The United States inherently boasts a creative, risk-taking culture that is inextricably linked to its free enterprise system. And while the federal government has a critical role to play in creating an environment for innovation that advances the common good, it is imperative that private companies, not government bureaucracies, are ...

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 ...

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 ...

As the U.S., NATO and other allies move against Russia over an alleged nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in Britain, bipartisan moves are afoot in Congress to strengthen U.S. ties to NATO. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina ...

President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to publicly make plain that Russia is undertaking a large-scale active measures campaign against our democracy is forcing others in office to fill the void. It is leading lawmakers to press executive branch officials to make explicit statements about military war plans and intelligence community covert ...

Notwithstanding the comity on display at the recent Senate intelligence committee Annual Threat Hearing, reports that Republican Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Nunes ordered a physical wall be built in the shared office space between Republican and Democratic Professional Staff Members are distressing but not ...

Bottom line: Beijing aimed skyward with its latest attempt to expand areas of influence, unilaterally opening up several flight routes including one between Shanghai and Hong Kong that is uncomfortably close to Taiwanese airspace -- another step in its diplomatic and military pressure campaign to coerce Taiwan to rejoin China. ...

In recent weeks, debate over much needed immigration reform has reached a partisan crescendo. Elected representatives have argued whether prospective immigrants should be measured as individuals or on the basis of positive or negative characteristics of their homeland. I’d like to add my firsthand experience to that debate, and speak ...

Bottom line: After the mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school this week, the Trump administration’s focus on tackling mental health issues may produce legislation that empowers law enforcement to identify troubled would-be attackers. But such action may fail to stem the tide of gun-related mass shootings if not coupled ...

Questioning on Russian election interference and how the Trump White House handles staff clearances dominated the worldwide threat hearing Tuesday, as the Senate intelligence committee grilled leaders of the FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, DIA and NGA over the contents of the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. ...

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis defended the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the right response to Russia’s rising nuclear capacity and its failure to abide by international treaties, in comments to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. The NPR calls for the creation of two new submarine-launched nuclear weapons: ...

Cipher Brief experts were underwhelmed by the “Nunes Memo,” made public Friday, despite the objections of Democrats, leaders in the intelligence community, and the FBI itself. Written by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, the memo alleges political bias on the part of the FBI and ...

With the multitude of national security threats facing our nation – from Russia and North Korea to extremism and climate change – you might not expect security clearance reform to jump to the top of the priority list. But it is a critical issue that we ignore at our peril. ...

“Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster. No vision. No purpose. No direction. No strategy.” Then-presidential-candidate Donald Trump said that in his first foreign policy speech in April 2016, when he was attacking President Barack Obama’s track record. Candidate Trump distorted the situation then, but his words certainly ...

The framers of the U.S. Constitution decided 230 years ago to divide the nation’s war powers between the president and the Congress, making the president the commander in chief of the armed forces and giving the lawmakers the exclusive power to declare war. Yet, as 2018 gets underway, the executive ...

President Donald Trump’s wooing of Chinese President Xi Jinping has so far failed to deliver the results he promised since their first summit meeting in April at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida, according to the 2017 annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The bipartisan, Congressionally-mandated commission ...

While most American news outlets last week focused on sexual harassment, tax reform and President Donald Trump’s red-carpet trip to the Far East, the Pentagon and some in Congress were dealing with North Korea and other serious national security issues. Use of Force Against North Korea The question of whether ...

The shadow of President Donald Trump’s comments in August forewarning that the United States would meet any threat from North Korea with “fire and fury” loomed over a Senate hearing Tuesday on the sole authority of the president to launch America’s nuclear arsenal. “We are concerned that the President of ...

The 2016 presidential campaign was just a test run for Russia’s continuing use of disinformation on social media aimed at manipulating public thinking in the United States. Appearances last week by senior executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google before Senate Judiciary and the Senate and House Intelligence Committees provided a mass ...

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, my old Committee, will hold a critical, open hearing today with the three largest social media content providers in the U.S. market—Facebook, Twitter and Google. The big three are, belatedly, acknowledging that Russia used their platforms in the 2016 election cycle to harm American ...

Top social media companies revealed more details about how Russian operatives made extensive use of their platforms to wage a disinformation and influence campaign targeting the 2016 presidential election as senators on Tuesday called the threat a critical national security issue and questioned the ability of tech companies to combat ...

Has the Trump administration put together a coordinated plan to deal with what the intelligence community has warned will be Moscow-directed cyberattacks during the upcoming 2018 midterm elections? “So far, we've seen no indication that the administration is taking action to prepare for this next inevitability against the constant aggression ...

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) asked the right question last week when he said, “In something like North Korea, what is it the president can do without any input from Congress?” during an appearance Thursday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Corker said that question and others ...

Members of Congress have expressed deep concern over the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign in the 2016 election. They have even taken some action, most notably voting in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 to dramatically broaden the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) mandate to include countering propaganda ...

As questions swirl around what happened during the ambush in southwestern Niger earlier this month that left four American service men dead and two wounded, some members of Congress claim the Trump administration is not providing enough transparency on U.S. operations in the region. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Senator ...

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 ...

It's time for Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to use his congressional panel rather than just his mouth or tweets, to confront President Donald Trump. The committee has held 16 hearings since Congress returned in September, but skipped topics like Pyongyang that Trump has ...

President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Kirstjen Nielsen to run the Department of Homeland Security, taking on the job at a time when the agencies under its umbrella are at the center of national political controversies. Nielsen has close ties with White House chief of staff John Kelly, who previously ...

“We may have advisers there 10 years from now, but the Taliban will not be the enemy they are,” was the way Defense Secretary James Mattis described the future in Afghanistan under the new Trump administration policy. He said it during almost six hours of testimony that he and Joint ...

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 question of alleged Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign is “still open,” the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday. The investigation is ongoing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters in an update of the Senate panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “The committee continues ...

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford set out his views on key national security issues last Tuesday during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s confirmation hearing for his second, two-year term in that position. Remember, as you read this, Dunford is by law the principal military advisor to President Donald Trump, ...

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 ...

At a time when U.S.-Russia relations are at an extreme low, Tuesday’s nomination hearing for the new U.S. Ambassador to Russia attracted less than a full house in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The nominee, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, told the Senators this is a “critical period” in U.S.-Russia ...

The Senate-passed, fiscal 2018 Defense Authorization Bill carries two little-publicized amendments that will impact future war-fighting capabilities. But the measure fails to deal with the darkest cloud hovering over the Pentagon: sequestration. That problem was kicked down the road, thus requiring some eventual congressional action, since both the House and ...

“If we do a continuing resolution, we are not only not rebuilding our military, we are harming our military,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told his Senate colleagues last Thursday. Ignoring the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, the Senate did just that, approving a new, three-month continuing fiscal 2018 appropriation resolution that ...

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 ...

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded a cut in the number of United States diplomats in the country and said it will seize two U.S. diplomatic properties in Russia. These actions come as a response to the U.S. Congress passing a wave of new sanctions against Moscow Thursday afternoon. Both chambers ...

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 ...

The House may take up legislation as early as today to require the Trump Administration to produce a public report on foreign threats to federal elections, as well as two other reports related to Russian meddling in U.S. and Western elections. The language is contained in intelligence authorization legislation for ...

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 06: The early morning sun strikes the U.S. Capitol November 6, 2006 in Washington, DC. Midterm elections take place November 7, potentially changing the balance of power in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) The House Monday failed to pass under expedited procedures legislation to ...

CIA veteran Isabel Marie Keenan Patelunas, the Trump Administration pick to be assistant treasury secretary for intelligence and analysis, told Senate Intelligence Committee members Wednesday she would follow financial intelligence relating to Russia even if it leads to President Donald Trump’s circle. Patelunas was responding to a question from Sen. ...

The Congress is heading for another budget crisis as the beginning of fiscal 2018 approaches on October 1. At issue is when and how Congress will act to repeal, replace, or amend – not Obamacare in this case – but the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and the looming, black ...

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 ...