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

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. OPINION -- The fiscal 2021 ...

Views expressed in The Cipher Brief are individual views and do not represent all experts. Gregory Sims served in the CIA’s Clandestine Service for over thirty years, including multiple field tours as Chief and Deputy Chief of CIA stations.  He is currently retired. OPINION -- As a retired CIA officer ...

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as a Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist (including 5 years at the U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russian Federation) with the U.S. Dept. of State during 2002-2016, and is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  OPINION -- President-elect Joe Biden has ...

OPINION -- Last Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci used the metaphor, “the cavalry is on the way,” referring to two COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to be approved for initial distribution next month, with one additional vaccine still in the testing phase. It’s an apt metaphor for distribution because leading that ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea and Director of the National Counterproliferation Center.  He is also former director of East Asia Operations for CIA and served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea ...

OPINION – The military has become the U.S. institution in which the public has the most confidence, as measured by the latest Gallup Poll, which gave the military 72 percent followed by the Supreme Court at 42 and the Presidency at 39. Therefore, it was important last week that Joint ...

OPINION -- Last Wednesday, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), STRATCOM Commander Admiral Charles A. Richard began with what he described as “a really profound thought,” which “really should grab your attention.” It got mine. He said, “Let me start with this assertion, that we have not seriously considered ...

OPINION -- President Trump and his team are trying to come up with at least one last minute foreign policy success before Election Day, just 21 days away. Trump himself, tried to create some good re-election news last Wednesday about Afghanistan when he tweeted, “We should have the small remaining ...

OPINION -- Last week, President Trump attempted to use the mistaken discarding of nine military ballots two weeks ago by a just-hired contractor at Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County Election Bureau as part of his months-long campaign claiming mail-in ballot fraud will rig the upcoming election. The Trump-Pence campaign on Friday used ...

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as a Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist (including 5 years at the U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russian Federation) with the U.S. Dept. of State during 2002-2016, and is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  OPINION -- In Russia, bad things ...

OPINION -- President Trump and elements of his administration are publicly assessing that China poses a greater national security threat to the US election than Russia. Attorney General Bill Barr started it off last Wednesday on CNN when he was asked which country was most aggressive and he answered, “I ...

OPINION -- The scientific, medical, public health and morbidity/mortality reporting as well as the media writ large, are all documenting the profound negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical and economic wellbeing of the global population. We measure this in lives lost, the outsize impact of the virus ...

OPINION –The Defense Department’s unclassified investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown from $600 million five years ago, to a proposed $2.5 billion for fiscal 2021, with some 600 AI projects already underway, according to an updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report titled, Artificial Intelligence and National Security, released last ...

Brett Davis is a Partner in New North Ventures -- a Venture Capital firm focused on technological innovation.  Davis retired as a Senior Executive in the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations Officer in the US Navy. His combined 34 years of government experience included leading complex operations and enterprise-wide ...

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. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. OPINION -- The normalization ...

With just a few months left until the U.S. presidential election, there are a long list of things that threaten the vote, from election meddling by U.S. adversaries via disinformation and other methods, to our own political divisiveness.  We’re looking for ways to focus on the greater good, so when ...

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. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. OPINION -- Washington’s ...

Ted McConnell is Senior Policy Advisor for CivXNow Coalition, and Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, is former General Counsel at CIA and NSA and is a member of the executive board of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law. @CivXNow OPINION -- These are confounding and painful times. In recent months, ...

OPINION -- The threatened Trump administration introduction of uninvited federal law enforcement officers into cities across the United States may already be underway, but at the same time it has taken a very political tone. Portland, Oregon’s demonstrations began May 28, after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and have continued ...

OPINION -- On July 1, one month before his scheduled retirement, Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein gave a vivid description of Pentagon planning to deter great power warfare after 2030 or, if that failed, to fight and win against China, Russia or any other country. During ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former Acting CIA Director 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. OPINION -- Attending the ...

OPINION -- On 27 June, The New York Times reported Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers. The paper cited anonymous sources placing blame on Russia’s GRU, which has a long history of subversion, sabotage and assassination.  As expected, there was significant outcry in Washington.  House ...

OPINION -- The Senate Armed Services Committee has recognized the vulnerabilities of today’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and called on the Defense Department “to develop new concepts of operations to effectively employ [these] platforms not inherently designed for operating in contested environments.” The relatively slow flying MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper; ...

James Van de Velde, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University. He can be reached at [email protected] OPINION -- High technology has transformed communications but has done (strangely) far less to advance personal security. Many police reform proposals have advocated for police body cams. But why not ...

OPINION -- US Government officials, civilian and military, alike may be facing unusual tests in the next four months: Does their loyalty rest with the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or to President Trump? Maybe those ...

Brigham Bechtel is a former CIA Chief of Station. He now works for Coverent and serves at Navigators Global as a Senior Strategist -Security, Defense, & Space. He is also the founder of Pelorus Consulting, LLC. OPINION -- America’s promise of equal justice before the law for its citizens always ...

OPINION -- The Senate Armed Services Committee last week voted to provide the Pentagon with $6 billion over the next two years to create a new program called the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI). Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), said the PDI would sharply ...

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart (Ret.) (Vince) is the Founder and CEO of Stewart Global Solutions, LLC, an international consulting organization. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after more than 38 years of active commissioned service to the nation. On his final tour of duty, he served as the Deputy ...

OPINION -- Today, American institutions are front and center as we simultaneously confront the triple threat of an active pandemic, civil unrest spurred by racial injustice, and an economic crisis. Resolving these crises will require a coordinated effort from all our democratic institutions: the three branches of our federal government, ...

OPINION -- On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on an authorization for Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to issue subpoenas to 53 individuals, most of them connected to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. Among other things, Graham’s panel will look into how the FBI got into its probe ...

OPINION -- During a roundtable at the State Department last week, Attorney General William Barr emphasized how “our national security and the flourishing of our democratic values” depend on winning the competition with China over 5G wireless.  5G mobile networks with ultra fast data speed are critical because they support ...

Lauren Bean Buitta is the founder and CEO of Girl Security, and Erin Connolly is the organization’s Associate Director of Programming. Girl Security is a nonpartisan, citizen sector non-profit closing the gender gap in national security by building a pipeline for girls in national security through learning, training, and mentoring support. OPINION -- In ...

OPINION -- Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. was giving six months’ notice that it would be pulling out of another international agreement, this time the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. At the same time, his administration’s top arms control officials continued the practice of sending mixed messages as ...

OPINION -- U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is expanding its Military Information Support Operations (MISO) because in the current environment, “great power competition is about influence, and SOF [Special Operations Forces] has a unique and valuable role in this." Those were the words of SOCOM Commander, Army Gen. Richard D. ...

OPINION -- Cherry-picked information filed last Thursday by the Justice Department in Attorney General William Barr’s effort to have charges dismissed against one-time Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn do not really support dropping the case. Flynn, when interviewed by FBI agents on January 24, 2017, made a series of ...

OPINION -- This past March and April, US Naval Forces attached to Central Command carried out live fire exercises in the North Persian Gulf’s international waters near Iran, using Army Apache helicopters and AC-130 gunships to practice defense against threats from swarming Iranian speedboats. Such a US exercise was underway ...

OPINION -- Up to now, a politically divided Congress has been unsuccessful in slowing down President Trump’s accumulation of power, which thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, has expanded his ability to distribute government funds and favors without firm accountability. It’s time to take seriously the implications of what ABC’s Chief ...

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 ...

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. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. OPINION -- Mohammed ...

OPINION -- If fighting the Covid-19 virus is a war, the Army Corps of Engineers is being led into battle by an exemplary field commander, Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite. The Corps’ job is to provide future hospital facilities for those cities and towns that are about to run out ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He later served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North ...

OPINION -- If intelligence officers wanted one person to model themselves after, from the perspective of the Intelligence Community’s commitment to objectivity, they could find no one better than Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. A leading principle, if not “the” leading ...

Tom Bossert is the Chief Strategy Officer at Trinity Cyber, and a national security analyst for ABC News.  He served as homeland security advisor to two U.S. Presidents, serving as the Nation’s chief risk officer and senior most advisor on cybersecurity, homeland security, counterterrorism, and global health security policy.  Follow him ...

OPINION -- When Edward Gabriel passed away unexpectedly this January, I lost one of my closest friends, but America—in the throes of coronavirus panic—lost a leader who would have helped us deal with the crisis with precision, speed, and compassion. Ed was the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response ...

OPINION -- Last Friday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported that an un-named senior administration official said that the U.S. told Moscow that President Trump now favors a summit meeting of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to set up a three-way U.S., China, Russia ...

OPINION -- President Trump is actively trying to excise the criminal fallout from investigations into Moscow’s 2016 covert support for his presidential election and have his attorney general, Bill Barr, control any similar investigations into Russian activities that might involve the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s suppression efforts come at the ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...