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. ...

President Donald Trump has made it clear that he thinks the international accord to reign in Iran’s nuclear program was the “worst deal ever.”  And he has twice reluctantly certified that Iran is in compliance.  But The Guardian is now reporting that the White House is pressuring intelligence officials to ...

The President will speak to the nation directly Monday night, the White House announced, to discuss his Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia writ large. The announcement came just days after Trump held a high-level strategy meeting at Camp David that Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters yielded ...

President Donald Trump on Tuesday returned to his stance that there is “blame on both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at a white nationalist rally. "You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people — on both ...

Three days after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump said “racism is evil” and called out the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, “and other hate groups” as “criminals and thugs.” A 20-year old Ohio man believed to be a Nazi sympathizer has been charged with second degree murder, ...

America’s next stealth bomber, known as the B-21 Raider, will become the Air Force’s primary aircraft in the strategic bomber leg of the nuclear triad. Slated for delivery in 2025, it will employ cutting edge stealth and electronic warfare technologies while also incorporating a flexible architecture to allow for future ...

America’s strategic bomber force is comprised of some of the Air Force’s oldest aircraft. The B-52 has served since the 1950s and will remain a valuable aircraft for decades more. However, this is contingent on developing the Long Range Standoff cruise missile to replace the aging Air-Launched Cruise Missile. This ...

When North Korea commits a provocation, the U.S. often responds by conducting a flyover with its strategic bombers. American bombers flew over South Korea after both of Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests this month as well as nuclear tests in previous years. Strategic bombers can display American power and ...

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he would nominate Christopher Wray to serve as the next FBI director as Congress prepares to hear from James Comey, who he fired from the job in May. Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee on Thursday. In his opening statement, ...

The United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday to impose tough new sanctions and codify existing sanctions against Russia into law, placing limits on any possible efforts by the president to try to lift sanctions against Moscow. The vote was 419-3. The sanctions package also targets Iran ...

It has been a tumultuous first six months for the Trump Administration, as the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has dominated the headlines, and frustrated and preoccupied the president. Still, the White House released a statement on Thursday touting its national security successes. It ...

Reports late last week revealed that the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya also included a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin, a former member of the Soviet military who may have ties to Russian counterintelligence. The Cipher Brief asked Steve Hall, a former member of the ...

Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American Lobbyist – among others - begs the question, was this a Russian intelligence operation? If so, is this typical Russian tradecraft, or something out of the ordinary? And what should we expect in the coming years? The ...

“Mr. Sessions, are you familiar with what spies call tradecraft?” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June. “A little bit,” replied Sessions. “Do you like spy fiction: John le Carre, Daniel Silva, Jason Matthews?” Cotton continued, finally asking, “have you ever, in any of these fantastical ...

After weeks of anticipation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The relationship between the two leaders has been characterized by lofty praise and suggestions of cooperation on the fight against ISIS. The relationship between ...

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the two had discussed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. After Putin denied any Russian involvement, Tillerson said Trump “is ...

In his readout of the two hour and 15 minute meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump repeatedly brought up Russian meddling in the U.S. election during the meeting. In his words, the two leaders had “a very ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the concept of an electromagnetic railgun. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage on electromagnetic railguns. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final stages of development and ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage on electromagnetic railguns. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final stages of development and ...

While Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges capture the news, another nuclear front is unfolding – in nuclear energy. President Donald Trump, speaking last Thursday at the Department of Energy, called for several initiatives to propel “American energy dominance,” and heading his list was the revival and expansion of the ...

Current and former Intelligence Community heads say intelligence briefings must shift under President Donald Trump to acknowledge his tendency to be what National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Susan Gordon described as a “fire and forget” type of leader. During a discussion at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea ...

Twenty-one state election systems were targeted by Russian hackers during last year’s presidential election, a Department of Homeland Security official told the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday. While Russian attempts to infiltrate state voting systems have been widely reported, this appears to be the first acknowledgment of the scope of the ...

The FBI is investigating why a gunman opened fire Wednesday on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding four people including a senior lawmaker. The shooter — identified by the FBI as James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old Illinois man — was fatally shot by police who were ...

Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before Congress on Thursday about his discussions with President Donald Trump related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In his opening statement, released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey details his contacts with Trump — ...

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he would nominate Christopher Wray to serve as the next FBI director as Congress prepares to hear from James Comey, who he fired from the job in May. Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee on Thursday. In his opening statement, ...

After violence broke out between white nationalist protestors and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a 20-year old man from Ohio drove his vehicle into a crowd, killing one counter-protestor and injuring several others. The echoes of a terrorist tactic the ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers.  As I write, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is steaming toward the Korean Peninsula—finally.  It does so at a time—as happens about once or twice per ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers.  Some planners advocate building smaller carriers that could employ many U.S. Navy supercarriers’ capabilities at less cost. With the right aircraft, a light carrier could undertake long-range strike, counter-air ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers. America’s largest warships have grown in size and cost, but also capability over the decades, and the new Ford-class promises to raise the bar on all three of those ...

On the night of March 10, 2004, Deputy Attorney General James Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller sped to George Washington University Hospital and stopped two of President George W. Bush’s aides from getting the signature of Attorney General John Ashcroft, gravely ill, on a legally dubious National Security Agency ...

President Donald Trump is defending his "absolute right" to share information for "humanitarian reasons" with Russia following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last week. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump said he had shared "facts pertaining to ...

North Korea’s successful launch of the road-mobile intermediate range Hwasong-12 missile on Sunday yet again demonstrated the Kim Jong-un regime’s perseverance and improving technical acumen in developing ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. The missile had a 30-minute flight time and reached an altitude of more than 1300 miles. ...