Tom Bossert spends a lot of time thinking about hacking.  The former Homeland Security Advisor to President Trump who also served as the country’s Chief Risk Officer and Senior Advisor on cyber, left his White House position in 2018. It happened just after Bossert spoke at The Cipher Brief’s Annual ...

Undercover readers might remember that we introduced you this past spring to Bill Rapp, a former CIA analyst turned author.  He’s an interesting character in his own right, with the look and charm of Sam Elliott.  In his new book, The Budapest Escape, Rapp brings back old characters and descriptions ...

OPINION -- President Trump had showed a change of attitude toward Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his new Ukrainian government before last July 25, when he asked Zelensky for a “favor”. The sources and reason for that change of attitude should be one of the early issues explored at tomorrow’s ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Emerging innovations within today’s most cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) areas are cited as ...

The Cipher Brief’s Expert Take column highlights the thinking of our experts based on their areas of expertise.  Emile Nakhleh is a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. Lebanon’s largely peaceful “Arab Spring” is a model in civic activism for the greater Middle East. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from ...

OPINION -- More than 231 years ago, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the controversy around today’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump when he published Federalist Paper 65 on March 7, 1788.  In it, Hamilton wrote that the Constitutionally established, House of Representatives investigative role in the impeachment process “will seldom fail to agitate ...

Protesters came out in support of Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday but they were followed by anti-government protesters who have been calling for a change in the ruling class.   Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down last week under pressure from protesters. Meanwhile, there is growing unrest in Baghdad as ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...

The Cipher Brief’s NEW Open Source Collection Report (OSINT) uses open source data to track trends around the world that impact national and global security. We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are developing and ...

The nation and the world welcomed President Donald Trump’s Oct. 27 announcement that ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. military at his hideout in Northwest Syria. Our gratitude goes out to the military, the intelligence community, State Department and law enforcement for its coordinated effort to kill ...

This week, Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new nuclear submarine, as Facebook says Moscow is stepping up its efforts to spread disinformation in Africa.  That’s just this week.  Going back a few more days, U.S. and British officials say Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian spy operation ...

Ben Buchanan recently testified at a House Homeland Security Subcommittee Meeting on Preparing for the Future:  An Assessment of Emerging Cyber Threats.  He is a Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Mortara Center, Assistant Teaching Professor, Georgetown University.  Cybersecurity, already rife with challenges, is becoming even more complex with the rise ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s sending U.S. military troops to control the oil fields in northern Syria can only be interpreted as introducing financial deal-making into his running of U.S. foreign and national security policies. Trump made clear in his Sunday press conference that he sees control of the Syrian oil ...

The demise of Osama bin Laden in 2011 did not end al-Qaeda. Nor will the apparent demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi end the terror of the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi’s death is a major psychological blow to the so-called Islamic State (the terror group also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, or ...

BOOK REVIEW: Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World by Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch Reviewed by Christopher Messina The subject of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World is one many Americans will have strong opinions about. ...

More details are emerging about  just how U.S. commandos located and cornered ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend as well as questions about how much intelligence was gathered from Baghdadi's compound. Reuters reports that  Iraqi intelligence teams gathered details about Baghdadi's movements from a former top aide in February ...

Cipher Brief Expert Norman T. Roule served for 34-years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East.   He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 until September 2017.  As ...

Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University and Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He has served as a commissioner on the Independent Commission to Review the FBI’s Post-9/11 Response to Terrorism and Radicalization, a Scholar-in-Residence for Counterterrorism at the CIA, and ...

MOVIE REVIEW: The Spy Behind Homeplate (a documentary) by James Periard James Periard served over 25 years in the Central Intelligence Agency as a Case Officer for Middle East and counter terrorism operations, including as a Chief of Station and Chief of Base in several expeditionary locations.  He now serves ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. It is no longer hard to see that the rising power and the mounting ...

President Trump announced this week that the U.S. had brokered a permanent ceasefire in northeast Syria as he also announced that he would be lifting sanctions that were imposed after Turkey launched a military offensive into Syria in early October. A day earlier, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia ...

China and South Korea quietly agreed this week to engage in a joint effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  The announcement came on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum, a conference focused on Asia-Pacific security.  The two countries have resumed bilateral defense talks that were suspended in 2014, signaling a ...

SPONSORED CONTENT -- As I’ve talked to many Department of Defense leaders over the years, I’ve often heard them ask, “how much would a pound of cybersecurity for a weapon system cost me?” Truthfully, up until this point, we had a difficult time responding. That is, until now – more ...

This first stage of the House impeachment inquiry, being held behind closed doors under the chairmanship of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), is setting a firm, fact-finding, foundation for what is to follow. These depositions, as described in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Wednesday to all members of the House, portray ...

REVIEW: Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It by Richard Stengel Reviewed by Cindy L. Otis Cindy L. Otis served in the CIA as a military analyst, intelligence briefer, and manager in the Directorate of Intelligence. While at the CIA, ...

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. OPINION -- President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Syrian-Turkish border and the ensuing Turkish offensive against the Kurds have thrown the ...

Marc Polymeropoulos retired in June 2019 from the Senior Intelligence Service ranks at the CIA after a 26 year career in operational headquarters and field assignments covering the Middle East, Europe, Russia and counter terrorism.  OPINION -- Several friends have recently asked me how the myriad of international scandals that ...

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has long relied on a range of technological tools to provide geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) like commercial imaging, remote sensing and human geography to help warfighters, first responders, policymakers and spies navigate the world. Due to its unique mission and vantage point, NGA serves both as an ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; and Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a career member ...

OPINION – Why is there no Whistleblower in the case of President Trump’s October 6, phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?  Who was on the line with Trump? Anonymous Pentagon sources last Tuesday said Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Milley were on the line, ...

BOOK REVIEW: Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character By Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) Reviewed by John Nixon John Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998 to 2011. He did several tours in Iraq and was recognized by a number of federal agencies ...

OPINION -- President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the small contingent of United States troops remaining in Syria is a disaster on multiple levels. It illustrates not only his reckless instincts on foreign policy but also the near-total absence of a process for making momentous decisions in his administration. For process, Trump’s style ...

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending President Trump’s decision to withdraw support for Kurdish troops in Northeast Syria, saying Turkey has a “legitimate security concern’.  Meanwhile, other countries, along with both Republican and Democrat members of Congress in the U.S., are condemning the move calling it a betrayal ...

As the impeachment investigation continues, The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA Director and retired Four-Star General David Petraeus about why Ukraine is such an important strategic partner for the U.S. The Cipher Brief:  You and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst called in recent months for U.S. support ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Killing in the Consulate: Investigating the Life and Death of Jamal Khashoggi By Jonathan Rugman Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director ...

The Cipher Brief is bringing you a range of expert perspectives on Syria this week.  General Jack Keane (Ret.), the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, spelled out The Limits of U.S. Influence in Syria on Monday with a solid assessment of U.S., Iranian and Russian influence in ...

OPINION -- White House officials initially learned of the first Whistleblower’s complaint about President Trump’s July 25, telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky weeks before it became public.  What did those officials do about it and was President Trump involved? Answering that question should be part of the impeachment investigation ...

The White House announced Sunday that President Trump will endorse a Turkish military operation near the border with Syria that will target Kurdish forces.  Turkey sees the forces as a terrorist insurgency but many of those forces fight alongside the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) battling ISIS in the region. ...

OPINION -- As we digest the Trump administration’s unorthodox style of governing in the foreign affairs arena, it is worth focusing on a key aspect of our bilateral relationships that does not get much press, the effect of President Trump on our foreign intelligence service liaison partners.  How they approach ...

OPINION -- Could there be a Hugh Scott in 2019? I refer to Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, in office from 1958 to 1976, who came to mind because as a young Pennsylvanian during the Watergate crisis, he left an impression on me. An old-fashioned centrist Republican, Scott was one ...

The U.S. has issued new economic sanctions against seven individuals linked to a Russian internet troll factory.  The sanctions were announced Monday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling them a warning to foreigners seeking to interfere in U.S. elections. The U.S. Government is bolstering its efforts to defend voting ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia’s Exiles, Emigres, and Agents Abroad By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan Reviewed by Joseph W. Augustyn Joseph W. Augustyn is a 28 year-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and once served as the Director of the Defector Resettlement ...

OPINION -- Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson deserves praise along with the Whistleblower for pushing within the law to get President Trump’s highly protected phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the Congress and the public. Atkinson’s two week “preliminary review” helped build credibility for the Whistleblower’s August ...

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman is warning that military conflict with Iran would collapse the global economy.  He made the statement during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes and said that he prefers a political solution over a military option. "The region represents about 30 percent of the ...

OPINION – It’s still unclear just how President Trump may further respond to the recent coordinated drone attack on a Saudi oil facility that has been blamed on Iran by the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Saudi Arabia. Within days of the attack, the President announced that he was ...

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies provides great potential to businesses that are able to harness the opportunities it presents, but AI also poses great risks to national security.  Within the pages of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Report, presented in January of this year by former Director of National ...

BOOK REVIEW: Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA’s War on Terror By Thomas Pecora Reviewed by Mike Howard Mike Howard is the former Chief Security Officer for Microsoft, where he worked for 16 years.  He is also a former CIA Security and Operations Officer, a role which he held ...

“My personal view is, the first shots of the future fight will be either in the cyber domain or -- maybe it's an ‘and’ -- and the space domain.  And so we've got to make sure we have sufficient capability there because that's critical to our capabilities to fight and ...

The Cipher Brief is running a special series on disinformation – in all of its forms – ahead of the 2020 U.S. Election.  This week, The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA analyst and Intelligence Briefer Cindy Otis, about how foreign intelligence services use conspiracy theories to sow distrust and ...