Eric O’Neill

Former FBI Agent, Author of Gray Day and the Subject of Universal Studios’ feature film, Breach

In this week’s riveting episode, Marcus has a fascinating discussion with Eric O’Neill, former FBI counter-terrorism and counterintelligence operative. Eric played a major role in the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of one of the most notorious spies in U.S. history – FBI agent Robert Hanssen – who was spying on behalf of the Soviet Union and Russia. Eric’s first-hand accounts of some of his day-to-day activities are events that movies are made of. He has written about his experiences in Gray DayMy Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy. Eric is also a public speaker and security expert who lectures internationally about espionage and national security, cybersecurity, fraud, corporate diligence and defense, hacking, and other topics.

In this episode you will hear:
  • My job at the FBI was to go undercover. I never came out of cover.
  • There were foreign intelligence officers (spies) who sometimes were some of our own who were spying for other countries.
  • My father told me “You have to chase your dreams, whatever they might be.”
  • I’m going to stop spies & terrorists before they kill our citizens.
  • I was at Quantico [Marine Corps Training Base]. You earn it and you feel like you earned it.
  • When my wife and I were dating and people would ask me what I do, I would say “I work for the Justice Department as a Geo-Political Analyst.” That would immediately end the inquiry.
  • There was an instance where a high-level spy was about to be arrested, and disappear, which told us there was a mole in our intelligence community.
  • The FBI went on a 22-year manhunt for a guy code-named Gray Suit, the biggest spy in U.S. history.
  • Each time you go after somebody who might be the target you’re after, you give them a derivative code name.
  • What made Robert Hanssen such a successful spy, is that he was a hacker. He learned how to break into computer systems.
  • When the FBI had not given him the role he wanted, he volunteered his services to the Russians and gave up 2 of our top spies in Russia for no money to prove he had access. One of them was executed, and the other was sentenced to hard labor.
  • Analysts are the cream of the crop in figuring out how to catch spies.
  • Hanssen was the best, most notorious spy in US history. He was the Michael Jordan of the spy world. Nobody did the damage he did.
  • I was always a bit of a hacker – fascinated by computer systems. Breaking security, not to steal, but so I could understand how to make them stronger.
  • My mother holds the record for the most time watching the movie “Breach.”

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