North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the testing of as a new ‘tactical guided weapon’ on Wednesday in the country’s first weapons test since talks between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump broke down in late February. The weapons test was followed by a statement from the North ...

The Cipher Brief's 'Academic Incubator' column features analysis and observations by current and recent students associated with national security-focused academic programs.  Earlier this month, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, ordered his troops to march on the capitol Tripoli, which is held by the UN-backed Government ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal By William Burns Reviewed by Gary Grappo, former U.S. Ambassador who held senior positions in Baghdad, Oman and Saudi Arabia Writing a memoir is something of a rite of passage for retiring senior government officials and diplomats. ...

The Cipher Brief was recently invited to take part in the University of New Mexico’s Intelligence Symposium, covering a number of national (and international) security issues.    We took the opportunity to speak with UNM’s Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute (and Cipher Brief expert) Emile Nakhleh, ...

Cipher Brief Expert Thomas Donahue retired from CIA after 32 years of service. He served as the Chief Editor of the President’s Daily Brief and other CIA daily production during the second term of the Clinton administration, and spent the last 18 years of his career focused on cyber threats ...

The number of monthly apprehensions based on illegal border crossings hovers north of 90,000 people.   According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), more than 53,000 of the people who crossed in March were what part of ‘family units’, which represents an all-time high according to CBP.  The Cipher ...

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council is taking retaliatory steps after President Donald Trump announced on Monday that the U.S. will designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a ‘foreign terrorist organization’. Iran now says it will designate U.S. Central Command as a ‘terrorist organization’.  The IRGC designation will impose ...

The U.S. is trying to quickly gear up the nation’s ability to fight in space and our best clues into just how they're planning to do it, are coming from congressional testimony. “Space is a warfighting environment just as is air, land and sea,” Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, ...

BOOK REVIEW: To Catch A Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence By James M. Olson Reviewed by Mark Kelton, Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA The realm of counterintelligence (CI) is the most cloistered of the intelligence world.  In his book To Catch a Spy, James Olson makes the invariably, and often ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Vladimir Putin has consolidated Russian power in Moscow’s near abroad and traditional sphere of influence. The Kremlin has also made moves to increase the country’s influence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. More recently, Russia has expanded its reach to Latin America ...

John Edwards spent 20 years at CIA in various operational and leadership positions.  He also spent 12 years in the private sector, working with two start-up companies before returning to CIA a little over three years ago, as the CIO.   In his first public comments since taking on his latest ...

The Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence (PDDNI) Susan M. Gordon spoke at the recent Cipher Brief Threat Conference about  how technology and the role of the private sector are changing the way the U.S. Government must think about - and prepare - for future threats.  Gordon's approach to the mission ...

A lot has happened since China expert and Harvard Professor Graham Allison’s best-selling book on China, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides Trap was published in 2017. Thucydides was a Greek historian who chronicled close to three decades of war between Athens and Sparta and documented patterns ...

BOOK REVIEW: How We Win:  How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat By Farah Pandith Reviewed by Jeff Patterson, PhD, University of Texas at Austin Farah Pandith’s new book How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, ...

OPINION -- As Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman clamor for a war against Iran, they seem to have conveniently forgotten the destruction and mayhem wrought ...

The Trump Administration and the international community are focused on helping Venezuelans dislodge Nicholas Maduro from power and install Juan Guaido in the presidential palace.  Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, is recognized by the United States and some 50 other countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Even ...

The Department of Defense launched an experiment in 2015 aimed at making it easier for the government to benefit from commercial technology.  It was called the ‘Defense Innovation Unit Experimental’ (DIUX) and three and half years later, it’s no longer an experiment. Now known only as DIU, (minus the X) ...

Every morning, analysts, operators, and policymakers arrive at their desks to read the latest news and intelligence reporting that has come in during the past day. The daily rhythm of “reading the morning traffic” has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. Professionals in the intelligence community and military spend upwards ...

Under/Cover is constantly probing for insights that will help readers (and writers) understand how to gauge demand, and how to know if that story they have burning inside of them, is actually a book or not.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin ...

Dr. Stacey Dixon took over as Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)  in September of last year.  Her specific task is to advance innovative research programs that will help the Government gain an advantage in the overall intelligence mission.  No small task. Dr. Dixon is also a ...

It needs no more than 4 bad decisions for India and Pakistan to go to war; and 5 for that war to go nuclear. So how did the Pulwama crisis measure up against this approximate yard-stick? The 15-day crisis began with a suicide attack on an Indian paramilitary police convoy ...

The U.S. and China are rapidly sliding into a full-court confrontation in and over cyberspace. This portends serious risks and disadvantages for both sides in light of their economic and technological interdependence. It is bound to have even greater reverberations internationally, given that both countries serve as the world’s leading ...

OPINION -- Set aside for a moment how you feel about building the wall. There is a more immediate issue in controlling the flow of illegal traffic and drugs on the southwest border, and that is the hiring and retaining of Customs and Border Patrol Officers. With all of the recent ...

When DHS was established shortly after 9/11, terrorism was the focus. But in the 16 years since the Agency’s creation, the threat landscape has changed dramatically and cyber now plays a leading role in overall threats. Four months ago, President Trump signed the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, ...

Extremist organizations are successfully preying on a rising generation of nearly one billion Muslim millennials in order to add to their ranks, according a new book published by Cipher Brief Expert Farah Pandith. Pandith was appointed as the first female Special Representative to Muslim Communities by the U.S. State Department ...

The cyber landscape is drastically changing and the threats of today will pale in comparison to those our nation will face tomorrow. With the development of the internet of things (IOT) and faster connectivity through the advancement of 5G, cyber attacks will increase in volume and severity as we see ...

Former State Department Regional Medical Officer and Psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva pieces together recent news from the Hanoi Summit with a focus on Kim Jong-un’s behavior and what he might do next. The results of the recent Hanoi summit between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have led to a ...

The perspective: Chad Brockway is a former program manager for the Special Technologies and Applications Section (STAS) at the FBI, and also served as the Deputy Watch Center Director for the Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) at the Bureau.  He is currently the Vice President, Cyber Operations Division ...

BOOK REVIEW: HUNTING LEROUX: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius By Elaine Shannon Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn, former Chief of Staff for CIA's Director of Operations Paul Calder LeRoux was a genius.  He was a diabolical genius.  He was also a computer genius. And he ...

OPINION -- One result from the Hanoi Summit: North Korea continues to be a member of the elite nuclear weapons club, and probably will remain so for years to come. National Security Advisor John Bolton, on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, acknowledged that North Korea kept producing weapons grade ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations at the National Security Council, Thomas Donahue, provides critical perspective on the strategy needed to protect the sovereignty of the U.S. telecommunications backbone. The U.S. Government - by blocking the sale of U.S. high technology firms to foreign companies for ...

Last week, The Cipher Brief told you how and why the U.S. has been working to convince its allies to ban Chinese vendors from contributing to the development of 5G networks as well as offering some basics about what 5G actually is, and what we should be most focused on as ...

The recent announcement of plans to keep 200 U.S. “peacekeepers” in Syria has been met with a mixture of relief and confusion. Relief, as the December announcement to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria was almost universally condemned by analysts and politicians, and confusion at the lack of detail that followed ...

BOOK REVIEW: One Nation, Under Drones: Legality, Morality and the Utility of Unmanned Combat Systems By Capt. John E. Jackson, USN, (Ret.) Editor, Naval Institute Press Reviewed by Terence Check The development of “drones”, it would seem, has come full circle. From a technology originally pioneered in the garages of ...

Expectations are high for the second summit of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung-Un.  Most people assume that there wouldn’t be a second summit if the principals weren’t confident that the summit would be a success.  So, how do we define a successful summit? The first summit was historic, ...

The world is watching Hanoi this week as President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold their second summit meeting in less than a year.  Critics worry that any declaration of 'success' out of the Hanoi meeting will fall short of full denuclearization, something western leaders say is ...

There was never any question that America’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would become one of its most important in the region and indeed in the world. It is the birthplace of one of the world’s largest monotheistic faiths and serves as the Muslim world’s “custodian of its ...

Fresh off the heels of the Munich security conference, a rift remains between the U.S. and its allies over their approach to 5G networks and managing the potential national security risks of allowing Chinese vendors to participate in the development of the technology.   The U.S. has been working to ...

The Cipher Brief asked expert and retired four-star General David Petraeus for his big takeaways after attending last weekend's Munich Security Conference. First, the wedge between the U.S. Administration and Europe is a good bit bigger than last year, and Russia, Iran, and China are working to highlight and exploit the ...

BOOK REVIEW: Putin's World By Angela Stent Reviewed by Cipher Brief expert, Michael Sulick Vladimir Putin, enormously popular in Russia yet reviled in the West, avidly courting, and courted, by other nations, has become one of the most studied – and most militant –leaders on the world stage today. Just ...

Steven Hall spent more than 30 years in the CIA, the bulk of them running and managing intelligence operations in Eurasia and Latin America.  He has experience both in counterintelligence and counterterrorism and has overseen intelligence operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union.  When he retired from the ...

Bottom Line: In the digital age, determining the origins of cyberattacks is already difficult, but cyber actors can further muddy attribution by diverting blame for attacks to others. The intention is not necessarily to trick intelligence services – who are able to access information beyond technical forensics of the hack ...

It’s been a busy national security week in DC.  Congressional lawmakers and the President managed to reach a deal that would fund the government but leaves the issue of border security open for further action.  On Thursday, President Trump announced he would sign the deal, but that he would also ...

OPINION -- Two senior U.S. military commanders in the Indo-Pacific area this week questioned whether North Korea would ever denuclearize, just 12 days before the next scheduled summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un. While Trump has repeatedly said that "things are going very well ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 10, U.S.-backed forces surrounded the Syrian town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, the ‘last’ remaining stronghold of the so-called Islamic State. President Donald Trump expects to make a formal announcement declaring the ‘official defeat’ of the Islamic State, which could come as early as this ...

The Cipher Brief’s new Friday column, ‘Cipher Select’ talks with retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Rob Lively, who spent 28 years in the U.S. Army, where he was part of a special operations unit based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. In Lively's first interview post-retirement, Cipher Select Executive Editor Brad ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

A hundred years from now historians will write that one of America’s greatest contributions to the world was the Internet. Though other countries and foreign citizens contributed to the effort, U.S. government funding and American academics and technologists created the Internet. As U.S. dependence on the Internet for our economic ...

Cyber has quickly become the global threat that knows no borders, nor does it distinguish between the public and private sectors.  Executives from the world’s largest tech companies gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month to talk about the problem and try to find solutions that could ...

Innovation in Government isn’t generally a phrase that rolls off the tongue, but in a relatively unconstrained threat environment, innovation has become synonymous with survival. A few years ago, the world’s most secretive signals intelligence agency underwent a significant reorganization effort that combined elements of the Agency’s offensive and defensive ...