Jim Popkin


Washington, DC

Jim Popkin

DC-based Writer. Former NBC News Reporter and
Senior Investigative Producer.



I Covered The Rajneesh Cult. Here’s What ‘Wild Wild Country’ Leaves Out.

An infamous cult fractures a fragile family, and, 33 years after I first met them, they are still healing.
The Huffington Post Link to Story

Psychic Spies and the CIA

On The Gist, reporter Jim Popkin tells us about his Newsweek cover story, “Meet the Former Pentagon Scientist Who Says Psychics Can Help American Spies.”. For the Spiel, advice for the 31 state governors who say they’ll not be taking in Syrian refugees. The Message, a new podcast series from GE Podcast Theater.
Slate's The Gist Podcast Link to Story

Paranormal Activity: CIA Dimension

Two decades after the CIA denounced the government’s top-secret ESP program, Edwin May is trying to bring it back to life.
Newsweek Link to Story

A Most Dangerous Spy

Ana Montes has been locked up for a decade with some of the most frightening women in America. Once a highly decorated U.S. intelligence analyst with a two-bedroom co-op in Cleveland Park, Montes today lives in a two-bunk cell in the highest-security women’s prison in the nation. Her neighbors have included a former homemaker who strangled a pregnant woman to get her baby, a longtime nurse who killed four patients with massive injections of adrenaline, and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the Charles Manson groupie who tried to assassinate President Ford.
The Washington Post Link to Story

Two double agents, a prison swap and the code from outer space: did this spy-v-spy duel save US-Cuban relations?

From a maximum-security prison in Texas, former United States military analyst Ana Montes has been offering up bumper-sticker justifications for why she betrayed her country and spied on behalf of the Cuban government over the course of 17 years. “I believe that the morality of espionage is relative,” Montes wrote in a private letter to a friend last year.
The Guardian Link to Story

Woman indicted in Cuba spy case is in Sweden and out of U.S. reach

The Justice Department on Thursday announced the indictment of a former State Department employee for allegedly spying on behalf of Cuba, but it is unable to arrest her because she lives in Sweden, a country that does not extradite citizens accused of espionage. Marta Rita Velazquez, 55, a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law School, was indicted nearly a decade ago on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage.
The Washington Post Link to Story

Authorities in Awe of Drug Runners' Jungle-Built, Kevlar-Coated Supersubs

The clatter of helicopter blades echoed across the jungles of northwestern Ecuador. Antinarcotics commandos in three choppers peered at the mangroves below, scanning for any sign of activity. The police had received a tip that a gang of Colombian drug smugglers had set up a clandestine work site here, in a dense swamp 5 miles south of Colombia’s border.
Wired Magazine Link to Story

How a high school-educated drug smuggler built a fleet of submarines—in the middle of the jungle—to ferry cocaine to the United States.

Mauner Mahecha is a family man. A single father, he dotes on his three young girls and provides for his ailing mother, too. But in testimony delivered over a two-week federal trial in Miami, the court heard little about his home life. That’s because, when the 34-year-old wasn’t tending to his children, he was running drugs and masterminding the construction of a fleet of submarines to silently ferry tons of cocaine beneath the seas.

Ecuador Seizes Drug-Running Super Submarine

For years, the U.S. DEA heard rumors that drug cartels were building submarines to smuggle cocaine up the Pacific coast. In July 2010, Ecuadorian authorities found a full-sized "super sub": a 74-foot long, fully functioning Kevlar-coated submarine, discovered in a remote swamp near the Colombian border. "They built this without the use of electricity, bringing the parts in essentially by canoe-like boats, several at a time for over a year," Wired magazine's Jim Popkin tells NPR's Neal Conan.

Robert Soloway Exits Prison, Disavows ‘Spam King’ Ways

After three years, eight months and 27 days, Soloway — the internet villain dubbed the “Spam King” by federal prosecutors — is allowed back online. In his first interview since release from the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, Soloway swears his spamming days are over. “If I send out spam e-mails, that’s a violation of my probation.
Wired Magazine Link to Story

Dangers of the Open Microphone

Following the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s recent gaffe on an open microphone, NBC’s Jim Popkin looks at other public figures who have mistakenly made comments on a hot mic.
NBC News TODAY Show Link to Story

Students search for Daniel Pearl’s killers

As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, a group of amateur sleuths are fighting terrorism in their own way — by trying to solve the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl. NBC’s Jim Popkin reports.
NBC Nightly News Link to Story


Jim Popkin

Jim Popkin is a writer whose investigative articles and reports have appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, Newsweek, WIRED, Slate, The Guardian, Washingtonian and on National Public Radio.

For 14 years, Popkin worked for NBC News in Washington, DC. He was a Senior Investigative Producer, and oversaw a team of correspondents and producers that broke stories for NBC News on politics, intelligence, defense and law enforcement. He also was an on-air correspondent, and his stories appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show, the NBC Nightly News, CNBC and MSNBC.

On September 11, 2001, Popkin helped spearhead NBC’s coverage of the terrorist attacks. Months later, he created the NBC News Investigative Unit. He began his television career as an Investigative Correspondent for NBC's WRC-TV in Washington.

Popkin has won four national Emmy Awards for outstanding journalism, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. The American Journalism Review profiled him as one of Washington’s “most enterprising journalists.”

Popkin's cover story for the Washington Post Magazine, “The Queen of Cuba,” was selected as a “Page-Turner” by the New Yorker and named one of the “Great Post Reads” by the Washington Post. It has been optioned for development by Identity Films.

Prior to NBC News, Popkin was a writer and Senior Editor for U.S. News & World Report for six years.

He received a B.A. from Northwestern University and a Masters of Studies in Law from the Yale Law School.

Today, Popkin lives with his family in Washington, DC, where he runs the Seven Oaks Media Group, a communications firm.