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. Disruptive Technologies in Operational Energy usage: Programmatic and Technological Path-dependence The author is Ms. ...

There is little argument that the 70-year-old NATO Alliance today finds itself in one of the most complicated security environments it has ever seen. China and Russia continue to pose significant challenges, the fast-paced development of new technology is adding borderless perimeters that must be defended and the organization is ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip Breedlove (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What needs ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What's your ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

The Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, recently warned that the presence of an additional 14,000 U.S. troops sent to the Persian Gulf region over the past several months likely has not deterred Iranian efforts to launch future attacks there. General McKenzie highlighted the ...

OPINION -- Many in the United States and China believe that we’re in a cold war and that conflict is inevitable. If true, that would be tragic not only for the United States and China, but for the world. More must be done now to ensure that this does not happen; that U.S.-China ...

OPINION – It was supposed to be Senate confirmation hearing for Stephen E. Biegun to be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, but really, it was President Trump’s Foreign Policy that was on trial in Washington last week. “This administration’s actions have undermined our ability to promote American foreign policy ...

Nine American women and children were killed by suspected drug cartel members in an attack in northern Mexico earlier this month, refocusing attention on the country’s long-standing drug and corruption issues. While hundreds of Mexicans die each year as the result of drug violence, this particular attack gained enormous attention ...

Mike Vigil is the former Chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is one of the most highly decorated agents within the agency. He is the author of DEAL and Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel and Narco Queen. The Cipher Brief:  What should we be paying attention to given the current ...

It is no secret that Hermione revealed that the basilisk traveled via the pipes in the second installment of the Harry Potter series. When I began my consulting career with the National Communications System (NCS) and cybersecurity became the sexy cousin, the communications muggles liked to remind the cyber wizards ...

OPINION -- American foreign policy has faded into a confusing and dangerous blur as a result of mismanagement, flip-flopping objectives, political turmoil in Washington and an understaffed and demoralized State Department. On issue after issue, it is impossible to discern a coherent strategy or an achievable goal. This is not just ...

As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers ...

OPINION -- Donald Trump as president displays weakness toward those he envies as strong foreign leaders, while he acts like a bully toward leaders he considers less powerful than himself.  Those contrasting natures were on full display last Wednesday. At the same time Trump was offering unwarranted concessions to Turkish ...

OPINION -- Events in Washington last week were gut-wrenching for many, not least for America’s Foreign Service and the two million other public servants of the United States. They were also inspiring and cause for much pride. At present, the House of Representatives impeachment hearings are largely driven not by ...

TV SERIES REVIEW: The SPY A Netflix Miniseries Reviewed by Paul Kolbe Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Kolbe also led BP’s global Intelligence and Analysis team supporting threat warning, risk mitigation, and crisis response.  Prior to that, ...

OPINION -- It is common for the leadership of the Intelligence Community to send notes to the workforce. The leaderships’ thoughts on all sorts of issues – from intelligence successes and failures to key personnel assignments and critical budget decisions and, yes, sometimes when the IC appears in the media ...

Tom Bossert spends a lot of time thinking about hacking.  The former Homeland Security Advisor to President Trump who also served as the country’s Chief Risk Officer and Senior Advisor on cyber, left his White House position in 2018. It happened just after Bossert spoke at The Cipher Brief’s Annual ...

Undercover readers might remember that we introduced you this past spring to Bill Rapp, a former CIA analyst turned author.  He’s an interesting character in his own right, with the look and charm of Sam Elliott.  In his new book, The Budapest Escape, Rapp brings back old characters and descriptions ...

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. Emerging innovations within today’s most cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) areas are cited as ...

The Cipher Brief’s Expert Take column highlights the thinking of our experts based on their areas of expertise.  Emile Nakhleh is a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. Lebanon’s largely peaceful “Arab Spring” is a model in civic activism for the greater Middle East. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from ...

OPINION -- More than 231 years ago, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the controversy around today’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump when he published Federalist Paper 65 on March 7, 1788.  In it, Hamilton wrote that the Constitutionally established, House of Representatives investigative role in the impeachment process “will seldom fail to agitate ...

Protesters came out in support of Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday but they were followed by anti-government protesters who have been calling for a change in the ruling class.   Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down last week under pressure from protesters. Meanwhile, there is growing unrest in Baghdad as ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is on life support.  Despite the pledges of allegiance to its implementation, Iran is now likely to undertake its fourth phase of reduction in commitments on or around November 5.  A familiar circular firing squad of recriminations will then commence: the ...

The Cipher Brief’s NEW Open Source Collection Report (OSINT) uses 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 ...

The nation and the world welcomed President Donald Trump’s Oct. 27 announcement that ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. military at his hideout in Northwest Syria. Our gratitude goes out to the military, the intelligence community, State Department and law enforcement for its coordinated effort to kill ...

This week, Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new nuclear submarine, as Facebook says Moscow is stepping up its efforts to spread disinformation in Africa.  That’s just this week.  Going back a few more days, U.S. and British officials say Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian spy operation ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s sending U.S. military troops to control the oil fields in northern Syria can only be interpreted as introducing financial deal-making into his running of U.S. foreign and national security policies. Trump made clear in his Sunday press conference that he sees control of the Syrian oil ...

The demise of Osama bin Laden in 2011 did not end al-Qaeda. Nor will the apparent demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi end the terror of the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi’s death is a major psychological blow to the so-called Islamic State (the terror group also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, or ...

BOOK REVIEW: Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World by Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch Reviewed by Christopher Messina The subject of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World is one many Americans will have strong opinions about. ...

More details are emerging about  just how U.S. commandos located and cornered ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend as well as questions about how much intelligence was gathered from Baghdadi's compound. Reuters reports that  Iraqi intelligence teams gathered details about Baghdadi's movements from a former top aide in February ...

Cipher Brief Expert Norman T. Roule served for 34-years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East.   He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 until September 2017.  As ...

Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University and Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He has served as a commissioner on the Independent Commission to Review the FBI’s Post-9/11 Response to Terrorism and Radicalization, a Scholar-in-Residence for Counterterrorism at the CIA, and ...

MOVIE REVIEW: The Spy Behind Homeplate (a documentary) by James Periard James Periard served over 25 years in the Central Intelligence Agency as a Case Officer for Middle East and counter terrorism operations, including as a Chief of Station and Chief of Base in several expeditionary locations.  He now serves ...

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. It is no longer hard to see that the rising power and the mounting ...

President Trump announced this week that the U.S. had brokered a permanent ceasefire in northeast Syria as he also announced that he would be lifting sanctions that were imposed after Turkey launched a military offensive into Syria in early October. A day earlier, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia ...

China and South Korea quietly agreed this week to engage in a joint effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  The announcement came on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum, a conference focused on Asia-Pacific security.  The two countries have resumed bilateral defense talks that were suspended in 2014, signaling a ...

SPONSORED CONTENT -- As I’ve talked to many Department of Defense leaders over the years, I’ve often heard them ask, “how much would a pound of cybersecurity for a weapon system cost me?” Truthfully, up until this point, we had a difficult time responding. That is, until now – more ...

This first stage of the House impeachment inquiry, being held behind closed doors under the chairmanship of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), is setting a firm, fact-finding, foundation for what is to follow. These depositions, as described in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Wednesday to all members of the House, portray ...

Marc Polymeropoulos retired in June 2019 from the Senior Intelligence Service ranks at the CIA after a 26 year career in operational headquarters and field assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Russia and counter terrorism.  OPINION -- Several friends have recently asked me how the myriad of international scandals that ...

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has long relied on a range of technological tools to provide geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) like commercial imaging, remote sensing and human geography to help warfighters, first responders, policymakers and spies navigate the world. Due to its unique mission and vantage point, NGA serves both as an ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; and Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a career member ...

OPINION – Why is there no Whistleblower in the case of President Trump’s October 6, phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?  Who was on the line with Trump? Anonymous Pentagon sources last Tuesday said Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Milley were on the line, ...

BOOK REVIEW: Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character By Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) Reviewed by John Nixon John Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998 to 2011. He did several tours in Iraq and was recognized by a number of federal agencies ...

OPINION -- President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the small contingent of United States troops remaining in Syria is a disaster on multiple levels. It illustrates not only his reckless instincts on foreign policy but also the near-total absence of a process for making momentous decisions in his administration. For process, Trump’s style ...

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending President Trump’s decision to withdraw support for Kurdish troops in Northeast Syria, saying Turkey has a “legitimate security concern’.  Meanwhile, other countries, along with both Republican and Democrat members of Congress in the U.S., are condemning the move calling it a betrayal ...

As the impeachment investigation continues, The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA Director and retired Four-Star General David Petraeus about why Ukraine is such an important strategic partner for the U.S. The Cipher Brief:  You and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst called in recent months for U.S. support ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Killing in the Consulate: Investigating the Life and Death of Jamal Khashoggi By Jonathan Rugman Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director ...