As details about the disappearance of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi are revealed, its worth looking back at the deeper roots of the U.S. - Saudi relationship.   First printed in The Cipher Brief back in March, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a retired Commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy who now writes as a political ...

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 ...

Much initial reaction to the North Korean - American Singapore Summit has been negative, with critics targeting the concessions made by President Trump including; a dramatic, public endorsement of Kim Jong-un’s status and a halt to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in exchange for North Korea’s commitment to “nuclear disarmament”, ...

The historic June 12th summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung Un has moved us closer to a peaceful resolution of issues with North Korea.  Compared to where we were eight months ago, when the possibility of stumbling into kinetic conflict on the Korean Peninsula was ...

  China, North Korea and the U.S.-South Korea security alliance are the big winners from the short, joint declaration out of Singapore this week.  The United States made important symbolic (and reversible) concessions, but at this point, has not advanced the core objective of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula any more ...

As the world focuses on the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the President’s Treasury Secretary announced sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for their ties to Russian cyber activities, prompting some to question the Administration’s mixed signals on Russia over ...

During the height of the Cold War, North Korean defectors were celebrated as symbols of freedom and a direct indictment of a brutal North Korean regime. Yet over time, the meaning endowed upon North Korean defectors steadily changed. They became living monuments to the complex facets of the frozen conflict: ...

The June 12th summit with North Korea will be an important beginning of a process that eventually results in the Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement (CVID) of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities. This is the goal, but there’s justified skepticism that this objective can be achieved, especially ...

As a former Department of Justice detailee to the National Security Council, I fully appreciate the value that rule of law brings to this country.  Lately, however, I’m finding it harder and harder to watch as our collective rule of law comes under attack by a truth-challenged President, his enablers ...

President Donald Trump has informed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he will not be attending the summit between the two leaders set to take place in Singapore on June 12, following a series of aggressive statements made by both parties. It is not yet clear whether the cancellation ...

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted the move and insisted that Iran would continue to negotiate with the other signatories.  The U.K., France and Germany expressed disappointment in President Trump’s decision and ...

President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his belief that the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and if it is not amended to cure those flaws, the United States should abandon it. On January 12th of this year, he informed the American public that his administration is working with “key European ...

Such is the world in which we now live that I cannot say I was surprised to learn late Friday that former FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe had been fired. A part of me wanted to think it was just a bad dream, but then a middle-of-the-night tweet, from President ...

On Thursday, South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong announced that President Donald Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and the meeting will take place “by May” at a time and place to be determined. This development could be referred to as a ...

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, they might commiserate over the domestic investigations each are facing as well as take great satisfaction over Trump’s affirmation of the opening of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s existence this ...

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. ...

There’s been a lot of chatter in the public forum since Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced his indictments of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for violations of U.S. law in connection with his investigation of Russia’s interference in our sovereignty and the possible coordination of Americans in that effort. ...

In various and sundry NATO countries, the United States has stationed 200-plus B-61 tactical nuclear bombs, current and older versions of which have dial-a-yield settings that allow various explosive yields, one of which is as low as the equivalent of 300 tons of TNT, or 0.3 kilotons. That was one ...

Cipher Brief experts found President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech light on detail and substance. Trump promised to defeat ISIS, keep pressure on North Korea, and keep Guantanamo Bay open, among a grab bag of briefly mentioned national security issues – ideas which most of our experts ...

President Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to visit the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, since President Bill Clinton in 2000. His message: America’s new tax measures are good for business, as long as it serves the “America First” agenda of his administration. Cipher Brief expert and former ...

President Donald Trump, concerned that investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections cast doubt over his legitimacy, has consistently dismissed and denigrated such probes. The decision by Dianne Feinstein, as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, to unilaterally release the transcript of closed testimony by Fusion GPS co-founder ...

A coordinated operation is underway between the White House and Republican members of Congress to undermine Special Counsel Robert A. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, just as the inquiry begins to zero in on President Trump and his closest advisers. Their joint campaign is ...

President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy foreshadows a more muscular projection of U.S. interests abroad and defense of its people, businesses and borders at home, through a strengthened U.S. military and more aggressive trade negotiations, diplomatic outreach and military maneuvering. Its hawkish approach signals a switch to “gray zone” ...

It’s always the cover-up. That was the starting point for unraveling Nixon’s Watergate and Reagan’s Iran-contra affair. I covered both scandals and believe special counsel Robert Mueller III is going down the same path taken years ago by special prosecutors Archibald Cox (Watergate) and Lawrence Walsh (Iran-contra). The pattern is ...

The fallout continued Thursday over President Donald Trump’s retweeting of anti-Islam videos originally posted by a British far-right fringe group. British Prime Minister Theresa May, on a foreign trip to Jordan, told reporters that “retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do,” Reuters reported. Cipher Brief experts weighed ...

President Donald Trump’s trip to the region comes at an opportune time. The subject of North Korea will dominate much of the discussion in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing. Let’s begin in Japan. Prime Minister Abe comes to these discussions after an election victory that gives him greater domestic support and ...

In an otherwise forgettable February 2017 interview, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly asked Donald Trump how he could respect Russian President Vladimir Putin, who O’Reilly labeled as a “killer.” Trump shockingly defended Putin by commenting, “There are a lot of killers. We have killers. Well, you think our country is so ...

The Kremlin is likely celebrating the indictment of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and the guilty plea by another campaign adviser, according to former intelligence officials. That’s because the news out of Washington on Monday plays directly into Moscow’s desire to sow chaos and distrust in the United States ...

President Donald Trump has turned his own obviously failed condolence phone call last Tuesday to 24-year-old, Myeshia Johnson, widow of 25-year-old, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, into a political fight between himself and Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL). The feisty, African-American congresswoman, who is a friend of the Johnson family ...

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 ...

The fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is nearing its second major victory this year as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an allied anti-ISIS militia umbrella group – close in on the last remaining pockets of ISIS forces in their self-proclaimed “capital” of Raqqa. The success of the ...

President Donald Trump used his debut address at the United Nations General Assembly to threaten that the United States would have “no choice but to totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies and to criticize the Iran nuclear deal as an “embarrassment” to the U.S. ...

President Donald Trump has made it clear that he thinks the international accord to reign in Iran’s nuclear program was the “worst deal ever.”  And he has twice reluctantly certified that Iran is in compliance.  But The Guardian is now reporting that the White House is pressuring intelligence officials to ...

In the early days of our republic, George Washington warned against “entangling alliances.” In 1821, after strenuous debate, John Quincy Adams decided not to speak in favor of Greek Independence because we “go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” We, Americans, have always had a desire to stick ...

President Donald Trump on Tuesday returned to his stance that there is “blame on both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at a white nationalist rally. "You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people — on both ...

Afghanistan is now President Donald Trump’s war, but it’s wider than just that country. Having refused to accept a strategy and operational plan presented to him last month by Defense Secretary James Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, as well as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, all of whom have ...

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he would nominate Christopher Wray to serve as the next FBI director as Congress prepares to hear from James Comey, who he fired from the job in May. Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee on Thursday. In his opening statement, ...

President Donald Trump’s penchant for making misleading or false statements has been well documented. Former CIA Director John Brennan last week offered a possible reason – one that should be a concern with any Trump descriptions of his one-on-one meetings, particularly when it comes to foreign leaders. Trump, according to ...

It has been a tumultuous first six months for the Trump Administration, as the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has dominated the headlines, and frustrated and preoccupied the president. Still, the White House released a statement on Thursday touting its national security successes. It ...

A Trump administration “cover up” is underway. I am not talking about the concealing of activities related to the criminal investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence or the firing of FBI Director James Comey – although given Sunday's public disclosure of an additional Trump campaign ...

Leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful economies met for the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week to discuss a wide range of multilateral issues, including international trade, climate change, and international security. This was also a chance for U.S. President Donald Trump to meet face to ...

Saturday, on the sidelines of the G-20 in Hamburg, President Trump sat down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for more than an hour-and-a-half of "substantive" discussions. Nonetheless, Washington as a practical matter no longer has a "China policy." That’s a good thing. twiett Why? Among other reasons, not having such a ...

President Donald Trump immediately brought up the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election during his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, according to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey ...

The President of the United States Donald Trump visited Warsaw, the capital of Poland, on Thursday, the president’s first trip to the Central-Eastern Europe (CEE) since his inauguration. The visit took place on the eve of the G20 summit. Choosing Poland as his first stop was not a coincidence and ...

It was good to see President Donald Trump acknowledge on Twitter recently that the Russians did indeed conduct cyber attacks and influence operations against the United States during last year’s presidential elections.  In his inimitable style, Trump unsurprisingly made the acknowledgement while criticizing the Obama administration for knowing of the ...

On Friday, The Washington Post published a detailed account of the challenge the Obama administration faced in the run up to the 2016 presidential election as the U.S. intelligence community repeatedly raised concerns of Russian hacking. The story is striking in the regret expressed by former Obama officials and the ...

Current and former Intelligence Community heads say intelligence briefings must shift under President Donald Trump to acknowledge his tendency to be what National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Susan Gordon described as a “fire and forget” type of leader. During a discussion at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea ...

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dropped in to briefly meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a low-key visit that comes weeks before the U.S. leader’s expected sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin and as fighting flares in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian armed forces. Experts told The Cipher Brief ...

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he would nominate Christopher Wray to serve as the next FBI director as Congress prepares to hear from James Comey, who he fired from the job in May. Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee on Thursday. In his opening statement, ...

The current Administration’s top leadership on defense, diplomacy and intelligence – the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence – all agree that climate change is happening and presents risks to the United States that must be addressed. For example, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in ...