Welcome to a special episode of the State Secrets podcast. Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly recently welcomed the Director of CIA’s Open Source Enterprise Randy Nixon, to the virtual studio for a special briefing to talk how CIA uses OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) in its daily analytic tradecraft. He also talked about a new tool CIA just launched to help IC analysts better navigate the vast amounts of open source information flowing in each day. Listen in to the briefing, which drew fascinating questions from former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence The Hon. Susan Gordon, former Deputy Director of Analysis for CIA, Linda Weissgold, and chief product officer at Janes, Ben Conklin.
Cyber Initiatives Group (CIG) Principal and former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Cyber, Risk, Resilience and Infrastructure Matt Hayden sits down with CISA’s Executive Director Brandon Wales to dig in on just how the government will implement the new National Cybersecurity Strategy and what it means for business.
Earlier this month, the National Counterintelligence & Security Center - better known in the Intelligence world as the NCSC – along with the FBI - issued a joint bulletin warning stakeholders in US companies, journalists, academics and researchers who work in China about how an updated counterespionage law passed in Beijing that could put employees of US companies at risk because of the broad definitions of what it means to spy. Closer to home, the NCSC issued another public warning about foreign regimes who are actively recruiting people inside the US to help them locate and target dissidents on US soil and the people they are hiring may surprise you. Listen to the State Secrets conversation with Acting Deputy Director Mirriam-Grace MacIntyre wherever you subscribe and listen to podcasts.
In this episode of the State Secrets Podcast Brad speaks with Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joe Detrani. Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is the former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea, as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, while also serving as a Special Adviser to the Director of National Intelligence. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a trip to Beijing, the first in 5 years for a Secretary of State, and while reactions to the trip were muted, the visit seemed to represent a small step forward in restoring dialogue between Washington and Beijing. Ambassador DeTrani is who we turn to for a level set perspective on what’s happening in Asia and how we should be thinking about the US-China relationship. Here’s our conversation.
A new memoir by former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Michael G. Vickers offers incredible insights into some of the most consequential intelligence and special operations missions of our time. From the killing of Osama bin Laden to his efforts to try and stop Iran from getting a bomb, to forcing Russia out of Afghanistan, the former Green Beret turned Intelligence leader shares lessons learned with State Secrets co-hosts Suzanne Kelly and Brad Christian.
We’re letting a secret out of the bag this week. The Cipher Brief traveled to Kyiv to host The Kyiv Economic & Security Forum on the eve of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Cipher Brief CEO Suzanne Kelly, COO Brad Christian and a group of national security professionals traveled in and out of the country with Cipher Brief Expert Gen. David Petraeus (Ret.) who – as former director of CIA and former head of five combat commands has a unique perspective on the counteroffensive. Today, he’s a partner at KKR, where he also chairs the firm’s global institute. That means that his perspective on this war – and the aftermath is incredibly unique. He not only is looking at the immediate combat strategy – but also at the aftermath and the ability for Ukraine to attract global investors to help it rebuild.
One man knows better than most, just what cyber tactics Russia has been using to attack Ukraine – not just since the full invasion in February of 2022 – but since the war began in Crimea in 2014. Since then, Ukraine has served as an unwitting testing ground for Russian cyber aggression with an impact that has often spread well beyond the country’s borders. State Secrets host Suzanne Kelly sat down in Kyiv with the head of Ukraine’s Department of Cyber and Information Security at the Security Service of Ukraine to dig in on Illia Vitiuk’s frontline perspective on what he calls the first cyber war in history.
Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly interviews the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen Robert Ashley to discuss Ukraine, Russia, China, and the impact of technology on todays complicated world. Listen in on what Gen. Bob Ashley has to say about the private sector’s mission in today’s security landscape.
State Secrets Host Suzanne Kelly is joined by co-host Brad Christian in this conversation with Lt. General Michael Groen (Ret.) on the basics of AI and how it’s impacting U.S. National Security.
In this week’s State Secrets, host Suzanne Kelly talks with Dr. Trent Maul. Dr. Maul was appointed to Director of Analysis for the Defense Intelligence Agency in May 2021. Dr. Maul discusses the Defense Intelligence Agency’s global outlook on the Russia-Ukraine war and the possibility of Russia trying to expand its influence in the region to other neighboring countries.
Ambassador Joe DeTrani has spent much of his career centered on China. He is not only a former Special Envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea, he is also a former director of East Asia Operations at the CIA. In this episode, Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian sits down with Ambassador DeTrani to discuss senior leadership changes in Beijing and a potential phone call between Xi and US President Joe Biden.
Former Senior CIA Officer and Cipher Brief Expert Marc Polymeropoulos was in Moscow in late 2017, when he woke up in his hotel room with a blinding headache. It was the beginning of a 5-year journey that landed him in Walter Reed’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program. What happened? Marc believes he was the victim of a targeted microwave weapon attack – something that’s become known as Havana Syndrome, after US government employees working at the Embassy in Cuba reported similar debilitating symptoms. Now, the Intelligence Community has issued its latest assessment on Havana Syndrome, which it refers to as Analogous Health Incidents and Polymeropoulos says the report leaves a lot to be desired.
In this episode of State Secrets, Suzanne Kelly talks about the ways in which the war in Ukraine is changing the world with author Rajan Menon. Menon, a nonresident scholar in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is co-author of the book, Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order. Menon, like Kelly, recently returned from Ukraine and shares his first-hand impressions about what’s happening there and how this war is changing the world.
State Secrets host Suzanne Kelly and guest co-host Brad Christian talk with the former NATO Allied Supreme Commander (and former F-16 pilot) about what comes next in Ukraine and what is actually needed in order to win.
In this week’s State Secrets Podcast, Host Suzanne Kelly talks with The Hon. Susan M. Gordon, a career Intelligence Officer, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and current member of the Defense Innovation Board, about Balloons, China, Ukraine, Russia and the new world order as well as the role that AI plays in all of it.
In this week’s State Secrets, host Suzanne Kelly talks with former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and Presidential Briefer, Beth Sanner about the discovery of classified documents in the homes and offices of former and current political leaders. Beth shares first-hand accounts from her time serving as former President Donald Trump’s briefer and helps pull back the curtain on where the gaps are in securing classified information.
In one of his very first public interviews as NATO Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security, David Cattler sits down with State Secrets host Suzanne Kelly to talk about one of the most trying times in the alliance’s 74 year history. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is re-shaping the alliance, and fueling expansion as NATO keeps a close eye on China’s global rise.
This week, I’m talking with RAND CEO Dr. Jason Matheny about a host of threats to US national security – how technology is playing a role and why people call him an ‘apocaloptimist’.
Dr. Matheny has been fascinated with existential threats to the human race from the get go and penned a 2007 paper on how to reduce the risk of human extinction. If that isn’t worth reading – I don’t’ know what is.
Matheny brought that kind of curiosity and insight to the Intelligence Community in 2009 as the Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity – that’s the research arm of the Intelligence Community that invests in fascinating research projects. He’s also served on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and was the founder of the Center for Emerging Technology at Georgetown University.
He left that role to become the Coordinator for Technology and National Security at the National Security Council – and at the same time – served as Deputy Director for National Security at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Matheny became the CEO of the RAND Corporation this past summer. Needless to say, I learn a lot every time I talk with Dr. Matheny. So let’s get started.
This week we're talking about the mission to give back and we're highlighting three organizations that are doing just that. Suzanne is joined by Brad for three conversations with charities that are making an impact. First up is the Special Operations Care Fund known as SOC-F.
SOC-F really targets their giving efforts to the special operations community in ways that you wouldn’t normally think of. They support things like treatments for traumatic brain injury but they also focus on providing therapy sessions to save marriages that are often strained by the multiple deployments that affect families. They also provide therapeutic and restorative experiences for gold star kids. We spoke with Co-Founder David Kramer and new Executive Director of SOF-F Jeremy Morton.
Next up we spoke with CSM (Ret) Mike Hall, Executive Director of Three Rangers Foundation an organiztion that serves the Ranger community. Three Rangers manages a significant network of former Rangers who mentor new veterans as they are transitioning, and beyond and offers some pretty impressive ways to build professional networks in the civilian world.
Last but not least we spoke with the Executive Director of the CIA Officer's Memorial Foundation John Edwards. John is a retired senior executive with CIA and now leads the organization that was created following the death of Mike Spann in 2001. Spann was the first American killed in Afghanistan, and was a CIA officer and it became clear very soon after that CIA needed a new type of way to support fallen officers. We talked with John about how the foundation works to provide scholarships and support for the children and spouses of fallen CIA officers.
In 1972, former CIA Executive Director William Colby proposed that the spy agency set up an employee museum as a way to share the unique mission and the impact that CIA had around the world.
It took 16 years for it to come to fruition. And some 34 years after that, a new museum expansion and renovation is helping the Agency mark its 75th Anniversary.
Now, the museum hosts artifacts from some of the Agency’s most successful – and some unsuccessful missions.
In this episode of The State Secrets Podcast, Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly sits down with the CIA’s Curator of Secrets – Museum Director Robert Byer, who gave The Cipher Brief team a tour of the new space and the new exhibits. Some of them stretch back to the days of the OSS – the World War II Precursor to CIA. And some, were used in active intelligence operations as recently as this summer. All have been declassified.
Here's a peek inside the world’s most secretive museum at CIA Headquarters, and Suzanne Kelly’s conversation with Museum Director Robert Byer.
In this State Secrets episode, Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly sits down with the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Vice Admiral Frank Whitworth at NGA Headquarters in Springfield, Virginia to talk about what’s going on in hot spots like North Korea, as the North undertakes a series of missile launches, about NGA’s expected role with the artificial intelligence program known as MAVEN, and about how the agency is partnering with commercial businesses to know the world even better.
Vice Admiral Whitworth took on the role as Director this past June and he brings an impressive intelligence background in the military to the new job. His command tours included serving as commander of Joint Intelligence Center Central, commanding officer of the Navy element of U.S. Central Command and commanding officer at the Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center. He also served as director of Intelligence for The Joint Staff and as director of Intelligence for U.S. Africa Command and as director of Intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command. The list goes on.
In this episode, I’m talking with journalist and author Renee Dudley. Renee is a technology reporter at ProPublica who stumbled onto a band of what she describes as misfits while reporting on the rapid rise of ransomware. What she found was an incredible group of individuals who decided to be a change for good by helping fight cybercrime. She tells the story in a new book she wrote with co-author and fellow journalist Daniel Golden, The Ransomware Hunting Team: A Band of Misfits’ Improbable Crusade to Save the World from Cybercrime.
Here's my conversation with Renee Dudley.
China remains the top concern for long-term US national security and tensions over Taiwan have increased steadily over the past several months. Chinese President Xi Jinping used the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to cement his grip on power – and to make clear where his party stands on its future ambitions, to include the reunification of the self-governing island of Taiwan.
So just how close are China and the US moving toward war over Taiwan?
That's something that Cipher Brief Expert Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) has been contemplating for some time. He is the author of 2034: A Novel of the Next World War - that he co-wrote with journalist Elliott Ackerman - played out just how that war might start.
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October - with a speech that makes clear where his party stands on its future ambitions, to include the reunification of the self-governing island of Taiwan.
But tensions between the US and China over Taiwan’s future are really just one part of the story. Beijing has made clear that it has a thorough and organized strategy to achieve its ambitious goals while the US – in part because of a democratic system that can change leadership every four years – is realizing that it must do something different if it wants to remain a dominant power in the world.
I can’t imagine anyone better on this issue that my guest in this episode: former assistant secretary of defense turned Harvard Professor Graham Allison. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Harvard and he is also the author of the book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap? If you haven’t read it, it’s a master class in understanding just where both countries are coming from and what advantages they hold in this great power competition.
Here's my State Secrets conversation with Harvard Professor Graham Allison.
In this episode, Cipher Brief COO Brad Christian sits down with former CIA Officer Brett Davis and Entrepreneur Jeremy Hitchcock to talk about the future of US national security from an investor’s perspective.
Brett is a former Senior Executive with the CIA, and a former Special Operations Officer with the US Navy. Jeremy is an angel investor who co-founded a company called Dyn in 2001 that grw out of an open source project. He sold the company in 2017 for $600mm.
The two men are now partners in New North Ventures, which – full disclosure – The Cipher Brief works with. New North is a sponsor of this year’s Cipher Brief Threat Conference.
Brad sat down with the two men – from very different backgrounds – to get their perspective on investing in future US national security.