As Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, Michael Fisher is responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, and directing enforcement efforts to secure the border.  He sat down with The Cipher Brief to assess how threats along the border are changing and the crucial role of the private sector in ensuring border ...

As President Xi Jinping tours the western world advocating Chinese businesses, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues incrementally asserting dominance over territory in the South China Sea. Territorial claims in the South China Sea have been contentious for centuries, but recent land reclamation attempts by China have made it a ...

Republican Congressman Randy Forbes believes China’s assertive behavior in Asia is destabilizing the region. Forbes explained why he takes this position in an interview with The Cipher Brief. The Cipher Brief: How would you assess the current state of the U.S.-China relationship, especially following President Xi Jinping’s visit?  Rep. Randy ...

The South China Sea is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous places on earth. Beijing has long claimed most of the sea as its sovereign territory, although neighbors Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan have rival claims. Since late 2013, China has sought to consolidate its control over the ...

As some Asia energy experts have noted, the South China Sea (SCS) is like a thin donut with a very large hole: all of the hydrocarbons in oil and gas form are located along the periphery, while the large hole in the center, which includes the bulk of islands contested ...

Spanning 1,954 miles, the U.S.-Mexican border has been one of the most discussed topics in this election cycle—though primarily for its security implications.  Equally important is the U.S.-Mexican economic relationship; Mexico is the second-leading purchaser of U.S. exports and the third-leading supplier of U.S. imports.  This equates to hundreds of ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Paola Ávila, the Vice President of International Business Affairs at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the benefits of increased U.S. economic integration with Mexico.  Ávila shared why she is a strong proponent of a more open U.S.-Mexican border, and the ...

There are many lessons from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that are relevant to the current debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). First, like the TPP, NAFTA was never mostly about trade and even less about free trade. In 1994, the U.S. already had low tariff barriers to ...

The U.S.-Mexico economic relationship is large, fast-growing, and unique; three important features that make it deserving of significant attention and cultivation. The border between these two countries constitutes both one of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities to strengthen the competitiveness of the regional economy. The first feature is relatively ...

Several years ago, relations between Pakistan and the United States hit a post-9/11 low. The 2011 discovery of Osama bin Laden’s compound not far from Pakistan’s premier military academy left Americans seething and suspicious. For their part, Pakistanis fulminated over a series of American “violations” of their territorial sovereignty by ...

As U.S. counterterrorism successes mount in eliminating terrorists in Pakistan, the al-Qaeda “glue” that holds the U.S.-Pakistan security relationship together has seemed to weaken.  What is the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship?  Tired and worn out by our long-running engagements in far away lands since 9/11, there is real temptation ...

In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Andrew Small, an expert on Chinese policy in South Asia for The German Marshall Fund, discussed the evolving China-Pakistan relationship.  He said that ties between the two countries are “deepening,” as China becomes more engaged with Pakistan’s economy and security. The Cipher Brief: ...

Several years ago, relations between Pakistan and the United States hit a post-9/11 low. The 2011 discovery of Osama bin Laden’s compound not far from Pakistan’s premier military academy left Americans seething and suspicious. For their part, Pakistanis fulminated over a series of American “violations” of their territorial sovereignty by ...

A fifty-year veteran of American intelligence recently told me how once, as a young officer, he had blurted out that a situation he had been reporting on was so bad that it could hardly get any worse.  One of his mentors quietly stared at him and then observed, "It can ...

A fifty-year veteran of American intelligence recently told me how once, as a young officer, he had blurted out that a situation he had been reporting on was so bad that it could hardly get any worse.  One of his mentors quietly stared at him and then observed, "It can ...

President Barack Obama continues to pave the way for improved U.S.-Cuban relations, as changes to U.S. travel to and business with Cuba took effect on Monday. The revisions made to the Cuban Asset Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) will ease U.S. sanctions on Cuba related to travel, ...

Tonight, Republican candidates will take the stage for the second GOP Presidential debate.  We’ve heard a lot about jobs, immigration and the economy – but where do the candidates stand on the world’s most pressing global security issues? 1. Most GOP presidential hopefuls condemn the Iran nuclear deal.  The candidates are ...

This Wednesday’s Republican debate could be pretty revealing when it comes to the candidates’ views on security and foreign policy.  Or, at least, we have the right to hope so.  Moderators Dana Bash, Hugh Hewitt, Jake Tapper: please note.  How about some questions along the following lines? I’d like you ...

The U.S. is confronting global security challenges on a scale it has not seen since the rise of the Soviet Union to super-power status, following WWII. Radical Islam is morphing into a global terrorist movement, revisionist powers Iran, Russia and China are seeking regional domination and advanced countries, and yes, ...

Republicans have historically gotten better polling numbers on issues of national security leading up to elections.  This year there has been discussion by the candidates about the issue but specifics have not been forthcoming.  The economy will always be the number one issue as voters are, and should be, concerned about jobs ...

CIPHER SNAPSHOT: President Barack Obama recently visited the Arctic region to bring attention to the effects climate change is already having in Alaska. The president also addressed a State Department conference with members of the Artic Council, whose members include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Dr. James Henderson of the Oxford Institute to get his thoughts on the energy potential of the Arctic.  The Cipher Brief: What are your thoughts on the energy potential of the Arctic?  James Henderson: The potential resource base of hydrocarbons in the Arctic is very ...

As the ice continues to melt at the top of the world, climate change is altering more than global weather patterns. The opening up of Arctic waters as summer sea ice continues a thirty-year retreat trend could cut a third off distances between North-West Europe and the Far East. With ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Raj De to discuss the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Mr. De recently served as the General Counsel at the National Security Agency, after holding senior appointments in the White House and the Department of Justice.  He is currently a partner at Mayer Brown, where ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Robert Richer, former CIA Associate Deputy Director for Operations, to talk about his memories of September 11th, 2001 and his thoughts on what the U.S. has learned over the last fourteen years of war. The Cipher Brief: Where were you on September 11th and ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to get his reflections on the events of September 11th, 2001 and hear his thoughts on the evolution of the terrorism threat. The Cipher Brief: Where were you on September 11th and what do ...

As President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) I have interacted with some of America’s most innovative and entrepreneurial business leaders. These are individuals with diverse skillsets and experiences who are united in their belief that the private sector can play a meaningful role in ensuring our ...

On September 11, 2001, I was a newly-appointed SEAL platoon commander.  My platoon was on an urban warfare training trip in the south east United States when we received word that a plane had struck one of the twin towers.  We were literally reloading weapons, when one of our platoon-mates ...

President Barack Obama toured Alaska this week to bring more attention to the effects climate change has had on the Arctic region. President Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Arctic, addressed the U.S.’s role in climate change, saying “the United States recognizes our role in creating this ...

Cooperation between the U.S. government and private corporations is essential for building and maintaining an effective national security platform. Within the realm of security and defense, partnerships between the public and private sectors, often known as PPPs or P3s, are at the forefront of weapons manufacturing, cyber defense, intelligence assessments, ...

The whole of the warring nations are engaged, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere…the front line runs through the factories. —Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1940)  Addressing the House of Commons in 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill observed that in the new ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Suzanne Spaulding, the Department of Homeland Security’s Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate.  She shared her thoughts on areas of collaboration between the public and the private sector, and the ways DHS can help. The Cipher Brief: What is your role ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Robert Cardillo, the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  He shared his thoughts on the public-private partnership and the future of NGA. The Cipher Brief: In today’s complex threat environment, how does the IC stay at the technology curve? How does it manage to ...

The rifts among Taliban factions had been growing for some time, bubbling up as the deception over their leader’s death continued. They boiled over last month - not by accident -  on the eve of a second round of peace talks, forcing the Taliban to acknowledge that its supreme commander ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), for a wide-ranging interview.  The general offered his thoughts on the future of Afghanistan. The Cipher Brief: Can the U.S. really withdraw completely from Afghanistan? Does it concern you? GEN McChrystal: I ...

During the 11 months of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s presidency, and despite the combination of a rapid Western pullout and an expanding Taliban insurgency, there had been, nonetheless, at least some small room for optimism.  After all, until a few days ago, Ghani appeared to have established a genuine rapprochement ...

For the past several years, the Obama administration’s strategy for Afghanistan has rested on the basic assumption that although no reasonable amount of U.S. money or troops could win the war against the Taliban outright, a limited American commitment to Afghanistan’s security forces and government would enable Kabul to hold ...

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack shocked the U.S., exposing the vulnerability of the U.S. government to cyber attack.  After thieves took the personal data of more than 20 million federal employees, what did we learn? 1. IT isn’t a priority until something goes wrong. OPM received several warnings from ...

The White House has reached an agreement with Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. Congress now has 60 days to weigh in on the deal.  This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on the implications of the agreement. The Cipher ...

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post suggests that the major political parties and their prospective presidential candidates ought to be thinking about transition planning today, even in advance of the nominating conventions. Wise counsel, but that is not all that should be considered before the next election cycle ...