After weeks of anticipation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The relationship between the two leaders has been characterized by lofty praise and suggestions of cooperation on the fight against ISIS. The relationship between ...

In his readout of the two hour and 15 minute meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump repeatedly brought up Russian meddling in the U.S. election during the meeting. In his words, the two leaders had “a very ...

Russians are fond of their aphorism, v chuzhoi monastir so svoim ustavom, ne khodyat – “No-one goes to another monastery with their own charter," the Russian equivalent to “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Soviet leaders and their Russian successors have sought to exploit Russians' appreciation for their special historical ...

Current and former Intelligence Community heads say intelligence briefings must shift under President Donald Trump to acknowledge his tendency to be what National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Susan Gordon described as a “fire and forget” type of leader. During a discussion at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea ...

The dueling Republican and Democratic talking points on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election were on full display during the recent testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan to the House Intelligence Committee. Democratic members and surrogates concentrated their attention on potential abuse of power and obstruction of justice, ...

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is in Washington today meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.  Romania, a member of NATO, is a key strategic partner of the U.S., hosting a U.S. missile defense site.  But the eastern European nation also sits in a precarious location along the Black Sea, where the ...

June 4 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the greatest naval battle in American history and the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. At Midway, a larger Japanese fleet was surprised and defeated by smaller, less combat-experienced U.S. naval forces. Victory was enabled by ...

Allegations that involve Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner persist, following U.S. media reports over the weekend. According to the Washington Post and New York Times, Kushner and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak discussed setting up  backchannel communications between Washington and Moscow, during the transition period in December.. The ...

Few were paying attention, but the CIA did something groundbreaking in 2015. For the first time since before man walked on the moon, the Agency created a new directorate. The idea was to move officers into the age of cyber, to arm them with the kinds of digital skills they ...

President Donald Trump is defending his "absolute right" to share information for "humanitarian reasons" with Russia following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last week. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump said he had shared "facts pertaining to ...

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced on Friday a change in its intelligence collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA). The move comes under the backdrop of the looming deadline of December 31, 2017 when the authorities granted by 702 will expire if not reauthorized ...

Intelligence cooperation within Europe can get messy. There are national intelligence units, European Union (EU) intel structures, and ones within NATO. How all of these different institutions coordinate and share information is vital to securing the continent and has been of heightened focus with the wave of terror attacks in ...

There has been talk for decades of creating an overarching intelligence structure that works to keep the continent secure, but it has taken on new urgency with the recent increase in terror attacks in Europe.   However, doing so is easier said than done. In fact, there are legal impediments to ...

A spike in terrorist attacks in Europe over the past couple of years has reignited the debate over how to improve European intelligence collection and sharing. The ISIS-claimed terror shooting in Paris last week, which left one police officer dead and at least two others wounded, is just the latest ...

How far-fetched are James Bond’s gadgets or shows like Mission Impossible, where under-cover agents switch into different disguises? Not as far-fetched as you think. The CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) is in charge of creating all those gadgets and disguises. Jonna Mendez, who spent 27 years at the CIA, ...

President Donald Trump and his White House team are using some of the same “active measures” to manipulate the American people today that Russian President Vladimir Putin employed trying to influence last year’s presidential election.   “Active measures” was a Soviet Cold War term that referred to Russian security services’ tactics ...

The diversity and scope of national security challenges facing the U.S. continues to grow, asking ever more of an Intelligence Community (IC) that must stretch its resources to meet these demands. The move toward greater integration since the advent of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has been critical to ...

The process of “unmasking,” or revealing the true identities of U.S. persons who unexpectedly figure into conversations picked up by National Security Agency (NSA) foreign intelligence collection efforts, has been the subject of much discussion this week in the continuing controversy over Russian interference in last year’s elections. The issue ...

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Wednesday said he had seen intelligence reports showing that communications of President Donald Trump’s transition team had been picked up during foreign surveillance operations. Nunes, who had been a member of Trump’s transition team, told reporters it was “incidental collection” of the communications ...

We are living in a more complex world, with more state and non-state actors demanding more of our attention.  When we actively contributed to the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the success of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, and the eventual demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 ...

You may not realize it, but every day you interact with geospatial intelligence (GEOINT).  Whether it’s the think tank that’s monitoring the Syrian refugee migrations, the academic institutions that are tracking Arctic ice extents, or the small satellite revolution, today’s innovative technology and crowded skies present a unique moment for ...

A recent narrative has taken hold among journalists and pundits that a “deep state” is behind the recent flood of leaks embarrassing the Trump Administration.  It is a notion that the Administration and its supporters have firmly embraced.  The claim is that Obama holdovers in the Intelligence Community (IC) are ...

At the outset of a new administration, it is prudent for incoming officials to bring CIA expertise in and look back at covert action, exploring what’s worked, what’s fallen short, and why. Presidents since George Washington have come to understand that strategic opportunity sometimes lies in the shadows. Since the ...

The CIA’s Dar Adal was eventually revealed as the mastermind of a plot against the incoming President, but in this episode, the villain emerges as the very personification of evil. We shouldn’t be surprised. Dar’s warped conspiracy has involved a terrorist attack on U.S. soil to undermine an incoming president ...

Should government officials be licensed or pass a test before they can receive intelligence? The debate about whether to believe intelligence reporting on Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) highlights a chronic problem.  Steps were taken to improve collection, analysis, and reporting in response to the wildly wrong ...

The last couple of weeks have seen almost daily terrorist attacks across Pakistan from a variety of bad actors:  February 13:  A suicide bombing during a protest rally in Lahore. February 14:  Two police officers were killed trying to defuse a terrorist bomb near a bus stop in Quetta.  February ...

President Donald Trump’s pick for Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Tuesday that the U.S. needs to look at Russian actions “with eyes wide open and a healthy degree of skepticism” as he vowed that, if confirmed, he has “no intention” of holding back any information from the ...

General Michael Flynn’s resignation and the selection of H.R. McMaster as the new National Security Advisor has brought the roles and responsibilities of this position into sharp relief.  As a former official who has served as the top East Asia member of the National Security Council under former President George ...

Rumors about a planned Trump Administration cybersecurity executive order offer signs of hope that many of the cyber policy lessons learned, often the hard way, during the past decade will not be forgotten. Unfortunately, its main thrust appears to be to call for more reviews of and reports on many ...

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 ...