In my thirty-four years in law enforcement, I met with many confidential human sources working against terrorism, counter intelligence and violent crime targets.  I met them in inner city neighborhoods, rural small towns and a number of countries overseas.  The meetings often took place late at night, in the front ...

The Trump administration has yet to make public its objectives for a North Korea denuclearization agreement, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated what it should contain during questioning by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) last Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We are looking for the complete dismantlement of ...

After days threatening to take action, President Donald Trump announced Friday evening that he'd ordered "precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities," of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Trump said U.S. forces acted together with France and the U.K.,  retaliating for a suspected poison gas attack that killed ...

The framers of the U.S. Constitution decided 230 years ago to divide the nation’s war powers between the president and the Congress, making the president the commander in chief of the armed forces and giving the lawmakers the exclusive power to declare war. Yet, as 2018 gets underway, the executive ...

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to a flamboyant welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping with effusive praise, as the two leaders presented a united front in the face of a belligerent North Korea. However, inconsistent statements on trade and other key issues in the relationship reflect a seemingly incoherent U.S. ...

A critical diplomatic post took a major step towards being filled when the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan appeared at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. John Bass, the current U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, faced questions from Senators about the future of Afghanistan, less ...

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the two had discussed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. After Putin denied any Russian involvement, Tillerson said Trump “is ...

In his readout of the two hour and 15 minute meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump repeatedly brought up Russian meddling in the U.S. election during the meeting. In his words, the two leaders had “a very ...

After weeks of anticipation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The relationship between the two leaders has been characterized by lofty praise and suggestions of cooperation on the fight against ISIS. The relationship between ...

The meeting of NATO heads of state on May 25 in Brussels, dubbed the “little summit,” did not bring any breakthroughs. Still, it was far from just a routine gathering. Symbolically, it introduced the new NATO headquarters, as well as stressed the Alliance’s modernization. It was seen as a demonstration ...

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at age 33, is continuing his father’s and grandfather’s pattern of wild threats and bluster to cloak development of nuclear warheads and missile delivery systems that has caused problems for American presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. President Trump, aged 70 and a novice at dealing with ...

“The president needs to look strong and decisive, and China is a convenient whipping boy,” Quartz White House correspondent Heather Timmons wrote Friday. Is President Donald Trump, to save a faltering presidency, planning to create friction with China when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago today? Trump will ...

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi is at the White House on Monday with the high hopes of receiving strong support from U.S. President Donald Trump. One of the major issues that the Egyptian President will surely stress to attain this favor is the sustainment of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. While ...

Two White House officials provided House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes with the information concerning intelligence reports that showed President Donald Trump and campaign associates were picked up incidentally in foreign surveillance, according to a news report. The New York Times reported Thursday that two White House officials — Ezra Cohen-Watnick, ...

President Donald Trump and his family’s myriad financial activities are unique for a White House occupant. Prior to becoming Defense Secretary, James Mattis on January 5 signed an ethics agreement that stated, “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter in which I know that I have ...

The bombastic, bleak tone from his Inaugural Address was gone. In his address to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump was more optimistic, talking about “a new chapter of American greatness.” He spoke about issues he’s discussed before – jobs, healthcare, tax cuts, immigration, a renewed military, America first – ...

There has been much said about how often President-elect Donald Trump takes his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), the Intelligence Community’s (IC) assessment of key national security threats.  The PDB is critical, and reports that the President-elect has upped the frequency to three times a week are encouraging.   As someone who ...

The White House sought to present the resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, as a closed chapter tied to his deceiving Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But as the shake up unfolds, the ...

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn came only three weeks into a whirlwind beginning for the Trump Administration. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spoke to former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin – who served seven presidents and watched three transitions closely – about how the next ...

“What did the President know and when did he know it?” For those of us who went through Watergate, that question, first posed by Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN), is the one most relevant today as the current White House drama unfolds with President Donald Trump’s role hardly mentioned. At 6:28 ...

With the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, there have been questions about the security implications of his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before he took office.  But speaking to The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani, Jack Keane, retired four-star general and former Vice Chief ...

On Thursday February 9th, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first phone call. Accounts from both sides described the call as productive and cordial. Most importantly for the future of the bilateral relationship, Trump affirmed U.S. recognition of the “One-China Policy,” reversing an uneasy start to ...

President Donald Trump has never shown much interest in foreign policy issues.  The few consistent themes he has supported are to defeat ISIS, restructure trade deals, and radically improve relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  While it is easy to understand the interest in destroying ISIS, and his thoughts on trade ...

The world got a taste last week of what “America First” means: insulting Iraqis who’ve risked their lives with U.S. forces; blacklisting dual-citizen legislators in Canada; and jeopardizing the political standing of leaders, like Enrique Pena Nieto and Theresa May, who try to work with the new American President. Yet, ...

The shake-up that Donald Trump voters wanted when they put him into the Oval Office has begun – with very mixed results. Trump’s ill-prepared, travel ban for individuals entering the U.S. from seven majority Muslim countries is headed for the Supreme Court after temporarily inconveniencing thousands and generating demonstrations across ...

When Donald Trump was elected as the 45th U.S. President, there was reason for some comfort amongst the United States’ traditional Arab allies in the Middle East, with hopes of a stronger stand against their adversary Iran. “They’ve been measuredly optimistic about the Trump administration, in part because of the ...

President Donald Trump has wrapped his initial actions in office in the name of keeping the United States safe, but several experts and former top U.S. officials say they worry his moves on refugees, immigration, and reorganizing the National Security Council could hurt the country’s national security. On Friday, Trump ...

Two former CIA officers with decades of experience offered up some advice to President Donald Trump on how to deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event on Thursday. Robert Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, ...

For a moment, try to ignore President Donald Trump’s tweets and rambling speeches and let’s look at what the Trump administration may be thinking about when it comes to his campaign promise to rebuild what he has termed “our depleted military.” The Trump White House website came up on January ...

President Donald J. Trump’s Administration has suggested massive overhauls in a number of policy areas, but few have remained as shrouded in uncertainty as Trump’s vision for the future of cybersecurity. All that is known is through Trump’s statements that attribution is hard, China spies for economic purposes, the private ...

U.S. failure to fully develop and implement a comprehensive cyber security strategy created the perfect opportunity for Russia to attack the Democratic National Committee computer network, and enabled them to meddle and interfere with the U.S. presidential election.   Years of bickering by federal agencies – over which agency was in ...

In the fall of 2008, a bipartisan group of cybersecurity experts delivered some sage advice to Barack Obama, set to become president in January: “Don’t start over.” That group, organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, made a strong and persuasive case that the Obama Administration needed to ...

A dramatic, and sometimes controversial, campaign and transition period culminated Friday in Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. In his speech, he said it was “the day the people became rulers of this nation again” and pledged that from now on, “it's only going to ...

Today, President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael R. Pence will take the oath of office on the western steps of the Capitol building. Mr. Trump enters the White House as possibly the most controversial new President in history. His inauguration will be met by record-setting protests – 200,000 ...

Donald Trump today enters the most powerful office in the United States, and probably the world. Just how powerful, however, is an area of much dispute. Despite early promises to curtail executive authority in areas of national security, foreign policy, and warmaking, some argue that President Obama has actually expanded ...

After his inauguration today, Donald Trump will hold  the most powerful office in the country. Just how powerful, however, is much debated. Over the past 15 years, presidential authority to pursue unilateral action in areas of foreign policy, national security, and warmaking has increased precipitously, and some argue that President ...

President Trump said he wants to improve relations with China, but he has expressed concern with China’s theft of intellectual property, unfair taxes for U.S. companies in China, currency manipulation, product dumping and failing to reign in North Korea.  He took a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan and ...

Poland and other countries in the region – particularly NATO members located on Europe’s eastern flank – look to the new American administration with both anxiety and hope. During the election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump sent mixed messages about NATO and his willingness to maintain the same level of U.S. ...

The start of a new U.S. administration, elections across Europe in 2017 that could drastically alter politics on the continent, and an increase in the number and kinds of external threats facing the world over the past few years rattle the NATO transatlantic defense alliance. Add to that President-elect Donald ...

“The great thing about being around Donald Trump is, you never have any confusion about who is driving the bus,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. I question whether President-elect Trump can drive a bus as big as the U.S. Government and wonder if he ...

Donald Trump will take office at the lowest point in Washington’s relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.  He has consistently talked about the need to establish a better relationship with Mr. Putin.  Can he do that in a way that serves American interests? The key to ...

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump revealed he now agrees with the unanimous verdict of the U.S. intelligence community: Russia was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). "I think it was Russia," he said (though he later caveated “but you know what, it could ...

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, one of his earliest—and most important— foreign policy decisions will be how to move forward with the United States’ bilateral relationship with Russia. Will he pursue something along the lines of Obama’s reset or take a firmer stance? Given the president-elect’s opaque statements ...

Noon on January 20th provides an excellent opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to give President-Elect Donald Trump the perfect inauguration gift - Edward Snowden. A reminder: Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, has been living in Russia as a guest of the Government there after he stole and ...

Retired Gen. James Mattis called Russia the “principal threat” to the United States’ security and said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to break” the NATO alliance, starkly contrasting his views with that of President-elect Donald Trump during his Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on Thursday. ...

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS), made clear in his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday that he believes Russia was involved in hacks leading up to the U.S. presidential election in an attempt to undermine America’s democratic credibility. “It’s a long-standing effort of the Russians,” ...

Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech has triggered fevered speculation about the possibility of an impending North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, even provoking President-elect Donald Trump to tweet, “it won’t happen.”  Yet for anyone paying attention to North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the prospect of ...

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on Wednesday sharply differed from President-elect Donald Trump on a number of key foreign policy issues, suggesting he’d take a much tougher line on Russia while at the same time declining to make any pledges regarding sanctions in response to Russian interference in the ...

President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday lashed out in a press conference at reports overnight that U.S. intelligence agencies had given him, President Barack Obama, and leaders of House and Senate intelligence committees a highly classified two-page report indicating Russia has compromising and salacious personal and financial information on him. U.S. agencies, ...

Their reactions to a terror attack on a public Christmas market in Berlin show stark differences between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. On Monday, a truck plowed through a crowd in a busy area of central Berlin, killing at least 12 people and injuring 48. Merkel ...