The Cipher Brief: National Security news, analysis and expert commentary.

The Open Source Report

France, Germany back Ukraine using Western weapons to strike Russian territory

Putin warns the West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia

Unusual dispute reveals China, North Korea still disagree on nuclear weapons

Japan spots China’s new drone over waters north of Okinawa

Access the Report

Cipher Brief Expert Perspectives

On The Cipher Brief’s Digital Channel

A Special Ukraine Briefing: Mobilization, Military Movements, and Morale

Alternative Perspectives

CIA Director William Burns Accepts The Cipher Brief Intelligence & Diplomacy Award

The Cipher Brief honors CIA Director William Burns with the Intelligence & Diplomacy Award

The Cipher Brief honors Oksana Markarova with the Messenger for Freedom Award

Book Reviews

The Dead Drop

Dead Drop

This Week’s Dead Drop: May 24

SPECIAL DELIVERY:  Congressman Glenn Grothman (R, WI) told recently that lots of foreign nationals from China, Iran and Russia and have been caught trying to gain access to U.S. military bases and other sensitive sites. The Daily Mail says that Chinese nationals tried at least 100 times to enter U.S. military bases and related sites last year, often posing as tourists or lost food delivery drivers. Grothman told the news organization that “There have been reports of Russians, there have been reports of Iranians, there have been reports of people from throughout the Middle [...] More

Get The Drop


State Secrets

“Havana Syndrome” - reported by hundreds of U.S. officials, diplomats, CIA Officers, FBI Agents and White House staff - as well as some members of their families – is described as including severe headaches accompanied by loss of balance and often followed by cognitive issues. Some doctors have concluded that the likely source is a directed energy weapon that uses microwave or ultrasound waves to attack the brain and inner ear. In this episode, Cipher Brief Managing Editor Tom Nagorski talks with Christo Grozev, a journalist who served as a lead investigator on Havana Syndrome for a publication called The Insider and Insider Editor Michael Weiss as well as former senior CIA officer and Cipher Brief Expert Marc Polymeropoulos, who says that he himself was struck during a visit to Moscow. Grozev and Weiss also share the findings of their recent investigation conducted in cooperation with 60 Minutes and the German news magazine Der Spiegel that indicates who is behind Havana Syndrome, saying they have uncovered evidence that members of a special Russian military intelligence unit may be to blame. The revelations of their investigation have called into question findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that found – in their own investigations - that the “Anomalous Health Incidents” as they call them - are not the result of a coordinated effort by Russia or anyone else. Full reports of the government’s findings can be found online. This podcast focuses on another side of this continuing story.

Cover Stories: Spies, Books & Entertainment

Arnold Punaro spent 24 years as a U.S. Senate staffer including 14 years as the Staff Director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Since leaving government in 1997 he has advised the Senate, Department of Defense and other Executive Branch agencies on navigating the complex process of getting Senate approval for Presidentially appointed positions. We’ll talk with him about why getting a nominee confirmed takes so long, what candidates can do to increase their chances of success and systemic improvements that the executive and legislative branch should take to help ensure that the best possible candidates get through the process more quickly. If Confirmed: An Insider’s View of the National Security Confirmation Process.

The Fight

There are few who understand this war better than Nataliya Bugayova. She lived and worked in Ukraine for years. Her present focus – as a non-resident fellow and the former Russia team lead at The Institute for the Study of War, is on the analysis of the Kremlin’s operations and on what’s happening in Ukraine today. She also serves as Director of Strategic Intelligence at a company called Vertical Knowledge.

Bugayova was part of a visiting delegation with The Cipher Brief that was led by General David Petraeus last fall. We sat down shortly afterward, to get her perspective on how this war is ‘really’ going and how she sees it ending.

What the Experts Say

I’m proud to be part of the network of experts at The Cipher Brief, which provides superb geopolitical advice and intelligence insights.

Admiral James Stavridis

Congratulations to The Cipher Brief for actively promoting a national conversation – through conferences, analysis, and webinars at the highest level – on our country’s national security, intelligence capabilities, and challenges in confronting adversaries and competitors alike.

Emile Nakhleh

Since retiring from CIA in 2017, I’ve been honored to be a part of the exceptional Cipher Brief team providing expert assessment – whether it’s nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, and climate change or hard targets like Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia – The Cipher Brief delivers without the predisposed ideological bias so often prevalent in today’s discourse.

Daniel Hoffman

The Cipher Brief is comprehensive providing in-depth expertise that spans globally relevant issues. In a world that is constantly changing, The Cipher Brief is proactive in identifying the critical conversations and engaging subject matter experts in the public and private sectors to help drive solutions.

General Keith Alexander

The Cipher Brief has become the preeminent information platform for the national security community. I read it, I contribute to it, and I recommend it to military, civilian, and industry partners seeking the most up-to-date and expert analysis of the major issues facing the government, business, and others committed to the security of the nation.

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Guy C. Swann III