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 ...

Imagine the middle of nowhere Alaska. Got that in your head? Great. Now drive 2½  hours further into nowhere and you have arrived at Fort Greeley. I visited in the fall of 2015. It was cold out there—a wet, bitter cold.  It’s also slightly eerie. The absolutely enormous ravens all ...

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. ...

For decades, North Korea’s continued advancements in ballistic missile technology has sustained U.S. interest in missile defense that can protect the U.S. homeland from nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system is the Pentagon’s solution for targeting and destroying long-range missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Though ...

President Donald Trump on Friday warned James Comey, the former FBI director he fired this week, against leaking to the media as he once again sought to put the problem of leaks to the forefront instead of the counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russia. “James Comey ...

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey coincides with the ramping up of multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump campaign associates. On Tuesday, Senate investigators on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ...

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said in late January she warned the White House that then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was compromised by Russia and susceptible to blackmail. “To state the obvious, you don't want your National Security Advisor compromised with the Russians,” Yates on Monday told the Senate ...

In a wide-ranging address to State Department employees Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out his vision for the future of the department, the Trump’s Administration’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, and global issues touching nearly every continent. Tillerson’s speech, his second to department workers since being sworn ...

FBI Director James Comey said he expects his agency will not "say another peep" about the investigation into possible coordination between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia until it is completed. But during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, the director did warn that Russia is still actively involved ...

In February, reports emerged that the administration of President Donald Trump was considering rebranding the Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism program to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” This idea quickly sparked a public backlash from rights groups and Democratic congressional representatives who argue that the re-designation would both discriminate against Muslim communities ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, about U.S. government efforts to counter violent extremism. Leiter says that instead of debating the name of the program, officials should focus on creating a single department charged with leading initiatives to counter violent ...

U.S. counterterrorism efforts have achieved their fair share of successes – killing terrorist leaders with drone strikes and commando raids, keeping terrorist cells on the run so they can’t plot future attacks, and destroying militants’ underground bases and infrastructure. But one glaring weakness in the U.S. counterterrorism strategy is the ...

The process of radicalization, by which disaffected members of society are convinced to embrace violent means to pursue the goals of a terrorist ideology, has been intensely studied since the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, the threat of international terrorism has become one of the ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Charlie Allen, former Under Secretary for Security and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to discuss the continued threat that individuals who become radicalized pose to U.S. security. According to Allen, several factors drive people toward jihadist ideology including a ...

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly warned against the “real” and increasingly sophisticated threat from the nexus between criminal and terrorist networks as he advocated for more aggressive immigration policy enforcement. Kelly laid out on Tuesday a vision of a world that is increasingly dangerous and fraught with security ...

Sigal P. Mandelker, President Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), is being lauded by former officials contacted by The Cipher Brief.   The Senate Banking Committee has not set a date for hearings, but if confirmed, Mandelker would head the office that oversees ...

FBI Director James Comey was the guest of honor at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) Leadership Dinner Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia. INSA is an intelligence and national security organization representing leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors. Director Comey’s opening remarks focused mainly on the FBI’s cyber ...

President Donald Trump’s defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for $54 billion in additional spending, but it is not yet clear where this new funding will come from or what it will be used for. The proposed increase builds on spending hikes planned by the outgoing Obama administration, ...

Twenty-six years after the end of the Cold War, the United States once again must prepare for great power competition and confrontation. Russian aggression along NATO’s eastern front presents military challenges to European security not seen in decades. China’s military modernization and coercive behavior toward U.S. allies and partners threatens ...

The United States has been at war for 15 years, and at the same time, it has attempted to modernize and maintain readiness. President Donald Trump has made restoring the military a key policy goal, and his recent budget proposal intends to increase the size of the military. The proposal ...

The process of “unmasking,” or revealing the true identities of U.S. persons who unexpectedly figure into conversations picked up by National Security Agency (NSA) foreign intelligence collection efforts, has been the subject of much discussion this week in the continuing controversy over Russian interference in last year’s elections. The issue ...

The U.K. has joined the U.S. in restricting electronic devices in carry-on baggage on flights from certain countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. The measures are being taken as a security precaution to thwart potential threats. The American ban covers flights that fly directly to the United ...

The Trump Administration has proposed a 28 percent cut to State Department funding and other international programs in order to help pay for an increase of $54 billion to military spending next year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with J. J. Messner, the Executive Director of the Fund for ...

FBI Director James Comey confirmed on Monday, for the first time, that the agency is conducting an investigation into whether there was any coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee the investigation into possible Trump-Russia connections ...

Russian tactics to undermine democracies around the world were in the spotlight at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. “What I’m trying to explain to the American people is the Russian government, in Putin’s hands, has been up to no good in a lot of places for a long time when ...

The Trump administration is reportedly eyeing cuts to the Transportation Security Administration and other Department of Homeland Security agencies in an attempt to pay for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. A draft plan by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would slash TSA’s funding about ...

Season 5 of the acclaimed FX Series The Americans has returned after a 9-month hiatus, and it might be hard to follow if you start at this point.  I’ve watched religiously over the past four seasons, and I found the new episode hard to understand, at least for the first ...

In 2013, former President Barack Obama was close to ending the “dual-hat” leadership of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, only to be dissuaded by senior officials arguing the close integration with the NSA continued to be necessary for the maturation of the then only 4-year-old Cyber ...

President Donald Trump’s magnificent wall has had its first setback. The original schedule for contractors to produce bids to build initial sections of the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has been pushed back from around March 24, to “on or about May 3, 2017,” according to a notice ...

The military called it Operation Bumblebee: a secret program to develop a weapon that – like the insect – could take off vertically, change directions instantly, and deliver a painful sting. Born in the years after World War II, the U.S. Navy program aimed to create a missile that could ...

The defense authorization act signed into law in December 2016 contained an important provision mandating a review of missile defeat policy, strategy, and capability, to be completed and submitted to Congress in January 2018. This Missile Defeat Review (MDR) appears likely to serve as a successor to both the Department ...

The bombastic, bleak tone from his Inaugural Address was gone. In his address to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump was more optimistic, talking about “a new chapter of American greatness.” He spoke about issues he’s discussed before – jobs, healthcare, tax cuts, immigration, a renewed military, America first – ...

The Trump Administration’s proposal to hike military expenditures at the expense of foreign assistance is being challenged by a group of former military leaders. “We believe in the premise that the nation needs hard power (planes, tanks, warships, well trained combat troops) and soft power (diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign aid, ...

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned this week over his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States and his deception of Vice President Mike Pence and others on the nature of those calls, but the case is clearly not closed, legal experts told The ...

On Feb. 3, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced “we are in the midst of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba.” This is excellent news. Under an administration which has thus far been dominated by knee-jerk responses and actions dictated more by politics than policy, it ...

The White House sought to present the resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, as a closed chapter tied to his deceiving Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But as the shake up unfolds, the ...

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn came only three weeks into a whirlwind beginning for the Trump Administration. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spoke to former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin – who served seven presidents and watched three transitions closely – about how the next ...

With the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, there have been questions about the security implications of his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before he took office.  But speaking to The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani, Jack Keane, retired four-star general and former Vice Chief ...

This season’s parallel plots begin to converge in episode four. Carrie’s houseguest, Peter Quinn, still recovering from his near-death experience, hasn’t been involved in the political machinations between the President-elect and the CIA or in the FBI terrorism case against young Sekou Bah. In this episode, he is subtly woven ...

When President Barack Obama came to Ottawa as part of the “bromance” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said that the world needed “more Canada,” but he also pointed out that Canada should contribute its fair share on defence. This was a significant call to action from Canada’s most important ...

In an historic proclamation, then President Barack Obama announced in December 2014, “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba [and] we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” Obama promised to reestablish diplomatic relations that had been severed for nearly 53 ...

President Donald Trump has indicated he will reverse the Obama administration’s policy on Cuba, despite previously saying the deal was fine. The Cipher Brief asked Frank Mora, Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, about what he thinks U.S.-Cuba relations will be like ...

I remember remarking to Cuban American friends in Miami some 20 years ago and in the wake of the passage of the Helms-Burton Act (which formalized the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba) that it was my humble opinion that if we just got rid of the embargo against Cuba and ...

Kidnappings in Mexico continue to increase, particularly in the states of Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Morelos, Puebla, Zacatecas, and Tabasco.  Although the Interior Ministry reported a 2.1 percent drop in 2016 compared to 2015, the methodology—or lack thereof—leaves a lot to be desired.  Statistics, like those reporting homicides, are hidden or ...

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States has officially triggered a wave of significant policy changes in Washington, initially on issues of trade, foreign policy, energy, and the environment. At the same time, President Trump’s well-known isolationist foreign policy and protectionist trade agendas have ...