Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. OPINION -- Mohammed ...

Learning and teaching have quickly gone virtual due to coronavirus: schools, universities, museums, libraries, even zoos and gyms are delivering virtual learning experiences.  The need for virtual (and fast) applies to foreign language learning programs as well.  Out of necessity, we are all caught up in quickly finding solutions now ...

Sean Roche is former Associate Deputy Director of CIA for Digital Innovation. The Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI) was created to accelerate the integration of advanced digital capability across all of CIA’s mission areas and is responsible for a wide range of espionage missions including cyber intelligence, open source collection, secure global communications, ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He later served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North ...

Cipher Brief Expert John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. The new coronavirus brings us smack up against the modern ...

OPINION -- If intelligence officers wanted one person to model themselves after, from the perspective of the Intelligence Community’s commitment to objectivity, they could find no one better than Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. A leading principle, if not “the” leading ...

Cipher Brief Expert Sean Roche served as the Associate Deputy Director of CIA for Digital Innovation serving as the second-in-command of CIA’s first new directorate in more than 50 years. OPINION -- An Analogy:  We've all been there, during an uneventful flight there is suddenly a jolt of significant turbulence.  Our ...

Cipher Brief Expert John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. Eight years of war in Syria have come down ...

The Listening Post is a new Cipher Brief column specifically highlighting the experiences of women in the national security space, in both the public and private sectors. This new weekly column is a collection of stories, interviews, and profiles of women who have pioneered change and have inspired others along ...

Cipher Brief Expert John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. OPINION -- I recently returned from the annual Munich ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea, as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, and also ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe By George Beebe Reviewed by Michael Sulick Cipher Brief Expert Michael Sulick served as director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service and is currently a consultant on counterintelligence and global risk assessment. While at CIA, Sulick also ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, Mark Kelton wrote for The Cipher Brief back in 2017 that, The Man in the Kremlin Must be Smiling, saying that “Vladimir Putin is smiling because he thrives on chaos, particularly in the camp of the “Main Enemy,” a term the ...

Douglas London is a retired senior CIA Operations Officer and Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Mr. London served 34 years in the CIA’s Clandestine Service that included several Chief of Station assignments and executive Headquarters management positions.  Since retiring from the CIA’s Clandestine service a ...

Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger is former Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Captain from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp with a combined 30 years of active duty and reserve service. EXPERT OPINION -- China seeks to challenge US technological supremacy ...

Angela Lewis, Manager of Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company Angela Lewis is the Manager of the Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to joining the private sector, Ms. Lewis served as a Senior Counterterrorism Targeting Officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, ...

The U.S. is considering whether it will expel more than a dozen Saudi Arabian military students after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed three people and injured eight others. In the aftermath of the shooting, the Pentagon ordered a review of how DoD ...

The killing of Iranian Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani has drawn sharp condemnation from Iran. American politicians – while agreeing that Soleimani was a threat to Americans - are divided over the wisdom of killing him and over the longer-range consequences. OZY caught up with senior contributor, former CIA Deputy ...

OPINION -- As the Middle East bids farewell to 2019 and welcomes the new year, the peoples of the region have precious little to celebrate. Young and old — Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Kurds, and Israelis — view the coming year with trepidation, growing uncertainty, and a deepening mistrust of their ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II By Henry Hemming  Reviewed by Jason U. Manosevitz The reviewer is an Intelligence Community officer with 16 years of experience analyzing military and political issues in East Asia ...

OPINION -- It has been several years since I thought deeply about Syria. And that is a shame, given my long time affection for the Syrian people, whom I grew to know and love after several decades working on Near Eastern issues at CIA. Syria came crashing back for me ...

BOOK REVIEW: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA  By Amaryllis Fox Reviewed by Suzanne Kelly Suzanne Kelly is CEO & Publisher of The Cipher Brief. She previously served as an Intelligence Correspondent and Executive Producer for CNN. Prior to that, she was a freelance anchor for CNN International ...

As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers ...

TV SERIES REVIEW: The SPY A Netflix Miniseries Reviewed by Paul Kolbe Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Kolbe also led BP’s global Intelligence and Analysis team supporting threat warning, risk mitigation, and crisis response.  Prior to that, ...

OPINION -- It is common for the leadership of the Intelligence Community to send notes to the workforce. The leaderships’ thoughts on all sorts of issues – from intelligence successes and failures to key personnel assignments and critical budget decisions and, yes, sometimes when the IC appears in the media ...

OPINION -- Traveling in Greece on personal business during late October, it was remarkable to hear from a variety of Greeks, their unvarnished views of the Trump administration as well as their overall opinion of where America sits in the current world order. It was a unique experience for me, ...

The Cipher Brief’s Expert Take column highlights the thinking of our experts based on their areas of expertise.  Emile Nakhleh is a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. Lebanon’s largely peaceful “Arab Spring” is a model in civic activism for the greater Middle East. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...

This week, Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new nuclear submarine, as Facebook says Moscow is stepping up its efforts to spread disinformation in Africa.  That’s just this week.  Going back a few more days, U.S. and British officials say Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian spy operation ...

BOOK REVIEW: Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World by Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch Reviewed by Christopher Messina The subject of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World is one many Americans will have strong opinions about. ...

MOVIE REVIEW: The Spy Behind Homeplate (a documentary) by James Periard James Periard served over 25 years in the Central Intelligence Agency as a Case Officer for Middle East and counter terrorism operations, including as a Chief of Station and Chief of Base in several expeditionary locations.  He now serves ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. OPINION -- President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Syrian-Turkish border and the ensuing Turkish offensive against the Kurds have thrown the ...

Marc Polymeropoulos retired in June 2019 from the Senior Intelligence Service ranks at the CIA after a 26 year career in operational headquarters and field assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Russia and counter terrorism.  OPINION -- Several friends have recently asked me how the myriad of international scandals that ...

OPINION -- President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the small contingent of United States troops remaining in Syria is a disaster on multiple levels. It illustrates not only his reckless instincts on foreign policy but also the near-total absence of a process for making momentous decisions in his administration. For process, Trump’s style ...

OPINION -- As we digest the Trump administration’s unorthodox style of governing in the foreign affairs arena, it is worth focusing on a key aspect of our bilateral relationships that does not get much press, the effect of President Trump on our foreign intelligence service liaison partners.  How they approach ...

BOOK REVIEW: Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA’s War on Terror By Thomas Pecora Reviewed by Mike Howard Mike Howard is the former Chief Security Officer for Microsoft, where he worked for 16 years.  He is also a former CIA Security and Operations Officer, a role which he held ...

When someone decides to spy on their own country for the U.S., they know they’re taking a risk.  But when news broke recently that the U.S. had extracted a high-level Russian official in 2017 with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it highlighted not only the value of human ...

When news broke recently that the U.S. had extracted a high-level Russian official in 2017 who had close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was noteworthy to say the least. The New York Times described the Russian asset’s role as important in helping U.S. officials trace the source of ...

EDITORIAL/COMMENTARY -- The house had been watched for quite some time.  The home in Abbottabad was just about a mile from the Pakistani Military Academy and was significantly bigger than others in the area, surrounded by barbed wire fence and equipped with security gates. U.S. officials believed that the world’s ...

As the U.S. administration is contemplating the next steps in our march toward departure from Afghanistan (what some consider a much needed disengagement from an 18 year conflict, while others see more as a Vietnam-like total surrender ceding our gains to an unrepentant Taliban) one aspect that must be considered ...

There has been much concern and consternation in the media— some perhaps understandable after two plus years of tweets and “off the cuff” statements by the President — that the national security apparatus that has helped keep this country safe for more than half a century has come unglued under ...

BOOK REVIEW: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War:  The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler By Lynne Olson Reviewed by Nada Bakos Nada Bakos is a former CIA Analyst and author of the book, The Targeter: My Life in the CIA Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White ...

(Editor's note - Thursday, August 15 is the last day of work for Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his Principal Deputy Director Susan Gordon.  Coats turned in his resignation in late July and Gordon delivered hers last week amid rumors that she was being pushed from her job.  ...

Former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd knows a lot of details you probably don't about CIA black sites.  He knows, because he was associated with the enhanced interrogation program that took place post 9/11.  Now, Mudd has written a new book, Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World that ...

BOOK REVIEW: Lincoln’s Spies      By Douglas Waller Reviewed by Michael Sulick Michael Sulick was the director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service.  He also served as Chief of Counterintelligence and Chief of the Central Eurasia Division where he was responsible for intelligence collection operations and foreign liaison relationships in Russia, Eastern ...

a-mok (adverb) – to behave uncontrollable and disruptively. Synonym: go berserk In the midst of debate over whether President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Dan Coats as the next Director of National Intelligence is qualified for the job, the President made comments on Tuesday that may explain his thinking.  Talking ...

Alex Finley worked for CIA’s Directorate of Operations for about six years in the early 2000s.  Her roles took her to places like West Africa and Europe and also allowed for some time at Headquarters in Langley. Her work as a reports officer - which serves as a bridge between ...

BOOK REVIEW: Rules of Engagement: A Novel      By David Bruns and J.R. Olson Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Editor’s note: Last week, The Cipher Brief published a review written by CIA veteran Rob Richer of Dan Silva’s novel “The New Girl.”  Richer praised ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW GIRL     By Daniel Silva Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Richer retired from the CIA in November 2005. Prior to his assignment as the ADDO in 2004, Richer was the Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible ...

Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran with no recognizable movement toward formal negotiations, and the Administration’s recent effort in Bahrain to gain support for their plan to find a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via investment feels bankrupt, but if there is one thing every good businessman knows, ...