The Chatter Podcast: Life as a Canadian Spy with Andrew Kirsch

By David Priess
Thursday, October 27, 2022, 9:40 AM

Andrew Kirsch didn’t grow up watching James Bond movies and dreaming of becoming a spy. Like many Canadians, he was barely aware his country had an intelligence service. But when terrorists attacked not far from his office in London, where he was working in the financial services industry, Kirsch decided to apply for a job with CSIS--not the think tank, but the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. 

Kirsch chronicles his decade as a spy for Canada in his memoir, I Was Never Here: My True Canadian Spy Story of Coffees, Code Names, and Covert Operations in the Age of Terrorism. It’s a light-hearted but often suspenseful account of his work in offices as well as in the field.

Kirsch and Shane Harris discussed what CSIS is and what it does--it’s not quite the Canadian version of the CIA--how he made it through recruitment and training, and the work he ultimately did breaking into cars and mapping out terrorist networks. 

Kirsch’s memoir appears to be the first by a former CSIS officer, which presented a novel dilemma when he wanted to get his manuscript cleared: There was no one to say yes or no. Kirsch says he joked that his second book might be written from prison. But so far, Canadian authorities haven’t come looking for him. 

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo.

Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

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Andrew Kirsch’s book

Kirsch on Twitter 

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