Saying you are in favor of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is like suggesting you are a Republican in D.C. – the odds against are 20-1 and you are considered either peculiar, dense, or deviant.  But, there is a purpose for the DNI.  It is needed still.  And the ...

There has been much said about how often President-elect Donald Trump takes his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), the Intelligence Community’s (IC) assessment of key national security threats.  The PDB is critical, and reports that the President-elect has upped the frequency to three times a week are encouraging.   As someone who ...

In the final few days of the Obama Administration, CIA Director John Brennan, after consulting with the Director of National Intelligence, brought years of CIA and interagency efforts to a close by updating the CIA’s decades-old procedures for collecting, retaining, or disseminating information concerning United States (U.S.) persons.  These updated ...

We're revisiting a 2017 piece, when Gina Haspel was nominated to become the CIA's deputy director, after Tuesday's news that President Donald Trump is nominating her to replace Mike Pompeo, who has been named to take over from Secretary of State  Rex Tillerson. It was early 2010, and I was ...

Now that the dust has settled on President Obama’s unexpected decision to, his last week in office, commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning, it’s worth revisiting what it might mean for U.S. national security.  The decision surprised everyone.  Left wing, right wing, everyone was left scratching their heads as to ...

With a series of disparaging remarks about the intelligence community (IC) from President-elect Donald Trump in recent weeks, David Priess, a former CIA analyst and author of The President’s Book of Secrets, offered historical perspective on how the relationship between the two parties could evolve. Speaking at The Cipher Brief’s ...

Sometimes the best state secret isn’t a secret—it’s a person. Stephanie O’Sullivan spent the bulk of her career keeping secrets for the United States Intelligence Community, and even as she rose through the ranks to become one of the IC’s highest ranking leaders, she always maintained something of a low ...

President-elect Donald Trump Saturday named former Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) as his choice to be Director of National Intelligence. Coats recently retired from Congress, where he served as the third-ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I’m very confident that Senator Dan Coats is the right choice to serve as ...

President-elect Donald Trump was briefed Friday on the findings of the intelligence community that Russia was behind hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s staff during the election campaign. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election process. It comes ...

There are a couple of key questions we should all have when it comes to the difference of opinion between President-elect Donald Trump and the CIA about whether Russia launched cyber operations with the intention of influencing the outcome of the election. The first thing we really need to know: ...

Washington understandably is exercised over the controversy between the Trump transition team and the Intelligence Community (IC) concerning the apparent Russian government hacking of websites related to the Presidential election.  This controversy obviously has immediate implications for the Trump Administration's relations with Moscow, and longer term ones for the climate ...

What impact will President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on the Intelligence Community have on the CIA as it steels itself to deal with its already contentious new first customer? The agency’s conclusion in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the election not just to undermine confidence in the electoral process ...

As part of our special coverage of Foreign Influence, Domestic Division: Russia, the 2016 Election, and Trump’s Rebuke of the U.S. Intelligence Community, The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor Fionnuala Sweeney speaks to Rob Richer, former CIA Associate Deputy Director for Operations and formerly chief of Russian Operations. She asked him ...

The statement by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump dismissing the CIA’s findings that Russia had interfered in the recent election has implications for the Agency, the country, and its allies. Not least affected are the CIA field operatives, whose ability to develop contacts and sources could, argues former CIA Officer Alex ...

The Washington Post report on a secret CIA assessment concluding that Russia intervened in the U.S. Presidential election with the intention of helping President-elect Donald Trump win is only part of a deeply concerning and incredibly significant risk to national security.  It would be bad enough if the Russians were ...

As the United States and the international community absorbed the news that the CIA believed Russia had interfered in the recent Presidential election to help Donald Trump’s candidacy, President-elect Trump dismissed the assessment out of hand, describing it as a result of partisan politics. As part of The Cipher Brief’s ...

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s first choices for his national security team was Representative Mike Pompeo for Director of the CIA.  A graduate of West Point and a Harvard educated lawyer, Pompeo is a three-term Republican Congressman from Kansas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and a strong advocate ...

Is a future where people can be arrested for crimes they have not yet committed dystopian or utopian? While this scenario remains the fodder of science fiction, new tools are rapidly challenging our libertarian conceptions of innocent until proven guilty. In the last few decades there has been enormous growth ...

The world has seen an enormous surge in the amount of data available, particularly human-generated digital exhaust from our Internet and communications habits. But only a small portion of this data is actually useful for security professionals. The U.S. Intelligence Community is hard pressed to find new tools to assist ...

As the security clearance process comes under the microscope during President-elect Donald Trump’s transition, some experts and former intelligence community members say the system for determining whether people are eligible for access to classified information needs a revamp. Given the challenges of over-classification, insider threats, and today’s security environment, the ...

I teach at two great graduate schools at George Washington and Johns Hopkins Universities.  I am privileged to interact with talented and dedicated students, many of whom aspire to work in the national security sector, primarily in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Since the election, the questions I hear repeatedly ...

As President-elect Donald Trump assembles his national security team, The Cipher Brief met with one prospective nominee, General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army and member of The Cipher Brief’s network. He had just met with the Trump team when he sat down with ...

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced on Thursday he has submitted his resignation letter, a long-expected move that paves the way for the next administration to name its pick for the United States’ top spy. “I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,” Clapper told ...

Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States and his most solemn responsibility is ensuring the safety of all Americans as well as helping protect the country’s allies.  The Cipher Brief’s Pam Benson sat down with retired General Jack Keane, a member of The Cipher Brief’s ...

Defending and securing a nation and its people would be much easier if those tasked with the job were psychics, like the precogs in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 thriller Minority Report. Turns out, that futuristic reality may not be too far-fetched. To that end, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) – ...

The U.S. Intelligence Community’s (IC) clandestine human intelligence (HUMINT) services are experiencing an erosion of their core mission and values, with consequences to our current and future collection capability.  As a 31-year career veteran at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), I executed and managed some of the CIA’s sensitive covert ...

The increasing rate of international and domestic terror threats to and in the homeland highlights the importance to our security of the nation’s least understood community: the homeland intelligence enterprise.  Although the homeland intelligence enterprise contains a large and diverse collection of assets from across the Department of Homeland Security ...

“Our next president will inherit a world that in my judgment has a multitude of national security challenges that collectively are greater than any other president has inherited in some decades.” A stark assessment from Michael Vickers, former Green Beret, CIA paramilitary operations officer and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, ...

In the aftermath of 9/11, every major security, law enforcement, and intelligence organization initiated changes to address the looming terrorist threat. None made more profound changes to its intelligence structure, operations, and culture than the New York City Police Department (NYPD). An effective counterterrorism intelligence program at the national or ...

The man who was Edward Snowden’s boss when the National Security Agency (NSA) leaker fled the United States is now speaking out about his experiences and how to counter insider threats. Steven Bay, who served as Snowden’s boss when he worked as a NSA contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton from ...

Fifteen years ago, 19 hijackers and four planes shattered American illusions of security. An outside attack seemed remote to most Americans, and there appeared to be no immediate threat to their daily lives.  September 11th quickly dispelled that sense of safety, and as the dust settled and the death toll ...

As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, the Cipher Brief asked me to assess the impact of the past 15 years on the American intelligence community. Let me begin by making one thing clear.  The American intelligence community is actually pretty good at what it does.  In fact, if we were ...

In the aftermath of 9/11, the American intelligence community (IC) went through one of the most transformative periods in its history. From the creation of the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence (ODNI) to the creation of new agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. national ...

The “Big Six” of U.S. intelligence on Thursday broke down the major threats facing the next administration and their respective agencies, warning that ISIS will remain an issue long after the group is territorially defeated. During a wide-ranging discussion at the Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington, D.C., CIA ...

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to intelligence is well-known and defined by her tenure as Home Secretary. While foreign intelligence technically falls into the remit of the Foreign Secretary, the policy and legal frameworks are generally administered by the Home Office. The Home Office has – since 2010, when ...

On Wednesday, Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, received his first classified intelligence briefing at an FBI field office in New York City. The briefing, which was given by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), comes on the heels of controversial remarks made by Trump in an interview ...

On July 15, the United States and Russia announced a tentative agreement on Syria which, according to media reports, would establish a joint command center staffed with military and intelligence officers who would initially exchange information on the al-Nusra Front —a terrorist organization that was affiliated with al Qaeda up ...

In the middle of the night on May 17th, 2015, United States military forces entered Syria to capture Abu Sayyaf, a key Islamic State leader involved in the group's financial and hostage-taking operations. As noted by named and unnamed U.S. government officials, the raid, which resulted in the death of ...

Drawing heavily from the fallout of the Edward Snowden affair and packed with non-stop action, Matt Damon returns as an older and grimmer version of the protagonist in the thrilling new film Jason Bourne. Directed by Paul Greengrass and written by Christopher Rouse, the latest installment of the Bourne series ...

The issue of government access to privately held data about American citizens is an important one, and the debate about privacy has expanded into the field of social media. In early May, a firm called Dataminr – which provides real time updates on breaking events by monitoring Twitter data – ...

A slightly different version of this article appeared recently in the Washington Times.  General Hayden has requested that we reprint it in The Cipher Brief following Thursday’s horrific attack in Nice, France.  He believes that it has special relevance for the intelligence community today. I recently joined other former security officials to ...

A slightly different version of this article appeared recently in the Washington Times.  General Hayden has requested that we reprint it in The Cipher Brief following Thursday’s horrific attack in Nice, France.  He believes that it has special relevance for the intelligence community today. I recently joined other former security ...

Three years ago, Edward Snowden’s leaks sent shockwaves through the U.S. intelligence services, disclosing information about surveillance programs and foreign intelligence operations and sparking a global conversation about the balance between national security and the privacy of citizens. The revelations brought some aspects of the intelligence community out of the ...

In the three years since the news first broke of Edward Snowden’s trove of leaked National Security Agency documents, debates have raged in the public sphere and within the intelligence community over the contents of what he revealed and what they mean for privacy, transparency, and the future of surveillance. ...

Once the Democratic and Republican parties officially nominate their Presidential candidates at their political conventions this summer, the nominees will be offered intelligence briefings before the general election.  We asked Michael Morell, the former Deputy Director and twice Acting Director of the CIA, to explain how these briefings work. The ...

Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have shown their frustration with what they believe has been a failure of the Pentagon to keep Congressional intelligence committees “fully informed” about Defense Department intelligence operations. In their report on the 2017 Intelligence Authorization bill that the House passed overwhelmingly ...

There’s one group you almost certainly did not hear mentioned as the news media and others on Memorial Day lauded, honored, and remembered our richly deserving military heroes – those who gave their all for our country.  I’m speaking of the CIA officers who have also given that last full ...

Tonya Ugoretz, the President’s appointee to head the newly created Cyber Threat and Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), would not be faulted for wondering, “What have I done to deserve this?”  As the inevitable debates, doubts, and bureaucratic squabbles take hold, it is hard to fathom how a new, inter-departmental government ...

In recent years, it’s been increasingly common for former CIA operations officers to write books and Op-Eds.   In an Op-Ed for Fox Business online last week, Bryan Dean Wright called out fundamental management failures at CIA.  And this week, another former ops officer, Doug Laux, published a book, Left of ...

From his spacious office overlooking the Potomac River, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart has sweeping views of some of Washington D.C.’s iconic landmarks—the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon—symbols of the land he came to as a 13-year old back in 1971.   He is Jamaican by birth, and once in ...