Cipher Brief 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 also served as Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for ...

Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. A 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community, she is also the author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. OPINION -- One of the most important pieces of advice we offer aspiring Rebels at Work is ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution By James E. Baker / Brookings Institution Press Reviewed by W. Renn Gade, General Counsel, Defense Intelligence Agency REVIEW -- We live in the age of Dreadnoughts.  No, not of battleships, but of astounding leaps of technology, ...

Ties between Russia and China go far beyond mutual lessons-learned and policy coordination.  They have entered into cooperative arrangements that pose clear dangers for the US and its allies.  The most apparent of these are in the military realm. Mark Kelton, Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA Mark Kelton is ...

In 1937, Winston Churchill contrasted the “two rival religions” of Nazism and Communism then afflicting the world.  Those fascist and communist “infernal twins”, he wrote, “imagine themselves as exact opposites” but are, in fact “similar in all essentials”, breeding in reaction to each other.  Today’s ‘infernal twins’ – China and ...

Next month’s planned meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to include conversations on Ukraine, COVID-19 and the recent diversion of a flight by officials in Belarus, but as tensions between the two countries remain tense, there are bigger issues at play, like the ...

Ellen McCarthy, Former Asst. Secretary of State for Intelligence & Research Cipher Brief Expert Ellen E. McCarthy was appointed by President Trump to be the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Prior to serving in that role, McCarthy served as President of Noblis NSP, and ...

US Climate Envoy John Kerry is in China ahead of a Climate Summit next week hosted by US President Joe Biden.  As tensions between the two countries remain high over issues ranging from Taiwan to trade to cyber, the Biden Administration is hoping there is still room for cooperation on ...

As US Worldwide Threats hearings get underway in Washington after a two-year hiatus, experts will be watching to see how the Biden Administration's new senior intelligence officials are ranking and prioritizing threats to US national security.  The hearings have for years, been seen as the most prestigious showing of senior ...

BOOK REVIEW: Red Widow: A Novel / Putnam  By: Alma Katsu Reviewed by Alison Bouwmeester THE REVIEWER —Alison P. Bouwmeester served for 28 years as a senior leader in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. After retiring from the CIA, she spent nearly a decade as a senior business executive ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics. OPINION -- The speaker said, “What if we can actually let the President, or the National Security Advisor walk around, um, a ...

Sonya Seunghye Lim is a former Chief of Station with the Central Intelligence Agency. Before retiring from the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, she had a 24-year distinguished career in the Directorate of Operations, to include two assignments as Chief of Station. OPINION -- Increasing diversity has become a priority in ...

OPINION -- A recent email from the current Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief of Counterintelligence (C/CI), wherein Agency retirees were reminded of their life-long obligation to protect the sensitive information with which they were entrusted while serving and to comport themselves accordingly after leaving the CIA, has reportedly touched a ...

Carmen Medina, Former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence Cipher Brief Expert Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. A 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community, she is also the author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. EXPERT OPINION -- Last week, Zachery Tyson ...

Eric Washabaugh, Former CIA Targeting & Technology Manager Eric Washabaugh served as a targeting and technology manager at the CIA, where he served from 2006 - 2019, leading multiple inter-agency and multi-disciplinary targeting teams focused on al-Qa’ida, ISIS, and al-Shabaab at CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). He is currently the Vice ...

Sonya Seunghye Lim is a former Chief of Station with the Central Intelligence Agency. Before retiring from the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, she had a 24-year distinguished career in the Directorate of Operations, to include two assignments as Chief of Station.  OPINION -- In late January 2021, alarming headlines dominated ...

In a letter obtained by The Cipher Brief this week, former CIA Directors and Acting Directors, including former Director Gina Haspel, endorsed CIA Director Bill Burns in his new role as DCIA. The letter (below) was originally submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversaw Burns' confirmation hearing last week, in ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.  OPINION -- Reflecting on his ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Spymaster of Baghdad: A True Story of Bravery, Family, and Patriotism in the Battle Against ISIS by Margaret Coker / Dey Street Books Reviewed by Sonya Lim, former CIA Chief of Station THE REVIEWER — Sonya Seunghye Lim is a former Chief of Station with the Central Intelligence Agency. ...

Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Eurasia and CounterTerrorism.  He is the recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Commendation Medal, and the Intelligence ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia and the Political Warfare 1945-2020  by Tim Weiner / Henry Holt & Co. Reviewed by Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley (Ret.) Cipher Brief Expert Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr. (Ret.) is a career Army intelligence officer having served over thirty-six years ...

Jim Danoy, Former Executive, Defense Intelligence Agency Cipher Brief Expert Jim Danoy is a former defense intelligence executive and served as the National Intelligence Manager for Europe and NATO at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and was a President’s Daily Brief (PDB) briefer for President Obama. OPINION ...

As Washington continues to investigate the true depth of what experts are describing as one of the most damaging cyberattacks in U.S. history, both government and private sector leaders are considering not only the aftermath, but the shifting dynamics of global espionage. The hack was first publicly reported by FireEye ...

OPINION -- Engaging Muslim communities globally emerged as a policy option within the U.S. government shortly after the heinous 9/11 terrorist attacks. Beyond degrading terrorist groups and neutralizing their leaders, senior American policymakers after 9/11 began to explore the idea that the military approach by itself was not sufficient to ...

Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. A 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community, she is also the author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. OPINION -- I was asked recently whether the Intelligence Community, and CIA specifically, would be able to go ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who held senior positions including Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; and Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He’s currently ...

Views expressed in The Cipher Brief are individual views and do not represent all experts. Gregory Sims served in the CIA’s Clandestine Service for over thirty years, including multiple field tours as Chief and Deputy Chief of CIA stations.  He is currently retired. OPINION -- As a retired CIA officer ...

Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Eurasia and CounterTerrorism.  OPINION -- I am not agnostic about the potential nomination of Michael Morell to be Director ...

Douglas H. Wise served as Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from August 2014 until August 2016. Following 20 years of active duty in the Army where he served as an infantry and special operations officer, he spent the remainder of his career at CIA. He graduated from the ...

Even though national security did not play a significant role during the U.S. presidential campaign, President-elect Joe Biden is set to inherent a world in crisis when he takes the oath of office in January. Among the national security challenges facing the U.S. in 2021 are those posed by a ...

Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger has 35 years of experience practicing law in the fields of national security, intelligence, and international law. He is a solo practitioner at Robert J. Eatinger, Jr., PLLC, practicing federal law with a national security and intelligence law focus and the founding Principal of SpyLaw Consulting, LLC. ...

The Cipher Brief continues it's coverage on Russia this week in light of the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  We tapped Cipher Brief Expert Michael Sulick who served as director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service, for his thoughts on Putin's Playbook for the West.  While at CIA, Sulick also served ...

OPINION -- Taken together, the protests underway in Belarus and the poisoning of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny — by what German doctors now say was the nerve agent Novichok — tap into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to avoid more serious challenges to his control and his regime. It is ...

Last week, a former Army Green Beret captain was indicted, accused of providing national defense information to Russia in what appeared to be a spying operation that began in 1996.  Prosecutors say Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins was recruited by members of Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU).  Debbins went on to ...

The Intelligence Community’s job is to brief policymakers on what the US knows, in order to help them make better decisions.  There is a process for what the IC does and even though that process is often the first thing forgotten for the sake of a sexy political story, understanding ...

Ever wonder how a CIA Analyst spots fake news? A new book out today by former CIA Analyst Cindy Otis, True or False:  A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News takes a crack at sharing the kind of analytical thinking that helps you know what you’re reading online and ...

Counterintelligence in a Time of Crisis Mark Kelton is a former senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA’s Deputy Director for Counterintelligence.  “All my little duckies, swimming on the pond…heads deep in the water, ...

Sarah Carlson is the author of a new book, In the Dark of War: A CIA Officer’s Inside Account of the U.S. Evacuation from Libya based in part, on her time working as a Targeting Analyst in CIA's Counterterrorism Center.  Carlson specialized in threats and attack plans directed against the U.S. and ...

OPINION -- “Black swans” are events that arrive as unwelcome surprises and have significant effects on nations and societies.  They can upend the status quo in politics, economics, or national security. Black swans are even more dangerous when superimposed on other black swans. It’s always worth trying to anticipate potential ...

(Editor’s Note:  Understanding the life of a spy is often difficult, especially understanding the experiences of those who spend much of their careers working undercover. In this rare commencement address delivered to the Valley Forge graduating class of 2020, Former CIA Deputy Director for Counterintelligence Mark Kelton shares fascinating insight ...

Global markets responded on Monday to fears of a second-wave of coronavirus infections and one of the industries feeling the pressure is the gas and oil market.  This comes as Reuters cites multiple sources saying that Saudi Aramco is cutting July crude supplies to at least five buyers in Asia. ...

Cipher Brief Expert Martin Petersen is the former Deputy Executive Director of the CIA. At the time of Tiananmen, he was Deputy Director of the Office of East Asia Analysis. CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT TAKE -- The Chinese leadership’s handling of Tiananmen and the aftermath can give us some idea of ...

CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT VIEW -- Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA's Deputy Director for Counterintelligence.  He is the Senior Vice President for National Security Solution at DynCorp International; and ...

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

Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years at CIA, retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in 2019.  He served overseas in the Middle East and South Asia, and now lives in Northern Virginia. OPINION -- We all have felt a range of emotions over the last several months, from the understandable fears ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trend Line Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events were developing and ...

The Cipher Brief Threat Conference has been re-scheduled for September 13-15, 2020.  This special series of national security briefings has been launched to keep our public-private threat conference community together and engaged on the issues that matter until we can safely gather again. Conference speaker Christopher Costa is a former ...

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. Since retiring from ...

OPINION -- In the face of a world-altering pandemic, we must take this opportunity to create space for innovation within the Intelligence Community. I left my role as an intelligence analyst at NGA at the start of 2016, when my husband began a new job in Boston. Although I attempted ...

Cipher Brief Expert Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence and a 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community.  Medina is also author of the book, Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. I’ve been wanting to comment on all the examples of bad thinking ...