As Turkish officials continue to release details that draw a gruesome picture of the apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the level of information they say they have collected suggests a robust espionage capability against the Saudis in Turkey. While the rightful diplomatic question of how the United ...

Bottom Line Up Front The disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is the latest episode in an on-again, off-again struggle between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been pushing to move his country back into position as the ...

In “Under Cover” we bring readers  reviews of current books on national security matters, news about new releases, and Q’s & A’s with authors, publishers, and agents (the literary kind.) This week, we have something special up our sleeve. John McLaughlin is one of the most admired and respected alumni ...

Not surprisingly, the man who President Trump is appointing as the next Deputy Director of the CIA managed to maintain a low public profile during his 30-year Agency career.  Some would call that perfect tradecraft, but now that Vaughn F. Bishop has been named as the next Deputy Director, people ...

For decades, former secretary of state and White House chief of staff James Baker has touted his version of a salty military catchphrase as a good-government mantra: “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” That doesn’t necessarily apply to intelligence; even exquisite inputs from the CIA and other spy agencies cannot guarantee that ...

As details are released about the upcoming summit between the U.S. and Russia, Intelligence Officers are expected to ramp up collection efforts in order to prep the field ahead of talks. “Whenever you’ve got a summit coming up, your intelligence community, and your opponent’s kicks into high gear,” says Cipher ...

Shortly after he was sworn in as Director CIA in January of 2017, now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made some bold moves that put renewed focus on the North Korea threat. First, he oversaw the establishment of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, meant to better bring together the resources available ...

Russia. We hear and read about it every day in the mainstream media, but the news seems almost exclusively focused on the various investigations of Russian meddling and the politics surrounding them. Russian meddling, to be sure, merits this coverage since the cyberattacks and spread of polarizing disinformation represented a ...

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 ...

In a recent op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, titled ‘At the CIA, Immorality Is Part of the Job’, a retired lawyer and former commissioner for Major League Baseball, Mr. Fay Vincent, opined about the CIA’s history and culture, finding it a “farce” to even talk about morality.  His ...

Gina Haspel assumes the position of D/CIA admirably prepared in all possible respects -- in general, of course, given 33 years with the agency, and specifically, having served as DD/CIA and Acting Director in the previous year.  Arguably, she is the best prepared Director in anyone’s memory.  So, she will not have ...

On Thursday, May 17, the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Gina Haspel as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, despite concerns over her role in CIA enhanced interrogation programs and the destruction of tapes depicting the techniques. Haspel has received broad support from inside the Agency; The Cipher Brief recently ...

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.  ...

If you watched the questioning of the President’s nominee for Director of Central Intelligence on C-SPAN, you probably missed the significant display of U.S. Intelligence heavyweights sitting behind her in the hearing room. They included rank and file former Officers who have worked with Gina Haspel over the years, as ...

It’s finally Gina Haspel’s turn to be heard after weeks of back and forth between supporters and critics of her nomination as the next Director of Central Intelligence Agency. As she faces lawmakers and the country hears directly from her for the first time, dozens of her current and former ...

As the senate prepares for what is expected to be a close vote this week on the nomination of Gina Haspel to become the next Director of CIA, both supporters and critics are ramping up the rhetoric.  While those who would like to see Haspel confirmed are organizing a show ...

“Who is a Homo?” ponders an internal CIA document written in 1980 to help investigators identify and purge gay CIA officers. “The homosexual is a complex, intelligent, interesting, and mixed-up individual,” the document warns. “He may not consider himself queer,” and “may accept his psychological deviation from the normal.” Indeed, ...

Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell is debuting season two of his popular podcast ‘Intelligence Matters’ in partnership with CBS News this week.  The Cipher Brief was proud to be a partner for the launch of the podcast last season and Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly took some ...

Just weeks after the attacks of 9/11, a flatbed truck was parked unceremoniously in the tree-lined fire lane next to the CIA’s New Headquarters Building, surrounded by furious activity. The team was packing gear on shipping pallets for a mission of uncertain duration: bandages, trauma packs and children’s kites. The ...

The CIA is defending its deputy director Gina Haspel – Trump administration nominee to lead the agency – against charges that she erred when she wrote a cable to CIA employees, instructing them to destroy tapes of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used on post-9/11 detainees. The CIA on Friday ...

Sometimes we're the threat, whether to ourselves or others, without even realizing it. Insider threats trace back to humans, thus, it's at our own peril that we ignore the lessons of psychology when building our threat mitigation program. This is especially the case in an era of mass shootings, and ...

The nomination hearing of Gina Haspel to lead the agency is shaping up to be a bruising interrogation over Haspel’s role in the destruction of evidence regarding the CIA’s now-defunct enhanced interrogation techniques program. Haspel, currently deputy director of CIA, has been widely praised by former officers, but her role ...

More than 50 former senior U.S. government officials sent a letter to the Senate intelligence committee Monday to support Trump nominee Gina Haspel to lead CIA. The Cipher Brief has obtained a copy of the letter, which was endorsed by eight former CIA directors or acting directors, three former directors ...

To the distinguished ladies and gentlemen on Capitol Hill: You are poised to make one of the most critical decisions this term by voting on the president’s nominee to become the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. At no other time in history has our nation been under assault at ...

Gina Haspel, the deputy director of the CIA, stands ready to break through one of the most stubborn glass ceilings in the U.S. government, and this moment matters. Since the announcement of the decision to nominate her as CIA director, she has been the subject of numerous articles, statements and ...

Amidst the seemingly daily allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct across almost every industry – entertainment, media, politics, technology, etc. – I have been anticipating the companion piece to this incredible moment of accountability: accountability for those in the chain of command. In the past several months, we have witnessed ...

Technological advancements in the past 30 years have in many ways democratized access to information and disrupted countless industries – from journalism to national security. Increasingly, intelligence-rich assessments are being made by non-intelligence professionals. Consider the 20-year-old Australian student who revealed the pattern of life on U.S. military bases, simply ...

CIA Director Michael Pompeo told Democrats that there is nothing “untoward” about meeting with Russia’s senior spy chiefs, following reports that he did just that last week. Russian media reported that Pompeo met with Sergey Naryshkin, chief of Russian foreign intelligence who is currently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department ...

Cipher Brief experts General (ret) Michael Hayden and former CIA senior officer Norman Roule have had many conversations on the subject of Iran and the broader Middle East—but not usually in front of a public audience. The two served together in the U.S. intelligence community, with Hayden as former CIA ...

CIA Director Mike Pompeo revealed Tuesday that North Korea is still “months” away from being able to fire nuclear weapons reliably at the United States, in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute. Earlier this week, the told CBS News North Korea is a “handful of months" away, and last fall ...

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 ...

Wartime has been a force multiplier for espionage ever since the Revolutionary War, when General George Washington was the founding father of the art of intelligence. In World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) advanced the practice, albeit tragically, with its Cassia Ring espionage network. These particular “glorious ...

After the attacks of 9/11, the first American killed in the war in Afghanistan was CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann. He was attacked by Taliban fighters who supposedly had surrendered. The Marine-turned-CIA-operations officer was able to warn a CIA colleague of the danger before he gave his own life. The ...

Emotions run higher on a holiday, no matter one’s faith or tradition. The highs are higher and the lows lower, especially the gut punch of remembering those no longer with us. And when you’re away from loved ones, somewhere overseas, the loneliness and sadness are sharper. I want to remind ...

Alongside news about North Korean missile tests, Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and “Rexit” (Is Rex Tillerson in or out at the State Department?), we are witnessing almost daily reporting of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in entertainment, media, politics and technology, leading to calls for their resignation and dismissal. ...

The intelligence community has been taking body blows lately – with Friday’s WikiLeaks dump of CIA hacking tools and a report in The New York Times discusses just how damaging the August 2016 Shadow Brokers thefts from NSA have turned out to be.  While there has been no acknowledgment by ...

The National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency and the position of Director of Central Intelligence. In addition to setting the Director’s salary ($14,000 per annum) and giving him/her the power to fire CIA employees, the Act specified the various duties of the new CIA relating to ...

In our continuing drive to spur healthy debate in the national security space, The Cipher Brief is running TCB expert John Sipher’s book review in riposte to our podcast with author Daniel Golden. We also invite you to join in the conversation, posting your point of view for submission at ...

In our continuing drive to spur healthy debate in the national security space, The Cipher Brief is sharing this op-ed from Philip Zelikow, the Former Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, responding to a particular allegation about CIA information sharing with the FBI before the attacks of Sept. 11 on New ...

The CIA announced on Wednesday the release of hundreds of thousands of additional files recovered in the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “Today’s release of recovered al-Qa‘ida letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further ...

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday warned North Korea may be only months away from being able to launch a nuclear-tipped missile at the United States. “They are closer now than they were five years ago. And I expect they will be closer in five months than they are today, ...

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 United States is confronting a wide array of national security challenges ranging from North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Russia’s subversive cyber activities, to the perpetual threat of terrorism and security along the southern border. As Representative of the 23rd district of Texas, Congressman Will Hurd has used his background ...

The United States has long sought to export its system of liberal democracy abroad. In places where military juntas and dictators have risen – and U.S. national interest aligns – American intelligence, particularly the CIA, has sought to effect regime change through covert measures to include information campaigns and direct ...

Regime change has recently come up in media reports about North Korea on a frequent basis, but what does the term mean from a legal standpoint for U.S. intelligence? In a July interview with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said “the most important thing the ...

It is easy to see why regime change could be appealing to foreign policymakers. Why bother to persuade, bribe, or threaten a defiant foreign country when you could support opposition groups who promise to align their policies with the goals of the U.S. leadership? The issue of regime change has ...

Robert Hanssen. Aldrich Ames. Those are just two of the faces peering out from a mock-up “Wall of Shame” of double agents and leakers that leads down a hallway to the United States government's senior counterintelligence official’s office. The pictures in the nondescript office building just outside Washington, D.C. serve ...

CIA Director Mike Pompeo signaled Thursday that a key goal of the Trump administration is to “separate” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from control over Pyongang’s nuclear capabilities. "It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is ...

President Trump has decided to end the CIA-sponsored program to arm Syrian anti-Assad rebels, according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday.  The newspaper quotes U.S. officials as saying the decision to wind down the Obama-era program was made almost one month ago after a meeting in the Oval Office ...

President Trump has decided to end the CIA-sponsored program to arm Syrian anti-Assad rebels, according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday. The newspaper quotes U.S. officials as saying the decision to wind down the Obama-era program was made almost one month ago after a meeting in the Oval Office ...