Keeping New Jersey safe is by itself a daunting challenge, but its unique proximity to its metropolitan neighbors makes the state a critical component of broader U.S. Homeland Security. Located between two neighboring major metropolitan areas, New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey is home to significant critical infrastructure including ...

Bottom Line:  The risk posed to U.S. national security by what are believed to be Russian-backed hacking groups, is similar to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis according to Cipher Brief Experts, but different, in that the U.S. has no clear and obvious deterrent this time around. Recent Developments:  The ...

Six years ago this month, almost to the day, Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly accompanied then- Border Chief Michael J. Fisher to the U.S. Border with Mexico, seeking a better understanding of the complex geography and tactics required to patrol each section of the often treacherous divide.  Back ...

Observers counting potential Senate votes for the nominee to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency say Gina Haspel’s prospects look pretty good.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning, May 16, to vote on recommending her nomination to the full Senate.  ...

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 ...

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 ...

In a Trump administration shake-up announced by tweet, President Donald Trump declared his intent to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department to replace the embattled Rex Tillerson, and the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel ...

Bottom line: After the mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school this week, the Trump administration’s focus on tackling mental health issues may produce legislation that empowers law enforcement to identify troubled would-be attackers. But such action may fail to stem the tide of gun-related mass shootings if not coupled ...

The shooting incident at the entrance to the National Security Agency had nothing to do with targeting the intelligence center, and there were no fatalities, a former U.S. official briefed on the incident tells The Cipher Brief. Up to three suspects in an SUV were being chased by police, and ...

Cipher Brief experts found President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech light on detail and substance. Trump promised to defeat ISIS, keep pressure on North Korea, and keep Guantanamo Bay open, among a grab bag of briefly mentioned national security issues – ideas which most of our experts ...

Former CIA director and retired Adm. Stansfield Turner passed away last week at 94. Former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin offered this remembrance. Stansfield Turner arrived at CIA in March 1977 at a tumultuous time -- the nation was still shaking off Watergate and the Nixon resignation, and it had an ...

The recent discussion of whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or President Donald Trump has the bigger “nuclear button” raises the question again of procedures, policies and circumstances surrounding the use of nuclear weapons. U.S. military officers who would be in a position to receive an order for a ...

At it again. This week’s government shutdown is an all-too-familiar refrain for those of us with lengthy government service. Shutdowns – and the impact of the supposedly temporary sequestration deal of 2013 – are annoying, diverting of precious time and attention from the national security missions of the United States, ...

Cipher Brief expert and former DHS official Todd Rosenblum says the Trump administration used incomplete and cherry-picked statistics in a new report that says three out of four individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges since the 9/11 attacks were “foreign-born,” as opposed to born U.S. citizens. The report from the ...

The framers of the U.S. Constitution decided 230 years ago to divide the nation’s war powers between the president and the Congress, making the president the commander in chief of the armed forces and giving the lawmakers the exclusive power to declare war. Yet, as 2018 gets underway, the executive ...

The United States owes its existence as an independent nation partly to objections over excessive searches by British colonial authorities. Yet today, it is possible for an individual to go to prison as a result of evidence the U.S. government has deliberately kept hidden and that it may have gathered ...

With the winding down of the war against ISIS in Syria, many Caribbean governments worry about the possible impact that returning fighters could have on domestic and regional security. It’s been on the mind of President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, for some time. He was a Marine ...

Donald Trump’s ascendency to the presidency has led to a flurry of interest in not only his mental health, but more generally, in the mental health of world leaders. This past week’s commentary regarding Trump’s state of mind highlights the perils and challenges – both ethical and methodological – of ...

President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy foreshadows a more muscular projection of U.S. interests abroad and defense of its people, businesses and borders at home, through a strengthened U.S. military and more aggressive trade negotiations, diplomatic outreach and military maneuvering. Its hawkish approach signals a switch to “gray zone” ...

As the U.S. public-health system struggles to alleviate the scourge of opioid addiction that killed more than 50,000 Americans in 2016, a variation on the theme is the ramifications of this class of drugs as chemical weapons. Among the drugs at the forefront of the health crisis are the highly ...

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act is set to expire in five weeks, and to hear current and former intelligence officials tell it, changing a single word in this statute will result in no less than the loss of American lives. This hyperbole is obscuring the nature of ...

The car ramming attack that occurred in New York City on Oct. 31 killed eight people and reignited debate over what constitutes domestic and international terrorism. Terrorism has remained at the forefront of American national security concerns ever since the September 11 attacks. And as globalization continues to extend its ...

President Donald Trump is currently on his first trip to China and East Asia. The visit comes at a time when America's allies in the region are increasingly anxious about their security—which should rightfully be a major focus of the trip. But it is critical that our economic future with ...

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday an updated version of the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin. The move comes in the aftermath of the Halloween vehicle attack in New York City that left eight dead. By updating the terror alert system, DHS signaled the threat to the United States ...

A gunman shot dead 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, before taking his own life, authorities said. Police said the attack was spurred by a domestic dispute between the suspect and his ex-wife’s family – not terrorism, according to Freeman Martin, regional director ...

On Friday, a military judge ruled Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 and was subsequently held captive by the Taliban for five years, will be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army. His rank will be dropped from sergeant to private, and he will have to pay ...

 The Cipher Brief asked Robert Eatinger, the CIA’s former Acting General Counsel and Senior Deputy General Counsel, to comment on the next steps for the suspect in the New York City attack this week that left eight people dead, after he rammed a truck onto a bike path. The suspect, ...

In the wake of this week’s deadly terrorist attack in New York City, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday defended the Trump administration’s so-called “extreme vetting” measures and rebuked technology companies for failing to quickly provide law enforcement with encrypted information to assist terrorism investigations. He also defended the U.S. ...

The Cipher Brief asked network experts from the NYPD, NCTC, CIA and FBI to weigh in on the deadly truck attack in New York that killed eight, carried out by a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, apparently inspired by the so-called Islamic State. Prosecutors said Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who was charged in ...

The Cipher Brief asked network expert Charlie Allen, former Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, to react to the deadly vehicle attack on pedestrians near the World Trade Center Memorial in New York Tuesday. Charlie Allen: The attack has all of the hallmarks of ...

The re-authorization of the National Security Agency’s internet surveillance program received a boost Tuesday from President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the national security division of the Department of Justice. John Demers, nominated by Trump to be assistant attorney general, appeared on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing before the ...

In recent years, Russia has waged a new cold war on the United States through its actions, though we have only recently come to grips with this reality. As in any war, the Kremlin’s objectives are political. The principal weapon in this conflict is information, and the evidence of Russia’s ...

The Trump administration’s nominee for CIA inspector general faced tough questions from lawmakers over his handling of whistleblower complaints, and his handling of a classified Senate document on allegations of torture by the agency. The CIA’s agency’s acting inspector general Christopher Sharpley was grilled about three outstanding whistleblower allegations against ...

The massacre at the Las Vegas country music concert last week has left security professionals with a grim new checklist of tactics to watch for: military-style sniper attacks from high above, and casualties so numerous, they overwhelm area hospitals’ ability to treat them. The shooting last Sunday left 58 dead ...

Renewed calls for more stringent gun control legislation echoed throughout Washington on Monday, following Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. “It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Monday. Murphy has been one of the most vocal advocates for gun ...

The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history raises tough questions about how to guard against attacks on open crowds – and puts more responsibility on the crowd itself to look out for threats and escape routes in any public setting, former NYPD Detective Sergeant Joseph Giacalone told The Cipher ...

Firing from 32 stories up at a crowd a block away, a lone gunman killed at least 59 people and injured hundreds more, in a devastating attack that has law enforcement rethinking how to keep Americans safe. The 64-year-old retiree opened fire on a Las Vegas country music festival, from ...

The new U.S. ambassador to Russia will go to Moscow at a grim time for U.S.-Russia relations, but his biggest challenge won’t come from the Kremlin — Washington will be the source of Jon Huntsman’s headaches. The new ambassador, confirmed by the Senate Thursday, faces a difficult balancing act between ...

U.S. immigration authorities will soon start to catalog social media handles from permanent residents and naturalized citizens. The new information requirements expand “categories of records to include the following: country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.”  ...

As more details emerge about Kremlin influence and disinformation operations aimed at sowing discord and exploiting divisions in the United States, congressional investigators are taking a closer look at the role top technology companies played in the 2016 election. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are meeting in closed briefings ...

America’s leading homeland security professionals believe the terror threat from international extremist groups – and inspired domestic terrorists alike – is higher than it was at the time of the devastating attacks on America 16 years ago. “Right now, the terror threat to our country equals and in many ways ...

It will become much more difficult, or even impossible, for citizens of eight countries to enter the United States under new rules announced Sunday by the Trump administration, the third edition of its controversial restrictions on travel. The national security implications of the new ban remain unclear, experts said. Whatever ...

When a new U.S. president takes office the January after an election, his or her administration takes over not only the world’s strongest and most powerful military, but also a robust and complex foreign policy bureaucracy. From the moment of inauguration, the work done by the incoming president’s transition team ...

North Korea is testing its nuclear program seemingly at will. Afghanistan and Iraq struggle with enormous security threats years after the U.S. intervened to help them.  Russian aggression and Chinese expansionism challenge the West.  Terror and cyber attacks are on the rise.  The national security challenges facing the United States ...

A new presidential administration needs a team of political and career appointees to run the government, including the world’s most powerful military and a vast diplomatic and national security team. So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 347 individuals, but only 140 have been confirmed. At the same point in ...

As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concludes a nuclear-focused trip, his public backing this week of all three parts of the triad likely serves as an important sign for the forthcoming Pentagon review of United States nuclear weapons policy. In April, the Department of Defense launched a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) ...

The West has been hit by a barrage of deadly terrorist attacks over the past two years with little indication there is any definitive way to stop the onslaught. Why this is happening and what can be done about it was the topic of conversation between national security and counterterrorism ...

Two top congressional Democrats said Facebook’s announcement it had discovered a Russian-funded campaign promoting divisive social and political messages demands a “very serious look” and likely is just “the tip of the iceberg.” Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Mark Warner on Thursday called for the United States to broadly reassess ...

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Texas coast, dumping over four feet of rain in some areas, displacing over 30,000 individuals, and causing over $50 billion in damages. The response at all levels of goverment has been significant. As always, local police and fire departments were the first on the scene. ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to eliminate dozens of special envoy positions at the State Department. Some would be removed altogether, like the special envoy for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, reflecting President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Obama Administration’s failed attempt to shut the prison. ...