me. And I said, no, and then they wouldn’t let me trademark it. And then they trademark the trident and the SEAL name. And I’m like, you know, what are you guys doing? Right? You’re wasting your time. Focus on fighting the battles, right? So finally, overtime, they just they finally let me go. I’m like, I’m doing you a service, right? I’m basically a one man recruiting band for you guys. So leave me alone or buy NavySEALs.com. They wouldn’t do it.


Jason Hanson  25:51  

Right? Why exactly. And that’s what like I said, I have a good relationship. Now the agency and people have died. You’re like, yeah, you are great for the agency. Maybe you’re a great recruiting tool, just like you are. Because I think it’s awesome. I think everybody should work there. I think the men and women are amazing. So, people always say, well, why did you leave? Only because I wanted to get married and have a wife and kids one day, I didn’t want to be some of my mentors who were lonely, miserable single men who are divorced. That’s mean, everything else was great. If you want to have a great lifestyle and be a single man, you know, by all means, do it. 


Mark Divine  26:20  

Same thing with the SEALs I left because of my marriage. And I just knew that wouldn’t have survived. I stayed in the reserves though, so I had about 10 years active, 10 years reserves, reserves are kind of a painful experience to be honest.


Jason Hanson 26:31  

I’m sure they were, for you.


Mark Divine  26:33  

I mean, did some fun stuff, but you never really get taken seriously, again, once you leave active duty, you know. So what else? Like what about traveling overseas, you know, for a husband or a family, you know, something like that? Well, how can they really protect themselves?


Jason Hanson  26:46  

Well, I mean, I always say, one, obviously, don’t go out with your New York Yankees hat or Boston Red Sox. I mean, we’re playing boring clothing. You know, one of the things I loved about being overseas, as we know, most Americans are obnoxious and loud.


Mark Divine 26:58

So don’t be like that. 


Jason Hanson 26:59

Yeah, I’m walking around plain and boring. So that way, nobody pays attention to me. I always tell people too, like, let me tell you how to bribe the police overseas, because you may need this depending on where you go. Now going into detail is gonna get me trouble. One time I’m overseas, somebody happens surrounded by cops. And so the way you bribe the police is super easy. All you do is first play the dumb American like, oh my gosh, I’m so so sorry. I’m so so sorry. And and you say, I bet there’s a fine to pay. How do I pay that fine?


Mark Divine 27:25

Magic words,


Jason Hanson 27:25

Those are the magic words and works every time? 


Mark Divine 27:27

How do I pay that fine?


Jason Hanson 27:28

Right, how do I pay the fine? It’s not like you whip out your wad of cash and be like your officer leave me alone. Because even though they’re, they’re corrupt, they don’t want it to be thrown in their face. So my case, I you say you know, officer I’m so so sorry, blah, blah, blah. Bet there’s a fine to pay. He’s like, it’s $50. And you pay me right now. And in my mind you 


Mark Divine 27:46



Jason Hanson 27:46

…you fool.


Mark Divine 27:47

I got off easy.


Jason Hanson 27:48

Right, you could have had $500 bucks. And so of course, I’m like, Oh my gosh, $50, that’s so much money. Okay, and got out of it. But I mean, especially if you go to Mexico, like 97% of cops there are going to get paid off kind of thing. So have cash, both US dollars and the currency of the country you’re going in. And I like to have at least $300 of each. I also bring some gold coins, I’ve actually got them sit on my desk, these are 1/4 ounce of gold, which right now about $750 bucks a coin. And I’ll put these in a belt that way if I need gold overseas, because it’s a real gold and everything and I can bribe the police with gold. So I’m all about having ways to get myself out of jams. And then I always say like, stay in a good hotel, but not the best hotel. Meaning don’t go where every rich American goes. And if there’s going to be a terrorist holed up or it’s gonna something’s gonna happen, like stay like a few down from, instead of the Four Seasons, stay at the Holiday Inn, which is still a perfectly normal, good hotel. And then I always say, like, listen, don’t stay on the first floor. Because if a bomb hits, you don’t wanna be on the first floor, but don’t stay past the sixth floor. Because no fire truck ladders or anything is gonna get past the sixth floor. And so I go in depth on stuff on that, but just don’t be a fool, meaning, keep your mouth shut, don’t flash your rings, don’t brag about, I mean, I had some guy, very wealthy businessman, going over to Russia years ago, to fly the Russian big jets. And I told him like do not tell anybody you’re gonna fly Russia big jets, because only super wealthy people do that. He ended up getting drunk telling a hot chick, he was doing this, almost end up getting kidnapped, and thankfully didn’t he was fine. But I’m just like, keep your mouth shut. And even stranger asking you a question in the hotel lobby could be somebody who’s trying to extract information and see if you’re a good target to kidnap.


Mark Divine  29:31  

I think also part of not standing out is to understand what the local customs and laws are right and like so if you’re in the Middle East and the local custom is that you know that women are wearing something over their head, then suck up your ego and put something over your head if you’re a female, you know what I mean? It’s like, or like, I think in a lot of those countries, they they just do not allow or tolerate any public displays of affection, especially, you know, between gay or you know, those, those are the same sex and so, I know a lot of people from America are like, well, that’s my right. But if you’re over there, so just respect the local customs and traditions.


Jason Hanson  30:05  

And what you just said is one of the most important things. Like we are Americans, we’re the greatest country of the world, we have egos and we hate having people telling us what to do. But when you’re in someone else’s country, you’re not on US soil. There’s no bill of rights, there’s no constitution. So I realize, again, you may hate wearing this thing over your head. Or you may hate having to bow to somebody, or do whatever, but who cares, do it. It’s not worth it getting in some foreign prison. So I’m all for that. I mean, when I’m overseas, and I don’t travel overseas that much these days, but when I am, you better believe I obey every custom, I do every stupid thing. Just because I want to blend in not stand out not get in trouble.


Mark Divine  30:40  

When it comes to like, unarmed self defense. You know, like, I know, like many times like like in the SEALs, we have all sorts of different things that you know, you can’t say that we do blank. When I was going through the SEALs we did. I became an instructor in something called SCARS, Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary Aystem. It was awesome based on Stanciu Kung Fu, which is developed by the Chinese mob. Very, very offensive, brutal. One of the reasons they got rid of it, because got you know, we would go through this, these five day courses, these 30 day courses, they probably should have locked us in a rubber room for about a week after, just to decompress. You know, for the guys that go out to McP’s and stuff. And someone would come up and like slap them on the back, hey, Joe, and next thing you know, they’d be like a pool of blood on the floor, because their whole nervous system is just geared for combat. There’s a picture of a shirt that has a frogman in a glass jar, and it says in case of war break glass, that’s what we kind of felt like, anyway, so then they went to jujitsu, and you know, all these different things. I bet you the agency was the same they had like a hodgepodge lodge. 


Jason Hanson 31:41

That’s exactly what it is. It is…


Mark Divine 31:43

Whatever’s most effective based on this scenario. 


Jason Hanson  31:46  

Yeah, we’re gonna take this, this and this, and this. I mean, it’s like every martial art combined, of here’s what works, you know, be fast, violent, aggressive. It’s pretty, you mentioned that, like you leave the farm and again, I was 23 years old, and you leave the farm at 23. You think you’re 20 feet tall, and invincible. And you didn’t you’re going on? You’re like, I hope somebody looks at me wrong tonight. You’re a knucklehead young man, right? But it sounds like you again, the Navy SEALs are the exact same way because you’re, you’re amped up, you think you’re the best in the world, the what you did, you just did this incredibly hard training.


Mark Divine  32:15  

Mostly the young guys, right? So once you get a tour under your belt, and you’re not an F and G anymore, you develop the humility and be like, oh, wow, there’s a lot of a lot of bad asses out there. You don’t I mean, I’m not the only one. 


Jason Hanson 32:26



Mark Divine 32:26

But so when you teach self defense to a civilian, though, like, do you draw from just like scenario based, okay, in this scenario, like someone’s just maybe pulling you out, trying to pull you out the door of your car, this is what you do, or like, give us like, introductory training when you first meet a woman who wants to, you know, help her daughter out and things.


Jason Hanson  32:45  

I do a course called Spy Dangerous, and it’s more intense, self defense. But it’s two days. It’s basically like, here’s what you need to know what’s going to work. And so we teach them, okay, hey, if somebody you know, tries to pitch you, here’s how to defend yourself, here’s how to strike back, here’s how to actually strike back and make it count. somebody tries to knife you, here’s how to real life, stop a knife attack, and guess what you’re gonna get cut, but you’re gonna live. And so then we do scenarios where we got airsoft guns, and they’ve got to do a gun disarm. So we’re trying to teach them that, we use big red fat markers, and they’re trying to stab each other. And they have the white t-shirts. Yeah, so we try and make it pretty intense be like, This is what is gonna be real life minus a stabbing with a real knife type of thing. But it is a bunch of different scenarios of hey, you walk into your home one day, and all of a sudden, there’s an intruder. And maybe the intruder is going to stand there. What do you do? Or maybe the intruder is going to rush you. How do you deal with that? I’ve had so many clients come to me after a gas station attacks kind of thing. So you know, here’s how to be smart at a gas station, make sure you don’t end up knifed, or kidnapped, or whatever.


Mark Divine  33:42  

Yeah, I think you know, for the listener, I get asked a lot like, hey, what’s the best martial arts, you know, to learn how to defend yourself. And I often say none of them. Because a martial art is a martial art, that’s developing body, mind and spirit. You want to learn how to defend yourself, then you have to learn a fighting system. And that’s what you just described, a fighting system, that is scenario based, right? If this happens, then this is the response or this is the principle for the type of response to occur. And the only things I found like, SanSoo kung fu is scenario based, Krav Maga is scenario based, or like what you’re doing, or like Tim Larkins target focus training, which is based on San Soo. So if you’re thinking, I want to defend myself, do something like that, go to Jason’s training. It’s only two days and in two days, I bet you you have testimonies from people like hey, this happened and man, or whatever I did worked, and I know it came from your two day training.


Jason Hanson  34:34  

I was just gonna to say, I had a woman who two men tried to kidnap at a gas station in Sarasota, Florida, and she was able to fight them off using what I taught her. Thankfully, it’s a small number of testimonials. But yeah, I do have them because.. 


Mark Divine  34:44  

Yeah, you don’t want tons of those. 


Jason Hanson 34:47

Right, yeah.


Mark Divine 34:48

Yeah, the other thing about that, it’s all about mindset. Like when I got to BUDs and the founder of SCARS, Jerry Peterson was teaching and I had just received my black belt in karate, you know, so I was like, and I was 20 I went to buds a little later, I was 25 when I went to SEAL training, and I spent the last four years getting my black belt and blah, blah, blah. Anyways, so he comes up to me after about two weeks it goes, DIVINE, you know, because the name is on my white t shirt as a student, right? He goes, DIVINE, you got to unlearn that karate shit is gonna get you killed someday. And I was like, dang, I just spent four years learning that karate shit. But he was right. In fact, in between OCS where I was at officer candidate school which was before BUDs, after getting my black belt, I went home, upstate New York, on New Year’s Eve, and I was hanging out with my brother and went into this bar. And, you know, I had a couple of beers, but I wasn’t like, anything crazy. And I just, I saw the bartender and I literally just smiled at her and asked her how she was doing. And she goes, Jamie, I got another one. And out of the corner comes a scrappy dude. Literally flying to the air latches on and started choking me out. I’m like, caught me completely by surprise. And I could feel myself going on it when I’m like, fuck, what do I do? I wasn’t taught this in karate, you know. And my brother fortunately walked in right then, and took care of it for me. I was embarrassed. I was like, Holy crap. And then, you know, literally months later, I have Jerry telling me this, you got to unlearn the karate shit. So based upon that earlier scenario, and my trust in Jerry, I said, okay, I think you’re right. So it took a little while to unlearn how to block. And his main point was the defensive mindset, right. Someone’s gonna throw a punch at you, you block it, no, not in the military, you attack. Even if it looks like a block to someone else, you’re trying to break that arm as you’re heading in to take a target that’s really vulnerable to land first injury. So you know, I had to learn that and once I learned that, right, with SCARS, everything’s a target. And I’m sure you teach this very similarly, everything. I look at a human being, and I’m like, okay, that’s the first target I would hit. I know what’s going to happen when I hit that target, because I know how the body responds. And so that’s going to reveal the second target and the third. And so when I learned how to actually dissect a human being like that, and to take care of myself, then I never attracted another violent incident. You know, there’s something that happened in the whole kind of matrix where nobody fucked with me. And it wasn’t because I was walking around trying to be a badass, I’m actually a really peaceful guy. So it’s, it’s fascinating. So you got to, that’s why I don’t I’m not in favor of the way the law enforcement is trained, you know, the whole escalation of force. You know, I think you the way that your trained, or I trained is much more effective and safe because you’ve got to teach someone how to take a life and then dial it back from there. 


Jason Hanson  37:24  

You know I have this saying when I when I’m teaching my course people come in, I say, Listen, CIA no longer stands for Central Intelligence Agency. It stands for crash into attacker, you’re overwhelmed with those with significant violence. And that’s how you stay alive that’s how you win a fight.


Mark Divine  37:39  

Yeah, I agree it’s so counterintuitive, because fight or flight you’re gonna want to run but your your mind is not clear. And you just make yourself a bigger target.


Jason Hanson 37:47



Mark Divine 37:47

Move toward the sound of gunfire, what we say in the SEALs, anything else that I failed to ask her if you’d like to, to share?


Jason Hanson  37:55  

No, I was trying to think one of the we just finished an invasive driving class, we teach people like how to actually ran through a vehicle in real life and how to do the 180 degree reverse turn and…


Mark Divine 38:04

How much you charge for something like that for the listeners.


Jason Hanson  38:06  

So yeah, my two day course is 2500 bucks. Most of my clients are high net worth executives, business guys, security guys,


Mark Divine  38:13  

Do they stay at the ranch or they stay in town?


Jason Hanson  38:16  

So they stay in town. Ao, my ranch is 20 miles from the hotel, and the ranch is 320 acres of the most beautiful sagebrush you’ll ever see is what I joke about. So by the time we’re done training, everybody wants to go back and have a nice shower and a good meal. That’s why we stay in town? 


Mark Divine  38:32  

That’s cool. And do you use do you set up your own track for the evasive of driving? Or do you use the dirt?


Jason Hanson  38:36  

I teach real ramming like, hey, this is based on the agency. There’s my good legalese based on what the agency taught me. So it’s like real ramming, meaning you’re gonna be in a car, you’re gonna have a helmet for safety, but you’re gonna see what a real roadblock is. You’re gonna crash through that roadblock, and I have a truck with a safety bumper specially made for me. But yeah, I mean, it’s all real legit training, but in a safe way. 


Mark Divine  38:58  

Wow, that’s awesome. Jason, where do you like people to come to find you or to reach out for you?


Jason Hanson  39:02  

Keep it easy. Just go to my YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube and search Jason Hanson, CIA.


Mark Divine  39:07  

What’s your website? URL?


Jason Hanson  39:08  

My website is spybriefinggear.com


Mark Divine  39:12  

spybriefinggear.com. Okay. We’ll put those up here too. Man, what a great conversation. I really appreciate your time and sharing their insights with the folks listening. I do want to come out there and visit you, my son, my son loves cars, loves driving. I think we will probably have a ball at you’re training. 


Jason Hanson 39:26

Awesome. Thank you for having me Mark. 


Mark Divine 39:28

All right. Take care. It’s really nice to see you Jason.


Mark Divine 39:35

Super interesting discussion with Jason Hanson, CIA officer, author of Spy Secrets that Can Save Your Life. Really cool. I learned some interesting things and I’m gonna head out there to that evasive driving school in southern Utah with my son. Really cool. Jason, thanks so much for your time today. Really appreciate it. Show Notes are up and Mark Divine.com. The video will be up on my YouTube channel. If you want to reach out to me on social media. You can find me at Twitter-X at Mark Mind and an Instagram or Facebook at Real Mark Divine. If you’re not getting my newsletter, then go to Mark Divine.com. And subscribe please comes out every Tuesday. It’s called Divine Inspiration, got my weekly blog post, got the show notes from the week’s podcast in case you missed that. I’ve got a book I’m reading. I’ve got a weekly practice and other cool stuff that comes across my desk, which I think you’d find interesting. So check it out and share it with your friends. 

Thanks to my incredible team of Catherine Divine, my daughter, and Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell, who will produce the podcast and the newsletter, bring just like Jason to you every week, ratings and reviews, of course, helped so much. So if you haven’t rated or review the show, please consider doing it wherever you listen, that helps other people evaluate shows, right, the more five star rankings, the better the show in their minds. So super helpful. Thanks so much for doing that. And thanks, also for being part of the change that you want to see in the world. You might have heard me say this before, like we have to be the change, you want to see everything starts from the inside then projected or shows up on the outside. So if one more piece, we want more balance, we want more health, and we have more positivity in the world than we have to start with ourselves. But now we can do that at scale through technology like this podcast. So thanks for joining me and I appreciate it. And until next time, stay focused, do the work and be safe. Hooyah!


Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai



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