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Topping today's Open-Source Report: The US military says a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Connecticut collided with an ‘object' on Saturday while submerged in the South China Sea. Reuters reports that 15 sailors suffering minor injuries. The navy has not provided details on what the ‘object' may have been. This somewhat unsettling news comes as The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that a US special operations forces and a contingent of Marines have been secretly rotating into Taiwan to train the island's military.
Topping our open source episode today: the CIA is making some changes to its internal structure that will allow it to dedicate in a more focused way – on China. In a press release out today, CIA Director Bill Burns announced that the agency is establishing a China Mission Center (CMC). The agency is also hiring a Chief Technology Officer and is establishing a Transnational and Technology Mission Center. We're told that the aim there is to address the global issues - like technology, economic security and climate - that are critical to US competitiveness.
President Biden says U.S. agrees to abide by 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and the 'One China Principle'; Taiwan's Defense Minister says Taiwan-China relations at worst point in 40 years; CIA sends message to workforce about threats to informants after a string of deaths.
Topping today's episode: Two suspected ransomware operators who authorities say were demanding ransoms of up to 70 million EUR, were arrested last week in Ukraine. Officials say the two suspects have been making ransom demands that range between 5 and 70 million EUROS from industrial groups since April 2020. While Europol is withholding the name of the targeted group for what it calls an operational reason, outsiders suggest the operation targeted the group known as REvil. The arrests come as part of wider cooperation against cybercriminals based in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Topping this episode: The US is urging China to stop what it calls its “provocative” military activities near Taiwan. This comes after close to 100 Chinese military aircraft entered the island's air defense zone over a three-day period in what's being called the largest air incursion by Beijing to date. Taiwan's defense ministry says that China sent 38 planes in two waves on Friday and 39 on Saturday near the Pratas Islands and in the Bashi Channel and that it scrambled aircraft to warn away the Chinese warplanes.
Topping today's Open-Source Report – A court in Alabama will decide whether the US has experienced its first death in connection to a cyberattack on a hospital in that state. A mother there is suing the hospital and healthcare workers after the death of her infant child. Tieranni Kidd says that the computers at the Springhill Medical Center had been disabled due to a cyberattack when she was delivering her baby and experienced complications.
Topping today's episode: Axios is reporting that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley says that the State Department is to blame for the chaos that came along with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The news outlet is citing sources referring to comments that Milley made during classified briefings that followed his public testimony this week. The news outlet is reporting that Milley bluntly criticized State Department officials for waiting too long to order the evacuation of civilians.
Topping today's episode: Top U.S. Military officials testified before the Senate Armed Services on Tuesday – saying they advised President Joe Biden earlier this year against a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said he recommended keeping 2,500 troops in the country. The generals' remarks seem to contradict President Joe Biden's comments in August that “no one” that he “can recall” advised him to maintain a military presence in the country.
Topping today's episode- South Korea's military says North Korea fired at least one missile in the waters off Japan today. Japan's defense ministry says it appeared to be a ballistic missile. The launch came just before North Korea's ambassador to the UN Kim Song, speaking before the UN General Assembly, said no one can deny his country's right to “self-defense” and to test weapons and urged the US to end its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang.
In today's episode: Biden tries to mend fences with Macron amid crisis over scuttled French deal worth $40B; UK's Johnson tells France to 'get over it' about the AUKUS pact and the State Department announces it's head of Havana Syndrome response is stepping down after 6 months.
Topping today's headlines, the 76th UN General Assembly is underway in New York City. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed members with somber words, saying the world is “on the edge of an abyss.”
Leading today's Open Source Collection, several media outlets are now reporting that a CIA officer who traveled to India with agency director William Burns earlier this month developed symptoms of what's been called “Havana Syndrome” on the trip and had to seek medical attention.
U.S. to provide Australia with 8 nuclear submarines under new U.S.-Australia-UK security pact known as AUKUS; Japan's Defense Minister says Japan willing to fight China over disputed Senkaku Islands; French forces kill ISIS leader in Africa and Biden says Milley has his full support amid controversy over new Woodward book.
Blinken testifies before Congress to kick off oversight review of Afghanistan withdrawal; NSO Group zero day iPhone flaw revealed; Israeli PM visits Egypt; International donors raise over $1 billion for Afghanistan aid.
Biden and Xi speak for 90 minutes in a bid to avoid conflict; 20 years after 9-11; SEC probe worries corporate executives; MI5 Chief speaks out about terrorism risk; Zapad-2021 exercises kick off involving more than 200,000; Ukrainian President warns about war with Russia.
Flight departs Kabul airport with 200 foreigners on board, including Americans; Taliban say US must remove Haqqani family members from wanted list; China ramps up 'island capture' exercises in 2021; Philippine Defense Chief says time to reassess defense framework with US under rising China threat.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Taliban are cooperating to let Americans with valid travel docs leave Afghanistan, while some experts call into question that claim; The US reports four Americans were evacuated via an overland route out of Afghanistan; Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says the west should prepare for a bio-terror attack while Iran's new president says he is ready for nuclear talks, with conditions.
Today's top story: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged reports of civilian deaths in a recent air strike in Afghanistan and said the US also killed an ISIS ‘facilitator'. The US military says the car that was struck in a drone strike was carrying explosives. A new report from the Associated Press - citing local sources from the family of the US target - says the drone strike killed 10 members of their family, including children. The family members told AP that the car was not carrying explosives.
Today we lead with one of the craziest Afghanistan stories unfolding at the moment -- US Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) reportedly sparked a confrontation with US embassy staff in Tajikistan because he wanted assistance in passing thru Tajikistan with a large amount of money on his way to Afghanistan for a non-sanctioned mission to rescue US citizens.
Our top story today remains Afghanistan. President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday following the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which he called an “extraordinary success.” Despite criticism over the Taliban takeover and chaos of evacuations, Biden defended his decision to pull out troops to end the US military's 20-year mission in Afghanistan and not prolong the “forever war” any longer. He also said that the US would continue to work to get Americans out of the country who still want to leave.
It's Tuesday August 31 and we are on the road today, joining you from Texas, where we are scouting locations for an upcoming Cipher Brief event. We're looking forward to sharing more on that with you in the very near future. But let's get to the lead today: US forces have completed their withdrawal from Kabul - ending Washington's 20-year mission in Afghanistan.
US missile defenses intercept multiple rockets targeting Kabul airport as US prepares for final evacuation of remaining troops > US Targets suspected ISIS-K sites in multiple air strikes> European leaders are pushing for a Kabul ‘Safe Zone' in a special session of the UN security council > A new UN report says North Korea may be restarting a nuclear site > and China will soon surpass Russia as nuclear power.
Suicide attack kills at least 60 Afghans and 13 US military troops; Biden vows to hunt those responsible; US and Britain continue evacuation efforts while all other allies have ceased their operations in Kabul; Russia tells Iran to restart nuclear negotiations; Conflict in Ethiopia grows while UN warns of humanitarian catastrophe.
Chaos in Afghanistan as explosion rock Kabul resulting in numerous Afghan KIA and US wounded; Wall Street Journal report highlights clandestine efforts by CIA during ongoing rescue operations around Afghanistan; Major Cyber Summit at White House with President Biden and heads of leading tech companies. A lot more in this episode.
Special Guest former CIA Officer Marc Polymeropoulos joins us to talk about VP Kamala Harris and the suspected 'Havana Syndrome' incident in Hanoi and also shares his perspective on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.
CIA Director Burns meets secretly with Taliban co-founder Baradar; Biden facing pressure to extend withdrawal deadline, White House says announcement on that 'imminent'; VP Harris accuses China of bullying; Iran starts second shipment of oil in violation of US sanctions.
In this episode: The Taliban won't agree to foreign troops in Afghanistan beyond August 31 while Biden says the US may in fact extend the deadline, setting the stage for heightened tensions. Security at the Kabul airport continues to deteriorate. Taiwan warns that China is seeking to emulate the Taliban while committing that it can defend itself and VP Harris kicks off a south Asian tour in Singapore.
U.S. announces new $750 million dollar arms deal with Taiwan and Beijing's foreign ministry says it will 'seriously damage' U.S.-China relations and vows to react; Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is prepared to militarily respond to Iran and says the time is now for the world to take action against Iran. A lot more in this episode.
In this episode: A second ship attack off the coast of UAE with some officials accusing Iran of being behind the hijacking; Former UK National Cybersecurity Center CEO Ciaran Martin says 'cyberbabble' is not a policy response; We welcome special guest and TCB Expert Norm Roule to the show to break down the state of play with Iran.
US & UK accuse Taliban of war crimes as Afghan Military commander urges citizens to flee Lashkar Gar as fighting continues in major Afghan cities; Belarusian opposition leader found dead in Ukraine; German navy ship sets sail for South China Sea.
In this episode: Republican Congressional lawmakers say COVID escaped from Wuhan lab and urge bi-partisan investigation; Senators urge Biden to let the Intel Community COVID investigation continue 'as long as necessary'; Israel, US and UK say Iran responsible for shipping attack and Blinken says a response is coming. There's a lot more in this episode to start the week.
China slams comments made by Lloyd Austin in Singapore as 'smear' campaign and calls into question the foundation of US-China relations; Biden signs major cybersecurity memorandum reflecting increasing momentum around cyber standards for critical infrastructure and Israel tells France it take Pegasus investigation 'seriously'. A lot more in this episode.
In this episode: President Biden warns of a potential 'shooting war' over cyber attacks; 'Putin's People' book sparks major UK lawsuit, U.S. says it is keeping troops in Syria and a peace deal announced between factions of Mexican cartel.
Big News Day: End of US combat presence in Iraq; Cuba story continues to develop with Mexico's Obrador calling on Biden to make a real decision; Haiti's Chief of Presidential Security has been arrested; Biden to visit ODNI today; US Asia surge underway with senior DOD and State Department visits to shore up allied relationships and a lot more in this episode.
Afghanistan's military overhauls strategy; Taliban says it does not want civil war: U.S. continues action on Cuba with targeted sanctions; Bi-partisan support for Pentagon budget increase in rebuke to Biden spending plan; Macron orders tighter security after Pegasus revelations; Tajikistan says it will welcome 100,000 Afghans.
CIA Director William Burns increases agency's focus on 'Havana Syndrome' investigation; U.S. exploring sanctions on Cuban officials; EU rejects British request on Brexit modification; Wendy Sherman will visit China on her Asia tour; China refuses to accept second WHO investigation to explore 'lab leak' theory on COVID-19; Uzbekistan says no to housing Afghans in blow to U.S. efforts to protect those at risk from Taliban.
Biden Administration official says US doesn't know why REvil disappeared; Haiti names new Prime Minister; State Department nominee says she will stand up to Russia's aggressive behavior; NSO Group being investigated by Israel's National Security Council as global allegations of Pegasus misuse grow. Your daily run down of national security stories, conflicts and issues shaping the global stage.
In this episode: Amazon shuts down cloud accounts for NSO Group as investigation grows over alleged global misuse of Pegasus software; DHS releases second security directive for critical infrastructure to mandate cyber protections; US set to announce Cuba policy review and a lot more in this episode of curated global security stories.