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.”
David S. Cohen is a former non-resident Senior Fellow with the Belfer Center's Intelligence Project. He was previously Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as the Agency's second-in-command from 2015-2017 and helped oversee all CIA operations. He served previously as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
As Deputy Director of the CIA, Cohen handled foreign intelligence collection, all-source analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships, and assisted in managing the CIA’s domestic and worldwide operations. As Under Secretary at the Treasury, he directed the Treasury Department’s policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions aimed at identifying and disrupting financial support to nations, organizations, and individuals posing a threat to U.S. national security. Previously, he was the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, overseeing counterterrorist financing and anti-money laundering policy efforts.
Prior to joining the Treasury Department in 2009, Cohen practiced law in Washington, D.C. for almost 20 years. Earlier in his career, he worked in the Treasury’s General Counsel’s office and clerked for a federal trial court judge.
Cohen earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where he graduated magna cum laude in Government with Distinction in All Subjects. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of Cornell and a member of the Board of Advisors at the Center on Law and Security of New York University Law School and an adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Treasury Department’s Alexander Hamilton Award.Last Updated: Oct 16, 2018, 10:31am