In theory, a fully functional quantum computer could break the cryptographic protocols that underwrite cybersecurity everywhere, which would be disastrous for national security, global trade, and civil society. Quantum cryptography, conversely, promises an unprecedented level of security, yet this benefit comes with some danger: revisionist actors with impenetrable communications might be able to conduct surprise attacks and covert conspiracies. In reality, neither of these threat scenarios are likely. Intelligence advantage in political competition depends on the interaction of technological infrastructure with organizational institutions. Robust cryptosystems can be undermined by poor organizational coordination, and careful security policy can compensate for technical vulnerabilities. Scientific innovation in quantum technology only affects one of these dimensions while potentially complicating the other. Even if the formidable engineering challenges of quantum computing can be overcome, signals intelligence collectors will still have to analyze a vast number of decrypts and deliver timely and relevant judgments to interested decision makers. The quantum networks of tomorrow, similarly, will provide little protection for complex organizations that have weak operations security practices. In the practice of intelligence, we should expect classical politics to dominate quantum computing.

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