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 ...

The Cipher Brief’s Academic Incubator program partners with colleges and Universities across the country to highlight the voices of the next generation of national security leaders. Karina MacLean is a senior B.A. student in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, studying Government & International Politics ...

The Growing Irrelevance of Organizational Structure for U.S. Domestic Terrorism Bruce Hoffman, Terrorism Expert, Professor, Georgetown University Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University and the Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served ...

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; ...

Sarah Carlson is the author of a new book, In the Dark of War: A CIA Officer’s Inside Account of the U.S. Evacuation from Libya based in part, on her time working as a Targeting Analyst in CIA's Counterterrorism Center.  Carlson specialized in threats and attack plans directed against the U.S. and ...

The Listening Post focuses on the experiences of women in the national security space. This new column is a collection of stories, interviews, and profiles of women who have pioneered change, exhibited strength and inspired others. We recently spoke with Lauren Buitta, founder and CEO of Girl Security, an organization ...

An attempted cyberattack on Israel’s water system in late April, just months after the global pandemic hit, prompted fears that cyber adversaries are getting even more bold in their efforts to cause harm. Israel’s national cyber chief, Yigal Unna, officially acknowledged the plot, calling it a ‘synchronized and organized attack’ ...

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 -- “Black swans” are events that arrive as unwelcome surprises and have significant effects on nations and societies.  They can upend the status quo in politics, economics, or national security. Black swans are even more dangerous when superimposed on other black swans. It’s always worth trying to anticipate potential ...

China is on a multi-year mission to reduce its reliance on foreign technology and as a result, Beijing is investing heavily in its own technological developments. Premier Li Keqiang announced the Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) initiative in 2015 as a bid to significantly advance the country’s economy and ...

BOOK REVIEW:  China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia  by Daniel S. Markey Reviewed by Ambassador Joseph DeTrani Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served ...

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 ...

Cipher Brief Expert Jim Danoy is a retired defense intelligence executive and served as the National Intelligence Manager for Europe and NATO and a President’s Daily Brief (PDB) briefer to the 44th President of the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic, as with previous cataclysmic events will likely result in the ...

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 ...

(Editor’s Note:  Understanding the life of a spy is often difficult, especially understanding the experiences of those who spend much of their careers working undercover. In this rare commencement address delivered to the Valley Forge graduating class of 2020, Former CIA Deputy Director for Counterintelligence Mark Kelton shares fascinating insight ...

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 ...

India says 20 of its soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops along a disputed border in the Himalayas. Tensions have been escalating over the past several weeks as both sides sent additional troops to the region, though senior military leaders had begun talks to deescalate the situation ...

Daniel Hoffman is a former Chief of Station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of distinguished government service included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and war zones in both the Middle East and South Asia. Hoffman is now an analyst with Fox News ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West by Catherine Belton Reviewed by John Sipher Reviewer and Cipher Brief Expert John Sipher retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, which included serving in Moscow and running the ...

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 ...

Global markets responded on Monday to fears of a second-wave of coronavirus infections and one of the industries feeling the pressure is the gas and oil market.  This comes as Reuters cites multiple sources saying that Saudi Aramco is cutting July crude supplies to at least five buyers in Asia. ...

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made headlines over the weekend as she threatened military action against South Korea, and deemed the inter-Korean liaison office "useless". What do we know about Kim Yo-jong and the role she is playing among North Korea's leadership elite? Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as ...

Cipher Brief Expert Martin Petersen is the former Deputy Executive Director of the CIA. At the time of Tiananmen, he was Deputy Director of the Office of East Asia Analysis. CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT TAKE -- The Chinese leadership’s handling of Tiananmen and the aftermath can give us some idea of ...

Farah Pandith, Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State Farah Pandith served as a political appointee under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and most recently she was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities, serving both Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker who served over two decades with the Central Intelligence Agency as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service. He also served as former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and was the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy ...

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 ...

CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT VIEW -- Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA's Deputy Director for Counterintelligence.  He is the Senior Vice President for National Security Solution at DynCorp International; and ...

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 ...

Robert Griffin is the Managing Partner for DVI Equity Partners a Private Equity Investment arm of Diamond Ventures where he focuses on technology investments concentrated on delivering disruptive or disintermediating technology in areas of national security, law enforcement, critical infrastructure, and emerging trends. Bob has been a key player and ...

The Cipher Brief is proud to launch ‘The Question’, designed to make us think forward, consider broader scenarios and challenge each other in constructive ways on the plausibility of future geopolitical events.  In our first edition, Cipher Brief Expert Tim Willasey-Wilsey poses the question: Why would China not invade Taiwan ...

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 ...

“Lessons adopted” is a much more important concept than “lessons learned.”  Lessons adopted requires the learning of lessons, but it also requires a more important and more difficult step – the application of the lessons.  As we wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed, the coronavirus pandemic has retaught us ...

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, US Army (Ret) was the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2008-2009. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs from 2006-2008. These positions followed a 30-year career in the military with service as Deputy Director for ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer by Peter Mattis and Matthew Brazil Reviewed by Martin Petersen Martin Petersen is a Cipher Brief Expert and former Director of the Office of East Asian Analysis and the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.  ...

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. He is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. OPINION -- According to Johns Hopkins ...

Well before COVID-19 there was a “hardening of expert and public opinion in America on the seriousness of the Chinese threat,” according to Cipher Brief Expert and former Acting Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, who says the path forward requires deterrence based not just on military strength but on ...

As the world focuses on the immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic, China is exercising its muscle over territorial claims.  As The New York Times reports, “In recent weeks, the Chinese have sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea; swarmed a Malaysian offshore oil rig; menaced Taiwan; ...

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 ...

In part one of Iran and Hezbollah’s Pre-Operational Modus Operandi in the West, authors Mitch Silber and Ioan Pop pulled from court documents and open source reporting to shed light on ways that Iran and its proxy groups have engaged in regional escalations after the killing of Iranian General Qassem ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution by Peter W. Singer and August Cole Reviewed by Niloofar Razi Howe  Niloofar Razi Howe is a cybersecurity and technology executive, investor and board member. She currently serves as Sr. Operating Partner at Energy Impact Partners, Sr. Fellow at New America, ...

Cipher Brief Expert Mitch Silber and Ioan Pop have pulled from court documents and open source reporting to compile a modus operandi of Iran and Hezbollah and their efforts to attack the west. Mitchell D. Silber, Former Director of Intelligence, NYPD In January 2020, Mitchell D. Silber was named the ...

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 ...

We know that corporate boards can no longer afford to leave cyber to the IT team. In the future, (which is now) they need to be actively engaged in cybersecurity and they need to know how to do it from a strategic level. Particularly in a time when many companies ...

The Listening Post focuses on the experiences of women in the national security space. This new column is a collection of stories, interviews, and profiles of women who have pioneered change, exhibited strength and inspired others. We recently spoke with INSA Chair and former Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, ...

The Listening Post is a new Cipher Brief column specifically highlighting the experiences of women in the national security space. This new column is a collection of stories, interviews, and profiles of women who have pioneered change, exhibited strength and inspired others along the way. For this one edition, Cipher Brief ...

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. ...

Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years at CIA, retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in 2019.  He served overseas in the Middle East and South Asia, and now lives in Northern Virginia. OPINION -- We all have felt a range of emotions over the last several months, from the understandable fears ...

Innovation is a key component of readiness when it comes to future threats. NATO’s Innovation Hub recently commissioned a short story from author August Cole, asking him to draw upon his writing and imaginative abilities to create a picture of what NATO operations could be like in the year 2040. ...