Over the weekend, ISIS claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks: in Paris, France, a Chechnyan-born man stabbed five people and released a video pledging allegiance to the group; in Indonesia, suicide bombers detonated explosives at three churches in Surabaya, the second largest city in the country. Though the terror group continues ...

The word ‘resignation’ is being used here in London - not, for once, about the actual or potential departure of yet another of our ministers, but to describe Britain’s reaction to the US decision to pull out of the Iran deal. Many people on this side of the Atlantic, right ...

The White House is correct in pointing out the weaknesses of the JCPOA, some of which have even been candidly acknowledged by former U.S. officials who worked on the agreement.  Yet, the question is not whether the agreement is perfect - but whether the alternatives would better serve the interests ...

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted the move and insisted that Iran would continue to negotiate with the other signatories.  The U.K., France and Germany expressed disappointment in President Trump’s decision and ...

It’s finally Gina Haspel’s turn to be heard after weeks of back and forth between supporters and critics of her nomination as the next Director of Central Intelligence Agency. As she faces lawmakers and the country hears directly from her for the first time, dozens of her current and former ...

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran—including both JCPOA-related sanctions as well as additional economic sanctions.  In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country would abide by the tenants of the ...

The U.S. Special Operations Command has about 67,000 troops and an annual budget of around 14 billion dollars.  That may not seem to be a huge dent in the overall DoD budget (about 2%), but it greatly outnumbers the special operations budgets of other U.S. allies around the world.  With ...

In a provocative new essay, Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to President Vladimir Putin, says Russia is ending a centuries-long quest to join the West and preparing for "100 years (200? 300?) of geopolitical solitude." If Russia goes this way it will be because of unwise policies, not a Western cold shoulder. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel ...

Running a media platform is a rough business these days.  Especially for a small start-up, determined to keep a solid focus on the incredibly important topic of national security and determined to keep the quality of that focus high. As an industry-wide exodus of advertising revenue continues to put smaller, independent, high-quality ...

As the senate prepares for what is expected to be a close vote this week on the nomination of Gina Haspel to become the next Director of CIA, both supporters and critics are ramping up the rhetoric.  While those who would like to see Haspel confirmed are organizing a show ...

With increasingly confusing statements and actions from the White House and the Pentagon on U.S. policy toward Syria, The Cipher Brief presented a live briefing from Amman, Jordan with Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Chief of Middle East operations, Robert Richer during the 2018 Threat Conference.  Richer talked about ...

As Iran and Israel trade accusations over Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. sends indicators that it may pull out of the JCPOA agreement, The Cipher Brief talked with Norm Roule—the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI and a Cipher Brief Expert —at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat ...

President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his belief that the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and if it is not amended to cure those flaws, the United States should abandon it. On January 12th of this year, he informed the American public that his administration is working with “key European ...

Financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its 2014 seizure of Crimea have hit President Vladimir Putin and his cronies where it hurts most—in the wallet. The most recent actions will freeze the U.S.-based assets of certain top Russian officials, arms dealers, and oligarchs in Putin’s orbit, as well as banning ...

With the last few years of progress in artificial intelligence, it is hard to look forward without excitement…and apprehension. If you are paying attention at all, you are wondering what lies ahead. Will it be great? Will it be disastrous for many? Surely because we are inventing it, we have ...

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington featured both the first state dinner of the Trump presidency as well as an address to Congress. Macron arrived with a clearly stated mission: to convince President Donald Trump of the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and U.S. multilateral engagement in the ...

Bottom Line: Syria’s chemical weapons program not only contributes to a tragic humanitarian situation, but its uninhibited use and maintenance creates strategic implications for the West and Israel. Limited military response seeking to degrade Syria’s stockpiles and logistical facilities sends a message, but Assad has shown his intent to continue ...

There’s a dark purpose in Kim Jong Un’s proffered moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing announced over the weekend. Kim, with the apparent complicity of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, seeks to eventually merge his state into the South  – and drive out U.S. troops from the peninsula. Most ...

On Saturday, North Korea announced it was suspending nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, ahead of this week’s summit with South Korea and ahead of a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June. Cipher Brief expert Amb. Joseph DeTrani, former envoy to the Six Party Talks, gave his ...

The CIA is defending its deputy director Gina Haspel – Trump administration nominee to lead the agency – against charges that she erred when she wrote a cable to CIA employees, instructing them to destroy tapes of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used on post-9/11 detainees. The CIA on Friday ...

Bottom Line: The Kremlin employs various often overlapping and competitive security and intelligence services to create multiple sources of intelligence, encourage risk-taking and keep a wary eye on each other. This has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power by playing agencies off of each other to avoid uninvited ...

The American strikes last week on Syrian chemical production, storage and delivery facilities amounted to no more than another pinprick and a slap on Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s wrist and were devoid of any long-term strategy. It was a “one-shot” strike to punish the "Butcher of Damascus" for a one-time heinous act, which the regime ...

The nomination hearing of Gina Haspel to lead the agency is shaping up to be a bruising interrogation over Haspel’s role in the destruction of evidence regarding the CIA’s now-defunct enhanced interrogation techniques program. Haspel, currently deputy director of CIA, has been widely praised by former officers, but her role ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. teamed with Kurdish forces to oust ISIS from its self-declared caliphate in Syria in Iraq, but now Washington’s continued support for Kurdish militias in Syria has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which remains immersed in a longstanding feud with its sizable, domestic Kurdish minority. ...

After days threatening to take action, President Donald Trump announced Friday evening that he'd ordered "precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities," of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Trump said U.S. forces acted together with France and the U.K.,  retaliating for a suspected poison gas attack that killed ...

Bottom Line: While much attention is rightfully given to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal, the country’s naval and merchant fleets are the ones that have traditionally extended the reach of Pyongyang to bypass sanctions through illicit trade on the high seas while also ...

Bottom Line: U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to rain missiles on forces loyal to Syrian Bashar al-Assad, one week after they allegedly conducted a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria's rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital Damascus. While a potential strike may signal to Assad that the ...

On the final day of the Cipher Brief Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., three CIA veterans of the post-9/11 terrorism fight discussed the current ebb in the fortunes of ISIS and al-Qaida with Cipher Brief Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier — and warned they’d likely come back. Alex Bolling, Former ...

The White House said President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, Thomas Bossert, will be resigning his post Tuesday.   White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the president was “grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.” Bossert spoke at ...

Cipher Brief experts Matt Olsen and Nick Fishwick tackled the state of the U.S. alliance with the “5 Eyes” – the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – in discussion with Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier at Sea Island. Their overall conclusion? Despite the Trump administration’s early controversial comments about ...

The second day of this year’s annual Threat Conference was filled with prescient discussions of intelligence, foreign threats and preparing for the future—by current members of government from NSA, DARPA and IARPA discussing and sometimes debating issues with former intelligence officials and trailblazers in private industry. Below are some of ...

More than 50 former senior U.S. government officials sent a letter to the Senate intelligence committee Monday to support Trump nominee Gina Haspel to lead CIA. The Cipher Brief has obtained a copy of the letter, which was endorsed by eight former CIA directors or acting directors, three former directors ...

Cipher Brief experts debated the risk versus blowback of striking North Korea before it has a chance to strike the continental United States, at The Cipher Brief’s 2018 annual Threat Conference, in Sea Island, Ga. Admiral (ret.) James “Sandy” Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during ...

“The world has been more dangerous, but it has never been more complicated.” These were the words Michael Hayden, former director of both CIA and NSA, used to launch the 2018 Threat Report at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday. Hayden first prefaced the ...

The Trump administration has stepped up global airline security over the last year "by a factor of five,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert told Cipher Brief Publisher and CEO Suzanne Kelly, in a wide-ranging interview at the 2nd annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, ...

In the book “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy,” John Le Carré’s chief character, retired British intelligence officer George Smiley, is reminded of the danger of old spies staying too long in the game. To avoid that trap, Smiley vows to leave the secret world behind by retiring to the country where ...

"What South Koreans want is an unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South, an unwelcome guest that poses a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.” -14 March 2018, Rodong Sinmun, North Korea Newspaper After decades of effort, North Korea is close to being able to credibly ...

Resentment, an insatiable appetite for women and an even larger appetite for cash are all elements that led to an insider threat that spelled a devastating theft of U.S. technology by a Chinese company. But this time, the culprit was caught – or at least, the company behind him was. ...

The commander-in-chief and his national security team are sending mixed signals on U.S. policy in Syria. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said: “The primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIS. We’ve almost completed that mission, and we’ll be making a decision very quickly, in coordination with others ...

BRUSSELS – Director of Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence Chagai Tzuriel came to this European city to get the word out that if Iran tries to build a long-term presence in Syria, Israel would have to act – a conflict that could possibly be avoided if U.S. troops stay there. “Right ...

Public reactions to prospects for a breakthrough at a Trump-Kim summit are proving a triumph of hope over experience. North Korea has been feeling the heat from the Trump administration’s effective “maximum pressure” campaign, and has every incentive to gut its momentum, or reverse it. In response, Kim Jong Un ...

The West’s coordinated expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a sign, perhaps, of a reinvigorated transatlantic relationship – a relationship that pro-Kremlin social media accounts have actively sought to undermine. Until recently, however, most of the attention on ...

As Russia was announcing who it would kick out over the mass expulsion of Russian spies over a nerve agent attack in Britain, the U.K.’s National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill was in Washington Thursday, conferring with Americans on next steps to check Moscow’s aggression. “It’s mainly about a coherent approach ...

President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un and the other players, China and North Korea, are preparing. The question is: How should Trump prepare for the meeting? Experts find a number of reasons to be skeptical about this abrupt announcement, especially the lack of lower-level preparation ...

The United States has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to push back on Russian aggression, but they won’t deter Russia’s aggressive campaign to expand influence at home and abroad unless they take direct aim at the power and pocketbook of Russian President Vladimir Putin – and the ...

The Trump administration is hinting it will soon follow through with threats to curtail foreign aid to countries that don’t vote with Washington at the United Nations. The irony is, more and more countries are voting with the U.S., at record rates, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the ...

The U.S., EU and other Western allies announced Monday that they would expel a total of more than 100 Russian diplomats they claim are spies, in retaliation for the nerve agent attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain. The U.S., UK and many other ...

Just last month, the long-simmering Israeli-Iranian conflict came out of the shadows when Iran sent a drone across the Jordanian border into Israel, and Israel retaliated with air strikes on several targets including the Iranian drone operators at a Syrian base in Palmyra, northeast of Damascus. The two sides appear ...

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed indictments for nine Iranian hackers and the U.S. Treasury sanctioned these same individuals as well as one entity, the Mabna Institute, for engaging in state-sponsored theft of intellectual property from 144 U.S. universities – estimated to value $3.4 billion. The campaign also targeted ...

Washington is reacting to the news that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster will be replaced by John Bolton – news delivered by a tweet from President Donald Trump – the same way he announced the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Cipher Brief experts weighed in on what this would ...