NSI Policy Paper – Cyber Imperative: Preserve and Strengthen Public-Private Partnerships

This White Paper:

  • Examines the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to United States cybersecurity policy and law
  • Explains the benefits of collaboration and partnership – domestically and abroad – over regulation and mandates
  • Describes challenges to cooperation, such as limitations in current law, the overlap in government cyber activities, and fear of post-hoc recrimination
  • Urges policymakers to strengthen partnership and collaboration through creative solutions that change the culture around private cyber risk and incidents

Click here to read the complete paper.

About the author:

Megan Brown is an NSI Senior Fellow and Associate Director for Cybersecurity Programs.  She is also a Partner at Wiley Rein LLP.  Prior to joining Wiley, Ms. Brown served in the Department of Justice as Counsel to two U.S. Attorneys General. 

National Cyber Strategy

This afternoon, President Trump released the National Cyber Strategy. Below, NSI experts offer their commentary.

September 20, 2018

Dmitri Alperovitch – NSI Visiting Fellow; Co-Founder/CTO, CrowdStrike

“I am very pleased to see the new National Cyber Strategy formally establish the precedent to make routine the ‘work with like-minded partners to attribute and deter malicious cyber activities’. This is a key and necessary step that has been lacking in US cyber policy for many years.”

Bryson Bort – NSI Fellow; Founder & CEO SCYTHE

“This is the most comprehensive cybersecurity strategy document ever published—firmly stating a vision of the United States as ensuring a secure Internet by cooperation or force…The message appears to be: you will see an American Flag planted on your scorched computer(s).

This is the most comprehensive cybersecurity strategy document ever published—firmly stating a vision of the United States as ensuring a secure Internet by cooperation or force. It reads like a response to former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers’ February Congressional testimony where he acknowledged current constraints in responding to the active threat landscape the US faces.

The ambitious scope is easily reflected in a just few stand out items: replacing social security numbers for identify management; addressing IOT security through the full lifecycle, although not post-deployment; a global “Cyber Deterrence Initiative” to strength partner law enforcement and information sharing capabilities; and the promise of “swift and transparent consequences” to deter attacks.

The message appears to be: you will see an American Flag planted on your scorched computer(s).”

Megan Brown – NSI Senior Fellow; Partner, Wiley Rein LLP

It is heartening to have a new cyber strategy committed to paper, for the private sector and the government.  There is a lot to like in here, and a lot of unanswered questions.  Big picture, this document lays out a muscular role for government as it relates to the private sector.

This strategy doubles down on the contracting community, with hints of some intrusive new requirements on the way.  This is notable because contractors have already been the “tip of the spear” on cyber regulatory obligations.

Not surprisingly, it tackles IT and telecom supply chain issues—hopefully the Administration can bring some clarity to the many overlapping federal efforts on this.

It puts DHS’ role on steroids and confirms the government’s commitment to nudging the private sector along, whether or not the industry wants help.  From trying to shape the market for “secure” products to encouraging manufacturers to test security and differentiate products based on security features, the government sends a message that it will take an active role.  Its emphasis on transparency and the roll out of secure next-generation telecom and IT infrastructure will affect technology companies and the broader economy.

The bottom line: industry needs to prepare for additional expectations and obligations, and get ready to interact with the government in a variety of settings.

Cameron Burks – NSI Visiting Fellow; Deputy Chief Security Officer, Chevron Corporation

“The Administration’s focus on protecting critical infrastructure against cyber attacks and providing risk-reduction activities across key sectors and the maritime space is a critical element of the new strategy. It reflects a clear understanding that enhanced government-to-private sector engagement is a vital imperative to the country’s national security.”


Jamil N. Jaffer – Founder, National Security Institute

“While the current administration’s national security apparatus may face significant challenges from within, the fact is, the President and his team got this one right: ignoring the costs of malicious cyber activity, including destructive attacks and efforts to undermine our core economic base through IP theft and extortion, is a recipe for disaster.

We must make clear to our enemies in cyberspace, including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, that they will no longer be free to conduct destructive or disabling attacks on U.S. soil or against American companies, our government, or our allies, whether in Central Europe, Asia, or the Middle East.  Nor must they think it is acceptable to pillage our American industry of the very technology that is at the core of our economic vitality, undermine our democratic institutions, or pre-position assets to use against us in a future conflict.

The administration’s new strategy–with its discussion of deterrence and consequences—is thus a step in the right direction.

But more must be done immediately.  The time for mere words has passed. We must respond swiftly and surely to cyber activities that threaten our national security.  To that end, the new strategy’s promise of ‘swift and transparent consequences,’ is exactly spot on, and we must now deliver on this promise when challenged in cyberspace.”

Andy Keiser – NSI Fellow; Former Senior Advisor, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

“The National Cyber Strategy announced by President Trump today is an important step in not only identifying the threats to the United States in cyberspace, but the opportunities and solutions. The strategy touches on typical areas of hardening federal systems, while introducing newer concepts such as an international deterrence model in cyber.

After 15 years of multiple Administrations admiring the problem, the Trump Administration should be given credit for conducting a full interagency review grown out of the National Security Strategy process to get this critical policy in place which has a direct impact on our economy and security. Though it is surely not the end all be all for what needs to happen in cyber, the new NCS will help guide a whole-of-government response to the threats against and openings for the U.S. in cyber.”


Dr. Andrea Little Limbago – NSI Senior Fellow; Chief Social Scientist, Endgame

“In many ways, this strategy is the first articulation of a whole-of-nation approach to the range of digital state and non-state threats. The NCS prioritizes the integration of cyber with other elements of national power, focusing on fostering diplomatic norms, countering disinformation, deterring and disrupting malicious activity, and enabling economic prosperity. The private sector also plays a prominent role in this strategy, with everything from incentivizing robust risk management and incident response to augmenting mechanisms for greater information sharing.

The promotion of a free and open internet is at the core of the NCS, and reaffirms American leadership in shaping a democratic, multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. In contrast to the authoritarian model of censorship, data localization, and digital protectionism, the NCS reasserts American commitment to an open internet as a core feature of protecting democracy. While several other recent strategies and policies have emphasized offensive cyber capabilities, that same verbiage of continuous engagement and defending forward is surprisingly minimal. In fact, the NCS emphasizes that efforts to counter malign activities will continue to respect and preserve democratic values.”

Harold Moss – NSI Visiting Fellow; Senior Director Strategy, Akamai Technologies

“The rapid pace at which technology and cyber threats are evolving, warrants the need for a combined public and private response as highlighted in the newly released cybersecurity strategy update.

The first step to a sustainable cyber strategy is enabling future cyber talent and leveraging existing public sector talent to buttress existing cybersecurity deficiencies. The acknowledgement that we must expand our cyber talent pool, is significant and meaningful.  In absence of concrete and detailed steps, one has to remain cautiously optimistic.  I for one look forward to additional context related to building the necessary foundation for such an endeavor. “

Megan Stifel – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Director for International Cyber Policy, National Security Council
“The White House strategy released importantly recognizes the opportunities of interconnected technologies as well as the risks and vulnerabilities created. The announcement today builds upon ongoing efforts to protect and defend United States information infrastructure in the new era. By bringing these ongoing efforts together into a cohesive document, today’s Strategy sends a strong signal not only that cybersecurity remains a priority to the United States, but also that it is a whole of nation effort—that the government plays an important but not independent role in sustaining the Internet ecosystem for the future.Among the key priorities identified by the Strategy are that the government must lead by example, including through workforce training and development and supply chain risk management. Expanding from the government as an enterprise risk management organization, the Strategy prioritizes building and supporting technical and policy relationships to sustain United States economic and security interests for the future. The Strategy highlights the critical role U.S., partner, and ally information and communications technologies and networks play in maintaining secure and resilient economies and the need to continue efforts to support the development of norms, multistakeholder internet governance, and internet freedom, in particular by continuing capacity building efforts to achieve these objectives.”

Dave Weinstein – NSI Visiting Fellow; Vice President of Threat Research, Claroty, Inc.

“Until now the United States has not formally adopted an international approach to cyber deterrence.  The Cyber Deterrence Initiative, which would formally strengthen collaboration with other countries on incident response and attribution, is a promising concept. Successful implementation will depend on what countries participate and their level of commitment.  In this respect, geographical diversity is key to establishing and maintaining the credibility of such a body.  The east versus west I would expect the “Five Eyes” and other NATO member-states to be among the first recruits for the coalition, but it would be worth exploring the private sector’s role in such a construct.
It’s encouraging to critical infrastructure risk management featured so prominently in the Strategy, but the substance is a bit lackluster.  More creativity is needed for government to maximize its contributions to what is largely a private sector problem.  Some of the best ways for government to “secure critical infrastructure” is to incentive investment in technology, people, and training; share actionable threat intelligence; and deter activities that hold infrastructure assets (and the citizens they serve) at risk.”

Call for Presentations: Hack the Capitol

Hack the Capitol is an two day event in Washington, DC on September 26th and 27th to provide hands-on education and awareness to Congressional Staffers, Think Tanks, and Press. Talks, workshops, hands-on exhibits, and demos should be tailored toward a non-technical audience. Please consider this with your submission. This kind of event has never been done before and will have significant value in raising awareness of our Nation’s challenges with critical infrastructure and constructively providing kinesthetic learning at multiple levels.

To submit a presentation, click here.

Helsinki Summit: Experts Weigh In

Early this morning, President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in three back-to-back meeting sessions.  Below, NSI experts weigh in on the outcome of the meetings and what they mean for future U.S. – Russia relations. 

July 16, 2018

Andrew Borene – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Associate Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense

“We definitely need to wait and see what gets said on the record and what specific action items come out of the meeting, before we can make reliable assessments about it.

It is not clear what, if any, defined outcomes are being sought by The White House in Helsinki with Putin. President Trump himself says he has “low expectations.” This meeting also comes right on the heels of conflicting White House messages about the US commitment to the NATO alliance, which is the Russian Federation’s most significant geopolitical counterweight. 
In the background of President Trump’s Russia summit will be a continuing tension between the President and the US Justice Department’s work on Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Friday the 13th surprise indictment of Russian intelligence operatives for hacking during the 2016 election was probably not on President Trump’s initially planned agenda.”

Jamie Fly – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Marco Rubio

“President Trump’s performance at a press conference earlier today with Russian President Vladimir Putin was nothing short of disgraceful.  He turned an opportunity to send a strong deterrent message against future Russian interference in American democracy into an attack on American institutions that only empowers our enemies.Instead of pushing back against the long trail of death and destruction that Vladimir Putin has left around the globe, President Trump lowered America to Putin’s level.  It was “Russia First” at its worst.Luckily, beyond the press conference, it appears as of now, that the damage was limited.  There were few signs of progress on arms control, Syria, or other issues.  American and Russian interests are fundamentally opposed on many of these key challenges and hopefully Trump administration officials realize that as they follow up with their Russian counterparts after this meeting, even if the President they work for clearly does not.”

Matthew R. A. Heiman – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Lawyer, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice and the Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq

“Absent Putin reversing himself on his foreign policy agenda, the best result for President Trump is a summit that yields no significant deals.  That’s because there are very few opportunities for agreement between the U.S. and Russia.  Rather, President Trump should articulate U.S positions in the same blunt style of speaking we saw from him during his meetings with NATO members and Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom. Trump should make clear that the U.S. opposes and will continue to take strong action against interference in U.S. elections.  Trump should say that the U.S. will remain in Syria, we will not tolerate an Iranian beachhead there, and we will support Israel’s campaign of attacking the Iranian backed militias in Syria.  Trump should make clear that the U.S. stands with a Ukraine that is democratic and peaceful and enjoys territorial integrity.  The chill in U.S.-Russia relations is because Putin is a bad actor on the world stage, and it took the U.S. far too long to realize it.  Hopefully, President Trump recognizes that the best deal to be had is no deal.

Andrew Keiser – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Senior Advisor, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

“Similar to the past three occupants of the Oval Office, President Trump has long maintained a desire to improve U.S. relations with Russia. Though I believe it demonstrates a naivety of Russia’s decades-long work against the United States at every turn, there is nothing wrong with this desire in and of itself.

However, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary from his own intelligence services, President Trump seems to dismiss Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections and their consistent, aggressive undermining of U.S. interests around the world. Russia, the GRU and President Vladimir Putin do not respond to nuance and mixed messages, they only respond to direct, unified voices typically coupled with the credible threat of military force.

Though I was heartened to see President Trump raise the issue of Russia’s unacceptable American election interference, he went on to undermine his own government’s position with our top geopolitical foe standing by his side.

With moral equivalency offered between U.S. and Russian actions around the world, it seems Russia has been given a green light to nakedly pursue its’ own interests in Ukraine and Syria, by silencing dissent by any means necessary and by creating trouble all over the globe from Venezuela and Cuba to Moldova and Georgia to North Korea and the Arctic.

How the Russians balance the friendly rhetoric from the President of the United States, with the tough policies his Administration has put forward on sanctions, lethal arms to Ukraine, an aggressive posture in Syria and kicking out Russian intelligence officers from the U.S. remains an open question.” 

Dr. Andrea LimbagoNSI Visiting Fellow; Chief Social Scientist, Endgame

“The summit takes place at a time of increased tensions between Russia and the United States. Friday’s indictment details yet again that Russian election interference extends well beyond the DNC breach. It also includes a compromise into state board of elections websites, the data theft of half a million voters, and county-level reconnaissance of election websites, not to mention the bots and trolls leveraged throughout social media to amplify their messaging. Importantly, election interference is only one part of the playbook for Russian interference operations. Russian interference extends well beyond the 2016 election to undermine U.S. national and economic security and should have been the core topic discussed at today’s summit.

Russian interference operations extend well beyond elections, and include compromise and/or reconnaissance of U.S. critical infrastructure, underwater cables that are core to trillions of dollars of transactions and communications, a global campaign targeting routers, not to mention the NotPetya attack which caused over a billion dollars in damage globally or the onslaught of similar attacks on NATO and our European allies. This is the behavior by Russia that is deteriorating the relationship. Attending this Summit without prioritizing Russian interference operations is not only dangerous to our national, physical, and economic security, but it also provides the green light to the growing range of global actors who are increasingly adopting Russia’s interference tactics, knowing they can do so with impunity.”

Lester Munson – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Staff Director, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

““It would appear that this meeting was a missed opportunity at best. President Trump needs real achievements on Syria, North Korea, Russian cyber attacks on our elections and Russia pulling out of Ukraine. Thankfully, the president must defer to Congress on many of the matters discussed today.  He has little flexibility on lifting sanctions on Russia absent real progress on these issues. Congress, particularly the Senate, should step up its direct involvement in policy-making for the betterment of our national security.”

NATO Summit: NSI Experts Weigh In

Early this morning, President Donald Trump met with European leaders at NATO’s annual summit in Brussels.  Below, NSI experts weigh in on the outcome of the summit and what it means for stability in Europe and U.S.-European relations. 

July 11, 2018

Jamie Fly – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Marco Rubio

“NATO is the world’s most successful security alliance.  Yet NATO allies cannot rest on their laurels.  President Trump’s admonitions regarding burden sharing have produced significant results yet more needs to be done.  After almost seventeen years of war, Americans across the political spectrum expect U.S. allies to pull their own weight.  The summit declaration approved today by NATO leaders appears to do just that as the alliance works together to tackle traditional and emerging challenges to allied security.  Transatlantic security would be best served by more focus on the reality of what NATO is doing on a daily basis to protect its members’ citizens instead of theatrics and personal attacks on allies.” 

Matthew R. A. Heiman – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Lawyer, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice and the Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq

“President Trump believes Europe takes advantage of the U.S. by enjoying NATO’s security guarantees without paying enough for the benefit.  His belief is not unreasonable.  In 2014, NATO members pledged to spend 2 percent of their GDP on their militaries.  While only the U.S., the U.K., Estonia, and Greece meet that target today, pressure from the U.S. has contributed to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania being on target to reach the threshold this year and others reaching this goal in the coming years.  It’s important that friends hold each other to account, and blunt talk amongst allies should not threaten the future of NATO.  Rather, NATO’s future depends on both financial contributions to military spending by each member and clear plans that ensure NATO resources match the strategic threats posed by Russian hybrid-wars, cyber attacks, and expansionism; instability in the Middle East and North Africa; and the continued risk of radical Islamic terrorism.  Hopefully, attendees at the NATO summit this week recognize that the future of the alliance depends on words being matched with deeds.” 

Andrew Keiser – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Senior Advisor, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

“Since 1949, NATO has been the foundation for transatlantic security.  The strength of NATO helped lead to unprecedented stability and prosperity for the West.  That said, it  has been a long-standing concern of the United States that NATO allies were not doing their fair share to maintain a deterrent against aggressors of the alliance.  

Though difficult conversations among friends are probably best held behind closed doors, those quiet conversations rarely led to meaningful reforms in decades past.  Perhaps a different approach will lead to a different result that ultimately could be a stronger NATO and a more effective check on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist intentions” 

Dr. Andrea LimbagoNSI Visiting Fellow; Chief Social Scientist, Endgame

“The NATO Summit is traditionally a time to celebrate one of the most successful alliances in history. Instead, this year’s Summit is preoccupied with defense spending and achieving the 2% of GDP target by 2024. Clearly, member-state contributions are essential, but for the most part member-state spending has been increasing over the past four years. This tunnel vision on defense spending is an unhelpful distraction away from the constructive dialogue required to address the core national security threats to the U.S. and its NATO allies.

The member-states are simultaneously defending threats at home and abroad. The collective security alliance must continue to evolve and strengthen to counter the twenty-first century threat landscape. This includes domestic and international terrorist groups, countering disinformation, clarifying the cyber component of Article V, and of course the range of authoritarian regimes who are undermining stability across the globe.

NATO remains extremely relevant to safeguard democratic principles internationally and support U.S. national security. In fact, yesterday the U.S. Senate reaffirmed NATO’s relevance in a 97-2 vote in favor of supporting the U.S. commitment to NATO. Unfortunately, the current unnecessary and self-inflicted internal tensions and divisions within NATO play right into the hands of state and non-state adversaries.” 

Lester Munson – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Staff Director, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

“It is a good thing, not a bad thing, to urge our European allies to contribute more substantially to NATO’s defense. Similarly, it is good to urge Germany to untie itself from Russia’s energy predations.  The manner of delivery may be awkward and off-putting, but the substance of the president’s message today is sound.”  

NSI Advisory Board Member Matthew Olsen and Visiting Fellow Andy Keiser testify before the House Small Business Committee

On June 27th, Advisory Board Member Matthew Olsen and Visiting Fellow Andy Keiser testified before the House Small Business Committee.  Their testimony focused on the threat ZTE poses to American small businesses.  They also gave recommendations for how to protect small businesses and American citizens from the dangers presented by ZTE and other illicit Chinese backed enterprise.

NSI Advisory Board Member Ellen McCarthy Nominated to Serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

April 30, 2018
Contact: Garrett Ventry
716-628-4593 (cell)

National Security Institute Advisory Board Member Ellen McCarthy Nominated to Serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

Arlington, VA – On June 12, 2018, the White House announced the nomination of NSI Advisory Board member Ellen McCarthy to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR).  Ms. McCarthy has served as President of Noblis NSP since 2016 and also previously served as Chief Operating Officer of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), where she oversaw NGA’s daily business activities and advised the Director of NGA on a range of issues, including strategic planning and corporate governance.  Before joining NGA, Ms. McCarthy served as President of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), where she currently serves on the Board of Directors.  Ms. McCarthy also previously served as Director of the Human Capital Management Office and the Acting Director of Security within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where she developed and deployed the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS), as well as in multiple intelligence roles in the United States Navy (USN) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), including as Director of Intelligence Operations, Strategy and Policy for the USCG.

“Ellen McCarthy has long been a leader and innovator in the intelligence community, serving our nation with distinction and honor both in government and the private sector, and she is an inspired pick for this critically important position,” said Jamil N. Jaffer, NSI Founder.  “Indeed, Ellen brings a unique skillset to this nomination, having served on the leadership team that reshaped NGA from the inside and having led an effort to transform Noblis NSP into a truly unified operation.”

INR is a bureau of the Department of State and a member of the Intelligence Community, whose primary mission is to harness intelligence to serve U.S. diplomacy.  INR is a direct descendant of the Office of Strategic Services Research Department and is the oldest civilian intelligence element in the U.S. Government.  INR provides independent analysis of events to State Department policymakers and ensures that intelligence activities support foreign policy and national security purposes.

Ms. McCarthy’s bio can be found here.  More information on INR can be found here.

About the National Security Institute
The National Security Institute serves as a platform for research, teaching, scholarship, and policy development that incorporates a realistic assessment of the threats facing the United States and its allies, as well as an appreciation of the legal and practical challenges facing U.S. intelligence, defense, law enforcement, homeland security, and cybersecurity communities.  NSI draws on the experience of its visiting fellows, as well as its highly distinguished advisory board and faculty, to produce timely research and policy materials that deliver insightful analysis and actionable recommendations to senior policymakers in the White House and key departments and agencies, as well as those on Capitol Hill.

About George Mason
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states.  Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.

About the Scalia Law School
The Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University is defined by three words: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Students receive an outstanding legal education (Learn), are taught to critically evaluate prevailing orthodoxy and pursue new ideas (Challenge), and, ultimately, are well prepared to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields (Lead).  It has been one of America’s top-ranked law schools for the last fifteen years.

North Korea Summit: NSI Experts Weigh In

Early this morning, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un concluded a much anticipated summit. Below, NSI experts consider how this summit and the agreement coming out of it will impact regional stability and U.S. foreign relations.

June 12, 2018

Andrew BoreneNSI Visiting Fellow; Former Associate Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense

“Cautious optimism and a ‘trust but verify’ attitude are advised toward the Trump-Kim Summit as a whole.

A bona fide agreement to denuclearize the North Korean regime would be an excellent first step on the path to reducing the many dangers presented by a hostile, bellicose dictatorship. After the fanfare of this week in Singapore has subsided, the hard work will be in the follow-up next year, through access, verification and inspection processes in order to ensure that North Korea honestly follows through with any agreements.

At the same time that America and our allies should celebrate initial progress on nuclear and missile technology issues, none can afford to lose sight of the Kim family regime’s longstanding human rights abuses, flouting of international law through criminal cyber attacks, overseas assassinations, and the long-suffering it has sadly imposed upon innocent North Koreans under a brutally enforced family dictatorship.”

Jamie Fly – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Marco Rubio

“President Trump inherited a failed North Korea policy that across multiple administrations of both parties allowed North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons and develop missiles that put the United States within reach.  Yet that does not relieve President Trump of his responsibility to ensure that the mistakes of the past with Pyongyang are not repeated.  There appears to be little in the summit statement that has not been said before.  In some cases, the pledges appear to be weaker than those made in the past.  Unilateral U.S. concessions for more of the same from Kim Jong Un is not a change from the past, it is repeating the mistakes of the past.  If American security interests are to be achieved in the long run, fundamental change will have to happen in North Korea.  That is why an approach that celebrates the world’s most brutal dictator, an overseer of modern day gulags, is likely to end no differently than the failed negotiations tried by President Trump’s predecessors which left the United States and our allies less safe.”

Matthew R. A. Heiman – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Lawyer, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice and the Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq

“The just concluded summit between the U.S. and North Korea did not deliver any substantive steps towards North Korean denuclearization.  While a historic event, It should be considered a confidence building measure and not much more.  The U.S. agreed to suspend military exercises with its treaty partner, South Korea, as a show of good faith.  North Korea must make the next move, and going forward, the U.S. should insist that North Korea take the first step in further rounds of negotiation because North Korea has a long track record of matching U.S. gestures of good faith with duplicity.  North Korea’s geopolitical credit score is 0.  The only way North Korea can improve its standing is for it to do three things: agree in word and deed to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization; end its threatening behavior to the U.S. and its allies, as well as the weapons systems that support such threats; and address what may be the world’s worst human rights record.  Businesses don’t extend credit to customers that fail to honor their commitments.  The U.S. should treat North Korea the same way.”

Jamil N. Jaffer – Founder, National Security Institute; Former Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“While today’s U.S.-North Korea Summit began with high hopes, like many prior negotiations between our two nations, the Singapore summit ended with limited, if any, progress on the key issues at stake.  North Korea once again committed—in theory—to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a commitment it has made no less than three times over the past 25 years and one that it has broken over and over again.  We cannot allow North Korea to continue to play a game of Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football with the United States, where we agree to concessions like freezing our legitimate military exercises with our ally, South Korea, while North Korea agrees to freeze its illegitimate nuclear activities, only to back off that and other commitments when it has gotten what it wants from the United States.  While the President has successfully brought Kim Jong Un to the table, a unique opportunity for which he rightly deserves credit, we must now ensure that any agreement the United States makes going forward ensures the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, halts North Korea’s illicit WMD proliferation and cyber activities directed at our nation and its allies, and addresses the atrocious human rights record of the Kim regime.”

Omario Kanji – NSI Visiting Fellow; Assistant Academic Director, Temple University

“Watching closest will be China because it stands to gain most from any positive outcomes of the Trump-Kim Summit. A liberalized economy at China’s doorstep can only help facilitate their economic and diplomatic maneuvers in the future. That said, China is an astute observer of the global order; erratic moves by both sides leading up to (and possibly after) the Trump-Kim Summit have only reinforced China’s free-rider status in this new chapter of relations in Asia.”



Andrew Keiser – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Senior Advisor, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

“While the language of today’s joint statement is encouraging, we know from decades and agreements past, that the promises of the murderous, dictatorial regime in Pyongyang are often hollow.

Past American Presidents’ conventional approach to dealing with North Korea always led us to the same place: deception and defiance by the North. President Trump’s unconventional approach has led to some real accomplishments thus far including unconditional release of three American hostages, halt of nuclear and missile testing and a pledge to work toward a denuclearized Korean peninsula

The historic summit in Singapore was an important step, but the real substance of the negotiation now begins, secure in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s able hands to hold the Kim regime’s feet to the fire. We have taken the first few steps in what would be a marathon effort to finally bring North Korea into the community of nations by a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization – and that’s assuming North Korea’s continued compliance which history tells us is a very shaky assumption.

Nonetheless, the alternative was an escalating rhetoric that could lead down the path of military conflict, the potential consequences of which are almost unthinkable. No matter what your political stripes, each of us should be hopeful for making progress on the North Korea problem that has vexed the world for nearly 70 years.”

Dr. Andrea LimbagoNSI Visiting Fellow; Chief Social Scientist, Endgame

“By focusing less on diplomatic substance and more on diplomatic theater, the summit represents a missed opportunity. It is a return to the status quo that existed before the recent rhetoric as there are distinct similarities with previous agreements. However, in contrast to previous discussions, the details of denuclearization are now even more vague and ill-defined so it is unclear whether North Korea made any concessions at all. Based on previous behavior, North Korean promises – even vague ones – must be taken with a grain of salt. Whether this summit proves to be the anomaly as opposed to a continuation of decades of unfulfilled promises is yet to be seen. Importantly, while everyone is focused on the nuclear issue, North Korea continues to escalate cyberattacks uninhibited. As the repercussions of the summit evolve over the following months, it will be important to keep an eye on both North Korean nuclear and cyber behavior. Each are core components of North Korea’s interlinked strategy focused on regime survival, and have the potential to contribute greatly to international instability.”

Lester Munson – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Staff Director, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

“President Trump is to be commended for his diplomatic outreach to North Korea.  It should be matched by tough measures from Congress: a new suite of sanctions on Pyongyang and Beijing ready to move in the event – perhaps the likely event – that Kim Jong Un’s promises prove empty.  Congress should also clearly state its staunch support for human rights in North Korea and remind the South Korean people that America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them against North Korean hostility.

The administration has much work to do.  While seeking the toughest deal possible with North Korea, President Trump’s team must ensure that our allies Japan and South Korea work in concert with our efforts.  It would be calamitous if our opening to North Korea were interpreted by Seoul or Tokyo as a softening of American resolve.

Ultimately, the success of this effort depends on Chinese cooperation.  China’s support of Kim Jong Un is what enables his regime’s nuclear program, its hostile acts against its neighbors, and its massive human rights abuses against the North Korean people themselves. President Trump must bolster his tough line on China.”

Bryan Smith – NSI Visiting Fellow; Vice President & Technical Advisor, Beacon Global Strategies

“The Little Rocket Man and the Deranged Dotard actually held a hastily-arranged summit without a blow-up.  It was a good day for the U.S., a good day for Asia, and a great day for Kim and North Korea.  The U.S. came away with a somewhat vague North Korean commitment to complete denuclearization, while holding firm on sanctions. And in the span of a mere photo session, a callow, cruel, isolated tyrant (with a bad haircut) was transformed into a legitimate international figure, whom the leader of the earth’s sole Superpower was “honored” to meet.  On top of that, the U.S. took its first major step towards military disengagement from the Korean Peninsula – it will halt exercises, which though thoroughly defensive, the President termed “provocative”.  After all, if U.S.-ROK exercises are provocative, why are not 35,000 permanently stationed US troops incendiary?

Even so, yesterday produced at least a real chance for a peaceful end to the Seventy Year War.  What made yesterday possible, and why might now be different from 1994, 2002, 2012?  A unique brew of demonstrated strength (on both sides) and unquestionable vulnerability on Kim’s part.   Kim led his country’s shockingly rapid demonstration of an ICBM that could threaten the entire United States.  In response, the “America-first” Trump, unlike every other President, surely came to the terrible, but inescapable, conclusion that the war risk of tens (or even hundreds of thousands) of South Korean civilian dead was preferable to the risk of tens of million civilian dead in the US.  And just as likely, his team had clearly communicated that grim calculus to Kim, as well as America’s ability to deliver on it.  Kim faced this prospect in a window of vulnerability before his ICBM could be fully tested and weaponized.  Add to all that, the bite of unprecedentedly-strong sanctions, the allure of capital infusion, and Trump’s willingness to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, foreclosing the prospect of a weak agreement for Kim.”

Dan WagnerNSI Visiting Fellow; Legislative Liaison, U.S. Special Operations Command

“The intelligence value from engaging with North Korea is worth the United States Government’s efforts.  Having limited intelligence on North Korea, it will take engagement to begin to develop a decent intelligence picture.  Building out a human intelligence (HUMINT) network takes time, numerous engagements and a series of sticks and carrots.  High level political engagement is often an impetus for intelligence gathering through contact reports and incidental collection.  A HUMINT network foothold has potential to lead to other intelligence inroads and these high level engagements are necessary since we are technically still at war with North Korea (Armistice). 

This summit engagement will be the first in a series of high level engagements that may take time and will encounter progress and setbacks along the way.  At the end of the day, the intelligence to be gained from more open dialogue is a tremendous benefit as the U.S. develops a roadmap towards Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Disarmament (CVID) of North Korea nuclear weapons. “

GDPR Roundtable

700 13th St. NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | 12pm-1:30pm

NSI and Symantec teamed up to host an expert roundtable discussion on the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), its implementation, and its implications for both governments and the private sector.

The event featured a range of experts, including:

  • David Bray, Executive Director, People Centered Internet and former FCC CIO
  • Ilias Chantzos, Senior Director of Government Affairs for Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia-Pacific, Japan, Symantec
  • Peter Fatelnig, Minister-Counsellor for the Digital Economy Policy, Delegation of the EU to the United States
  • Jamil Jaffer, Founder, National Security Institute

NSI in the Media

Recent Media Hits from NSI Founder Jamil Jaffer:

September 5, 2017 Axios – Quote: Nikki Haley sounds ominous notes on Iran deal

September 3, 2017 VOA International Edition: North Korea says it tested a hydrogen bomb. What China can do about it. Kenyan election woes. Health hazards from Hurricane Harvey. Remembering a master of song.
Clip begins @ 1:05 – 5:40

August 28, 2017 – Bloomberg Technology: North Korea Appears to have Fired Missile Toward Japan: NHK
Clip begins @ 37:40

Recent Media Hits from NSI Faculty:

September 1, 2017 Wall Street Journal: ‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful

Jeremy Rabkin, Faculty (GMU & NSI)

Scalia Law’s Jamil Jaffer returns to the classroom after clerking for Justice Gorsuch

Jamil Jaffer (far left), former clerk for Justice Scalia, gives a tour to students at the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Although he said he will miss working at the Supreme Court, Jamil Jaffer is just as happy to be back in the classroom as a professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

In July, Jaffer completed a three-month stint as a law clerk for newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. He returns to George Mason’s classrooms, he said, with the kinds of insights only firsthand experience can impart.

“Working on the lead-up to Justice Gorsuch’s nomination and subsequent confirmation, as well as a law clerk to the justice at the Supreme Court during his first three months on the bench, will help me provide students with some insight on the process of how a justice is nominated and confirmed, how the court works on a day-to-day basis, and the range of opportunities Mason students might have to work with the courts, whether it’s at the Supreme Court or other courts at the local, state, and federal levels,” he said.

Jaffer, who is also the founder of the law school’s new National Security Institute, was selected for the prestigious clerking position—justices typically employ only four clerks; the chief justice may hire five—because he had clerked for Gorsuch before, when Gorsuch was a new judge at the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colo. The other clerks and staff that helped Gorsuch get started were very close to him as well, Jaffer said.

“Justice Gorsuch was confirmed on a Friday, started working on Monday, and by the next Monday had to be prepared to handle 13 cases for the April sitting of the court,” he said. “So he got a small group of his experienced former law clerks and staff together to help him with that process.”

Jaffer said although he will miss working at the Supreme Court, he looks forward to the relatively more predictable hours of working at a cybersecurity startup, teaching his National Security Law course and helping quarterback the institute, as well as continuing his academic work at Scalia Law and his visiting fellowship with the Hoover Institution.

“At the court the in-person hours can get pretty long,” he said. “And in certain instances, the work can keep you at One First Street into the wee hours of the morning. … Now I’ll probably see my family on evenings and weekends more, although I’m not sure I’ll be doing all that much less work.”


This article was originally published by Buzz McClain for the News at Mason website here.

Faculty Paper: Regulators in Cyberia

A team from the Regulatory Transparency Project, including NSI Founder Jamil N. Jaffer and NSI Advisory Board members Stewart Baker and Paul Rosenzweig, recently authored a ground-breaking paper on cyber regulations. The paper highlights the unintended consequences that regulations can have on America’s most dynamic and fastest growing industry:  the technology sector.  This paper is the first of a series exploring differing viewpoints on regulatory matters.  The paper is available here and more information about the Regulatory Transparency Project can be found here.

Key highlights from the paper include:

  • What is the role of Federal regulation and standard setting in the technology sector?…Our conclusion is simple – regulation should be the [f]ederal tool of last resort.
  • Over the past four decades or so, the technology sector has enjoyed rapid growth, with tremendous innovation across a wide range of markets, in significant part because of the relative lack of regulation.
  • This is not to suggest that the technology industry, like others, could not benefit from incentives to promote beneficial behavior, nor that regulation may never be necessary[; t]o the contrary, there are a wide range of social outcomes that policy makers might want to encourage.
  • [T]he best approach to obtaining potential benefits is typically with positive incentives (the “carrot”) rather than reaching instinctively for the regulatory “stick.”
  • With parties given incentives to create solutions, imaginative new approaches can improve outcomes while costly “unintended consequences” are avoided.
  • While the use of positive incentives may take longer to propagate through the economic system than the use of direct regulation, the reality is that positive incentives, particularly if deployed to a wide range of organizations…can have similar outcomes to direct regulation over the long run.
  • The danger of regulatory overreach in the technology sector is particularly strong. Regulations are inherently rigid…This reality makes it hard to engage in rapid course correction when needs change, perhaps – as endemically occurs in this sector – because an established business model has been disrupted or an underlying technology displaced.
  • Rules which had been perceived as necessary remain stuck in time, fixed in place long past their usefulness. There they become impediments rather than expedients.
  • More often than not, regulators would be wise to follow the advice, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”
  • With short-lived product cycles and waves of technological progress, heavy administrative processes will struggle to keep up. Regulators are not known for an innovative approach to seeking better, more efficient ways to regulate.
  • In an environment where the market is dynamic, this paper concludes that the best answer is a “do no harm” approach to the use of regulatory tools…[employing] general standards whose meaning evolves as technologies change.

To read more, click here.

Distinguished Speaker Series: Senator Tom Cotton on Defending the Nation and Section 702











The National Security Institute at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University and the Intelligence and National Security Foundation present the first event in our Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Senator Tom Cotton, Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Chairman of the Airland Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for a discussion on defending the Nation in the 21st Century, including Section 702 reauthorization and empowering the intelligence community to detect and monitor threats to our nation.