With ongoing and often frustrating nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and heightened tensions between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan over Kashmir, having a clear picture of a nation's nuclear capabilities and how often they are testing them provides critical national security information. A fundamental building block of national ...

OPINION -- The U.S. Army is working on major changes in doctrine, organization and training “to develop a force that can effectively engage great-power competitors, such as Russia and China, across multiple domains, and expects this process to continue through the 2020s,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following months of negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban leaders, an agreement on bringing the war in Afghanistan to a formally recognized end now seems imminent. The most important elements of the negotiations are the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the Taliban’s relationship with transnational ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In Hong Kong and Moscow, long-simmering undercurrents of political opposition have pitted protesters against unrepresentative authoritarian governments. In Moscow, police have used extreme force to crack down on the tens of thousands of protesters in a series of demonstrations. The Hong Kong protests are larger ...

(Editor's note - Thursday, August 15 is the last day of work for Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his Principal Deputy Director Susan Gordon.  Coats turned in his resignation in late July and Gordon delivered hers last week amid rumors that she was being pushed from her job.  ...

The Cipher Brief is bringing you a range of perspectives this week on the threat of domestic terrorism and what a range of experts say should be done about it. Cipher Brief expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On August 8, the United Nations released a new report that details accelerating climate change and its negative impact on global food supplies. A major second-order effect of climate change is an increase in migration, as individuals seek to relocate in hopes of escaping poverty, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Amidst escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf, officials from the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) recently met with their counterparts in Iran to discuss maritime security. Both the United States and the United Kingdom are exploring potential options to increase maritime security in the Gulf. Unlike ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The situation in Yemen continues to devolve into anarchy, with Emirati-trained forces battling troops from the Saudi-supported internationally recognized government. Fighters from the Southern Transitional Council (STC), whose objective is to secede from Yemen, seized control of military bases and government installations in Aden, one ...

Former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd knows a lot of details you probably don't about CIA black sites.  He knows, because he was associated with the enhanced interrogation program that took place post 9/11.  Now, Mudd has written a new book, Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World that ...

OPINION -- The alleged Privacy Act violation by Trump administration officials in publicly disclosing former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok’s personal text messages without his permission as described in his lawsuit filed last Tuesday in U.S. Federal District Court in the District of Columbia could present a major new problem ...

The resignation of both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his deputy Susan Gordon, both taking effect on August 15th, mean big changes are underway at the top of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Sources tell us that Gordon increasingly found herself between a rock and a hard place since ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On August 7, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and ended bilateral trade between the two countries. The moves come after India's August 5 announcement that it was revoking Kashmir's semi-autonomous status and splitting the disputed area into two parts more firmly under Indian control. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Persian Gulf remains a potential flashpoint as the United States and its allies increase their deployments and Iran strengthens its defense posture. Iran's seizure of another Gulf oil tanker in early August demonstrates Tehran's confidence in its strategic position throughout the region. The muted ...

The director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office says the city is experiencing its worst crisis since the colony returned to China from British rule in 1997 after weeks of protests prompted by legislation that protestors believe was eroding their freedoms. Thousands of protestors have been disrupting travel ...

Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) finds himself in an interesting situation these days with his influence waning throughout the Middle East, and still feeling the blowback from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  Here’s a quick look at where his influence is waning the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Given Russia's relentless disinformation campaigns, several European countries have accelerated efforts to prepare their populations for this threat. While successful examples of promoting resilience to disinformation are rare, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark have made strides to help inoculate their populations. Given Russian meddling in the ...

OPINION -- The U.S. has a triad of strategic nuclear weapons, air-launched from bombers, sea-launched from submarines, and land-based intercontinental missiles launched from underground silos. There is a reason. The triad’s purpose is to deter a foreign nuclear power from attempting a first strike to wipe out this country’s nuclear ...

BOOK REVIEW: Lincoln’s Spies      By Douglas Waller Reviewed by Michael Sulick Michael Sulick was the director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service.  He also served as Chief of Counterintelligence and Chief of the Central Eurasia Division where he was responsible for intelligence collection operations and foreign liaison relationships in Russia, Eastern ...

This weekend’s back to back shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio highlight, in the deadliest way, growing concerns that the U.S. is fighting its own extremism problem. As authorities look into the motives in both attacks, we must act promptly to thwart future attacks.  Here’s how we can ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Saturday, a terrorist allegedly motivated by anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic beliefs murdered 20 people and injured dozens more in a shooting in El Paso, Texas. The act of domestic terrorism is one in a string of incidents perpetrated by radical right-wing extremists in the United ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Against all odds, the popular revolts in Sudan and Algeria both succeeded in forcing the removal of their long-time autocratic leaders. Protesters in both countries are now grappling with how to change entrenched power structures that allow elites connected to the regime to retain power.  ...

When the President said this week that U.S. intelligence agencies have ‘run amok’, he was offering the statement in part to explain why he was nominating John Ratcliffe as the next Director of National Intelligence.  The President told reporters “I think we need somebody like that in there.  We need ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 27, Bahrain executed three men, two of whom were Shia activists convicted of terrorism charges and murder. The trial of Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali has been condemned by human rights experts as a travesty, with allegations of torture and forced confessions. Bahrain’s ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Throughout Libya’s civil war, widespread allegations have surfaced that strongman Khalifa Haftar operates as a modern-day warlord, using his power to further numerous criminal enterprises. To fund the LNA’s activities, Haftar’s network allegedly has turned to a range of criminal activities and illicit financial flows. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By purchasing Russian S-400 missiles, Turkey has complicated an already strained relationship with NATO and the West. The U.S. has ejected Turkey from the F-35 program, while insisting that Turkey remains a trusted NATO partner. The past several years have seen Ankara move further away ...

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. The various ...

  Bottom Line Up Front:  The success of Russia’s meddling in 2016 U.S. election ensures that Moscow will employ similar disinformation efforts as 2020 approaches. Indicating the severity of the threat, DNI Dan Coats recently announced the creation of the federal government's first 'election threats executive.' Both governments and private ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Pakistani authorities have arrested Hafiz Saeed, founder of the terrorist group LeT and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan outlawed LeT in 2002, although the group continues to operate with the assistance of elements of the Pakistani security services.  New Prime Minister Imran Khan ...

New audio of the seizure of a British-flagged tanker indicates the vessel was too far away from help to avoid being forced to change course by Iranian Paramilitary forces last week.  In audio released on Sunday by a maritime security firm, a British officer unsuccessfully demanded freedom to sail through ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW GIRL     By Daniel Silva Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Richer retired from the CIA in November 2005. Prior to his assignment as the ADDO in 2004, Richer was the Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible ...

  Bottom Line Up Front President Trump’s revelation that the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone on July 18 suggests that tensions in the Gulf will not subside any time soon. The U.S. shootdown might have been intended to satisfy critics who opposed President Trump’s decision in June to refrain ...

Cybersecurity firm Finite State issued a recent report concluding that telecommunications equipment made by Chinese firm Huawei present a higher percentage of security vulnerabilities than equipment produced by other firms. A story in The Wall Street Journal citied numerous sources inside the Administration who pointed to the report as further ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The UN recently released a report that squarely places blame for the murder of prominent Saudi dissident and U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the highest levels of the Saudi government. Against this backdrop, Riyadh is set to host the G-20 in 2020. President Trump has ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s recent responses to U.S. pressure, including to the UK-led seizure of a Syria-bound Iranian oil tanker, have brought the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal to the brink of collapse. The UK and other European countries still seek to de-escalate tensions and avoid a U.S.-Iran military ...

Tensions remain high between Iran and several EU countries, even after some of the primary signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement vowed their continued support this week, offering Iran an opportunity to reverse its recent, deliberate violations of the JCPOA.  In play right now: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ...

  The withdrawal of UAE troops from the disastrous war in Yemen is forcing Saudi Arabia to shoulder more of its own burden. There is not likely to be a serious public rift between the UAE and Saudi Arabia; the two still share a common vision of a Gulf region ...

Army Gen. Mark Milley indicated he would continue Pentagon independence from some of President Trump’s policies at his confirmation hearing to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In doing so he would be following the examples set by ...

Editors note: Daniel Silva is one of America’s most prolific and popular novelists.  His latest book, The New Girl, is officially out today, July 16th. Look for a full review of the book in The Cipher Brief this Friday, written by Cipher Brief Expert Rob Richer, who himself has had ...

Few today would argue that the threat surface in cyberspace has expanded significantly in the past decade.  Just ask your fridge.  From the new risks we’ve brought into our own kitchens, to the increased capabilities of nation states to disrupt everything from electricity to elections, there is an even greater ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following months of fighting, Sudan’s current ruling military government and the political opposition have forged a power-sharing agreement.  What happens next in Sudan will depend in large part on the rivalries and divisions that characterize the current regime, which is far from a monolith. One ...

Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran with no recognizable movement toward formal negotiations, and the Administration’s recent effort in Bahrain to gain support for their plan to find a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via investment feels bankrupt, but if there is one thing every good businessman knows, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran have now returned to the core issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent actions, including violating terms of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, are intended to make the Trump administration pay a price for its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. ...

The Cipher Brief is focusing this week on the real national security situation that is building along the southern border.  The President recently signed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill to address the humanitarian crisis there, but Congressman Will Hurd, Republican from Texas, says it isn’t enough.   The Cipher ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As Sri Lanka continues to deal with the fallout from the Easter terrorist attacks, the government is reportedly examining links to Saudi-exported Wahhabism. Authorities are investigating Saudi-funded mosques and foundations to determine what impact the austere brand of Islam pushed by Riyadh is having on ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior member of the British Foreign Office and a Cipher Brief expert. He is currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London’s Department of War Studies. President Trump’s short walk inside North Korea on 30th June was great theatre; perfect for a politician ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 5, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning an airstrike on a migrant detention camp in Libya that killed 53 people. Despite the 2011 U.N. arms embargo in Libya, countries like the UAE and Turkey continue to provide heavy weapons to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While the UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi is now seeking to distance itself from Riyadh on critical issues of foreign policy. Following a string of tanker attacks believed to be perpetrated by Iran, the UAE cited a lack of evidence ...

Under/Cover is constantly probing for insights that will help readers (and writers) understand how to gauge demand, and how to know if that story they have burning inside of them, is actually a book.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's (HMH) ...