With ongoing and often frustrating nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and heightened tensions between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan over Kashmir, having a clear picture of a nation's nuclear capabilities and how often they are testing them provides critical national security information. A fundamental building block of national ...

OPINION -- The U.S. Army is working on major changes in doctrine, organization and training “to develop a force that can effectively engage great-power competitors, such as Russia and China, across multiple domains, and expects this process to continue through the 2020s,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In Hong Kong and Moscow, long-simmering undercurrents of political opposition have pitted protesters against unrepresentative authoritarian governments. In Moscow, police have used extreme force to crack down on the tens of thousands of protesters in a series of demonstrations. The Hong Kong protests are larger ...

Protestors in Hong Kong are sticking by their demands which include a formal withdrawal of an extradition bill that launched protestors onto the streets earlier this summer; the release of protestors arrested by police and some reassurance of a move toward a more democratic society. In a high-profile move, Cathay Pacific’s ...

The Cipher Brief is bringing you a range of perspectives this week on the threat of domestic terrorism and what a range of experts say should be done about it. Cipher Brief expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam ...

The U.S. has been fighting a global network of violent Islamic extremist organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda for close to 20 years, but as the U.S. continues to experience mass shootings at home - 17 so far in 2019 - the question of how to address the threat has become ...

Former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd knows a lot of details you probably don't about CIA black sites.  He knows, because he was associated with the enhanced interrogation program that took place post 9/11.  Now, Mudd has written a new book, Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World that ...

OPINION -- The alleged Privacy Act violation by Trump administration officials in publicly disclosing former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok’s personal text messages without his permission as described in his lawsuit filed last Tuesday in U.S. Federal District Court in the District of Columbia could present a major new problem ...

The resignation of both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his deputy Susan Gordon, both taking effect on August 15th, mean big changes are underway at the top of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Sources tell us that Gordon increasingly found herself between a rock and a hard place since ...

One of the country’s leading Intelligence professionals made her way quietly to the White House late Thursday afternoon to deliver her letter of resignation to the Oval office. The message, on a simple, hand-written note, ended weeks of speculation about the fate of Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Susan ...

Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) finds himself in an interesting situation these days with his influence waning throughout the Middle East, and still feeling the blowback from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  Here’s a quick look at where his influence is waning the ...

OPINION -- The U.S. has a triad of strategic nuclear weapons, air-launched from bombers, sea-launched from submarines, and land-based intercontinental missiles launched from underground silos. There is a reason. The triad’s purpose is to deter a foreign nuclear power from attempting a first strike to wipe out this country’s nuclear ...

This weekend’s back to back shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio highlight, in the deadliest way, growing concerns that the U.S. is fighting its own extremism problem. As authorities look into the motives in both attacks, we must act promptly to thwart future attacks.  Here’s how we can ...

When the President said this week that U.S. intelligence agencies have ‘run amok’, he was offering the statement in part to explain why he was nominating John Ratcliffe as the next Director of National Intelligence.  The President told reporters “I think we need somebody like that in there.  We need ...

The Cyber Initiatives Group is a group of public - private and academic thought leaders who share their unique expertise with the greater cyber community through a series of CIG webcasts and in-person events throughout the year. This is a preview webcast exclusively for The Cipher Brief, where readers were briefed ...

a-mok (adverb) – to behave uncontrollable and disruptively. Synonym: go berserk In the midst of debate over whether President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Dan Coats as the next Director of National Intelligence is qualified for the job, the President made comments on Tuesday that may explain his thinking.  Talking ...

Alex Finley worked for CIA’s Directorate of Operations for about six years in the early 2000s.  Her roles took her to places like West Africa and Europe and also allowed for some time at Headquarters in Langley. Her work as a reports officer - which serves as a bridge between ...

NSA Director General Paul Nakasone announced last week that he is creating a new cybersecurity directorate that will focus on – among other things – aligning the agency’s resources on both offense and defensive cyber operations. “What I’m trying to get to in a space like cybersecurity is speed, agility ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Throughout Libya’s civil war, widespread allegations have surfaced that strongman Khalifa Haftar operates as a modern-day warlord, using his power to further numerous criminal enterprises. To fund the LNA’s activities, Haftar’s network allegedly has turned to a range of criminal activities and illicit financial flows. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By purchasing Russian S-400 missiles, Turkey has complicated an already strained relationship with NATO and the West. The U.S. has ejected Turkey from the F-35 program, while insisting that Turkey remains a trusted NATO partner. The past several years have seen Ankara move further away ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who held senior positions including 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. The various ...

  Bottom Line Up Front There has been a significant rise in violence in Germany against those who speak out against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racist rhetoric. German pro-immigrant politician Walter Luebcke was fatally shot last month by a man known to authorities for ties to neo-Nazi groups. German authorities have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front:  The success of Russia’s meddling in 2016 U.S. election ensures that Moscow will employ similar disinformation efforts as 2020 approaches. Indicating the severity of the threat, DNI Dan Coats recently announced the creation of the federal government's first 'election threats executive.' Both governments and private ...

India believes it won the hostilities which followed the Pulwama attack in February 2019. According to New Delhi the attack on Balakot not only punished Pakistan for hosting terrorists on its soil but it set a new baseline for how to deal with future such events. Pakistan (which feels it ...

The fiscal 2020 Intelligence Authorization Bill, that recently passed the House by an overwhelming 397-to-31 vote, contains provisions that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said would call for “new notification requirements regarding covert or overt efforts by foreign governments to undermine trusted institutions or to interfere in ...

BOOK REVIEW: Rules of Engagement: A Novel      By David Bruns and J.R. Olson Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Editor’s note: Last week, The Cipher Brief published a review written by CIA veteran Rob Richer of Dan Silva’s novel “The New Girl.”  Richer praised ...

New audio of the seizure of a British-flagged tanker indicates the vessel was too far away from help to avoid being forced to change course by Iranian Paramilitary forces last week.  In audio released on Sunday by a maritime security firm, a British officer unsuccessfully demanded freedom to sail through ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW GIRL     By Daniel Silva Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Richer retired from the CIA in November 2005. Prior to his assignment as the ADDO in 2004, Richer was the Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible ...

Cybersecurity firm Finite State issued a recent report concluding that telecommunications equipment made by Chinese firm Huawei present a higher percentage of security vulnerabilities than equipment produced by other firms. A story in The Wall Street Journal citied numerous sources inside the Administration who pointed to the report as further ...

Tensions remain high between Iran and several EU countries, even after some of the primary signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement vowed their continued support this week, offering Iran an opportunity to reverse its recent, deliberate violations of the JCPOA.  In play right now: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ...

Army Gen. Mark Milley indicated he would continue Pentagon independence from some of President Trump’s policies at his confirmation hearing to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In doing so he would be following the examples set by ...

Editors note: Daniel Silva is one of America’s most prolific and popular novelists.  His latest book, The New Girl, is officially out today, July 16th. Look for a full review of the book in The Cipher Brief this Friday, written by Cipher Brief Expert Rob Richer, who himself has had ...

Few today would argue that the threat surface in cyberspace has expanded significantly in the past decade.  Just ask your fridge.  From the new risks we’ve brought into our own kitchens, to the increased capabilities of nation states to disrupt everything from electricity to elections, there is an even greater ...

Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran with no recognizable movement toward formal negotiations, and the Administration’s recent effort in Bahrain to gain support for their plan to find a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via investment feels bankrupt, but if there is one thing every good businessman knows, ...

The Cipher Brief is focusing this week on the real national security situation that is building along the southern border.  The President recently signed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill to address the humanitarian crisis there, but Congressman Will Hurd, Republican from Texas, says it isn’t enough.   The Cipher ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior member of the British Foreign Office and a Cipher Brief expert. He is currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London’s Department of War Studies. President Trump’s short walk inside North Korea on 30th June was great theatre; perfect for a politician ...

The Cipher Brief is taking a look this week at the national security situation along the southern border.  On Sunday, Congressman Will Hurd told NBC, “We need to make sure that countering human smuggling is a national intelligence priority so that we have CIA, the NSA, the FBI working with ...

The Cipher Brief is taking a look this week at the national security situation along the southern border. On NBC, the only Congressional Republican who represents a district along that border said on Sunday that officials aren’t focused enough on the issue of human smuggling.  Congressman Will Hurd said he ...

OPINION -- While two former U.S. Presidents – Jimmy Carter in 1994 and Bill Clinton in 2009 – had made historic visits to Pyongyang, meeting with Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il respectively, last weekend President Donald Trump made history.  By meeting with North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-Un in an impromptu, ...

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran has violated the limits imposed on uranium enrichment that were a key part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  The U.S. withdrew its support for the deal last year.  The Trump Administration on Monday responded to the confirmation of increased uranium enrichment, ...

Our newest Cipher Brief Expert, Robert Cardillo talked with us about lessons learned during his time serving as Director of the National Geospatial -Intelligence Agency (NGA), and what he’d like to see more of, now that he’s in the private sector. The Cipher Brief:  What can you tell us about ...

The significant weekend visit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un started with a Tweet last Thursday as President Trump was getting ready to depart the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan. “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I ...

When he became Secretary of Defense in early 2001, Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressed his concern about the inevitability of surprise. He often reminded other officials that “The only surprising thing is that we continue to be surprised when a surprise occurs.” Secretary Rumsfeld was fond of sharing the celebrated strategist ...

Earlier this week, The Cipher Brief brought you expert insights into How Iran Targets U.S. Businesses, after a warning last weekend by DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Director Christopher Krebs.    “Iranian regime actors and proxies are increasingly using destructive ‘wiper’ attacks, looking to so much more than just steal ...

There are a few more details coming out about last week’s cyber targeting of an Iranian-backed group by the U.S. military. Sources told CNN that the goal was to “disable and degrade” an Iranian-backed group that operates forces in Iraq and Syria by disabling their communications systems. The latest details ...

U.S. businesses are being warned to harden their defenses in anticipation of potential cyberattacks as tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate.  President Donald Trump posted to Twitter on Tuesday that “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.  In some ...

From The Cipher Brief's Open Source Collection newsletter, U.S. officials and Cipher Brief experts are warning U.S. businesses to remain vigilant as tensions between Iran and the U.S. continue.  Christopher Krebs, director of DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a warning over the weekend that “malicious cyberactivity” was on the ...

Last week, the U.S. nearly launched retaliatory attacks against Iran for the shooting down of a U.S. military drone that was operating in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been casting some doubt in recent days as to whether the downing of the aircraft was authorized at the highest ...

Peter W. Singer is a Strategist and Senior Fellow at New America and an editor at Popular Science magazine. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare and is a co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. The Cipher ...

In a climate where politics often rules the day, it’s difficult to strip out the divisiveness and drama to focus on issues that directly and indirectly impact our collective national security.  That is what The Cipher Brief has been working to do for nearly four years now.  I’d like to ...