Former CIA officer sounds off on increasingly violent culture, spectator syndrome

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EXCLUSIVE: Ex-CIA officer Jason Hanson runs a self-defense training course that he says is “needed more than ever” in a society in which people have turned inward. 

Fox News Digital spoke with Hanson last week to get his reaction to former “Beverly Hills 90210” star Ian Ziering’s recent headline-making confrontation with mini-bikers in Hollywood. In a viral video of the incident, Ziering steps out of his car as the bikers start surrounding him, and pushes one of the bikers before they start throwing punches. He then flees from them and reenters his vehicle. 

Hanson praised Ziering for escaping from his attackers when they started getting aggressive, but suggested that the safest thing one can do in that situation is to just stay in the car.


Ian Ziering

Actor Ian Ziering was recently involved in a brawl with mini bikers on Hollywood Boulevard. (Getty Images)

The Hollywood incident, he said, was also indicative of how violent culture has become. He credited that to a lack of adequate punishment.

“We are becoming more violent because there are no consequences for doing bad things,” Hanson told Fox News Digital

“So obviously, you hear the stories all the time, is somebody going in a store, and they’re robbing and looting the store, and they get a slap on the wrist, or they’re not prosecuted. So what do you expect if you’re not punishing people? Obviously, they’re going to get bolder. I have seven children, and I didn’t have kids until after I left the CIA. When I’m disciplining my kids, if I don’t put them in timeout or grounding or whatever when they do something bad, well, then obviously that’s not going to stop the behavior. So there has to be a punishment for the behavior,” Hanson said. 

“It’s a cliché of soft-on-crime, but it’s true,” he continued. “I mean, what do you think’s going to happen if you don’t punish people? They’re going to keep robbing and looting and doing all these things.”


Jason Hanson former CIA officer

Former CIA officer Jason Hanson says Ian Ziering was “right” to flee attackers. (Fox News Digital)

Hanson currently operates Spy Escape & Evasion, which provides lifesaving strategies and techniques to civilians and is run by himself and other former CIA and special operations personnel.

“This training is 100% needed more than ever,” Hanson said. “Which is why I’m very blessed to be so busy.” 

Some observers who watched the viral Ziering video noted that no spectators stepped in to help him. Hanson suggested that he wasn’t surprised, and that’s part of the reason he’s adamant that people need to be able to defend themselves.

“Yes, you should, because you should help people, but people are not going to do it,” Hanson said, before offering a jarring anecdote.

“I trained a woman once,” he said. “Young woman, she had a traumatic brain injury, so her husband brought her to my training for self-defense to be able to protect herself because he was worried about her. Maybe six months after she took my training, I talked to her. Two men tried to kidnap her at a gas station in Sarasota, Florida. She was able to fight them off and escape. And she said to me, ‘Jason, remember during the training when you told me, I can only rely on myself because nobody’s going to come help me? I didn’t believe you, but I was screaming and yelling at that gas station. There were other people around and nobody came to help me. And thankfully I was able to fight them off and run away and get away.'” 

Unfortunately, Hanson mused, Good Samaritans are too few and far between these days. Although the former CIA officer believes that the majority of people want to genuinely do good, it more often seems spectators are more likely to film an assault than to step in and help.

“So as much as we like to think there’s going to be a Good Samaritan, most people these days, they’re just like, ‘No, I’m just going to film. I don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to have to interject in anybody’s business.’ So that’s why it’s so crucial that you’ve got to be able to take care of yourself, because other people, unfortunately, aren’t going to come and help,” Hanson said.

“I believe the vast majority of people in this world are good people and want to help others,” Hanson continued. “But, there are fewer people willing to step in and help others for the following reasons: First, people are afraid. They see how violent the world has become, and they are afraid that they could be hurt or shot or stabbed, and they don’t want to get involved because they are afraid that some crazy person could overpower them and hurt them.”


Ian Ziering

Ian Ziering and his daughter were “aggressively” attacked on New Years Eve.  (Getty Imags)

He came up with a couple more reasons why people are more likely to stand on the sidelines in the midst of danger, namely the overlooming threat of legal action and a tendency toward self-preservation.

“You and I know we live in a litigious society,” Hanson said. “So, they are afraid that if they get involved they will get sued, and they don’t want to have to deal with that. Third, the world we live in is becoming more and more selfish every single day.”

If someone does feel inclined to be brave, Hanson said they should follow a few important steps to not make the situation worse or put themselves in danger in the process.

“If you see an attack, the quicker you intervene, the better, since you will obviously prevent more harm and injury coming to the person who is being attacked,” he said.


Hanson won a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” for his self-defense training course in 2014, before authoring a New York Times bestseller, “Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life.” He then opened “Spy Ranch,” a 320-acre facility to teach Evasive Driving, Pistol and Rifle Shooting, Intelligence Operations, Cybersecurity and more in Cedar City, Utah.

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