Richard Haass- President of the Council on Foreign Relations

In this episode Cipher Brief publisher & CEO Suzanne Kelly talks with Richard Haass. Richard is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the new book ‘The World, A Brief Introduction’ . The book is a primer designed to help experts and non-experts better navigate a complex and rapidly changing world in which global literacy really matters.  Suzanne caught up with Richard to talk about why he wanted to write this book, what issues worry him the most on the world stage, and why now more than ever, global literacy is so important.

Coronavirus and the Cartels

This week we’re joined by Cipher Brief Expert Mike Vigil.  Mike is the former Chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Before his retirement, he was one of the most highly-decorated agents within the agency and was responsible for numerous multi-national operations, the largest involved 36 countries. He was also responsible for developing global intelligence sharing platforms. He is also the author of three books:  DEAL and Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel and Narco Queen. And this interesting note, Vigil was made an honorary General by the government of Afghanistan and given the key to the city of Shanghai by China, all in appreciation for his efforts battling the drug trade. Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian caught up with Mike from his quarantine base in New Mexico, to talk about: How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the cartels. How are the cartels seeking to expand their portfolio to ensure survival during a time when normal revenues and operations are at a near standstill?  What’s the state of play between law enforcement and the cartels in the interim coronavirus crisis period, and what’s going to happen when society starts to reopen? And who’s winning the technology race, the cartels or law enforcement?  The answer may surprise you.

Natural Language Processing and National Security

This week we catch up with Brian Raymond, who is the Senior Director of the National Security Group at Primer, a machine intelligence company headquartered in San Francisco. Primer is one of our private sector partners at The Cipher Brief and is part of our daily open source collection team. They are involved in pushing the envelope of technology applied towards national security objectives that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. We caught up with Brian on a recent phone call to discuss a specific aspect of machine learning, known as natural language processing, and how it’s being used to enable missions across the national security community

Admiral James Stavridis

Border Security Part 2

This is part 2 of our border security series. In this episode Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian catches back up with Mike Fisher, former Chief of the US Customs and Border Protection, to talk about recent developments with Mexico, the situation surrounding children in detention along the border, threats of deportations by the U.S. administration and what it will take to get the border crisis under control.

Border Security Part 1

Border security is a complex issue. From conflict zones like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, to geo-political hot spots like Israel and North Korea. International borders are often where military, law enforcement, crime, politics and policy collide. Rarely do countries have the ability to control their entire borders, leaving open the possibility of smuggling and illegal immigration. The United States is among the world’s countries facing a very challenging border security dynamic. Just in the last 12 months we’ve seen controversy surrounding the use of military troops to bolster border security, a crisis over children being separated from their families, heated political debates over budgets and walls, senior leadership in DHS seemingly at odds with White House policy, and intense diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Mexico. Against this backdrop is a worsening humanitarian crisis that is claiming more lives and exhausting resources. What we’re NOT talking much about in media conversations, is the increased security risk the U.S. is facing due to the crisis. Drug traffickers, human smugglers, and gang members are some of the groups exploiting the current situation. What does that really mean to overall U.S. national security? State Secrets spoke with two experts on the issue, to see if we could cut thru the rhetoric, politics and sound-bytes, to get to the root of what’s really going on. Michael J. Fisher is the former Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol and a member of the Senior Executive Service. He was responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, and directing enforcement efforts designed to secure the Nation's borders. Chief Rowdy Adams retired in June 2011 as a career Senior Executive Service member in the DHS, CBP Office of Border Patrol after almost 30 years in law enforcement, specializing in border security operations, enforcement technology, strategic and tactical planning, and immigration issues. We caught up with Mike and Rowdy to talk about the complicated dynamics surrounding the southern U.S. Border in what became a two-part series that can also be found on The Cipher Brief.com.

The Fifth Domain with Richard Clark

Richard Clarke has been on the cutting edge of terrorism and cyber issues for quite some time.  He served more than 30 years in government and was the first White House official tasked with taking charge of U.S. cybersecurity policy.  He’s written eight books, half fiction, half non-fiction and his latest book, ‘The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats’ was written with Robert Knake, who served as director for cybersecurity policy at the White House from 2011-2015.  Today both men serve as cybersecurity consultants, advising corporations and investors on cyber-related issues.  

JJ Green, National Security Correspondent, WTOP

If you’ve done any reporting on national security issues in Washington DC, you already know JJ Green. He’s been covering national security for the city’s most popular radio station for 15 years now. As you can imagine, he’s seen a lot of changes in that time. I sat down with JJ recently in Washington to talk about how national security reporting works, how reporters and correspondents gain access to news and policy makers and how a they navigate the sometimes tricky task of getting the story right, and getting the story first. The one thing JJ and I both agreed on – is the fact that the job is harder today than at any time in recent memory. Every administration comes in with ‘gatekeepers’ – they are the staffers who decide which reporters get access to decision makers and which do not. Which reporters get called in for background briefings, and which reporters get those exclusive one-on-one sit downs?

Keith Urbahn, co-owner of the D.C. literary agency 'Javelin'

It seems like everyone in Washington, DC wants to write a book these days, and more of them are, even if they aren't the big names you're used to hearing. There are stories to tell in this town, and there are sleuths who know how to go about telling them. Keith Urbahn is a co-owner of the literary agency Javelin, which started out getting book deals for smaller names with bigger stories, but when they signed James Comey for his book released in 2017, they knew things had changed. State Secrets sat down with Urban in his office, in Alexandria, VA.

Christopher Krebs- Director of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Christopher Krebs left his role as the Director of Cybersecurity Policy for Microsoft back in 2017 and went back to work for the government. He joined the Department of Homeland Security with a top priority to get anew Agency established- one that put a solid focus on government support for a private sector facing an onslaught of cyber threats. Krebs saw that dream become reality last November when the President signed the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency Act- which officially elevated an existing component of the DHS to Agency status. We caught up with CISA's first Director and biggest advocate, Christopher Krebs to talk about what he hopes to do now that the Agency is established.