OPINION -- The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic should accelerate serious rethinking about what future federal government spending is needed in the name of “national security.” As Max Boot aptly put it last Thursday in The Washington Post, non-traditional, national security emergencies so far in the 21st Century “call into question whether ...

Bottom Line Up Front   Threats to national security have not receded as a result of the coronavirus and many have only grown more acute with resources now shifted to respond to the pandemic. ‘Social Distancing,’ while a necessary medical mitigation tactic intended to slow the rate of infection, is ...

Quantum Information Science has been around for a while, but the importance of quantum computing and its impact on national security has become clear in recent years. Some national security experts are calling it the next technological revolution.   Cipher Brief Expert and former General Counsel for the NSA, Glenn Gerstell, wrote an ...

Cipher Brief Expert John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. The new coronavirus brings us smack up against the modern ...

OPINION -- On February 20, during his visit to Strategic Command (STRATCOM) headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a mini-war-game exercise which led to a simulated Russian firing of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the U.S. launching one back. The next day, February 21, Defense ...

The Listening Post is a new Cipher Brief column specifically highlighting the experiences of women in the national security space, in both the public and private sectors. This new weekly column is a collection of stories, interviews, and profiles of women who have pioneered change and have inspired others along ...

Several Cipher Brief experts attended this year’s Munich Security Conference, which concluded last weekend. The annual event is an opportunity for Atlantic allies to share their views on national security related issues. We wanted a sense of the conversations happening off the stage this year, in the hallways and beer ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea, as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, and also ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, Mark Kelton wrote for The Cipher Brief back in 2017 that, The Man in the Kremlin Must be Smiling, saying that “Vladimir Putin is smiling because he thrives on chaos, particularly in the camp of the “Main Enemy,” a term the ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, London and a former senior British diplomat. Pakistan has decided not to annex its parts of Kashmir. Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are collectively known as Pakistan Held Kashmir-PHK. Islamabad fears that such a move would provide propaganda for India ...

Douglas London is a retired senior CIA Operations Officer and Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Mr. London served 34 years in the CIA’s Clandestine Service that included several Chief of Station assignments and executive Headquarters management positions.  Since retiring from the CIA’s Clandestine service a ...

Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger is former Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Captain from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp with a combined 30 years of active duty and reserve service. EXPERT OPINION -- China seeks to challenge US technological supremacy ...

OPINION -- Should we all sleep easier because at last we have a low-yield nuclear warhead sitting atop a Trident D-5 sub-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) aboard a strategic ballistic missile submarine now on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean?  Not really. Last Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood ...

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as a Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist, including 5 years at the U.S. Embassy Moscow, with the U.S. Dept. of State from 2002-2016.  He is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  OPINION — In 2000, Xi Jinping, a relatively ...

If there was any doubt about the moribund state of the two-state paradigm in Palestine, the unveiling of the White House’s peace plan last month has put that doubt to rest. The “deal of the century,” put together by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in close cooperation with Israel’s Prime ...

Angela Lewis, Manager of Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company Angela Lewis is the Manager of the Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to joining the private sector, Ms. Lewis served as a Senior Counterterrorism Targeting Officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, ...

At the recent December 2019 plenum, Chairman Kim, rather than giving his traditional New Year’s speech, outlined a different strategy toward the US moving forward in 2020. In doing so, he highlighted the dignity of the country, a return to a combination of military and economic development, and the requirement ...

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the situation in Libya is a “scandal” and expressed his frustration over countries pushing for progress and then not backing it up in their actions.  The Secretary General focused on countries that participated in last month’s peace talks in Berlin, ...

Last week, The White House announced President Donald Trump’s vision for a ‘comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.’ The White House refers to it as a peace to prosperity plan but it has its shortcomings, namely that the Palestinians weren’t involved in its drafting and rejected the plan ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Ambassador Deborah K. Jones, former U.S. Ambassador to Libya (2013-2015) about the state of play in the country, who wants what and why it matters to the U.S. The Cipher Brief:  How did Libya get to where it is today? Jones:  My theory on Libya ...

OPINION -- It’s time for the House or Senate Armed Services Committees to take a close look at U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and hold public hearings. Although, I must say, any serious oversight of anything done by the House or Senate will be affected by political party partisanship, which ...

Representatives from Libya's warring parties began talks in Geneva on Monday.  The discussions, known as the Libya Military Joint Commission are led by the UN, and are attended by five officers from the UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and five officers appointed by the renegade military ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trend Line Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. The 70th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will be celebrated this March 5 with the prospect that during this decade, there will be appreciably more nuclear weapons states than ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of a partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Making Security Cooperation More Effective:  The Role of Advanced Education in Building Trusted Professional Networks ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are ...

BOOK REVIEW: When Reagan Sent in the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon By Patrick J. Sloyan Reviewed by Robert Richer Cipher Brief Expert Robert Richer retired in November 2005 from the Central Intelligence Agency as the Associate Deputy Director for Operations (ADDO). Prior to his assignment as the ADDO, Richer ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are developing and provide expert ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on national security-related topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won ...

When news broke that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was scheduled to deliver the Friday Prayer sermon on January 17 for the first time since 2012, Iranian media went into overdrive to promote the event.  One reporter with the state media conglomerate Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) previewed ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Military Aid and its Unintended Consequences The author is Rana Shabb, PhD Candidate, Sam ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM.  In case you missed it, you can read The Worst Possible Day: US Telecommunication and Huawei – Pt. 1 here  ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM. As a global power, the United States must be able to sustain military forces and project power anywhere ...

John McLaughlin served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and served as Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.  He currently serves as a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.   The current situation between the United States ...

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power By Yaakov Katz Reviewed by Marc Polymeropoulos Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, ...

OPINION -- When are members of Congress going to wake up and play their Constitutional role as an equal branch of government? Neither the Democratic leadership in the House, nor the Republican leaders in the Senate are these days carrying out oversight on key national security issues involving the Executive ...

Rob Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Dannenberg is now an independent consultant and speaker on geopolitical and ...

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman and the Middle East’s longest serving ruler, died on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power.  Oman, under Qaboos rule, transformed from an undeveloped country in the 1970’s, to a country known as ‘the Switzerland of the Middle East’ at the ...

CONVERSATION STARTER -- Few would argue that the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian General and Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani was a bold move.  The overt nature by which the strike was carried out seemed to offer a clear sign that the US is ready to openly ...

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Since retiring from the government in ...

OPINION -- As 2019 drew to a close, while foreign adversary leaders such as President Putin, President Xi, and Chairman Kim often attracted the largest amount of media attention, the killing of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force leader Major-General Qassem Soleimani is worthy of careful attention.  His recent tactical and strategic actions ...

In an interview with FOX News after the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” adding, “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that ...

The U.S. targeting and killing of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike in Baghdad on Friday has prompted a series of swift statements and actions throughout the Middle East as experts work to anticipate what will follow. The Cipher Brief has spoken with a number of ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s new attempt to open strategic nuclear talks with China “ASAP,” as mentioned in a State Department tweet last Friday, focuses on the wrong subject. Any talks about strategic deterrence among nations should be dealing first with the future of cyber warfare and weaponry rather than ...

Patrick Duddy served as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela from 2007 to 2010.  He is now teaches at Duke University where he is also the director of Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. As 2019 comes to a close, it is clear the U.S needs to up its ...

Cipher Brief expert Robert Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Post CIA, he worked as Chief of Global ...

OPINION -- “The function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” Walter Lippmann wrote in his 1925 book, Public Opinion. In the Trump era, officials and legislators are ...

The Gray Zone is that place between war and peace where actors use a range of elements at their disposal to effect outcome.  We see it in everyday operations like disinformation and election interference or in using economic means to coerce an outcome.  China and Russia have been big fans ...

OPINION -- As 2019 draws to a close, it is worth re-examining not only which leaders attracted media attention, but also looking ahead with respect to strategic trends and which world leaders merit the most attention by President Trump and his national security team.  In this context, while the words ...