Cover art for podcast Power Corrupts

Power Corrupts

47 EpisodesProduced by Brian KlaasWebsite

Does power corrupt? Absolutely. This is the podcast about the hidden—and often nefarious—forces that shape our world. Election rigging. Smuggling. Narcopolitics. Ransom. Conspiracy Theories. North Korean bank heists. Cults. Drug Lords. Voodoo. Money laundering. Assassinations. Unhinged conspiracy th… read more

47 Episodes | 2019 - 2021

Introducing Power Corrupts

March 24th, 2019


Does power corrupt? Absolutely. This is the podcast about the hidden—and often nefarious—forces that shape our world. Election rigging. Smuggling. …

How to Rig an Election

May 1st, 2019

How do you rig an election—and get away with it? Why did a cult try to poison an entire county to win a local election? And what about using …

Conspiracy Theories

May 1st, 2019

Why do some people believe unhinged conspiracy theories? How are they affecting our politics? How did insane theories—like QAnon—convert millions of …


May 1st, 2019


How have drugs been used in warfare? Why does the cocaine in London nightclubs pass through a dictatorship in West Africa? Why did British soldiers …

Voodoo, Vampires, and General Butt Naked

May 9th, 2019

Why did a West African rebel leader send his troops into battle completely naked, protected only by talismans? How did threats of voodoo and invisible zombies stave off a US invasion of Haiti? And why was a journalist …

Disinformation and Deep Fakes

May 16th, 2019

Disinformation is a powerful weapon. It forces your enemy to inflict damage upon themselves based upon lies that you've deliberately spread. How did …


May 23rd, 2019

What's it like to be held by Somali pirates for 977 days? Or to meet your Dad for the first time after he's been held in a basement in Beirut for nearly 7 years? Are you more likely to be killed as a hostage if you're …


May 30th, 2019


What's the best way to smuggle a crocodile onto an airplane? What is the journey actually like for migrants getting smuggled from Afghanistan to Australia? Why is the European Union paying migrant smugglers in Niger to …

International Arms Trade

June 6th, 2019

Why did the war in Afghanistan hinge on the ability of a teenager to help buy 100 million bullets for the US military? Where do you even go to buy …


June 13th, 2019

Why did the CIA try to kill an African political leader with poisoned toothpaste? How did a sturdy couch save a leader from being killed during an …

Witnessing 283 Executions

June 20th, 2019

What's something that you do every 2 weeks? For Michelle Lyons, over a span of 12 years, she watched someone get executed every two weeks in Texas. What are inmates like on their last day alive? Did she have misgivings …

An Eye for an Eye?

June 27th, 2019


Nick Yarris spent 22 years on death row. At one point, he even escaped. But then, right before he was slated to be executed, DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Is the death penalty justified? Can a just society …

Blood Diamond / Blood Chocolate

July 4th, 2019


Why are countries that are rich in natural resources so often poor and war-torn? You’ve probably heard of blood diamonds, but what about blood …

Dirty Cash In / Clean Cash Out

July 11th, 2019


You’ve probably heard of money laundering, but how does it actually work? How did billions of dollars of dirty gold from South America become clean …


July 18th, 2019


How did 2 guys you've never heard of save the world from nuclear apocalypse? Can nuclear weapons be hacked? What's the most consequential honeymoon in human history? Why was a British nuclear weapon designed to contain …

Letters of Last Resort

July 25th, 2019

The UK has a new prime minister. On his first day, Boris Johnson will handwrite four identical letters to the captains of Britain's nuclear submarines. They are one of the most closely guarded secrets of the British …

From Dictator to Demigod

August 1st, 2019


Why do dictators and despots create outlandish myths about themselves? Why spread lies claiming that you've written 18,000 books or that you …

The Greatest Heists You’ve Never Heard Of

August 8th, 2019


When you think of heists, you probably think of masked men, bank robbers, and priceless art. But governments carry out heists, too. In this episode, …

The Anatomy of Evil

August 15th, 2019

What makes ordinary people commit extraordinarily violent acts? Is it their brain chemistry? Social pressure? Or a charismatic leader telling them …

Children of Monsters

August 22nd, 2019


To end our first season we look at Nepotism. What’s it like to be the son or daughter of a dictator? Why did one dictator’s son go from a high-flying life playing football in Italy to being shorn like a sheep in the …

Power Corrupts Season 2: Coming February 6th 2020

January 23rd, 2020


Come explore the dark side of power as we travel across the globe meeting the often unsavory characters who inhabit the hidden world of mercenaries, …

The Dark Art of Propaganda

February 6th, 2020


Propaganda has been around for thousands of years. But what separates the pros from the amateur propagandists? Why are North Korean radios made without dials? Who is Sister Potato and why is the Chinese government using …

Guns for Hire

February 13th, 2020

Mercenaries are sometimes described as "the world's second oldest profession." But how do they operate today? Can mercenary armies topple …

How to be a Dictator

February 20th, 2020

If you're trying to consolidate power as a dictator, what's the best way to go about it? Is it better to be feared or loved? How do you eliminate …

The Unthinkable Olive Branch

February 27th, 2020

When a brutal dictatorship collapses, there's a big problem: everyone who knows how to run the government is someone who worked for the brutal …

The Godfather of Fake News

March 5th, 2020


Christopher Blair has been called the Godfather of Fake News. He's an American troll. And whether you realized it or not, you've probably unknowingly …

Corruption in Plain Sight

March 12th, 2020


Corruption is usually hidden. But sometimes, it’s out in the open — either by design, or by incompetence. In this episode, we explore some unexpected hotspots of corruption and kleptocracy. How does a fugitive Malaysian …

Catastrophic Miscalculation

March 19th, 2020


Have you ever made a catastrophic mistake? What if your mistakes could cause an empire to fall, a war to start, or thirty million people to starve to …


March 26th, 2020


Pandemics are as old as human civilisation, from the Plague of Athens to mysterious diseases that ravaged armies throughout history. But there's a …


April 2nd, 2020


When revolutions happen, everything changes. In this episode, we'll look at why one revolution was launched when a rebel leader in southeast Asia …

Biological Weapons

April 9th, 2020


Pandemics are horrifying. But what if one could be unleashed deliberately? How did ancient armies from the Greeks to the Mongol hordes use germ …

Power Corrupts Season 3: Returning 31st August 2021

August 5th, 2021


They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But when it comes to the underworld of corruption, murder, and greed, from drug …

The Billion Dollar Shack

August 31st, 2021


We all know that offshore areas of financial secrecy exist. In this episode, we’re going to take a look at the origin story of one of them. It’s a story that will make you question the caricature you probably have in …

The Shell Game

August 31st, 2021


When it comes to understanding the underworld of corruption and criminality, you can’t just look at the rich crooks. You also have to look at the lawyers who help them dot the i’s and cross the t’s as they try to stash …

Click Here To Kill Everybody

September 7th, 2021


In early 2021, hackers infiltrated the software that controlled the city’s water supply in Oldsmar, Florida. Through dumb luck, they caught the …

Do Not Disturb

September 14th, 2021


Is going into exile safe any longer?


A few years ago, a former Rwandan intelligence chief hiding out in exile was found strangled to death in a Johannesburg hotel room. Hanging on the door outside was a “Do Not …

Fake IDs

September 21st, 2021


Could you fake your death and get away with it? In this episode, we look at fake identities, from people who've tried to fake their own deaths to an …

Hitman for Hire

September 28th, 2021


What if you hacked a hitman-for-hire website and found out the identities of people who were slated to die before the murder? How much does it cost to hire a hitman on the Dark Web? And what if all of these supposed …

Golden Handcuffs

October 5th, 2021


Can doing the wrong thing ever be the right policy? That’s a question we’ll tackle this week as we look at the possibility of letting some very bad …

The Invisible Hook

October 12th, 2021


Pirates can teach us quite a lot about democracy and economics. What can Blackbeard teach us about signaling theory? Why were pirates racially progressive for their era? And is it possible that pirate ships were …

Walk the Plank

October 19th, 2021


How do you capture a pirate after they’ve hijacked a ship? In today’s episode, we look at two ingenious sting operations that managed to lure some pirates across borders to their arrest. And in the process, we’ll see …

War Criminal or Victim?

October 26th, 2021


The International Criminal Court prosecutes perpetrators of horrific crimes. But what if the perpetrator is also a victim?


That's the question we …

Does Power Corrupt?

November 1st, 2021


The title of this podcast is Power Corrupts. But is that true?


In this week's episode, host Brian Klaas has the microphone turned around on himself, as he's interviewed by Emma Nelson about his new book, Corruptible: …

Corruptible: Audiobook Excerpt

November 2nd, 2021


This week's episode is an excerpt from the opening chapter of Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us.


(If you pre-order the book or audiobook, you're eligible for a bonus episode of Power Corrupts that …


November 9th, 2021


Is it a crime to steal back something that was once yours? 


That's the question we'll tackle this week, as we look at a string of sophisticated …

Space Wars

November 16th, 2021


Is the next war going to happen in space? What are space weapons like, anyway? And why should we be worried about the space ventures of billionaires? …

The Dark Side of AI

November 23rd, 2021

Artificial intelligence is the frontier of human innovation. But it has a dark side, too. In this episode, we explore how AI intersects with …
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