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 ...

The U.S. is calling for more rigorous enforcement of sanctions against Russia after Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats on Sunday, claiming the ships had ‘illegally’ entered its waters.  Russia has been using Ukraine as a provocation point for some time, so will the tougher enforcement of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Hezbollah’s emergence as Iran’s key regional proxy has prompted additional U.S. efforts to choke off the terror group’s finances. Sanctions will likely be ineffective because Hezbollah is a sub-state actor with few connections to the formal global economy. U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah are modeled after ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After months of increasing restrictions, Russia recently blockaded the Sea of Azov at the Kerch Strait, denying Ukrainian ships the ability to enter. Russia fired upon and seized two Ukrainian gunboats and a tugboat as they attempted to sail from Odessa to Mariupol, with an ...

According to a recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDS), the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House "have not yet articulated clear operational concepts for achieving U.S. security objectives in the face of ongoing competition and potential military confrontation with China and Russia." The NDS is ...

Cipher Brief readers are wishing General Michael V. Hayden, a speedy recovery after the former CIA and NSA director suffered a stroke last week. Hayden, who is a member of The Cipher Brief's board of directors, suffered the stroke at home just before Thanksgiving.  According to a statement from the Michael ...

Last month, Secretary Mattis and his counterparts from across the Americas met in Mexico City for The Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas to discuss shared regional defense challenges. The event was especially important for North American defense cooperation between the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Secretary Mattis noted ...

  Bottom Line Up Front More than two decades after the official end of the wars in the Balkans, ethnic divisions still define the political landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While combat subsided in the mid-1990s, the country remains as divided as ever, particularly along religious and ethnic lines, with ...

BOOK REVIEW: Dawn of The Code War: Americas Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat By: John P. Carlin with Garrett M. Graff, Public Affairs, New York, 2018 Reviewed by Peter M. Tran In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that “Our new Constitution is now established, and ...

OPINION -- U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have treated WikiLeaks as a hostile, foreign intelligence service and Julian Assange, its director, as a potential target for criminal prosecution, since the Obama administration. Last week’s inadvertent disclosure of a sealed federal indictment against Assange in Federal District Court in Eastern ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At some point today, the U.S. government is expected to release its assessment on the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump has already minimized the assessment, questioning ‘will anybody really know?’ when asked about the Khashoggi murder ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By October 2019, the U.S. will have spent approximately $6 trillion in efforts related to support of the so-called ‘global war on terror.’ This figure factors in the true costs of a series of seemingly endless military campaigns, to include debt payments and spending across ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a full report on the killing of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  The President called a leaked CIA conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the Khashoggi's killing "very premature" in comments over the weekend, though he ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the extent of Russia’s manipulation of Facebook became more apparent following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the social media company reluctantly investigated itself and discovered serious shortcomings. In the aftermath of the Saudi-ordered murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there was renewed attention to the use ...

OPINION -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to wage a global charm offensive, even while supporting a number of actions that have drawn world criticism, including the GRU-sponsored attempted assassination (using a nerve agent, Novichok) of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, the GRU-sponsored hacking of web ...

OPINION -- Democrats controlling the House next January should see an Armed Services Committee that supports some reduced defense spending in fiscal 2020, and an Intelligence Committee that protects, rather-than-attacks, the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both committees will open aggressive inquiries into Trump activities in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 11, reports indicate that at least 149 Yemenis were killed in fighting for the port city of Hodeida. The toll includes 110 Houthi fighters, 32 pro-pro-government fighters, and 7 civilians. The United Nations is warning again that the disruption or destruction of the ...

China's state news agency Xinhua, has shown the world just how far China has come in the artificial intelligence race with the introduction of a digital news anchor. The digital anchor not only read the news at China's World Internet Conference last week, but it also demonstrated the capabilities of ...

In a recent interview, The Cipher Brief sat down with former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden to talk about global threats, and in particular, cyber threats and efforts to address them, specifically within the private sector.  Hayden has famously said before that when it comes to cyber, ‘the cavalry ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 6, the United Nations stated it had found over 200 mass graves in Iraq in areas once held by the Islamic State. The UN assessment of at least 12,000 people buried in these mass graves is likely an underestimate of the murders committed ...

THE SPY WHO WAS LEFT BEHIND by Michael Pullara, Scribner, New York, 2018 Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn There are currently 129 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall in the lobby of CIA Headquarters, each star representing a CIA employee who died in service to their country.  One of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, both U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared the need for a ceasefire in Yemen. The statements come as some semblance of public and congressional pressure builds against U.S. support for the Saudi-led catastrophe, which up until ...

As Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has terrorized his opponents at home and abroad, fear has spread within the Saudi kingdom. Has he become the new Saddam of Arabia? As Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s, MbS is cementing his power domestically and regionally through fear and economic largesse under ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The armed conflict in Ukraine has received scant attention in the Western media lately, however, tensions have recently increased between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. is bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces with new technology and joint training exercises, actions interpreted by Russia as provocations. Russia ...

The recent distrust between the United States and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the crisis in Yemen.  The U.S. supports Saudi forces by providing intelligence and logistics support, among other things, as the Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, takes on the rebel Houthis that have pushed the Yemeni ...

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a number of important comments Tuesday during an interview at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  Speaking to former U.S. national security advisor Stephen Hadley, the Secretary called for a ceasefire in war-torn Yemen within the next 30 days.  He also got specific regarding ...

Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, (MbS) are confronting a crisis. How they manage to extricate the kingdom will have potentially long-term consequences for the kingdom, its relationship with the U.S. and for its image worldwide. It is tempting to exaggerate such situations. In this case, the ...

The National Space Council heard testimony, and then voted this week to move forward with six recommendations that are intended to provide some lift for President Trump’s call to create a U.S. Space Force.  While there has been a cautious sense of how to move ahead with the idea among ...

OPINION -- While President Trump’s claimed $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia remains “fake,” and shouldn’t be even considered “news,” there are deliveries of past sales in the pipeline to the Saudis that should be held up in response to the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. has announced it will pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987. Washington’s departure from the hallmark treaty was not unexpected; the U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF agreement since 2014. The decision to leave is quite ...

The President’s recent tweet storm threatening to close the U.S.’s land border with Mexico and order military action to counter a “dangerous” caravan of asylum seekers, highlights his interest in making border security a key issue in the midterm elections.  Rhetoric aside, the Republican-controlled Congress continues to reject his effort ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Immigration remains a major issue for the Trump administration, with stories emerging recently about White House infighting about whether or not the current head of the Department of Homeland Security is ‘tough enough on migrants heading to the southern border.’ In January, the Trump administration ...

By Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz, Berkley Reviewed by Under/Cover Senior Editor Bill Harlow Young people today would be forgiven if they believed that they live in a time of unprecedented hate and senseless violence.  Apparent state-sponsored murders of journalists, political and religious-inspired assassinations, suicide bombings and random mass ...

Leaders: Myth and Reality, was a bestseller, even before it hit the bookstores.  According to Amazon, the book being released today by General Stanley McChrystal (Ret.), former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Eggers and former Marine Jason Mangone is already topping the bestseller list for business and organizational learning.  The Cipher ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 19, Saudi Arabia once again changed its official response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi from a denial to an implausible cover story. The manner in which other countries react to the official version of events from Riyadh is extremely important; Saudi citizens ...

Turkey’s President says he will announce details of his government’s investigation into the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will “go into detail” in a speech to Turkey’s ruling party, according to the AP. Cipher Brief Expert and former member of CIA’s ...

As Turkish officials continue to release details that draw a gruesome picture of the apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the level of information they say they have collected suggests a robust espionage capability against the Saudis in Turkey. While the rightful diplomatic question of how the United ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 18, the Taliban assassinated General Abdul Raziq, the extremely powerful and controversial police chief of Kandahar Province. The Governor of Kandahar, Zalmai Wesa, was injured in the attack, while the province’s intelligence chief, Gen. Abdul Momin, was killed. The head of U.S. military ...

Twitter is releasing a trove of known accounts and posts that it says were used to meddle in U.S. elections dating back to 2016.  According to the company, the data includes more than 4,600 accounts and more than 10 million tweets, photos, GIFs and broadcasts linked to Russia and Iran.  ...

Bottom Line Up Front As the details continue to emerge, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi appears to be a political assassination, potentially orchestrated by the Saudi government. There are reports, given credence by President Trump, that the royal family will seek to blame ‘rogue elements’ for Khashoggi’s murder, however implausible ...

Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly sat down with Cipher Brief Expert and retired four-star General Stanley McChrystal at the NYSE in New York this week to talk about his new book, Leaders: Myth and Reality.  The Cipher Brief will release that full, fascinating interview next week, but we ...

Bottom Line Up Front Although it receives less attention than the so-called Islamic State or IS franchise groups in places like Libya and Afghanistan, the IS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula poses a major threat to regional stability. Despite boasting the Arab world’s largest conventional ground force, the Egyptian military ...