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 ...

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 ...

[ED NOTE from Cipher Brief CEO Suzanne Kelly: I met Nada Bakos, the author of The Targeter:  My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House, nearly a decade ago.  We had a mutual friend, whom Bakos refers to only as ‘Katherine’ in the book and the ...

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.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's (HMH) ...

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 ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE SPY IN MOSCOW STATION     By Eric Haseltine Reviewed by Paul Kolbe, Former Member CIA's Senior Intelligence Service While reading The Spy in Moscow Station, I kept noticing a sub-tone emanating from the narrative, a steady low signal, like tinnitus through a subwoofer. I couldn’t place the ...

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 ...

Lockheed Martin says it will continue to bring down the hourly costs of operating the F-35 fighter jet, while continuing to address the problems that have been plaguing the program.  Some of those issues involve the supply chain and others speak to reliability.  The head of the program was at ...

Putting Iran in a desperate situation without viable alternatives is likely to result in desperate responses. Two oil tankers carrying Japanese-related cargo were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. Shortly after the incident, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that Washington assessed Tehran was behind the attacks. Beyond the ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country "will not wage war against any nation”, as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and Tehran. U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said that the decision to send an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East is based on the ...

BOOK REVIEW: VICTOR IN THE JUNGLE     By Alex Finley Reviewed by Bill Harlow, The Cipher Brief  Senior Book Editor Alex Finley has an eye (and an ear) for the absurd.  A talent that no doubt came in useful during the six years she spent as a reports officer in the ...

A spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from the deal in May of 2018.    Also on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a warning to his ...

In the midst of recent escalatory statements and actions between the U.S. and Iran, a spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from ...

Investigative journalist Joseph Menn, author of the recently released Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World has a history of writing books to explain the often-complicated intersection of history, technology and moral decision-making. His latest book traces the origins of a once ...

The U.S. Administration is facing a tough sell as it leads the Bahrain Workshop in just under two weeks time, in what is widely seen as the first phase of the administration’s Middle East peace plan. The plan looks to large-scale investment in infrastructure improvement in the Palestinian territories, largely ...

There was more to learn from last Wednesday’s House hearing on climate change, than the White House barring a senior analyst from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) from submitting a paper that challenged President Trump’s views on the issue. In fact, Rod Schoonover, the INR’s Office of ...

BOOK REVIEW:   Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins By Annie Jacobsen Reviewed by former CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer, Ian Allen In Neither Victims Nor Executioners, Albert Camus recalled “certain friends” – presumably Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre – who had accused him ...

U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently warned that the U.S. "is not moving fast enough to stay ahead” of its rivals in space, specifically citing the technology and development of hypersonic weapons.  Shanahan specifically mentions China and Russia when he talks about U.S. rivals, both of which have made ...

On 23 May, John Walker Lindh was released after spending 17 years in a U.S. prison. The notorious “American Taliban”, convicted of providing support to a terrorist organization, will be kept under observation for years. That close supervision, however, cannot guarantee that he would be incapable (some would say “or ...

Seventy-five years ago, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, a German agent operating in Britain began sending a series of urgent radio messages to his Nazi spy-masters. They stated that the Allied landings in Normandy were diversions, and the main Allied attack was coming to a zone to the North, the ...

President Trump took to Twitter this week, tweeting, "Hearing word that Russia, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran, are bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians. The World is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? ...

Defending New Yorkers against criminals and terrorists has been a priority for city leaders and law enforcement for quite some time, but in the last couple of years, officials have taken more aggressive steps to protect the city from the threat actors that often go unseen but can wreak havoc ...

OPINION -- President Trump plans to wait until next year to decide what he will do about the 2010 new START strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, which runs out in February 2021, senior administration officials told a Hudson Institute meeting last Wednesday. The session drew headlines last week ...

BOOK REVIEW:  The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House By Nada Bakos  Reviewed by Jack Boger The vast majority of stories that have emerged from the war on terror star a now-familiar main character: male, macho, a military and/or intelligence officer, preferably bearded and ...

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is just beginning a multi-nation tour that will include peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.  This comes as Taliban militants reject calls for a truce to coincide with Eid, which comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.  At ...

Almost a year ago, I was approached by an award-winning documentary director and lauded journalist, Richard Kerbaj.  He was seeking insight and background on Al Qaida in Iraq and ISIS for a documentary film he was going to make for British Channel Four.  The film was about the hunt for ...

Japan’s cybersecurity will be put to the test over the next 18 months. The world’s attention will be fixed on the island country as it hosts two major events: the Rugby World Cup in September and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The tournaments will likely be an attractive target for ...

Ripped straight from the headlines, there are a number of current, inter-related political and security issues that could have a significant impact on the U.S.’ future security posture, including NATO’s future capabilities, exploration and control of the Arctic, Huawei and a race for dominance in space.   The Cipher Brief ...

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) held a symposium in Hawaii last week to talk about Land Power in the Pacific (LANPAC). We caught up with Cipher Brief Expert LTG (Ret.) Guy C. Swan III, who currently serves as Vice President of AUSA, to talk about the global ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Cult of the Dead Cow – How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World  By Joseph Menn  Reviewed by Christopher Messina Joseph Menn has good timing. The topic of cybersecurity has attained a degree of cultural currency that is still waxing. His book is part historical ...

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. His is the author of several books, including Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. I think of being at sea on Memorial Day in the ...