It’s been a busy national security week in DC.  Congressional lawmakers and the President managed to reach a deal that would fund the government but leaves the issue of border security open for further action.  On Thursday, President Trump announced he would sign the deal, but that he would also ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-177 to require the administration to end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. If the bill clears the Senate it would be the first time a War Powers Act bill passed both chambers, setting up ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A partially declassified study of U.S. military operations demonstrates the difficulty in accurately counting and mitigating civilian casualties. Disparities exist between official Pentagon estimates of civilians killed and those done by external agencies, leading to assumptions about the former being less transparent. The study reiterates ...

OPINION -- Two senior U.S. military commanders in the Indo-Pacific area this week questioned whether North Korea would ever denuclearize, just 12 days before the next scheduled summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un. While Trump has repeatedly said that "things are going very well ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At the end of February, U.S. President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will meet in Vietnam following up last June’s Singapore summit. The second meeting occurs amidst both positive and negative developments between the countries. Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 10, U.S.-backed forces surrounded the Syrian town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, the ‘last’ remaining stronghold of the so-called Islamic State. President Donald Trump expects to make a formal announcement declaring the ‘official defeat’ of the Islamic State, which could come as early as this ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The 40thanniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution finds the country in a stronger regional position than at any time since the 1979 revolution. The Trump Administration’s re-imposition of U.S. sanctions has failed to isolate Iran internationally, but it has damaged Tehran’s economy. Iran’s continued compliance with ...

The Cipher Brief’s new Friday column, ‘Cipher Select’ talks with retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Rob Lively, who spent 28 years in the U.S. Army, where he was part of a special operations unit based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. In Lively's first interview post-retirement, Cipher Select Executive Editor Brad ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even as President Trump occasionally mocks the science underpinning global warming, the trend lines show an undeniable and intensifying climate change. Researchers are studying melting glaciers in Antarctica and the Himalayas; environmental changes in these two regions will drastically impact the planet. By the time ...

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. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

A hundred years from now historians will write that one of America’s greatest contributions to the world was the Internet. Though other countries and foreign citizens contributed to the effort, U.S. government funding and American academics and technologists created the Internet. As U.S. dependence on the Internet for our economic ...

Cyber has quickly become the global threat that knows no borders, nor does it distinguish between the public and private sectors.  Executives from the world’s largest tech companies gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month to talk about the problem and try to find solutions that could ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After nearly two decades at war in Afghanistan, the United States seems to be seriously pursuing a negotiated peace agreement with the Taliban. As part of any negotiated settlement, the United States will push the Taliban to distance itself from al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. ...

Strategic Warning Intelligence: History, Challenges, and Prospects by John A. Gentry and Joseph S. Gordon (Georgetown University Press) Reviewed by Jason U. Manosevitz The importance of strategic warning analysis is something all can agree upon. If you believe, as I do, that this kind of analysis is vital for sound ...

OPINION -- The “tremendous progress” with North Korea that President Trump has repeatedly claimed does not approach the success that Kim Jong Un has achieved, based on the status of negotiations as described by Trump’s own Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. Biegun said his meeting this week with ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, the United States pulled out of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing years of Russian violations. On February 02, Russia announced that it, too, would suspend adherence to the treaty, sparking fears of a renewed arms race reminiscent of the ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week about the comprehensive threat that China poses to U.S. national security. While there were a number of areas where the IC assessed a serious national security threat, including in the areas of cyber, counterintelligence, space ...

It’s difficult to feel anything other than disappointment after reading Reuter’s investigation of activities by a U.S. contractor in the UAE.  The allegations that former NSA analysts working for a private U.S. contractor may have aided in the surveillance of U.S. citizens raises troubling issues about the activities of private contractors ...

Last month, the U.S. Department of State marked the 35th anniversary of the U.S. designation of Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism. Tehran is part of an exclusive club—partners in crime with other designees North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Indeed, since at least 1996, in one country report on Terrorism after another, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 31, Greece announced it would vote on the proposed NATO accession plan put forward by the newly anointed country of North Macedonia. On January 25, Greece’s parliament approved the change from Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a nearly three-decade long ...

This week’s release of the Intelligence Community’s unclassified Worldwide Threat Assessment made clear which groups the IC believes pose the greatest terrorist threats to the U.S. in 2019. The list of terrorist organizations includes: ISIS, Al Qaeda, Homegrown Violent Extremists (‘likely to present the most acute Sunni terrorist threat to ...

As part of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment this week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional U.S. interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Given its history, geography and demographics, Southeast Asia has proven to be hospitable terrain for myriad terrorist and insurgent groups. A recent attack against a church in Jolo in the southern Philippines highlights the enduring nature of the threat posed by jihadist militancy. Indonesia, the ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, with Intelligence Community leaders briefing Senators on the biggest threats facing the U.S. While The Cipher Brief will cover all aspects of the broader threat matrix that includes China, Russia and North Korea, this week we are ...

New York State has convicted a white supremacist as a ‘terrorist’ for the first time in its history.  James Harris Jackson was convicted for the murder of Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old African American man, in what has been classified as a hate crime.  Jackson pled guilty Tuesday to the charge ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Earlier this month, China released footage from a military exercise where the ‘Guam killer’ DF-26 ballistic missile was tested. In the 21stCentury, China has increasingly focused resources on modernizing its military to match its economic power. Chinese military modernization presents the most significant challenge to ...

By Larry Loftis Reviewed by: Carol Rollie Flynn, Cipher Brief Expert and Former Assoc. Deputy Director, National Counterterrorism Center, CIA.  Currently CEO & Managing Director, Singa Consulting Code Name: LISE: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Decorated Spy,  Gallery Books, January 15, 2019 Early in Larry Loftis' ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since 2016, there have been more than 230 terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, which threatens to destabilize the landlocked West African nation. In the north of the country, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State in Greater Sahara both pose growing security threats. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 26, a Venezuelan military attache defected to the U.S. and along with other military officers, recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has kept favor with the military following tensions over his election, although this has recently begun to change. ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack at a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 21 people dead and scores injured. Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Syria that targeted and killed four Americans, one of them a Green Beret.  Al-Shabab, the terrorist group ...

As this month’s terror attacks in Syria and Nairobi make clear, organizations like ISIS and al-Shabab remain focused on launching attacks as a show of strength and resolve.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the Syria attack that killed four Americans and al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack that killed at ...

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says countries around the world are detecting and reporting more victims of human trafficking than ever before.  One of the reasons for the increase in reporting could be that there is much more attention placed on the issue than in years past. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will give terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) more room to maneuver. AQIS is a major node in a network with deep roots in South Asia, and it works closely with other terrorist groups, including the ...

The Government remains shut down after President Donald Trump offered a plan over the weekend to provide temporary protection to some groups of immigrants if Democrats agree to fund the border wall.   Democrats refused the offer and are calling on the President to re-open the government while  they address issues ...

General Michael Hayden, the co-host of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference for the past two years, has famously said that the world has been more dangerous in the past, but it has never been more complicated.  He has also said that if the U.S. doesn’t get China right, nothing ...

French philosopher Voltaire claimed that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The Kremlin, whenever it wishes to free a convicted Russian spy, twists this concept a bit: “If there's no espionage case, it's necessary to invent one”.  The recent arrest of U.S. citizen Paul ...

Russia’s willingness to detain a U.S. citizen in apparent retaliation for the recent case against Russian citizen Marina Butina should serve as a warning to U.S. citizens who are traveling - without the benefit of diplomatic immunity -  of the risks in traveling to countries where the rule of law ...

Bill Harlow knows how to use a word.  The Under/Cover Co-Editor and prolific author has worked with some of the very best in the national security world.  He was co-author of George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, as well as roughly a half ...

President Donald Trump now says U.S. troops will "slowly" be withdrawn from Syria after his controversial announcement in December, saying that troops would be pulled out within 30 days, led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and the accelerated resignation of Special Envoy to Syria, Brett McGurk. The ...

As we head into 2019, the U.S. does so as a nation that has become accustomed to active shooters, evidenced by horrific tragedies that occurred in 2018.  On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people died at Parkland High School. On Nov 8, 2018, at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, ...

John Carlin brings a wealth of government experience to his new book, co-written with author Garrett M. Graff, Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat. Part of that government experience includes serving as the former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, ...

Vice President Mike Pence put a little rocket fuel behind plans to create a new Space Force on Tuesday by announcing that President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a U.S. Space Command.  Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pence said that the new Command will ...

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a 23-page report in October outlining proposed major changes for how it wants to screen passengers at airports to help keep them safe from terrorism.  The changes include far greater reliance on biometric technology and intelligence analysis to move people through screening points more ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Six months after the historic June 11, 2018 Summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung Un, the American public is losing patience with a North Korea that continues to make nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.  Many now doubt that North Korea will ever ...

At a recent private D.C. dinner, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gathered with academics and cyber experts from the private sector to talk candidly about urgent cyber threats and actions that DHS is taking to address them. It was an intimate event, hosted by Atlantic Council President Fred Kempe and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.K. Parliament has issued a report detailing shortcomings with how its security services handled five terrorism cases in 2017. The challenges came not in the responses to these attacks, but rather the inability to ‘connect dots’ or deter people already identified as potential threats. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 1, President Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina. The meeting comes at a crucial time for the Sino-U.S. relationship, which has been continuously deteriorating throughout the Trump presidency. Both Xi and Trump are to ...

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday, held among his most cherished roles in U.S. Government, the role of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush served as Director for just one year, from January 1976 to January 1977.  He came into the Agency during a time of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 11, the British Parliament will vote on a ‘finalized’ deal for exiting the European Union (EU). The deal is two parts—a lengthy legally-binding agreement and a more controversial, less-detailed common approach to future trade relations. The EU is by far the largest market ...

OPINION -- The Middle East, like the rest of the world, is a “very dangerous place!” according to President Trump. The Saudis, with America’s tacit help, made it so. President Trump’s bizarre and strange recent statement giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a pass on his involvement in ...