The Just Security Podcast

By Just Security

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Just Security is an online forum for the rigorous analysis of national security, foreign policy, and rights. We aim to promote principled solutions to problems confronting decision-makers in the United States and abroad. Our expert authors are individuals with significant government experience, academics, civil society practitioners, individuals directly affected by national security policies, and other leading voices.

Episode Date
An Arrest Warrant for Putin

On Friday, March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court announced that it had issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights. 

The Court said it had “reasonable grounds to believe” that Putin was responsible for unlawfully transferring and unlawfully deporting children from occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia. The arrest warrants are a major legal and diplomatic development in Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine. 

To discuss what the arrest warrants mean, we have Rebecca Hamilton, a law professor at American University and a member of Just Security’s Editorial Board. She has seen these issues firsthand as a former prosecutor at the Court.  

Show Notes: 

  • Rebecca Hamilton (@bechamilton
  • Rebecca’s Just Security article analyzing the Putin arrest warrant
  • The International Criminal Court’s press release announcing the arrest warrants
  • Yale University Humanitarian Research Lab and U.S. State Department study on the deportation of Ukrainian children 
  • Music: “The Parade” by “Hey Pluto!” from Uppbeat: (License code: 36B6ODD7Y6ODZ3BX)
  • Music: “Broken” by David Bullard from Uppbeat: (License code: OSC7K3LCPSGXISVI)
Mar 18, 2023
What the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers Don't Want You to Know

Two years after the January 6th attack, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers – two of the groups that stormed the Capitol and tried to overturn an election – are on a mission. This time, their goal is more subtle but just as sinister. Although individual Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are on trial for conspiracy and a heap of other crimes, the federal government has been slow to call the groups extremists. In courtrooms, on Twitter, and in media reports the groups are trying to clean up their image, and people are buying it. 

Today we’re going to explore how the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers use propaganda – calling themselves a “drinking club,” “patriots,” and “constitutionalists” – to control their own narrative and hide their violent, extremist views. Calling out these lies, and understanding how they work, is key to holding the groups accountable for the January 6th attack and exposing their continued messages of hate. 

Joining us are Meghan Conroy and Jon Lewis. Meghan is a Fellow with the Digital Forensic Research Lab and a former Investigator with the January 6th Committee, where she focused on the role of social media in the Capitol attack. Jon is a Fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, where he studies domestic and homegrown extremism. They wrote a recent Just Security piece analyzing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers propaganda efforts and why they’ve been successful so far.  

Show Notes:  

Mar 17, 2023
Spies, Balloons, and International Law

Last month, a mysterious object appeared in the sky over Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. U.S. officials determined it was a “spy balloon” sent by China to gather intelligence. Chinese officials insisted the balloon was just gathering information on weather patterns. But the incident caused a diplomatic snafu. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Chinese actions violated U.S. sovereignty – the idea that a country’s land, air, and waters belong to it – and broke international law. That’s a big deal because international law tells countries how to behave, sort of like how traffic lights and speed signs tell drivers when to turn and how fast to go. 

But what does international law actually say about spying? To answer that question, we have Asaf Lubin. Asaf is a law professor at Indiana University and an expert on international law and espionage. 

Show Notes: 

  • Asaf Lubin (@AsafLubin
  • The “spy balloon’s path and timeline of the U.S. and Chinese responses 
  • 6:40 Asaf’s article “The Liberty to Spy” 
  • 19:35 NYU’s American Journalism Online Program
  • Music: “The Parade” by “Hey Pluto!” from Uppbeat: (License code: 36B6ODD7Y6ODZ3BX)
  • Music: “Crafty Crime” by Jonny Boyle from Uppbeat: (License code: VAPNGQCYJOSVCEG4) 
Mar 10, 2023
A Year in Russia's War Against Ukraine: Forging a US Response

Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago, we’ve seen some surprising military, diplomatic, and legal developments in the war. Ukrainian forces have proven remarkably strong, and the Ukrainian people have demonstrated utter determination against a Russian leadership and military that have drastically underperformed. Meanwhile, in Washington, the U.S. has developed its own response to Russia’s illegal invasion, which includes assembling an alliance to support Ukraine and providing billions in humanitarian aid and weapons, issuing massive sanctions against Russian banks and individuals, and passing new laws to prosecute those who commit grave crimes in Ukraine through U.S. courts. 

For an expert view of how the U.S. has responded to the conflict and what comes next, Just Security and the Reiss Center on Law and Security at NYU Law have re-assembled a stellar panel. These legal and diplomatic all-stars first put their heads together a year ago during an NYU panel that happened to fall on the day of the invasion. Dan Baer is the Acting Director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Europe Program and the former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Tess Bridgeman is Just Security’s Co-Editor-in-Chief, a Senior Fellow & Visiting Scholar at the Reiss Center on Law and Security, and a former Deputy Legal Advisor at the National Security Council. And Rose Gottemoeller is a Lecturer at Stanford University and the former Deputy Secretary General of NATO. 

Co-hosting this special episode are Just Security Fellow Paras Shah and Senior Washington Editor Viola Gienger. 

Show Notes: 






Feb 24, 2023
Eliminating the Judicial “Blue Slip”

One of a President’s most important jobs is appointing federal judges. And it’s not just Supreme Court Justices that matter. Across the country, hundreds of federal judges decide cases that impact everything from environmental regulations to gun control to reproductive rights. 

But an obscure process called the “blue slip,” allows a single Senator to stop a judicial nomination in its tracks. To explain the blue slip, we have Caroline Fredrickson and Alan Neff. They recently wrote an open letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) urging him to eliminate the blue slip for good. 

Caroline is a Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law and a Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. Alan recently served as co-editor of Rule of Law This Week for the American Constitution Society and is a former Senior Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. 

Show Notes 

Feb 13, 2023
Two Years After the Myanmar Coup

Two years ago, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup. It was a major setback for the country, which had begun to slowly move toward democracy and free elections after decades of military rule. For other countries and organizations like the United Nations – the coup raised some big, and still open, questions about whether and how to interact with the military junta, particularly amid efforts to hold Myanmar’s leaders accountable for grave crimes, including acts of genocide, against the Rohingya and other ethnic groups.

The junta has announced that it plans to hold “elections” in August, but most experts believe that free and fair elections are impossible under current conditions, and that the elections are merely an effort by the military to deepen its control over the country. 

On the two-year anniversary of the coup, we speak with Akila Radhakrishnan and Angela Mudukuti from the Global Justice Center, a nonprofit organization that advances gender equity and human rights. Global Justice Center has worked closely with organizations in Myanmar since 2005. Akila is Global Justice Center’s President and an expert on the role that gender plays in genocide. Angela Mudukuti, is a Zimbabwean lawyer and the Senior Legal Adviser at the Global Justice Center. She has worked for a number of organizations including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and her experience includes working on universal jurisdiction and precedent-setting cases before South African courts including seeking the arrest of the former president of Sudan during his visit to South Africa.

Show Notes 

Feb 01, 2023
How Should the Press Cover Democracy?

The democracy beat is all the rage in news coverage. But the press needs to do more than follow current events. As the “fourth estate,” independent news works in a system of checks and balances. At its best, the press can hold government accountable to the people. And so, the way it covers democracy and dictatorships matters. That reporting informs the way we vote and how all of us, as people, understand the world.

To discuss how the press can better report on diverse communities and cooperate globally we have Erin Carroll and Rebecca Hamilton. Erin and Rebecca are both journalists turned law professors. Erin teaches classes on technology and the press, as well as legal research and writing at Georgetown Law. Rebecca teaches criminal law, national security, and international law at American University. She’s also a member of Just Security’s Editorial Board.

Show Notes: 

Jan 27, 2023
Closing the War Crimes Impunity Gap

As Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on and evidence of thousands of war crimes continues to mount, countries around the world have looked for ways to hold Russian generals and troops accountable. 

On January 5, 2023, President Biden signed the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act, closing a major loophole that has prevented the U.S. from investigating and prosecuting alleged war criminals when they enter the country. 

To break down the new law, and how it could hold war criminals accountable, we have Elise Baker. Elise is a lawyer at the Atlantic Council, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. She is an expert on accountability for atrocity crimes and human rights violations. 

Show Notes:  

Jan 20, 2023
Promoting Diversity in the U.S. Military

This year, the Supreme Court may decide Students for Fair Admissions v. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, a case that could prevent schools from considering a student’s race in the admissions process. It has major implications for diversity in the U.S. military and national security more generally. 

To discuss the military’s efforts to increase diversity and breakdown what the case might mean for U.S. national security we have Bishop Garrison and Heidi Urben. 

Bishop recently served as a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense with a focus on human capital and diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. He is a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran where he served in Iraq and earned several awards, including two Bronze Stars. Heidi is a Professor of the Practice at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program and a retired U.S. Army colonel. She teaches, researches, and writes about civil-military relations, military and defense policy, and national security.

Show Notes: 

Jan 13, 2023
Unfinished Business of Jan 6th Committee

It’s been two years since the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Since then, we’ve come to understand a lot about the groups and individuals who planned and carried out the attack, with much of that information coming from the House January 6th Committee, which issued its final report last month. 

But even after the Committee’s report, there is unfinished business that remains, like how to continue holding those responsible for the attack accountable, and how to address the threat from paramilitary groups like those that attacked the Capitol that day. To discuss the paths forward we have Mary McCord and Andrew Weissmann.

Mary is Executive Director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. She previously held senior national security roles at the Justice Department and is a member of Just Security’s Editorial Board. Andrew is also a former federal prosecutor with decades of Justice Department and FBI experience, including a senior role on the team for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  

Show Notes: 

Jan 06, 2023
The Conclusion of the January 6th Committee

After nearly a year and a half of hearings and interviews the January 6th Committee is wrapping up its work. It held its final hearing on Monday, will issue its final report on Thursday, and it referred former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department for potentially violating four federal criminal laws, including inciting an insurrection. 

To unpack the Committee’s final hearing, and the criminal referrals, we have Ryan Goodman, Barbara McQuade, and Asha Rangappa. Ryan is Just Security’s Co-Editor-in-Chief, Barbara is a Professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and she previously served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Asha is a Senior Lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and she’s also a former FBI Special Agent. Barbara and Asha are both members of Just Security’s Editorial Board. 

Show Notes: 

Dec 21, 2022
Civilian Protection and War Powers in the 2023 National Defense Bill

This week, Congress passed the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, which President Biden is expected to sign into law. It’s a massive bill, thousands of pages long, that provides the Defense Department with an $858 billion dollar budget for next year. Buried in the law are some key reforms (or lack of reforms) for how the United States goes to war and how it responds when civilians are injured or killed. 

To discuss what the NDAA says about war powers and civilian protection, and where the bill is silent, we have Brian Finucane, Heather Brandon-Smith, and Annie Shiel. Brian is a Senior Advisor at Crisis Group and a member of the Just Security editorial board. For a decade, he was a lawyer with the State Department where he advised the federal government on counterterrorism and use of force. Heather is a Legislative Director at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a nonpartisan organization that lobbies to advance peace, justice, and protecting the environment. Annie is a Senior Advisor at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC, which works to develop and implement solutions to prevent, mitigate, and respond to civilian harm. 

Show Notes: 

Dec 16, 2022
The Balance of Power in a New Senate

On Dec. 6, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock won a special runoff election in Georgia against Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Warnock’s victory gives Democrats a slim, but solid, majority of 51 to 49 in the Senate. The new majority allows Democrats to control everything from investigations and oversight to key legislation and committee placements. 

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s announcement that she will register as a political Independent is unlikely to impact the power balance in the next Senate. The Democratic majority already includes two Independents who caucus with them, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. 

To unpack the many implications of Warnock's win, we had Andy Wright, a member of Just Security's Editorial Board and partner at the law firm K&L Gates in Washington, D.C. Andy is an expert on Congressional oversight and previously served in senior legal roles at the White House and on Congressional committees. 

Show Notes: 

Dec 09, 2022
Recapping the U.N. Climate Talks

Every year, nations from around the world gather for a meeting on climate change. It's called the Conference of State Parties, or COP, and this year it took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. To speak about the big trends of COP 27 and the major takeaways for what happens next, we have Mark Nevitt, a professor at Emory Law School and an expert on climate change and national security.

Show Notes: 

  • Mark Nevitt (@MarkNevitt
  • 5:17 Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif’s remarks to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2022 
  • 8:13 Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan’s remarks at COP 27 on Nov. 8, 2022
  • 16:10 NYU’s American Journalism Online Program
  • 16:40 Mark’s Just Security article previewing COP 27 
  • Just Security’s COP 27 tracker with notable moments and key themes  
  • Lisa Benjamin’s (@DrLisaBenjamin) Just Security article analyzing the future of loss and damage after COP 27
  • Music: “The Parade” by “Hey Pluto!” from Uppbeat: (License code: 36B6ODD7Y6ODZ3BX)
Dec 03, 2022
United States v. Trump: A Model Prosecution Memo for Mar-a-Lago

It’s been over three months since the FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. We know that Trump kept classified documents after he left office. But since the search, we haven’t heard much information about what exactly the Justice Department plans to do about it. That’s pretty common. After all, investigations take time. Whatever the Justice Department’s timeline is, the investigation is likely to end in a document called a Prosecution Memorandum. It’s what prosecutors use when they evaluate whether to charge a person with a crime. And for Trump, that type of memo will be especially confidential and sensitive. It’s likely to present all the evidence, like what the FBI learned from searching Mar-a-Lago, consider what federal laws Trump might have broken, and analyze Trump’s best defenses.

Just Security’s “Model Prosecution Memo” considers the publicly available information from court documents and news reports. It also compares Trump’s alleged conduct to the entire universe of cases that DOJ has prosecuted under the same criminal laws. The memo concludes that Trump’s conduct exceeds the gravity of other former officials who the Justice Department has charged for the mishandling of classified documents. 

To discuss the Model Prosecution Memo we have Andrew Weissmann, Joyce Vance, and Ryan Goodman, who were among the memo’s authors. Andrew has served in many senior Justice Department roles, including on the core team for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Joyce served as the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and Ryan is Just Security’s Co-Editor-in-Chief. 

Show Notes: 

Nov 16, 2022
The FBI’s January 6th Intelligence Failures

The January 6th Committee is wrapping up its work, which has provided a detailed account of the individuals and groups involved in the attack. Thanks to the Committee, we know that law enforcement agencies like the FBI had intelligence about the attack ahead of time. What we don’t know is how they used that information or why they failed to stop the attack. 

Joining on this episode to discuss what the FBI knew, the culture inside the Bureau, and how to address reforms, are Andrew McCabe and Asha Rangappa. Andrew served as the FBI’s Deputy Director and Acting Director during the Obama and Trump administrations, and Asha is a former FBI special agent. 

Show Notes:  

Nov 10, 2022
Getting Into Putin’s Head

This year, the war in Ukraine has dominated news headlines and been on everyone’s mind. At the heart of it is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who began his career as a spy with the KGB. To understand a former spy, you need a former spy. Doug London is fluent in Russian and spent nearly 40 years with the CIA, as an operations officer and station chief in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. On this episode, he discusses Putin’s background, mindset, and strategies for the United States and others to address Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. 

Show Notes: 

Nov 07, 2022
The Biden Administration’s Secret Drone Policy (Pilot Episode)

New York Times national security correspondent Charlie Savage reported that the Biden administration has issued a still-classified policy on some types of counterterrorism operations, such as drone strikes and commando raids. That policy, the Presidential Policy Memorandum (PPM), follows earlier guidance from the Obama and Trump administrations. 

For reactions to the PPM, Just Security has a written mini-series from our lineup of expert authors. On this week’s episode, Yale Law School professor Oona Hathaway and New America International Security Program Fellow Luke Hartig discuss the Biden plan and what it all means for U.S. counterterrorism efforts and forever war. 

Show Notes:

  • Oona A. Hathaway (@oonahathaway)  
  • Luke Hartig (@LukeHartig)
  • Just Security mini-series on President Biden’s Presidential Policy Memo (PPM)
  • 0:23 Charlie Savage’s NYT article on the PPM
  • 2:20 President Obama’s Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG)
  • 3:12 President Trump’s Principles, Standards, and Procedures (PSP
  • 16:33  New York Times coverage of Aug. 29, 2021 Kabul drone strike that killed 10 civilians 
  • 17:40 New York Times coverage of March 18, 2019 Baghuz drone strike that killed about 70 civilians 
  • 18:20 Azmat Khan’s Pulitzer-winning reporting on U.S. drone strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan 
  • Music: “The Parade” by “Hey Pluto!” from Uppbeat: (License code: 36B6ODD7Y6ODZ3BX)
Oct 29, 2022