National Security in the Age of the Blockchain

January 16, 2018
12:00 pm -

Event Video

Speakers (from left to right): 
Yaya J. Fanusie, FDD Adjunct Fellow
Jamie Smith, Global Chief Communications Officer, Bitfury Group
Kiran Raj, Chief Strategy Officer, Bittrex; Former General Counsel, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Dr. Tom Robinson, Chief Data Officer and Co-Founder, Elliptic

Event Description

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) hosted a lunch event on National Security in the Age of the Blockchain, on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 from 12pm to 1:30pm.

Bitcoin’s popularity is growing as a result of its price skyrocketing in recent months. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology, which is providing new models for financial transactions around the globe. Like many technological developments, this offers potential benefits for the U.S. and our allies. At the same time, it also presents opportunities for states and non-state actors looking to circumvent the current financial system and undermine American interests.

How will blockchain technology impact U.S. national security and the security of our allies? What are the potential threats? How are we leveraging this technology for our benefit? Panelists explored these questions with a focus on shaping recommendations for policy makers that look at both the technology’s regulatory hurdles and strategic opportunities.

CSIF’s Chairman and Senior Counselor Juan Zarate delivered brief opening remarks to contextualize blockchain technology, identifying its economic benefits, its illicit finance risks, and its potential as a tool for bolstering national security. He then moderated a panel discussion featuring Yaya J. Fanusie, CSIF Director of Analysis; Kiran Raj, Chief Strategy Officer at Bittrex and former general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Tom Robinson, Chief Data Officer and Co-Founder of Elliptic, and Jamie Smith, Global Chief Communications Officer at The Bitfury Group and former White House official.

National Security in the Age of the Blockchain
A conversation with Yaya J. Fanusie, Kiran Raj, Dr. Tom Robinson, and Jamie Smith
moderated by Juan Zarate

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
12:00pm – 1:30pm

Yaya J. Fanusie is the Director of Analysis for FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. Mr. Fanusie spent seven years as both an economic and counterterrorism analyst in the CIA, where he regularly briefed White House-level policy makers, U.S. military personnel, and federal law enforcement. In 2008, he personally briefed President George W. Bush on terrorism threats, and in 2009, he spent three months in Afghanistan providing analytic support to senior military officials. After government service, Mr. Fanusie worked with a small consulting firm where he led a team of analysts working on a multi-billion-dollar recovery effort involving a global corruption ring. Most recently, he has operated his own consulting practice training firms specializing in strategic analysis and business due-diligence.

Kiran Raj is the Chief Strategy Officer at Bittrex, the next-generation digital currency exchange. Mr. Raj has worked at the intersection of technology, security and law for nearly two decades. Previously, Mr. Raj served as a partner at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers and as Deputy General Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security. He served as senior counsel to the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, where he advised the department’s senior leadership on significant issues and managed policy matters related to cyber security and national security. Prior to entering the legal field, he was a lead program manager at Microsoft where he managed and supervised a large team of program managers to develop applications to secure customer networks.
Dr. Tom Robinson is the Chief Data Officer and Co-Founder of Elliptic, the global leader in cryptocurrency forensics and anti-money laundering solutions. Dr. Robinson has advised government, tax authorities and regulators on cryptocurrencies, and his forensics analysis of cryptocurrency transactions has been used to help secure the convictions of cybercriminals. Prior to Elliptic, Dr. Robinson worked for a leading global consultancy and an intellectual property business commercializing early-stage technologies, before becoming the Chief Executive of MOF Technologies, a nanotechnology company. He also completed a doctorate in physics at the University of Oxford, before working in consulting and finance.

Jamie Smith is the Global Chief Communications Officer at The BitFury Group, the world’s leading full service Blockchain company and the CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). Ms. Smith works to fundamentally enhance and positively advance the way the global community does business, transfers value, and opens up new doors to prosperity for billions of people throughout the world. She brings nearly two decades of communications experience, serving at the highest levels of government and the private sector, to the global Blockchain arena. She has previously served as Special Assistant to President Obama and deputy White House press secretary, Executive Vice President at Edelman Public Relations, Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and General James Clapper, Communications Director for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Traveling Press Director for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, Communications Director for former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and The Albright Group, LLC. and policy aide to Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY). She speaks regularly around the world and is an industry expert in the emerging technology of Blockchain. She serves as the Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on Blockchain.

Juan Zarate serves as Chairman and Senior Counselor of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Chairman and Co-Founder of the Financial Integrity Network. He is also Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Senior National Security Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and Visiting Lecturer of Law at the Harvard Law School. Mr. Zarate served as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism from 2005 to 2009, and was responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the U.S. government’s counterterrorism strategy, including countering violent extremism and weapons of mass destruction. In this role, he was also responsible for U.S. strategy to address transnational threats, including international organized crime, hostage policy, and critical energy-infrastructure protection. He was the first-ever Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, where he led domestic and international efforts to counter terrorist financing, the strategic use of financial power against America’s enemies, and the global hunt for Saddam Hussein’s assets.


Blockchain and Digital Currencies Cyber Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare