The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper(ret.) served from 2010-2017 as the Director of National Intelligence. In that position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence advisor to the President. Previously, Clapper served in two administrations as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on intelligence, counterintelligence, and security matters for the Department. In this capacity, he was also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence for DNI. Earlier, he directed the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as it is today. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Congress and to the Departments of Defense and Energy and as a member of a wide variety of government panels, boards, commissions, and advisory groups. Since 2017, he has been a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center's Intelligence Project.
Clapper, who began his military career as a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps, served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia. He was Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at U.S. Air Force Headquarters during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Director of Intelligence for three war-fighting commands: U.S. Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and Strategic Air Command. Following his retirement from military service in 1995, Clapper worked in the private sector for six years as an executive in three companies focused on services for the intelligence community. He was a member of the Downing Assessment Task Force that investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and was vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on the subject of homeland security.
Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate from the Joint Military Intelligence College. His awards include three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He has also received the NAACP’s National Distinguished Service Award and the Presidentially-conferred National Security Medal.
Beth Sanner served as the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration from April 2019 to March 2021 where she oversaw the elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis, and program oversight throughout the Intelligence Community. In this role she also served as the President’s intelligence briefer. Previous to this assignment, she served for two years as the Director of the President’s Daily Brief and nearly three years as Counselor and Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council. Sanner is now a Professor of Practice at the University of Maryland's Applied Research Lab for Intelligence Security and consults geopolitical risks and opportunities. She was named a Senior Fellow with the Belfer Center's Intelligence Project in January 2022.
For 35 years, Sanner has served in a wide range of leadership, staff, policy, and analytic positions in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, and the U.S. Department of State. She held several senior leadership positions in CIA’s Directorate of Analysis, including leading the analytic effort on South Asia and serving as the deputy for analysis for Russian and European affairs. She also held analytic leadership roles for the Balkans, Central Europe, and Southeast Asia. Sanner was the Director of the Career Analyst Program, the training program for all new CIA analysts.
Widely recognized for her influence on national intelligence strategy and policy, Sanner received the Presidential Rank Award—the highest honor granted to civil servants—in 2021 and is the recipient of the highest Intelligence Community award, the Distinguished Intelligence Service Medal. Sanner is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, earning a Master of Science in National Security Strategy. She has a B.A. in Economics and International Affairs from The American University.
Paul R. Kolbe is the Director of the Intelligence Project. Paul served for 25 years in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in a variety of foreign and domestic roles, including as Chief of Station, Chief/Central Eurasia Division, and Balkans Group Chief. His overseas assignments included operational and leadership roles in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, and Central Europe. He was a member of the Senior Intelligence Service and is a recipient of the Intelligence Medal of Merit and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal.
Following his CIA career, Kolbe was Director for Intelligence and Analysis at BP, where he built an enterprise-wide intelligence capability focused on geo-political threats, strategic cyber threats, and support to commercial operations. Clients included C-suite leadership, global business units, security networks, and legal teams. Kolbe is a Senior Advisor to the Martin + Crumpton Group and Spycraft Entertainment. He is also a member of the Cipher Brief network of experts and is an alumnus of Michigan State University’s James Madison college, where he studied International Relations.