As part of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment this week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional U.S. interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, with Intelligence Community leaders briefing Senators on the biggest threats facing the U.S. While The Cipher Brief will cover all aspects of the broader threat matrix that includes China, Russia and North Korea, this week we are ...

New York State has convicted a white supremacist as a ‘terrorist’ for the first time in its history.  James Harris Jackson was convicted for the murder of Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old African American man, in what has been classified as a hate crime.  Jackson pled guilty Tuesday to the charge ...

By Larry Loftis Reviewed by: Carol Rollie Flynn, Cipher Brief Expert and Former Assoc. Deputy Director, National Counterterrorism Center, CIA.  Currently CEO & Managing Director, Singa Consulting Code Name: LISE: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Decorated Spy,  Gallery Books, January 15, 2019 Early in Larry Loftis' ...

U.S. and Taliban officials have agreed to a framework for a possible deal that could see a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by terrorist organizations or individuals in the future in exchange for, among other things, a full U.S. troop withdrawal.  In an announcement on Monday, U.S. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 26, a Venezuelan military attache defected to the U.S. and along with other military officers, recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has kept favor with the military following tensions over his election, although this has recently begun to change. ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack at a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 21 people dead and scores injured. Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Syria that targeted and killed four Americans, one of them a Green Beret.  Al-Shabab, the terrorist group ...

As this month’s terror attacks in Syria and Nairobi make clear, organizations like ISIS and al-Shabab remain focused on launching attacks as a show of strength and resolve.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the Syria attack that killed four Americans and al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack that killed at ...

The Government remains shut down after President Donald Trump offered a plan over the weekend to provide temporary protection to some groups of immigrants if Democrats agree to fund the border wall.   Democrats refused the offer and are calling on the President to re-open the government while  they address issues ...

It’s not exactly his first conspiracy, but thriller writer Brad Meltzer’s new book, First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington, is the author’s first non-fiction foray. Co-written with documentary producer Josh Mensch, The First Conspiracy pieces together the previously untold story about a secret plot to kill George ...

General Michael Hayden, the co-host of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference for the past two years, has famously said that the world has been more dangerous in the past, but it has never been more complicated.  He has also said that if the U.S. doesn’t get China right, nothing ...

United States Special Operations Forces are attracting attention for the wrong reasons after a spate of incidents overseas that involved the murder of Americans, allegedly carried out by SOF Forces. A former Green Beret, who was working as a contractor for Lockheed Martin died on January 4, after being injured ...

Catherine Lotrionte has been the power broker behind Washington D.C.’s International Conference on Cyber Engagement for seven years now and she’s getting ready to host it again this April with The Atlantic Council.  Formerly serving as Counsel to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and former Assistant General Counsel at ...

The Trump Administration is defunding the nation’s primary anti-domestic terror program at the Department of Homeland Security and DHS’ Office of Terrorism Prevention has removed any reference to future funding from its website.  This decision does not reduce the threat but does give opportunity to re-examine the fundamentals of strategies ...

OPINION -- On December 31, The New York Times published a piece that claimed Afghan forces “trained and equipped by CIA agents or contractors” were conducting “torture and killings with near impunity.” The piece opens with the description of one such raid where an alleged CIA-trained strike force burst into ...

President Donald Trump now says U.S. troops will "slowly" be withdrawn from Syria after his controversial announcement in December, saying that troops would be pulled out within 30 days, led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and the accelerated resignation of Special Envoy to Syria, Brett McGurk. The ...

The Administration will start the new year with a new acting Secretary of Defense after President Donald Trump accepted James Mattis’s resignation letter and moved up the date of his planned departure by two months.  President Trump named Patrick Shanahan to take on the acting Secretary of Defense role while ...

The 19 December announcement by President Trump to withdraw ground troops from Syria was surprising to everyone but should have come as a shock to no one. Here's why: First, ISIS may not be destroyed, but one is hard pressed to suggest that it remains an existential threat to the ...

2018 was a year dominated by a new range of worries for national security experts in Britain.  Brexit and a series of untraditional statements from U.S. President Donald Trump, kept things interesting, to say the least.  This, in addition to the traditional security issues that keep the British up at ...

Despite years of forecasts predicting implosion, partition, revolution, Iranian absorption and other apocalyptic scenarios, there were generally more good events in 2018 than bad in Iraq, still Iraq's challenges in 2019 are significant. The good events were only “mostly” good. A new government formed (mostly). ISIS was defeated (mostly). Security ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Six months after the historic June 11, 2018 Summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung Un, the American public is losing patience with a North Korea that continues to make nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.  Many now doubt that North Korea will ever ...

OPINION -- The Middle East, like the rest of the world, is a “very dangerous place!” according to President Trump. The Saudis, with America’s tacit help, made it so. President Trump’s bizarre and strange recent statement giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a pass on his involvement in ...

The U.S. is calling for more rigorous enforcement of sanctions against Russia after Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats on Sunday, claiming the ships had ‘illegally’ entered its waters.  Russia has been using Ukraine as a provocation point for some time, so will the tougher enforcement of ...

According to a recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDS), the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House "have not yet articulated clear operational concepts for achieving U.S. security objectives in the face of ongoing competition and potential military confrontation with China and Russia." The NDS is ...

Cipher Brief readers are wishing General Michael V. Hayden, a speedy recovery after the former CIA and NSA director suffered a stroke last week. Hayden, who is a member of The Cipher Brief's board of directors, suffered the stroke at home just before Thanksgiving.  According to a statement from the Michael ...

BOOK REVIEW: Dawn of The Code War: Americas Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat By: John P. Carlin with Garrett M. Graff, Public Affairs, New York, 2018 Reviewed by Peter M. Tran In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that “Our new Constitution is now established, and ...

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a full report on the killing of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  The President called a leaked CIA conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the Khashoggi's killing "very premature" in comments over the weekend, though he ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

This brief is part of The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report.   Bottom Line: There are three prominent technological security concerns for the United States with a growing Chinese strategic competitor to the east: Beijing’s push toward cyber and electronic warfare, its development of counter-space capabilities that threaten U.S. space ...

OPINION -- Democrats controlling the House next January should see an Armed Services Committee that supports some reduced defense spending in fiscal 2020, and an Intelligence Committee that protects, rather-than-attacks, the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both committees will open aggressive inquiries into Trump activities in ...

China's state news agency Xinhua, has shown the world just how far China has come in the artificial intelligence race with the introduction of a digital news anchor. The digital anchor not only read the news at China's World Internet Conference last week, but it also demonstrated the capabilities of ...

In a recent interview, The Cipher Brief sat down with former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden to talk about global threats, and in particular, cyber threats and efforts to address them, specifically within the private sector.  Hayden has famously said before that when it comes to cyber, ‘the cavalry ...

As Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has terrorized his opponents at home and abroad, fear has spread within the Saudi kingdom. Has he become the new Saddam of Arabia? As Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s, MbS is cementing his power domestically and regionally through fear and economic largesse under ...

The recent distrust between the United States and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the crisis in Yemen.  The U.S. supports Saudi forces by providing intelligence and logistics support, among other things, as the Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, takes on the rebel Houthis that have pushed the Yemeni ...

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a number of important comments Tuesday during an interview at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  Speaking to former U.S. national security advisor Stephen Hadley, the Secretary called for a ceasefire in war-torn Yemen within the next 30 days.  He also got specific regarding ...

The National Space Council heard testimony, and then voted this week to move forward with six recommendations that are intended to provide some lift for President Trump’s call to create a U.S. Space Force.  While there has been a cautious sense of how to move ahead with the idea among ...

The President’s recent tweet storm threatening to close the U.S.’s land border with Mexico and order military action to counter a “dangerous” caravan of asylum seekers, highlights his interest in making border security a key issue in the midterm elections.  Rhetoric aside, the Republican-controlled Congress continues to reject his effort ...

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).  The meeting follows a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend, saying that the U.S. would pull out ...

Bill Evanina is the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) - a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community that leads and supports the government’s counterintelligence and security efforts.    The NCSC tackles that mission in a number of ways, but a large part of their task is ...

Rob Joyce is the Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity Strategy at the National Security Agency.  He was also a key speaker at DEF CON 26, the premiere hacker's convention held every year in Las Vegas.  Following in the footsteps of previous NSA leaders, Joyce's mission at DEF CON this year was ...

The U.S. Administration released its new National Cyber Strategy on Thursday, covering a broad number of security-related issues that fall into four main categories, it refers to as ‘pillars’. The first pillar includes securing federal networks and information, securing critical infrastructure, fighting cybercrime and seeking improved incident reporting.  The second ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast late in the day local time on September 13, with potentially catastrophic results. There are serious concerns about freshwater flooding inland, as the storm is expected to dump historic amounts of rain on already ...

For those who knew him, it is no surprise that the late Senator John McCain approached the national and global security threats posed by Russia with a confident clarity in what he felt needed to be done.  As with all things, when it came to Russia, he did not hold ...

A United Nations report delivered to the Security Council last month offered a stark reminder that al Qaeda remains a serious threat around the world.  The report suggested that the de-centralized terrorist network is stronger than ISIS in countries like Yemen and Somalia.      The report was issued just before ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former senior national security officer for the Australian Government, Alasdair Gordon, weighs on on the risks of the U.S. not placing more focus on the growing terrorist threat in Indonesia. Recent terrorist incidents in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, with a population of ...

Most of my adult life was spent as a soldier in special operations. One of the most persistent issues throughout my career was finding the right balance of deployment tempo (DEPTEMPO) with time in garrison to train and to be home. It wasn’t always balanced.  A big part of this ...

Russia knows how to spread chaos and outrage in American politics, but Russia may pose a far greater threat to the U.S. economy and the infrastructure it depends on. The president’s Council of Economic Advisers estimates that hostile cyber actions against American private industry cost the U.S. economy as much ...

Bottom Line:  The risk posed to U.S. national security by what are believed to be Russian-backed hacking groups, is similar to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis according to Cipher Brief Experts, but different, in that the U.S. has no clear and obvious deterrent this time around. Recent Developments:  The ...

The White House said President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, Thomas Bossert, will be resigning his post Tuesday.   White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the president was “grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.” Bossert spoke at ...

The second day of this year’s annual Threat Conference was filled with prescient discussions of intelligence, foreign threats and preparing for the future—by current members of government from NSA, DARPA and IARPA discussing and sometimes debating issues with former intelligence officials and trailblazers in private industry. Below are some of ...