Understanding expert perspective on where the US stands in the world with regards to national security is a key component of how The Cipher Brief keeps the security community connected.  Michael Morell and Cipher Brief Expert Mike Vickers  recently sat down to talk with each other about the challenges facing ...

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 ...

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma after doctors at the German hospital where he is being treated say he was poisoned.  Last week, a former Army Green Beret captain was accused of spying for Russia in a relationship that allegedly began decades ago.  The Cipher Brief tapped ...

OPINION -- Last Thursday, President Trump was asked by reporters about the arrest earlier that day of his former campaign manager and early White House aide, Steve Bannon.  Bannon and three associates had been charged with allegedly defrauding donors to an organization called We Build the Wall, Inc.  Back in ...

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 -- The normalization ...

The White House’s surprise announcement this past week that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are formally normalizing relations was met with both open arms and claims of deceit by neighbors in the region. The normalization agreement comes with a promise by Israel to suspend its efforts to annex ...

British Air Vice-Marshal Sean Corbett CB MBE MA RAF retired from the Royal Air Force in September 2018 after a 30-year career as a professional intelligence officer. His last appointment in the military was spent in Washington DC as the first non-US Deputy Director of a major US Intelligence Agency.  ...

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 ...

John McLaughlin served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.  He is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.   OPINION -- In the world of intelligence — my former profession ...

The US State Department recently named career diplomat James DeHart as the US’ first coordinator for the Arctic region.  DeHart’s job is to coordinate US efforts in the region, which includes “repelling China’s advances and capitalizing on commercial opportunities,” according to the Wall Street Journal.  What exactly are China’s ambitions ...

Last week, the Justice Department brought an indictment against two individuals accused of working with China’s Ministry of State Security to conduct a decade-long cyber intrusion campaign. The Justice Department says the two individuals were targeting the private sector some of which included research institutions working on coronavirus treatments.  But ...

Farah Pandith, Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State Farah Pandith served as a political appointee under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and most recently she was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities, serving both Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. ...

OPINION -- On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on an authorization for Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to issue subpoenas to 53 individuals, most of them connected to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. Among other things, Graham’s panel will look into how the FBI got into its probe ...

OPINION -- Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. was giving six months’ notice that it would be pulling out of another international agreement, this time the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. At the same time, his administration’s top arms control officials continued the practice of sending mixed messages as ...

OPINION -- U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is expanding its Military Information Support Operations (MISO) because in the current environment, “great power competition is about influence, and SOF [Special Operations Forces] has a unique and valuable role in this." Those were the words of SOCOM Commander, Army Gen. Richard D. ...

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 ...

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 the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North ...

This column is part of our new series, ‘From the C-Suite’, focused on how leaders from the private sector - in their own words - are driving change and innovation in the national security space. We’ll bring you insights on the threats as they see them and notes on their ...

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 ...

OPINION -- The Defense Department has gone to war against the coronavirus, employing some 50,000 troops on both offense and defense. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen, Mark A. Milley announced during a Pentagon press conference April. 14, “We are, in fact, at war against a virus. We are a supporting organization.” ...

Yahoo News national security and investigations reporter Jenna McLaughlin published a story last week, under the headline ‘Intelligence officials weigh possibility coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab’, reporting that “Although the U.S. intelligence community early on dismissed the notion that the coronavirus is a synthesized bioweapon, it is still weighing ...

Cipher Brief Expert John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director in 2004. The COVID-19 crisis cries out for a coordinated global response. However, conditions in ...

General David Petraeus (US Army, Ret) served over 37 years in the U.S. military, culminating his career with six consecutive commands, five of which were combat, including command of the Multi-National Force-Iraq during the Surge, U.S. Central Command, and Coalition and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.  He subsequently served as Director ...

Cipher Brief Expert Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He held postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from Afghanistan in 2007, director for counterterrorism. His final role was as director ...

In the age of COVID-19, The Cipher Brief reached out to our expert network to ask what they were reading.    Cipher Brief Expert 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 ...

As of this writing, Johns Hopkins, is reporting more than 432,438 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, and nearly 1.5m confirmed cases worldwide.  While the battle to save lives is expected to continue until a vaccine is developed (which experts say could still be 12-18 months out), national security ...

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, US Army (Ret) was the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2008-2009. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs from 2006-2008. These positions followed a 30-year career in the military with service as Deputy Director for ...

Things weren't great between the US and China even before COVID-19. Bloomberg is now citing three anonymous US officials as saying that the US Intelligence Community has come to the classified conclusion that China intentionally concealed the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak by under-reporting the total number of cases ...

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 ...

During this time of social distancing, The Cipher Brief is bringing our experts to your laptop in a new series of web-based briefings on critical national security issues.  Members can sign up via email invitations and can ask questions of the experts that you aren’t getting answers to from traditional ...

 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, ...

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as a Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist (including 5 years at the U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russian Federation) with the U.S. Dept. of State and is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  The views expressed are entirely his own and ...

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 ...

OPINION – What’s happening today with COVID-19, from global healthcare systems under extreme stress to the far-reaching economic impact, will be felt for years to come.  But there are other unintended consequences of COVID-19, including the very serious impact it could have on the 2020 presidential election. There currently is ...

OPINION -- “Offensive operations, often times, is (sic) the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defence,” a retired George Washington, living at Mount Vernon, wrote to a former military aide in a letter back in June 25, 1799. Unsuccessfully, attempts over decades to build a defense ...

Long-time BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera recently published a new book, Russians Among Us: Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories and the Hunt for Putin’s Spies.    The book explores the explosive story of Russia’s espionage efforts against the United States and the West and provides riveting details about ten Russian sleeper ...

We are literally waking up in a new world every day as we work to better understand the comprehensive threat of the coronavirus and how to stop its spread.  New federal guidelines regarding the virus are expected from the White House Monday. They will follow state and local closings of ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior British diplomat and now a Senior Visiting Fellow at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies. The probability is that United States and British troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan irrespective of Taliban non-compliance with the terms of the Doha agreement of 29th. February ...

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 ...

OPINION -- On February 20, during his visit to Strategic Command (STRATCOM) headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a mini-war-game exercise which led to a simulated Russian firing of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the U.S. launching one back. The next day, February 21, Defense ...

Norman T. Roule served for 34-years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East.   He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 until September 2017.  As NIM-I, he was ...

OPINION -- On 19 December 2018, President Donald Trump announced a withdrawal of American Troops from Syria, setting off fierce criticism that led to the resignation of Special Envoy Brett McGurk and Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis. This criticism paled in comparison to the 6 October 2019 statement from the ...

OPINION -- Last Friday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported that an un-named senior administration official said that the U.S. told Moscow that President Trump now favors a summit meeting of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to set up a three-way U.S., China, Russia ...

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 ...

The United States signed a peace agreement with Taliban leaders on Saturday that is intended to end the US’ 18-year involvement in Afghanistan. The deal agreed to in Doha, included the involvement of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban Co-Founder and leader of the Taliban Political ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. The 70th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will be celebrated this March 5 with the prospect that during this decade, there will be appreciably more nuclear weapons states than ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline 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 are ...

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 the government in ...

The fiscal 2020 Intelligence Authorization Bill, that recently passed the House by an overwhelming 397-to-31 vote, contains provisions that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said would call for “new notification requirements regarding covert or overt efforts by foreign governments to undermine trusted institutions or to interfere in ...