Malcolm Nance

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Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Nance.jpg
Malcolm Wrightson Nance[1]

EducationExcelsior College (BA)
OccupationAuthor, counterterrorism and intelligence commentator
Years active1981–2001
EmployerTerror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), executive director
Known forNational security, Counterterrorism intelligence, Islamic extremism, SERE, torture
Notable work
Terrorist Recognition Handbook
An End to al-Qaeda
The Terrorists of Iraq
Defeating ISIS
The Plot to Hack America
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1981–2001
RankU.S. Navy E8 infobox.png Senior chief petty officer
WebsiteOfficial website

Malcolm Wrightson Nance (born 1961)[1] is an American author and media commentator on terrorism, intelligence, insurgency, and torture. He is a former United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer specializing in naval cryptology.

Nance is an intelligence and foreign policy analyst who frequently discusses the history, personalities, and organization of jihadi radicalization and al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL); Southwest Asian and African terror groups; as well as counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare.[2] Schooled in Arabic, he is active in the field of national security policy particularly, in anti- and counter-terrorism intelligence, terrorist strategy and tactics, torture and counter-ideology in combating Islamic extremism. In 2016, he published the book, Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe,[3] and published The Plot to Hack America the same year.[4]

In 2014, he founded and became the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), a Hudson, New York–based think tank.

Early life and education[edit]

Nance was born in Philadelphia, and attended the city's West Catholic Boys High School. He reportedly studied Spanish, French, and Latin, and took advantage of free classes in Russian and Chinese offered at South Philadelphia High School on Saturdays.[2] In 2011,[5] he received a bachelor of arts degree[6] from New York's Excelsior College.[7] Nance began working in the civilian intelligence arena through research into the history of the Soviet Union and its spying agency the KGB.[8] He subsequently analyzed Middle East terrorism and sovereign nations with ties to the Russian Federation.[8]

Military career[edit]

Nance served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, from 1981 to 2001, receiving several military decorations.[2][9] As a U.S. Navy specialist in Naval Cryptology, Nance was involved in numerous counter-terrorism, intelligence, and combat operations.[10][11][12] He garnered expertise within the fields of intelligence and counterterrorism.[13][14][15] He was also an instructor in wartime and peacetime Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), training Navy and Marine Corps pilots and aircrew how to survive as a prisoner of war.[16][17] There Nance helped to initiate the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival course of instruction.[2]

Nance took part in combat operations that occurred after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, was peripherally involved with the 1986 United States bombing of Libya, served on USS Wainwright during Operation Praying Mantis and was aboard during the sinking of the Iranian missile boat Joshan, served on USS Tripoli during the Gulf War, and assisted during a Banja Luka, Bosnia air strike.[9]

Post-military career[edit]

Intelligence consulting[edit]

In 2001, Nance founded Special Readiness Services International (SRSI), an intelligence support company. On the morning of 9/11, driving to Arlington he witnessed the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.[2][9] He acted as a first responder at the helipad crash site where he helped organize the rescue and recovery of victims.[2][9] Subsequently, Nance served as an intelligence and security contractor in Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE and North Africa.[18][19]

Between 2005 and 2007 Nance was a visiting lecturer on counterterrorism in Sydney, Australia at Macquarie University's Centre on Policing, Intelligence and Counter-terrorism (PICT) and at Victoria University of Wellington in Wellington, New Zealand.[20]

Nance now directs a think tank that he founded, the "Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies", which analyzes counterterrorism.[2][15] Nance is also a member of the advisory board of directors for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.[9]

On August 20, 2016, Nance told MSNBC viewers that Green Party's presidential nominee Jill Stein "has a show on Russia Today."[21] Glenn Greenwald later wrote: "there is no disputing the fact that Nance’s statement was a falsehood, a fabrication, a lie. Stein did not have a show on RT, nor did she ever host a show on RT."[22] Nance also accused Greenwald of being "an agent of Moscow" and "deep in the Kremlin pocket." He also stated that Greenwald "helped Snowden defect" and "reports into [his] masters in Moscow." Greenwald accused Nance of lying.[22]

On March 22, 2019, hours before Attorney General William Barr's controversial letter about the Mueller Report on the 2016 Trump campaign and its connections to Russia was released, Nance said the report could reveal treason exceeding that of Benedict Arnold.[23][24]


In 2007, Nance wrote an article criticizing waterboarding for the counterinsurgency blog Small Wars Journal titled "Waterboarding is Torture... period."[25][26] Nance wrote: "I know waterboarding is torture—because I did it myself." Nance claimed to have witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people.[27] Republished in the Pentagon Early Bird, it set off a firestorm as the first credible description of the torture technique as used in SERE. The article strongly swayed the Pentagon against the use of the waterboard because its misuse would damage America's reputation worldwide. Nance claimed that using the torture techniques of America's former enemies dishonors the memory of U.S. service members who died in captivity through torture, and that torture does not produce credible intelligence.[16][17] Nance was called to testify before the U.S. Congress about the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques".[16][17] He told the House Judiciary Committee that: "Waterboarding is torture, period... I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse this stain from our national honor...water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel(ing) your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs."[16][17]

Nance's books on counter-terrorism and intelligence include: An End to al-Qaeda,[28] Terrorist Recognition Handbook,[29] The Terrorists of Iraq,[30] Defeating ISIS,[3][31] The Plot to Hack America,[4] and Hacking ISIS.[32] In 2018, he published The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West.[33] In 2019, he published The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, and How We Can Fix It.[34]


According to the Washington Times, April 17th, Nance came under scrutiny for writing on his Twitter "This is my nominee for first ISIS Suicide bombing of a Trump property", linking to an image of Trump Tower. Mr. Nance has since deleted the tweet but has yet to apologize.[35] Various right-wing websites have misleadingly reported on the tweet as inciting terrorism, in spite of Nance's military career and expertise in counter-terrorism.[36]

Nance once suggested on-air that Trump was compromised by Russia as early as 1977, and also claimed Russia had successfully waged a disinformation campaign to the point the U.S. would "welcome an invasion." Shortly before Robert Mueller released his investigation's findings that there was no proof of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia to influence the 2016 election, Nance declared Trump's conduct was on the scale of notorious traitor Benedict Arnold and the data on his treachery was "unassailable."[37]

Nance has also stated that Glenn Greenwald is a Russian agent without evidence and stated that he is a Fox News contributor, which the New York Post fact-checked and claimed to be false. [38]




  1. ^ a b Valania, Jonathan (April 15, 2018). "How Mount Airy's Malcolm Nance Became a Hero of the Resistance". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Layla A. (March 10, 2017), "Philly native is media expert on intelligence", The Philadelphia Tribune, retrieved June 7, 2017
  3. ^ a b "Malcolm Nance on Defeating ISIS". Washington Journal. C-SPAN. March 13, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Nance, Malcolm (October 10, 2016), The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election, Skyhorse Publishing, p. 216, ISBN 978-1510723320
  5. ^ "Student Rounder". Times Union. Albany, NY. January 28, 2011.
  6. ^ The Conservative Thinker (October 8, 2016). "Malcolm Nance – International Terrorism and Counterterrorism Expert". The Conservative Chronicles 24/7.
  7. ^ "Malcolm Nance to present fall 2016 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science". Iowa State University. August 23, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Lipkin, Michael (October 10, 2016), "The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election", New York Journal of Books, retrieved June 7, 2017
  9. ^ a b c d e Lamb, Brian (April 28, 2017), "Q&A with Malcolm Nance", C-SPAN (video), retrieved June 7, 2017
  10. ^ Wolcott, James (March 21, 2017), "5 essential Twitter feeds for keeping up with Trump and Russia", Vanity Fair, retrieved June 7, 2017
  11. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (May 21, 2017), "Barbara Lee brings John Dean, Malcolm Nance to town hall meeting", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved June 7, 2017
  12. ^ Concha, Joe (February 18, 2017), "Maher: Russian election influence is worst political scandal in US history", The Hill, retrieved June 7, 2017
  13. ^ Devega, Chauncey (March 14, 2017), "Intelligence expert Malcolm Nance on Trump scandal: 'As close to Benedict Arnold as we're ever going to get'", Salon, retrieved June 7, 2017
  14. ^ Donahue, Joe (January 5, 2017), "Counterterrorism Expert Malcolm Nance", WAMC, retrieved June 7, 2017
  15. ^ a b Hobson, Jeremy (October 12, 2016), "How Hackable Is The Election?", Here and Now, WBUR, retrieved June 7, 2017
  16. ^ a b c d Kellman, Laurie (November 8, 2007). "Ex- Navy interrogator: Ban waterboarding". Navy Times. Associated Press.
  17. ^ a b c d "House Panel Gets Earful On Waterboarding". CBS News. November 8, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  18. ^ Freeman, Colin (April 19, 2004). "12 U.S. troops die in Iraq; Spain leaving". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  19. ^ Freeman, Colin (April 4, 2004). "Iraqi police 'were too scared' to help Americans in Fallujah". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on August 21, 2004. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  20. ^ "Sydney ferries a 'soft terrorist target'". The Age. August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  21. ^ "A discussion of the week's top political and news stories". MSNBC. August 20, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "MSNBC Does Not Merely Permit Fabrications Against Democratic Party Critics. It Encourages and Rewards Them". The Intercept. July 8, 2018.
  23. ^ March 27, 2019 MSNBC’s Trump-Russia Ratings Fizzle: ‘Time to Pivot to 2020’ Several hours before Barr’s letter was released, former intelligence officer Malcolm Nance predicted on MSNBC that the report could “technically eclipse Benedict Arnold” in its level of treasonous activity.
  24. ^ David Folkenflik (26 March 2019). "Media Outlets Became A Target After Mueller Probe Results Surfaced". NPR. Retrieved 28 March 2019. Malcolm Nance: Everyone repeat after me—single most serious scandal in the history of the United States—was the president of the United States an agent of an enemy of the United States? Look. This—it could technically eclipses Benedict Arnold, who at least did it for money.
  25. ^ "Waterboarding is torture... Period". Small Wars Journal. October 31, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  26. ^ Chadwick, Alex (November 1, 2007), "Expert Sheds Light on Waterboarding", Day to Day, National Public Radio, retrieved June 9, 2017
  27. ^ "Waterboarding is torture – I did it myself, says US advisor". The Independent. November 1, 2007.
  28. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2010), An End to al-Qaeda: Destroying Bin Laden's Jihad and Restoring America's Honor, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0312592493
  29. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2013), Terrorist Recognition Handbook: A Practitioner's Manual for Predicting and Identifying Terrorist Activities, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1466554573
  30. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2014), The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 20032014, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1498706896
  31. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2016), Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510711846
  32. ^ Nance, Malcolm; Sampson, Chris (2017), Hacking ISIS: How to Destroy the Cyber Jihad, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510718920
  33. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2018), The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, Hachette, ISBN 978-0316484817
  34. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2019), The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, and How We Can Fix It, Hachette, ISBN 978-0316535762
  35. ^ Chasmar, Jessica. "MSNBC terrorism analyst nominates Trump property for 'ISIS suicide bombing'". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  36. ^ Palma, Bethania. "Did a Counterterrorism Expert Call For ISIS to Bomb a Trump Building?". Snopes.
  37. ^ Rutz, David. "NBC analyst with history of pushing conspiracy theories testifies at Dem-led hearing on domestic terrorism". Fox News. Fox News.
  38. ^ "Malcolm Nance on the Danger of Conspiracy Theories". The New Yorker.

External links[edit]