The Lawfare Podcast

By The Lawfare Institute

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Subscribers: 2182
Reviews: 19


 Mar 31, 2021

dave
 Dec 29, 2020
One of the best podcasts available. Their intelligence can't be underestimated. Love all the panelists, but especially Susan for her passion, knowledge and expertise.

Jon
 Jul 1, 2020
Amazing podcast with a wealth of information on various topics of law.


 Jun 30, 2020


 May 15, 2020

Description

The Lawfare Podcast features discussions with experts, policymakers, and opinion leaders at the nexus of national security, law, and policy. On issues from foreign policy, homeland security, intelligence, and cybersecurity to governance and law, we have doubled down on seriousness at a time when others are running away from it. Visit us at www.lawfareblog.com.

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Episode Date
A Guantanamo Update with Latif Nasser and Steve Vladeck
50:40

It's been a busy couple of weeks at Guantanamo Bay, a place that has not had a busy couple of weeks in a while. There was a transfer, there was a resumption of military commissions, and the chief prosecutor of military commissions resigned abruptly.

To go over these events, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Steve Vladeck, a Lawfare contributing editor and a professor at the University of Texas, and Latif Nasser, a co-host of the show Radiolab from New York Public Radio, where he did an extended series about a Guantanamo Bay detainee, who just happens to be the one who was transferred this week. They talked about who the transferee was and why he was held so long, about the resumption of military commissions and why they are stagnated even when resumed, about the resignation of General Martins, and about the DC Circuit's latest forays into Guantanamo Bay.

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Jul 23, 2021
Facebook v. the White House: Renee DiResta and Brendan Nyhan Weigh In
53:03

This week we're bringing you the breakdown of the heavyweight bout of the century—a battle over vaccine misinformation. In the left corner we have the White House. Known for its impressive arsenal and bully pulpit, this week it asked for the fight and came out swinging with claims that Facebook is a killer—and not in a good way. In the right corner we have Facebook, known for its ability to just keep taking punches while continuing to grace our screens and rake in the cash. The company has hit back with gusto, saying that Facebook has actually helped people learn the facts on vaccines. Period. Will either of them land a knockout blow? Is this just the first round of many match ups? 

On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, we devote the conversation to the latest slugfest between Facebook and the White House. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Renee DiResta, the research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, and Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth University, both of whom have been working on questions of online health misinformation. Let’s get ready to rumble.

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Jul 22, 2021
Yemen on the Brink of Hope with Elisabeth Kendall and Alexandra Stark
42:36

Yemen remains a mess. Many years of warfare have left it politically fractured, economically shattered and with a true humanitarian crisis of multiple dimensions. And yet there are some small signs of hope, with the Biden administration increasing its engagement to achieve progress and the United Nations resetting its efforts with a new special envoy to the country. 

To talk through it, David Priess sat down with Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow at Pembroke College of Oxford University, who has spent significant time on the ground, especially in Eastern Yemen, and Alexandra Stark, a senior researcher at New America and the author of the recent article on Lawfare, "Giving Diplomacy a Chance in Yemen."

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Jul 21, 2021
Dmitri Alperovitch and Matt Tait on the Latest in Cybersecurity
45:18

It was quite a week in cybersecurity. The Israeli firm NSO Group was outed by a consortium of newspapers and media entities for its snooping software Pegasus, which seems to have gathered data from the phones of a shockingly large number of people. Then, starting Sunday evening and into Monday morning, the Biden administration announced a multi-lateral response to China's Microsoft Exchange Server hack. There were indictments, there was a toughly worded statement, but there were no sanctions. Was it enough? 

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Matt Tait, AKA @pwnallthethings, the chief operating officer of Corellium, and Dmitri Alperovitch, the founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator and the co-founder of CrowdStrike. They talked about the Biden administration's response on China; the disclosure of Pegasus and what that means for iPhone security, for Apple and for the Israeli government; and they talked about mobile device security. Is it hopeless?

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Jul 20, 2021
Scott Anderson on Withdrawals, Then and Now
51:21

U.S. troops are pulling out of Afghanistan, the withdrawal is almost done and U.S. forces turned over the Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces the other day. Scott Anderson knows something about withdrawals. He served at U.S. Embassy Baghdad shortly after the United States withdrew from Iraq. He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about the Afghan withdrawal, his memories of the Iraq withdrawal and why these things sometimes go better and sometimes go worse. What has the Biden administration learned from the Iraq withdrawal experience? What is it doing right this time, and what is it doing wrong?

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Jul 19, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Afghan Parliamentarian and Female Presidential Candidate Fawzia Koofi on Afghan Security and the Condition of Women and Girls
24:17

From February 16, 2013: Fawzia Koofi (websiteTwitter) is an Afghan Member of Parliament and Vice President of the Afghan National Assembly. She is also running for President of Afghanistan in the planned April 2014 elections, and would be the first female president in Afghan history. She has a remarkable backstory: Born as the nineteenth of her father's twenty-three children, Koofi was left to die from exposure as a baby girl. She survived and witnessed during her childhood father's and brother's deaths from political unrest. She was forced to leave medical school when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996 and banned the education of women and girls, and, soon after her own daughters were born, her husband died from tuberculosis he contracted while a political prisoner in a Taliban jail. After the new Afghan government was formed after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, Koofi ran for and won a seat in the Afghan parliament. She currently represents the Badakshan region in northeastern Afghanistan and is a leading advocate for the rights of women and girls. Koofi has also written a recently published memoir, The Favored Daughter, about her life and her journey into politics.

Koofi delivered the closing remarks at the Harvard Women's Law Association's annual conference. (Special thanks to the association's president and conference organizer, Stephanie Davidson, for arranging the interview.) Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Koofi at her snowed-in hotel about the current state of Afghanistan and the challenges facing her country.

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Jul 18, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Eric Schwartz, Refugee Policy and the Syrian Civil War
41:20

From April 9, 2016: This week on the podcast, we welcome Eric Schwartz, the Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Schwartz previously served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. In his conversation with Benjamin Wittes, he sketches the key aspects of U.S. refugee policy, explaining how it both protects the security of the United States and at times undermines its ability to accept refugees. Schwartz, who believes the United States has an interest in alleviating the Syrian refugee crisis, outlines what a coherent refugee policy would look like, and argues that the reforms must go beyond simply accepting more refugees.

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Jul 17, 2021
Africa and U.S. Foreign Policy Opportunities with Judd Devermont
46:24

National security attention rarely focuses for long on Sub-Saharan Africa, and when it does, it's largely on the most populous countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Former intelligence community and National Security Council official Judd Devermont, now director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wants to change that. Along with Nicole Wilett, who used to cover Africa for the State Department, the National Security Council and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Judd has created and co-hosts the new podcast called "49," now available everywhere. This podcast jumps head-first into the past, present and future of U.S. policy toward each of Sub-Saharan Africa's 49 countries. David Priess sat down with Judd to discuss a few of these countries, the new podcast and the opportunities for the incoming Biden administration to make real inroads in relations with countries across the continent.

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Jul 16, 2021
Florida Man Regulates Social Media
59:46

On May 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill designed to limit how social media platforms can moderate content. Technology companies, predictably, sued—and on June 30, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida granted a preliminary injunction against the law.

The legislation, which purported to end “censorship” online by “big tech,” received a lot of commentary and a great deal of mockery from academics and journalists. Among other things, it included an exemption for companies that operate theme parks. But Alan Rozenshtein argues in a piece for Lawfare that though the law may be poorly written, the issues raised by the litigation are worth taking seriously. This week on our Arbiters of Truth miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alan—an associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a senior editor at Lawfare—about the Florida legislation. 

What exactly would the law have done, anyway? Why does Alan think the judge underplays the potential First Amendment considerations raised by private companies exerting control over huge swaths of the online public sphere? And what’s with the theme park stuff?

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Jul 15, 2021
When Red Lines Fade Away
35:39

Jack Goldsmith is feeling a little bit grouchy. In a piece on Lawfare entitled, "Empty Threats and Warnings on Cyber," he blasts the Biden administration and its predecessors for "publicly pledging to impose 'consequences' on Russia for its cyber actions for at least five years—usually, as here, following a hand-wringing government deliberation in the face of a devastating cyber incident." Goldsmith catalogs the recent history of administrations promising big action against Russia, yet seeming to take none, and he asks why we would do this. Why would we thus erode our deterrent capability?

He joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the latest of these statements, the history of them and the question of why the United States keeps speaking loudly and carrying such a small stick. 


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Jul 14, 2021
Robert Fatton on the Assassination in Haiti and Its Aftermath
53:43

Last week, the country of Haiti was rocked by the assassination of its controversial president, Jovenel Moïse, who was killed in a bizarre plot, the details of which are still being uncovered. Moïse's death is yet another shock for a Haitian political system that was already in a state of crisis and has some calling for foreign intervention, a controversial proposal with which Haiti has a long and difficult history.

To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Professor Robert Fatton, Jr. of the University of Virginia, a native of Haiti and a widely published expert on Haitian politics. They discussed what we know about the assassination plot and what it may mean for the country and region moving forward.

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Jul 13, 2021
Anne Neuberger on Cybersecurity Strategy
54:03

Dmitri Alperovitch sat down with Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, to discuss the Biden administration's cybersecurity strategy. The conversation was originally recorded at a Silverado Policy Accelerator event on June 29, 2021.

They discussed the latest executive order that the president signed on cybersecurity, the administration's strategy to combat ransomware and the division of responsibilities between Neuberger's office at the National Security Council and the newly created National Cyber Director office to be led by Chris Inglis. They also got into the strategy for securing our semiconductor supply chain. 

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Jul 12, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Harold Holzer on 'The Presidents vs. the Press'
54:32

From August 25, 2020: Jack Goldsmith spoke with Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, about his new book, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media from the Founding Fathers to Fake News." They discussed the long and interesting history of the contentious relationship between presidents and the press, and how President Trump's relationship with journalists has many precedents and is not the low point in president-press relations. They also discussed the likely arc of the battle between the White House and the media after Trump leaves office.

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Jul 11, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Bruce Riedel on ‘Lessons from America’s Secret War in Afghanistan’
1:03:18

From July 11, 2014: As the election crisis in Afghanistan comes to a head, all eyes are once again on the future of Afghan democracy. But, America’s history in the region extends back much further than its nation-building efforts since September 2001. On Tuesday, at a Brookings launch of his newest book entitled, “What We Won: America’s Secret War in Afghanistan, 1979-1989,” Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow and Director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, discussed lessons the United States can learn from its successful efforts in the 1970s and 1980s in Afghanistan. In his talk, Riedel discusses the why the American intelligence operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s was so successful, and what, if any lessons, the United States can apply to its ongoing operations in the country. Riedel also explored the complex personalities and individuals who shaped the war, and explains how their influence still affects the region today. Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott provided introductory remarks and moderated the conversation. 

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Jul 10, 2021
Joshua Geltzer on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism
52:33

For many Americans, the events of the past several years—from the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to the January 6 assault on the Capitol building—have driven home a disturbing conclusion: that the problems of extremism, violence and terrorism are not just overseas phenomena, but have taken root here in the United States.

One of President Biden's first actions upon assuming the presidency was to direct his staff to produce a strategy for addressing this challenge. One hundred days later, they did so, putting forward the first ever "National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism." To discuss this strategy, Scott R. Anderson sat down with White House official Joshua Gelzter, who is currently serving as a special advisor to the Homeland Security advisor and who oversaw the development of the national strategy. They talked about the logic behind it, the challenges and obstacles its authors encountered, and what it means for U.S. national security policy through the Biden administration and beyond.

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Jul 09, 2021
Can America Save the News?
58:40

The news business in America is in crisis. Between 2008 and 2019, newspapers in the U.S. lost half of their newsroom employees. Journalism jobs cut during the pandemic number in the tens of thousands. Local news is suffering the most, with cutbacks across the country and many communities left without a reliable source of information for what’s going on in their area.

Why is this a crisis not just for journalists, but also for democracy?

In today’s episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic turn to that question with Martha Minow, the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard Law School. She’s written a new book, titled “Saving the News: Why the Constitution Calls for Government Action to Protect Freedom of Speech.” How should we understand the crisis facing American newsrooms? How has the U.S. government historically used its power to create a hospitable environment for news--and how should that history shape our understanding of what interventions are possible today? And what role does the First Amendment play in all this?

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Jul 08, 2021
Carol Leonnig on the United States Secret Service and What to Do About It
52:27

The United States Secret Service has many important missions, the most public of which is protecting the president of the United States. And in this mission, its motto is "Zero Fail." There is no window for them to let their guard down when it comes to protecting the commander-in-chief.

And yet, the past several decades of the Secret Service's protection have seen gaps, mistakes and exposures of some fundamental problems within the Secret Service itself. Carol Leonnig is a Pulitzer Prize-winning national investigative reporter at the Washington Post known for her reporting on the Secret Service, as well as the Trump presidency and many other topics. She is also the author of the new book, "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service." She sat down with David Priess to talk about the United States Secret Service, its mission, its challenges and potential reforms to get over some of its most fundamental flaws.

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Jul 07, 2021
Matt Tait Ransom"wears" All the Things
1:00:04

Probably best known as the Twitter handle @pwnallthethings, Matt Tait is the chief operating officer of Corellium. Previously, he was a hacker for GCHQ, the British version of the National Security Agency, he was the CEO of Capital Alpha Security, and he worked at Google Project Zero, among other things. 

Most of this podcast was recorded before the news of the Kaseya ransomware attack broke over the weekend (Matt wrote a piece on Lawfare entitled, "The Kaseya Ransomware Attack is a Really Big Deal"). They talked a bit about Kaseya at the beginning of the episode before turning to a more general discussion of ransomware, other current cybersecurity threats and what Matt is worried about as he looks into the future.

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Jul 06, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Countering Chinese Espionage
50:42


From December 14, 2019: Recently, former CIA officer Jerry Lee was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to share classified information with the Chinese government. During the time in which Lee was in touch with Chinese intelligence agents, dozens of CIA sources in China were arrested or killed—a catastrophe for CIA operations in the country. What's the connection between this disaster and the Lee case? And what do both mean for Chinese counterintelligence work overall? David Priess sat down with John McLaughlin, practitioner-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Shane Harris, intelligence and national security reporter for The Washington Post whose reporting covered much of the Jerry Lee case. They talked about the case, counterintelligence in China and the impact on the U.S.-China relationship. 

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Jul 05, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Al-Shabaab Under the AUMF
45:45

From December 3, 2016: Earlier this week, the New York Times published a story by Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti informing us that the Obama administration had changed its interpretation of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to more broadly cover the use of force against al-Shabaab, expanding its previous reading of the AUMF as only authorizing force against members of al-Shabaab individually linked to al-Qaeda. Bobby noted the story on Lawfare and provided a few comments. While the news has been somewhat drowned out amidst the hubbub of the presidential transition, the significance of this change in legal interpretation shouldn't be lost—so we brought Bobby and Charlie Savage on the podcast to talk with Benjamin Wittes about where this change came from and what it might mean.

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Jul 04, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Michael Cohen vs. the Committee with No Bull
1:03:31

From February 27, 2019: On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, Michael Cohen—the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former personal lawyer to Donald Trump—paid a visit to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen accused the president of campaign finance violations after taking office. He alleged that he was present when Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice of the WikiLeaks dump of the hacked DNC emails. And he claimed that the president's statements in a meeting with Jay Sekulow led Cohen to conclude that the president wanted Cohen to make false statements to Congress. So we cut out all of the bickering, all of the procedural obstructions, and all the rest of the frivolity, to bring you just the one hour of testimony you need to hear.

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Jul 03, 2021
The Trump Organization Indicted
48:29

The Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general's office have issued an indictment against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. It was, shall we say, not the indictment that many people who imagined accountability for Donald Trump would have prayed for or would have expected. It focuses on under-the-table compensation for senior executives—one senior executive in particular. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic; Daniel Hemel, a tax law expert at the University of Chicago; and Rebecca Roiphe of the New York Law School, who is an expert on prosecutions and politicization and a veteran of the New York office that brought the case.

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Jul 02, 2021
Coordinating Inauthentic Behavior With Facebook’s Head of Security Policy
1:06:37

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our podcast on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic bring you an episode they’ve wanted to record for a while: a conversation with Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of security policy at Facebook. He runs the corner of Facebook that focuses on identifying and tackling threats aimed at the platform, including information operations. 

They discussed a new report released by Nathaniel’s team on “The State of Influence Operations 2017-2020.” What kinds of trends is Facebook seeing? What is Nathaniel’s response to reports that Facebook is slower to act in taking down dangerous content outside the U.S.? What about the argument that Facebook is designed to encourage circulation of exactly the kind of incendiary content that Nathaniel is trying to get rid of? 

And, of course, they argued over Facebook’s use of the term “coordinated inauthentic behavior” to describe what Nathaniel argues is a particularly troubling type of influence operation. How does Facebook define it? Does it mean what you think it means?

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Jul 01, 2021
What to Make of U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria
47:47

Early Monday morning, the U.S. carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against two Iranian-backed militia groups. The strikes raise a whole host of diplomatic, legal and policy questions. To break them all down, Jacob Schulz sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare's executive editor and a senior fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School.

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Jun 30, 2021
Adam Klein Looks Behind the FISA Curtain
58:01

Adam Klein was, until the other day, the chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, known colloquially as the PCLOB. In that capacity, he had the opportunity to do something that no one has ever really done before as an outsider: review a bunch of FISA applications, that is, applications for electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The result is a white paper that looks behind the FISA curtain that he published before leaving office and about which he wrote a Lawfare post. He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about the applications, the review, the white paper and the Lawfare article, and how the FISA process could stand improvement.

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Jun 29, 2021
The FBI, Part Deux
37:19

In this second half of David Kris's two-part discussion with FBI historian John Fox, David and John continue their whirlwind tour of the Bureau, focused on its use of wiretap evidence, SIGINT and other intelligence. In the last episode, they worked their way from the FBI's founding through the era of prohibition and gangsters, World War II and part of the Cold War, including the prosecution of DOJ official Judith Coplon based on information from NSA's Project VENONA. In this episode, they move forward through the FBI's more recent history to cover abuses revealed in the 1970s, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as well as some present-day issues.

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Jun 28, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Russia's Nuclear Threats
1:35:15

From the Lawfare Archive, July 18, 2015: While world powers and Iran were embroiled in last minute negotiations last week, Brookings hosted a panel discussion on the meaning of another power’s recent nuclear threats: Russia's. In recent months, Russia has rattled the saber, with Vladimir Putin remarking on his nuclear options during the Crimea crisis and making a mild threat to nuke the Danish navy. Given that Russia maintains enough nuclear muscle to destroy the world---theoretically anyway---how seriously should we take these provocations?

The panel was moderated by Brookings Fellow Jeremy Shapiro and featured Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists and Brookings scholars Pavel Baev and Steven Pifer. Together, the trio took a deep dive into Russia’s recent nuclear threats during the Crimea crisis, the country’s capabilities—both conventional and nuclear—relative to NATO, and its ongoing modernization program. The three conclude with terrifying thought: The folks surrounding Putin just might not fully understand deterrence.

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Jun 27, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Ben Hubbard on MBS
45:30

From the Lawfare Archive, March 31, 2020: Saudi Arabia continues to be a mainstay of newspaper headlines, whether it be for its oil price war with Russia or for news about Turkish indictments in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But making sense of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed Bin Salman, known widely as MBS, can be a difficult proposition. He has made social reforms—lifting the ban on women driving and taking power away from Saudi Arabia’s infamous religious police—but he has no interest in political reform and has a propensity to take impulsive and remarkably violent action, both in the foreign policy space and toward perceived enemies within Saudi Arabia and beyond. Ben Hubbard, Beirut bureau chief for the New York Times, provides an account of the young prince’s rise and his early years in power in Saudi Arabia. Jacob Schulz talked with Hubbard about MBS's rise to power, his influence on domestic life in Saudi Arabia, his relationship to Jared Kushner and the Trump administration, and about the White House response to Khashoggi’s murder.

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Jun 26, 2021
Alvin Cheung on Apple Daily
27:18

The Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong has shut down under pressure from the Chinese and Hong Kong governments. It's the latest political repression in Hong Kong that shows no sign of easing up. Alvin Cheung is a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and a non-resident affiliated scholar at NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute. He joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the Apple Daily case, the other cases like it, the implementation of Hong Kong's new national security law and what it all means for the Hong Kong constitutional order. 

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Jun 25, 2021
Information Operations, Then and Now
54:23

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our podcast on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Camille François, the chief innovation officer at Graphika, about a new report released by her team earlier this month on an apparent Russian influence operation aimed at so-called “alt-tech” platforms, like Gab and Parler. A group linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency “troll farm” has been posting far-right memes and content on these platforms over the last year. But how effective has their effort really been? What does the relatively small scale of the operation tell us about how foreign interference has changed in the last four years? Has the media’s—and the public’s—understanding of information operations caught up to that changing picture?

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Jun 24, 2021
The FBI, Part 1
49:58

This is the latest installment in our ongoing series of historical inquiries with U.S. and Five Eyes intelligence agencies. Earlier episodes have featured CIA, NSA and GCHQ, and today, it's the first of a two-part discussion of FBI, featuring FBI historian John Fox. David Kris sat down with John for a whirlwind tour of the Bureau, from its founding through the era of prohibition and gangsters, World War II, the Cold War, abuses revealed in the 1970s, 9/11 and right up to the present, focusing on the use of wiretap evidence and intelligence. 

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Jun 23, 2021
China's Civilian Army with Peter Martin
52:52

Bryce Klehm sat down with Peter Martin, a defense policy and intelligence reporter at Bloomberg. Peter is the author of the new book, "China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy," which traces the history of China's diplomatic corps from the founding of the Chinese Communist Party to the present. They covered a lot of ground, from Zhou Enlai's impact on the Chinese foreign ministry to the Biden administration's first interactions with China's top diplomats. 

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Jun 22, 2021
Stephen Wertheim and Sara Moller on the Past, Present and Future of NATO
53:35

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was founded in 1949 and quickly became the main way that the United States guaranteed the security of Western Europe, especially against possible invasion by the Soviet Union. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, NATO has faced a series of identity crises. Should it continue to exist in its current form or change? If it should change, should it shrink or expand? Should it continue focusing on European security or embrace global peacekeeping? What should its relationship with Russia be? And perhaps most importantly, should America continue to serve as the de facto head of NATO and the main guarantor of European security? Last week's NATO summit offers an opportunity to revisit all of these cases.

To discuss it all, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with two experts on U.S. foreign policy: Stephen Wertheim, a historian and director of the Grand Strategy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and Sara Moller, an assistant professor in international security at Seton Hall University. To frame the conversation, they focused on Stephen's recent essay in the New York Times, provocatively titled, "Sorry, Liberals. But You Really Shouldn't Love NATO."

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Jun 21, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Jessica Stern on Radovan Karadzic
59:28

From the Lawfare Archive, February 19, 2020: Jessica Stern, who served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, has a remarkable skill: she interviews really bad people, and she writes about them in really interesting ways. She spent quite a bit of time interviewing Bosnian-Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic, who is serving a life sentence at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide in connection with the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. Their conversations led to the publication of the book, "My War Criminal: Personal Encounters with an Architect of Genocide," which triggered a remarkable outpouring of rage at Jessica Stern. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jessica recently about the book, the controversy, and her general approach to talking to evil men.

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Jun 20, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Julia Ioffe and Ian Bremmer on the Trump-Putin Summit
41:08

From the Lawfare Archive, July 17, 2018: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki for their first one-on-one summit, where the U.S. president said that he trusted the Russian president's denial of election interference over his own intelligence community. In the United States, furor followed on both sides of the aisle. To break down what happened and what it means, Alina Polyakova sat down with Julia Ioffe, correspondent at GQ and long-time Russia observer, and Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, to talk about why nobody else was in the room with Trump and Putin during their over-two-hour, one-on-one meeting; what Russia's kompromat on Trump really might be; and whether this summit actually moved the needle in U.S.-Russia policy. What was gained and what was lost? Was this a win for Putin? An embarrassment for Trump?  

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Jun 19, 2021
Putin and Biden Meet in Geneva
59:21

President Biden met with President Putin in Geneva on Wednesday. There was a lot of press and dueling press conferences, with both presidents having testy moments with them, and the whole thing was pretty different from the last time Putin met with a U.S. president. 

To talk through the Putin-Biden summit, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Fiona Hill and Alex Vindman, both formerly of the National Security Council, Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis, and former Estonian President Toomas Ilves. They discussed whether this was a win for Putin, a win for Biden, an overblown icebreaker or something else, and what it all says about where U.S.-Russia relations are headed.

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Jun 18, 2021
A TikTok Tick Tock
58:21

TikTok has rapidly become one of the most popular apps for teenagers across the world for dancing, lip-syncing and sharing details about their lives. But if you cast your mind back to last year—specifically, August 2020—you may recall that the app’s future in the United States suddenly fell into doubt. The Trump administration began arguing that the app’s ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance raised problems of national security for the United States. ByteDance was ordered to divest from TikTok, and the app, along with the popular China-based chat app WeChat, faced U.S. sanctions.

But you might have noticed that your teenager is still making TikTok videos. And President Biden issued his own executive order last week revoking Trump’s sanctions. So, what on earth is happening?

On this week’s episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, about what’s happened to TikTok over the past year. Bobby brought us up to speed with the Trump administration’s offensive on TikTok, why the app has survived so far and why TikTok shouldn’t breathe easy just yet about Biden’s executive order.

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Jun 17, 2021
Rep. Seth Moulton and Matt Zeller on Securing Visas for U.S. Partners in Afghanistan
34:55

The United States is quickly approaching its September deadline for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the U.S. completes its withdrawal, many Afghans who partnered with the U.S., serving as translators and interpreters, face the danger of severe retribution from the Taliban.

Those who partner with the U.S. military can obtain a special immigrant visa, or SIV, through the U.S. State Department, but many lawmakers and veterans' groups are concerned that the U.S. is running out of time to approve SIVs for its Afghan partners. To help make sense of it all, Bryce Klehm sat down with Congressman Seth Moulton and Matt Zeller. Rep. Moulton is a representative from Massachusetts who served as a Marine infantry officer in Iraq and who is also a member of the Honoring Our Promises Working Group, a bipartisan group of lawmakers calling on the Biden administration to protect the U.S.'s Afghan partners. Zeller is a Truman Center fellow and host of the Wartime Allies podcast, who served as a combat advisor with Afghan security forces and who is also the co-founder of No One Left Behind, a veterans' organization that provides services to former Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who resettle in the United States.

They covered a range of issues, including the risks that current and former U.S. partners in Afghanistan face, the obstacles in the SIV process and a potential evacuation of U.S. partners to Guam.

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Jun 16, 2021
The Justice Department, Congress and the Press
47:35

A spree of stories has emerged over the last week or so that the Justice Department under the prior administration obtained phone and email records of several journalists, several members of Congress and staffers, and even family members. It has provoked a mini scandal, calls for investigation, howls of rage and serious questions. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, former FBI agent Pete Strzok, Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic and Berkeley law professor and Lawfare contributing editor Orin Kerr. They talked about what we really know about these stories and what happened in these investigations. Was it all legal? Was it legitimate? How should it be investigated and by whom? And what does it mean that none of the prior attorneys general or deputy attorneys general seem to remember it?

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Jun 15, 2021
Jonathan Rauch on the Constitution of Knowledge
45:30

Public discourse is in bad shape these days. We all yell at and cancel each other on social media and college campuses, and politicians—especially those on the Trumpist right—lie so much that the very notion of truth threatens to lose any meaning. But, Jonathan Rauch is optimistic that this can change for the better. Jonathan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of, most recently, "The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jonathan about his book, his diagnosis of our present condition and his hopes for the future.

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Jun 14, 2021
Daniel Richman and Sarah Seo on Law Enforcement Federalism
53:24

Daniel Richman and Sarah Seo are professors at Columbia Law School, and they are co-authors of a recent article on Lawfare entitled, "Toward a New Era for Federal and State Oversight of Local Police." Benjamin Wittes sat down with them to discuss the article, the history of the federal-state relationship in law enforcement, how the feds came to play an oversight role with respect to police departments, the limits of that role inherent in the cooperative relationship that law enforcement agencies engage in for other reasons, the role that the feds might play under new legislation and the role that state governments may play as well. 

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Jun 11, 2021
The Empire (Facebook) Strikes Back (at the Oversight Board’s Trump Decision)
58:44

If you’ve listened to this show, you've probably read a fair number of news stories—and maybe even listened to some podcast episodes—about the Facebook Oversight Board’s recent ruling on the platform’s decision to ban President Trump’s account. The board temporarily allowed Facebook to keep Trump off the platform, but criticized the slapdash way Facebook made that call and provided a long list of recommendations for Facebook to respond to.

Well, now Facebook has responded—announcing that it will ban Trump from the platform for two years. And though the response hasn’t gotten as much coverage as the initial ruling, it’s arguably more important for what it says about both Facebook and the Facebook Oversight Board’s role in the future of content moderation.

This week on the Lawfare Podcast's Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Quinta Jurecic interviewed Lawfare managing editor Jacob Schulz and Arbiters of Truth co-host Evelyn Douek about Facebook’s response to the board. What did Facebook say in addition to its two-year Trump ban? Why is Evelyn grumpy about it? And what’s next for Facebook, the Oversight Board and Trump himself?

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Jun 10, 2021
Michel Paradis on Sexual Assault and Reforming the Military Justice System
51:30

For years, Congress and the Defense Department have debated how best to handle the pernicious problem of sexual assault in the military. Now, a bipartisan majority in the Senate appears to have settled on a set of reforms that would make unprecedented changes to the military justice system. But do these changes actually get at the root cause of the military sexual assault problem? Or do they simply put at risk the command structure that is often seen as a pillar of military effectiveness? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down on Lawfare Live with legal expert Michel Paradis, who teaches a course on the military and the law at Columbia Law School. They talked about the impetus behind these latest reforms, what the consequences might be for the military justice system and whether they promise to finally provide the protection against sexual assault that those serving in the military need and deserve.

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Jun 09, 2021
Alicia Wanless on What's Wrong with the Discussion of Influence Operations
37:50

Alicia Wanless is the director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and she has a beef with the current debate over influence operations. Put simply, we don't really know what works in countering them, and the studies of the subject all seem to be case studies using different methodologies and examining different things. Benjamin Wittes spoke with her about how we might improve our knowledge base on this subject, what kind of information we would need to study whether influence operations work and what works to counter them. They talked about transparency reporting requirements for the big tech companies, data sharing between companies and scholars, what a massive effort at research in this space would look like and whether it has any possibility of coming to be.

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Jun 08, 2021
A Digital Contact Tracing Retrospective
46:47

It's been more than a year since the first contact tracing and exposure notification apps for the novel coronavirus have appeared, and the apps have not at all lived up to the hype. In fact, they've almost invariably stumbled or not really worked at all. Jacob Schulz sat down with Alan Rozenshtein, associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota School of Law and a senior editor at Lawfare, and Susan Landau, a computer science professor at Tufts and a senior contributor for Lawfare, to talk about digital disease surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic. What went wrong, and what are the lessons to be learned?

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Jun 07, 2021
Ryan Hass on the U.S.-China Relationship
51:24

Bryce Klehm sat down with Ryan Hass, a senior fellow and the Michael H. Armacost Chair in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Ryan is the author of the new book, "Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence." The book is informed by Hass's experience as a foreign service officer in China and by his time in the Obama administration, where he served as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the National Security Council. They had a wide-ranging discussion about the United States's China policy, including about President Biden's relationship with Xi Jinping, forced labor in Xinjiang, China's perception of the United States's withdrawal from Afghanistan and much more.

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Jun 04, 2021
India v. Platforms
47:58

Tensions between major social media platforms and the Indian government have reached a new high. In recent months, India has demanded that Twitter remove a range of content critical of the government and has even sent police to Twitter’s offices in New Delhi in what Twitter has called “intimidation tactics”. The government recently instituted new rules that exert strong control over how companies operating in India govern their platforms—rules that have already prompted a legal challenge from Whatsapp in Indian court. 

On today’s episode of the Lawfare Podcast's Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nikhil Pahwa to put these latest clashes between platforms and the Indian government in context. Nikhil is a technology journalist and digital rights activist and the founder of the Indian technology publication MediaNama—and he’s been watching this story closely. Whatever happens, this showdown in the world’s largest democracy will have lasting implications, not only within India but around the globe as well. It’s a geopolitical battle over who gets to assert sovereignty over the internet, and how.

Listeners who want more background on the subject of today’s episode might also be interested in this episode with Chinmayi Arun on the Indian government’s clashes with social media, from February 2021.

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Jun 03, 2021
Natan Sachs on the Possibility of a Post-Bibi Israel
48:19

After two years of political tumult and no fewer than four national elections, Israel may finally be on the verge of forming a new government—one that notably excludes current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and would bring an end to the more than 12 consecutive years that he has spent as the country's leader. To discuss these late-breaking developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Middle East Policy. They discussed the new faces that will be leading Israel if and when this new government comes to pass, how Netanyahu is likely to respond and what it all means for the increasingly complicated relationship between Israel and the United States.

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Jun 02, 2021
An Investigations Roundup
51:01

It's been a crazy time for Trump investigations. There is a new one in the Eastern District of New York, a grand jury in Manhattan and ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York. There's also a big throwback to the Mueller investigation—a smackdown between the current Justice Department and Judge Amy Berman Jackson over whether the Justice Department has to release documents from when Bill Barr was thinking about what to do with the Mueller report.

To talk it all over, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare executive editor Scott Anderson and Jack Goldsmith of the Harvard Law School. They talked about what we can responsibly say about these new investigations, where they might be going and what the Justice Department's fight with Judge Jackson says about Bill Barr and his comments about the Mueller investigation. 

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Jun 01, 2021
Rashawn Ray on a Year of Police Reform
28:23

It's been a year since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and there have been a lot of police reform efforts since then. A lot of them have come to nothing, but some of them have been very productive—at the state level, in certain cities and even, to a certain extent, at the federal level. To discuss the police reform successes and failures of the last year, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Rashawn Ray, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, who has studied police violence issues extensively and has become a prominent voice on the subject of police reform. They talked about what has worked, how close we are to federal legislation on the subject and what the holdups are, which states have made progress and how, which states haven't moved the ball and what success over the next year might look like.

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May 28, 2021
The Arrival of International Human Rights Law in Content Moderation
59:28

Way back at the beginning of the Arbiters of Truth podcast series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic invited David Kaye to talk about international human rights law (IHRL) and content moderation. David is a clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and when he was first on the show, he was also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. It’s been a year and a half since then, and in the intervening time, David’s vision of IHRL as a guiding force for content moderation has become mainstream. So Quinta and Evelyn asked him back on to discuss the increasingly important role played by IHRL in content moderation—and what it really means in practice. They also talked about the rise of digital authoritarianism around the world and what international law and leading democracies can do about it.

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May 27, 2021
The Endless Frontier Act and the Whims of Congress
38:25

The Endless Frontier Act—a piece of legislation that you may have never heard of but is nonetheless very important—is going through Congress, and it is changing as it goes through. It's a complicated piece of legislation intended to boost U.S. research and development and help bolster U.S. competition with China, and what happened to it in Congress is not at all straightforward. To talk through exactly what the Endless Frontier Act is, how it made its way through Congress and what this all reveals about the way that Congress does its business, Jacob Schulz sat down with Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast and an analyst with the Rhodium Group, and Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare.

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May 26, 2021
A State-Sponsored Skyjacking
43:29

Over the weekend, an airplane from an Irish airline flying from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced down in Belarus so that Belarusian authorities could arrest a dissident. The pretext for the grounding of the plane was a bomb threat from, of all things, Hamas. The incident has produced a major international standoff between the European Union and Belarus, with Russia lurking in the background. 

What does it all mean? Can this be defended as a matter of international law? Was this simply a hijacking by the Belarusian government, or was Vladimir Putin really behind it? And what can the United States and the European Union do about it all? To discuss these questions, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare; Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis; and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. 

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May 25, 2021
Chesney and Herr on the Biden Executive Order
56:34


President Biden has issued an executive order on cybersecurity. Bobby Chesney, one of the founders of Lawfare and a professor at the University of Texas Law School, and Trey Herr of the Atlantic Council, analyzed the significant document in depth for Lawfare, and they joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to discuss the order and take questions from a live audience. They talked about what the executive order covers, what it doesn't cover, what it can be expected to do beyond the realm of government contracting, why it left out all matters related to ransomware and what the president needs Congress's help to do.

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May 24, 2021
Noreen Malone on Slow Burn and the Road to War in Iraq
54:52

Eighteen years have passed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq deposed the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein and ushered in a bloody new chapter in that country's history—one that, in many ways, Iraq and the United States are still working their way through today. For its fifth season, the Slate-produced podcast Slow Burn is revisiting the lead-up to that fateful decision to invade. Scott R. Anderson sat down with host Noreen Malone to discuss the season thus far and what lessons that era can teach us for how to approach the challenges of our current moment....

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May 21, 2021
The Christchurch Call, Two Years On
59:42

In March 2019, a shooter carried out two mass killings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, livestreaming the first shooting on Facebook. Two months later, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron convened the Christchurch Call—a commitment joined by both governments and technology companies “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.”

It’s now been two years since the Christchurch Call. To discuss those years and what comes next, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic of the Arbiters of Truth series of the Lawfare Podcast spoke with Dia Kayyali, who serves as a co-chair of the Advisory Network to the Christchurch Call, a group of civil society organizations that work to ensure that the signatories to the Call consider a more diverse range of expertise and perspectives when implementing its commitments. Dia is a long-time digital rights activist and the associate director for advocacy at Mnemonic, an organization that works to preserve online documentation of human rights abuses. What has their experience been like as a voice for civil society in these conversations around the Call? What should we make of the recent decision by the Biden administration to sign the United States on to the call? And what are the risks of potentially over-aggressive moderation in an effort to take down “terrorist” content?.

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May 20, 2021
Russia Through the Spymaster’s Prism
50:49

Recent events have shown that Russian intelligence efforts against the United States and the West have continued since the end of the Cold War and have perhaps increased in recent years. In particular, Vladimir Putin appears determined to get even with the U.S. for Russian losses at the end of the Cold War. To discuss the role that intelligence has played in Russia's efforts, David Priess sat down with Jack Devine, who served in many roles over some 30 years at the CIA, including as the associate director of operations and leading the covert action operation, which drove the Russians out of Afghanistan. He's also the author of the recent book, "Spymaster's Prism: The Fight Against Russian Aggression." They talked about Russian aggression and what intelligence can do about it, and they discussed what policies would be most effective against Russia.

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May 19, 2021
Celia Aniskovich and Pete Strzok Talk Spy Affair
50:49

Remember Maria Butina? She was the Russian graduate student at American University and gun enthusiast who was arrested for being an unregistered foreign agent shortly after the Russian electoral interference scandal broke. She eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge, served her time and was deported back to Russia. She is now the subject of a six-part podcast series by Celia Aniskovich called Spy Affair. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Celia and Pete Strzok, the former FBI agent, to discuss Maria Butina, who she is, the investigation of her and how it all fits into Russia's plans in the period around Donald Trump's election.

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May 18, 2021
After Trump, Episode 6: Getting It Done
25:14

In the final episode of “After Trump,” the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we explore whether and how we can repair the damage that the Trump presidency has done to the Republic.

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May 17, 2021
Garland and Mayorkas on Domestic Violent Extremism with No Bull
42:22

On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testified on domestic violent extremism before the Senate Appropriations Committee. They talked about what they consider the most pressing threats and answered senators' questions about what their agencies are doing about them. There were also some questions about other topics such as border security, and their testimony included opening statements and repetition. We took it all out to give you just the questions and answers on domestic violent extremism.

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May 14, 2021
The Disinformation Nextdoor
45:24

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast's series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with the journalist Will Oremus, who until recently was a senior writer at the technology publication OneZero and who is one of the most astute observers of online platforms and their relationship to the media. They dug into Will’s reporting on the social media platform Nextdoor. The app is designed to connect neighbors, but Will argues it’s filling the space left by collapsing local news—which may not be the best development when the platform is struggling with many of the common challenges of content moderation. And, of course, they also talked about the inescapable, ever-present elephant in the room—the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on Donald Trump’s account.

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May 13, 2021
Jerusalem on the Brink
52:26

The situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is growing heated. Protests over the forced dislocation of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have escalated into violent confrontations with Israeli police forces, including in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the sacred grounds of the al-Aqsa Mosque, interrupting prayers there during the holy month of Ramadan. Over the past few days, these clashes have in turn triggered rocket attacks into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza and reciprocal airstrikes by the Israeli military. Some such rockets have even reached the city of Tel Aviv, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, to promise a new military operation against Hamas in Gaza over the days to come. 

To catch up on these fast-moving developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of the Center for Middle East Policy, and Zaha Hassan, a human rights lawyer and visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. They discussed the origins of this most recent conflict, the unusual Israeli and Palestinian political context in which it is occurring and what it might all mean for the Biden administration's own objectives in the region.

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May 12, 2021
Ignatius and Goldsmith on the Story of Kash Patel
46:12

David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, recently ran a lengthy column about the machinations of Kash Patel in the executive branch during the presidential transition. Patel, a former staffer for Devin Nunes, held a variety of positions in the months before Donald Trump left office, and Donald Trump considered him for a variety of other positions. It's a remarkable story that raises a whole series of questions that Jack Goldsmith has been asking on Lawfare for some time. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Ignatius and Goldsmith to discuss the article. What was Patel up to in the final days of the Trump administration? What does it say about the way the executive branch functioned under Donald Trump? And what does it say about the activities of the deep state?

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May 11, 2021
After Trump, Episode 5: Independent Justice
35:40

In the fifth episode of "After Trump," the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we consider whether the Justice Department is really independent of the president.

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May 10, 2021
Dara Lind on Immigration and the Southern Border
52:47

Over its first 100 days in office, the Biden administration has faced a difficult set of policy challenges at America's southern border, ranging from new waves of individuals driven to try to cross the border by the effects of the global pandemic, to the often difficult legacy left by some of his predecessor's draconian immigration policies. As a candidate, Biden channeled Democrats' outrage with former President Trump's actions on immigration and pledged to reverse them. But now that he is in office, will Biden find more common ground with his predecessor than expected, or will he turn over a new page on America's immigration policies? 

Scott R. Anderson sat down with ProPublica immigration reporter Dara Lind to discuss what drives immigration to the United States, how the Biden administration has responded thus far and what it may all mean for the future of immigration policy in the United States.

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May 07, 2021
The Facebook Oversight Board Rules on Trump
44:19

The wait is over. Four months after Facebook indefinitely banned Donald Trump from its platform following the Capitol riot, the Facebook Oversight Board—the platform’s self-appointed quasi-court—has weighed in on whether or not it was permissible for Facebook to do so. And the answer is ... complicated. Mark Zuckerberg can still keep Trump off his platform for now, but the board says that Facebook must review its policies and make a final decision about the former president’s fate within six months.

To discuss the decision, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes hosted a special episode of Arbiters of Truth, our Lawfare Podcast miniseries on our online information ecosystem. He sat down with Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic and Lawfare Deputy Managing Editor Jacob Schulz for a conversation about the Oversight Board’s ruling. Did the Oversight Board make the right call? What might the mood be like in Facebook headquarters right now? What about Twitter’s? And is this decision really the Oversight Board’s Marbury v. Madison moment?

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May 06, 2021
The Return of Rudy
52:15

Rudy Giuliani played a central role, both in President Trump’s response to the Mueller investigation and in the drama in Ukraine that eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment. Now, a year later, Giuliani is back in the news, thanks to reports of a search of his apartment by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York. What exactly is Giuliani being investigated for, and how does it connect to his role in the first impeachment? What does it mean that the Justice Department reportedly decided not to move ahead with the search under the Trump administration but that Attorney General Merrick Garland gave the thumbs-up? Quinta Jurecic spoke with Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes and Lawfare Deputy Managing Editor Jacob Schulz to catch up on just what is going on in the wild world of Rudy Giuliani.

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May 05, 2021
Niall Ferguson on Catastrophes and How to Manage Them
55:03

2020 was a remarkable year in so many ways, not least of which was the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Why did so many countries bungle their responses to it so badly? And what should their leaders have learned from earlier disasters and the pathologies clearly visible in the responses of their predecessors to them?

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the author of more than a dozen books, including, most recently, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." David Priess sat down with Niall to discuss everything from earthquake zones, to viruses, to world wars, all with a mind to how our political and social structures have or have not adapted to the certainty of continued crises.

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May 04, 2021
After Trump, Episode 4: Prosecuting a President
35:54

In the fourth episode of “After Trump,” the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we explore how and when a president is held to account for wild and sometimes criminal behavior.

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May 03, 2021
The State of the U.S.-Turkey Relationship
44:53

When President Biden entered office, he inherited a bilateral relationship with Turkey that was strained to the limits by the growing independent streak in that country's foreign policy—and one that had been pushed in unfamiliar directions by his predecessor's direct and often unpredictable personal relationship with Turkey's longstanding president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This past week, the Biden administration made its first major move on the U.S.-Turkey relationship by recognizing the atrocities committed against Armenians by Ottoman authorities in the early 20th century as a genocide, a move that prior presidents had avoided for fear of how Turkey might react.

To discuss what these developments may mean for this key bilateral relationship, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Nicholas Danforth of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and Asli Aydıntaşbaş of the European Council on Foreign Relations. They discussed how Turkey views its place in the world, what this means for its alliance with the United States and how the Biden administration is likely to respond moving forward.

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Apr 30, 2021
Israel’s “Cyber Unit” and Extra-legal Content Take-downs
58:48

Odds are, you probably haven’t heard of the Israeli government’s “Cyber Unit,” but it’s worth paying attention to whether or not you live in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It’s an entity that, among other things, reaches out to major online platforms like Facebook and Twitter with requests that the platforms remove content. It’s one of a number of such agencies around the globe, which are known as Internet Referral Units. Earlier in April, the Israeli Supreme Court gave a green light to the unit’s activities, rejecting a legal challenge that charged the unit with infringing on constitutional rights.


This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked to Fady Khoury and Rabea Eghbariah, who were part of the legal team that challenged the Cyber Unit’s work on behalf of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab and Minority Rights in Israel. Why do they—and many other human rights activists–find Internet Referral Units so troubling, and why do governments like the units so much? Why did the Israeli Supreme Court disagree with Fady and Rabea’s challenge to the unit’s activities? And what does the Court’s decision say about the developing relationship between countries’ legal systems and platform content moderation systems?

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Apr 29, 2021
Alperovitch and Iftimie Talk Response to Russia and China
37:56

The Biden administration has now responded to two major cyberattacks—one from Russia, the SolarWinds attack, and the other from China, the so-called Hafnium Microsoft Exchange Server attack. Recently, Lawfare has run articles on both of these incidents—a piece from Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike, and a piece from Alex Iftimie, a former Justice Department official and a lawyer at Morrison & Foerster. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the Biden administration's response to the attacks. Were they appropriate, both in absolute terms and in relation to each other? Do they send the right messages to the countries in question? Do they go far enough? And what more do we want to see? 

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Apr 28, 2021
Explosions, Expulsions and Explanations of Russian Active Measures
42:52

The Russian GRU Unit 29155 is in the news again. Czech authorities pin the blame on it for a series of explosions in 2014 that killed two people, and then they expelled an unusually high number of Russian diplomats, dramatically reducing Russia's diplomatic presence in Czechia and perhaps harming its intelligence efforts across Central Europe.

To talk about it, David Priess sat down with Michael Schwirtz, an investigative reporter with the New York Times based at the United Nations whose most recent reporting has shed important light on the events of this shadowy Russian military intelligence unit, and John Sipher, the co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment and a retired 28-year veteran of the CIA with significant experience against the Russian target. They discussed this Russian military unit's active measures, Putin's motivations and possible miscalculations, and intelligence collection against and cooperation to thwart this unit, along with the bigger picture of Western relations with Russia.

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Apr 27, 2021
After Trump, Episode 3: Obstruction and Pardons
32:52

In the third episode of “After Trump,” the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we explore the pardon power and what happens when a president abuses it.

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Apr 26, 2021
DHS Leadership Talk Cybersecurity
53:17

Tim Maurer is a senior counselor for cybersecurity to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Jennifer Daskal serves as deputy general counsel at DHS focused on cybersecurity. And Eric Goldstein serves as the executive assistant director for cybersecurity for CISA, DHS's cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency. They joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about what the Biden administration's priority is in cybersecurity domestically, how DHS is using its new authorities that it has received in the National Defense Authorization Act, how CISA has grown as an agency and what success looks like if the administration pursues its goals effectively.

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Apr 23, 2021
The Challenges of Audio Content Moderation
55:15

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked to Sean Li, who until recently was the head of Trust and Safety at Discord. Discord is experiencing phenomenal growth and is an established player in a space that is the new hot thing: audio social media. And as the head of Trust and Safety, Sean was responsible for running the team that mitigates all the bad stuff that happens on a platform.

Evelyn and Quinta asked Sean what it’s like to have that kind of power—to be the eponymous “arbiter of truth” of a slice of the internet. They also discussed what makes content moderation of live audio content different from the kind we normally talk about—namely, text-based platforms. As almost every social media platform is trying to get into audio, what should they be prepared for?

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Apr 22, 2021
Spy Writing in the Real World
44:18

Last week for the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government, David Priess moderated a virtual event called, "Spy Writing in the Real World." The event featured three authors of espionage fiction, two with previous experience working inside the U.S. intelligence community: Brad Thor, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 21 thrillers; Karen Cleveland, a former CIA analyst and New York Times bestselling author of "Need to Know" and "Keep You Close"; and award-winning author and former NSA and CIA officer Alma Katsu, who had written five novels prior to her first new spy novel, "Red Widow." They talked about the spy thriller genre, their challenges within it, their research and their experience with prepublication classification review.

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Apr 21, 2021
'National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press'
52:29

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, and Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levy Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, to discuss their new book, "National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press: The Pentagon Papers Fifty Years On." They discussed the holding and legacy of the Pentagon Papers case, as well as some of the many challenges of applying the Pentagon Papers regime in the modern digital era that is characterized by massive leaks and a very different press landscape than the one that prevailed in 1971.

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Apr 20, 2021
After Trump, Episode 2: Enemy of the People
41:12

In the second episode of "After Trump," the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we consider the problem of foreign interventions in American political campaigns—and what to do about it.

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Apr 19, 2021
Biden Announces a Military Withdrawal from Afghanistan
51:22

On Wednesday, President Biden announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, an announcement that comes as the U.S. and Afghan governments have been trying to reach a power sharing agreement with the Taliban. Prior to the withdrawal announcement, Bryce Klehm spoke with Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a New York Times correspondent based in the Kabul bureau and a former Marine infantryman, who walked us through the situation on the ground in Afghanistan over the last year. Following Biden's announcement, Bryce spoke with Madiha Afzal, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, who talked about the broader implications of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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Apr 16, 2021
Twitter, Facial Recognition and the First Amendment
55:50

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jameel Jaffer and Ramya Krishnan of the Knight First Amendment Institute.

What do facial recognition software and President Trump’s erstwhile Twitter habits have in common? They both implicate the First Amendment—and hint at how old doctrines struggle to adapt to new technologies.

Evelyn and Quinta talked to Jameel and Ramya about the long-running lawsuit by the Knight Foundation over whether it violates the First Amendment for the president to block people on Twitter—a lawsuit that the Supreme Court just ended. They also asked Ramya and Jameel about the controversial facial recognition startup Clearview AI, in light of recent reporting showing just how much law enforcement uses that technology. Clearview is now confronting multiple lawsuits on the grounds that the company’s practices violate privacy laws, and its defense is that its activities are protected by the First Amendment. These cases don’t neatly fit into existing First Amendment categories, so Evelyn and Quinta asked Jameel and Ramya about the possible paths the law might take to adjust to the digital age.

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Apr 15, 2021
Identifying and Exploiting the Weaknesses of White Supremacist Groups
42:03

A lot of people are expressing anxiety about white supremacist violent terrorism, yet in a new Brookings paper entitled "Identifying and Exploiting the Weaknesses of the White Supremacist Movement," Daniel Byman, Lawfare's foreign policy editor and a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, and Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, say that while the threat is real, these movements have weaknesses that other terrorist groups do not. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Byman and Pitcavage to talk about these weaknesses, how white supremacist groups are vulnerable and how law enforcement in the United States can exploit them to reduce the threat.

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Apr 14, 2021
The Continuing Threat of White Extremism
53:50

From the countless attacks on ethnic and religious minorities that have taken place in recent months to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, acts of violence and domestic terrorism are on the rise here in the United States. And a major driver behind many of these actions is a growing hostility toward members of racial and religious minorities among white Americans and a growing willingness to turn to violence as a result.

Last week, the Lawfare team was hosted by the National Security Law Society at the Georgetown University Law Center for a live discussion of what this disturbing trend means for U.S. national security. Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson joined Elizabeth Neumann, a former senior official in the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration, and Ryan Greer, the national security director for the Anti-Defamation League, to discuss how white extremism and domestic terrorism relate to each other, what's driving radicalization among white Americans and steps the Biden administration, among others, can take to combat it.

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Apr 13, 2021
After Trump, Episode 1: Follow the Money
49:22

On this special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, we're turning over our feed to the new podcast series, "After Trump," produced by Lawfare in collaboration with Goat Rodeo and hosted by Virginia Heffernan of Slate's "Trumpcast." "After Trump," based on the "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency" book by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, is a six-part limited series that dives into some of the major themes of the book, outlining Bob and Jack's proposal of reform to our government in the fallout of the Trump Administration. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Virginia Heffernan to introduce the series before "After Trump, Episode 1: Follow the Money," plays in full.

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Apr 12, 2021
Alex Vindman on the Escalation in Ukraine
37:58

Tensions are heating up between Russia and Ukraine, seven years after the seizure by the Russians of the Crimean Peninsula and the incursions into Eastern Ukraine. With troop movements and some saber rattling, is Vladimir Putin trying to send a message to Joe Biden, or perhaps to Ukrainian President Zelensky? Is he trying to satisfy domestic constituencies or distract them? Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alexander Vindman to talk about what Russia is doing and why, and what the Biden administration should do about it.

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Apr 09, 2021
The Truth About Conspiracy Theories
46:25

If you’re listening to this podcast, the odds are that you’ve heard a lot about QAnon recently—and you might even have read some alarming reporting about how belief in the conspiracy theory is on the rise. But is it really?

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joseph Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami who studies conspiracy theories. He explained why conspiracy theories in America aren’t actually at a new apex, what kinds of people are drawn to ideas like QAnon and what role—if any—social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter should have in limiting the spread of conspiracy theories.

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Apr 08, 2021
A Royal Crisis in the Kingdom of Jordan
54:01

This past weekend, an exceptional series of events rocked the normally quiet nation of Jordan as an apparent schism between members of the country's royal family led to the detention of the country's former crown prince, Prince Hamzeh, and the arrest of several of his associates on allegations that they were undermining the country's national security—potentially in coordination with certain foreign interests. Hamzeh responded with a series of leaked videos in both Arabic and English, accusing the government led by King Abdullah II of ineffectiveness and corruption, dragging the royal family's internal tensions even further into the light of day.

To talk through this unexpected crisis, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Bessma Momani of the University of Waterloo and Ghaith al-Omari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They discussed the history of royal succession in Jordan, how this latest crisis maps onto Jordan's changing political dynamics and what it all might mean for the broader region.

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Apr 07, 2021
Natan Sachs on the Israeli Governance Crisis
40:34

Natan Sachs is a Brookings senior fellow and the head of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, part of the Brookings Foreign Policy program. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Natan to talk about the results of the Israeli election, which are still unclear amid a haze over the entire political system. They talked about what the dispute between the camps is about, the many different factions and what they want, and why they can't sit together easily in a government. They also talked about the fact that Israel doesn't have a budget for the second year in a row, and they discussed whether anyone will be able to prevent the fifth election in two years.

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Apr 06, 2021
Jacob Schulz and Justin Sherman on the New Zealand Report
40:27

Two years ago, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing dozens of innocent people. Last December, the government of New Zealand issued a lengthy report on the subject, which Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz and Justin Sherman of the Atlantic Council analyzed in a piece on Lawfare. The report is a particularly detailed catalog of how one user of the internet used it to radicalize, to threaten people and to celebrate racist celebrities. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jacob and Justin to talk about the report of the shooter's internet use and what it all means for content moderation and the discussions about it that we're having today.

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Apr 05, 2021
Rashawn Ray on Reforming Civil Police Settlements
49:25

The Derek Chauvin trial is underway in Minnesota, and the city of Minneapolis last week settled with the family of George Floyd for $27 million. Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Rashawn Ray, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, to talk about civil settlements. Rashawn is the author of a recent Lawfare article about how to reform the civil settlement system to make it more effective in deterring police misconduct, and they discussed the series of reforms that Rashawn recommends.

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Apr 02, 2021
Tech CEOs Head to the Hill, Again
52:45

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Issie Lapowsky, a senior reporter at the tech journalism publication Protocol. They discussed last week’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee with the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter—the first time the companies had been called to testify on the Hill after the Capitol riot, which focused public attention on the content moderation policies of tech platforms when it comes to domestic extremism. The hearing produced some interesting takeaways, but also a lot of moments when the CEOs were awkwardly forced to answer complicated questions with a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

They also discussed Issie’s reporting on how tech companies have struggled to figure out how to address far-right extremism in the United States as opposed to Islamist extremism. And they talked about Section 230 reform and what it’s like reporting on the tech space.

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Apr 01, 2021
The Myth of Artificial Intelligence
1:00:50

Alvaro Marañon sat down with Erik Larson, a computer scientist, tech entrepreneur and author of the new book, "The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can't Think the Way We Do." They talked about his background and expertise with artificial intelligence, what shaped our modern perception of AI and why the next big break in AI always appears to be 10 or 20 years away. They also discussed the current limitations of artificial intelligence, whether there are any dangers to our current approach and whether AI's advancement to super intelligence is really inevitable.

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Mar 31, 2021
Why is Government Hate Crimes Data So Terrible?
41:58

Anti-Asian violence in the United States seems to be on the rise. On March 16, a shooter killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at several Atlanta businesses. Across the country, Asian-Americans have shared stories of attacks and harassment, some of which involved racist language in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet there is very little data available that could help journalists and policymakers make sense of this apparent trend. To understand why, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and the co-founder of AH Datalytics, who recently wrote for Lawfare on why there’s so little reliable data on anti-Asian violence—or on any other kind of hate crime. Jeff discussed the patchwork system by which the FBI currently collects data on hate crimes, what other factors might explain why the data is so unreliable and how improved data could help guide the response to anti-Asian attacks.

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Mar 30, 2021
The Generals vs. the Armed Services Committee with No Bull
33:23

Last Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held an open hearing that reviewed U.S. Cyber Command's and Special Operation Command's Defense Authorization Requests for fiscal year 2022. The committee heard open testimony from the head of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, General Paul Nakasone; the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, General Richard Clarke; and the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Christopher Maier. The hearing covered a range of issues, from the SolarWinds cyberattack to increased violence in Afghanistan. We stripped out all of the nonsense, speechifying and repetition to bring you just the questions and answers you care about, only once.

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Mar 29, 2021
Alex Reinert on Qualified Immunity
53:01

Alexander Reinert is the Max Freund Professor of Litigation & Advocacy at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he teaches and conducts research in civil procedure, constitutional law and federal courts. He is the author of the recent article, "Qualified Immunity on Appeal," an empirical assessment, which provides the most comprehensive study so far of the actual way that courts of appeals have handled qualified immunity cases. He wrote about it in an article on Lawfare entitled, "Unpacking a Decade of Appellate Decisions on Qualified Immunity." He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to discuss qualified immunity, what the doctrine is and where it comes from, how courts handle qualified immunity cases in practice, whether it is as much of a shield as it seems to be for cops, if there is any prospect to reform it at the state or federal level and what the future looks like for the doctrine.

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Mar 26, 2021
YouTube, We Have a Problem
56:05

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sat down with Brendan Nyhan to discuss the crucial platform that often seems to slip under the radar in discussions of mis- and disinformation: YouTube.

Brendan is a professor of government at Dartmouth College, who has just co-authored a report with the Anti-Defamation League on “Exposure to Alternative and Extremist Content on YouTube.” There’s a common conception that YouTube acts as a radicalization engine, pushing viewers from mainstream content to increasingly radical material. But Brendan and his coauthors found a somewhat different story: YouTube may not funnel all viewers toward extreme content, but it does reliably recommend that content to users who are already viewing it. They discussed his findings and how we should understand the role that YouTube plays in the information ecosystem.

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Mar 25, 2021
Jacob Schulz on Seditious Conspiracy
38:11

It's been a big week for the seditious conspiracy statute, which has long been on the books, quietly forbidding violent interference with the lawful functions of the United States government. But on 60 Minutes this weekend, the former chief prosecutor supervising the January 6 investigation hinted not too subtly that the seditious conspiracy statute might come out of obscurity and enter into action. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jacob Schulz, Lawfare's deputy managing editor who has written a series of articles for Lawfare on recent deployments of the seditious conspiracy statute, to talk through the law's recent enforcement history.

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Mar 24, 2021
Jonathan Gould on Codifying Constitutional Norms
40:34

Our constitutional system involves the written document, plus two and a half centuries of judicial decisions interpreting it. But these two things only scratch the surface. It also involves our constitutional norms, the unwritten rules that govern how actors in our political system behave. For decades, commentators have observed the steady erosion of many of these norms, and in the four years of the Trump administration, the trickle of norm violations became a torrent. As a response, many in academia, the media and politics have called for Congress to pass legislation that would codify what had previously been unwritten norms of behavior, from requiring that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns to limiting the president's pardon power.

In a forthcoming article in the Georgetown Law Journal, Jonathan Gould, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzes many of these proposals and points out the potential unintended consequences of trying to commit unwritten norms to legislative language. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jonathan about the importance and erosion of constitutional norms, especially within the executive branch, and how best to repair them.

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Mar 23, 2021
Seamus Hughes and Alan Rozenshtein on the January 6 Charges
51:27

Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, and Alan Rozenshtein, a Lawfare senior editor and professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, to talk about the group of cases that have been filed in connection with the January 6 riot and insurrection. They talked about the database that Hughes is building and maintaining of cases, defendants and charges filed in connection with January 6; the pattern of charges; what the picture looks like so far; if it is likely to get closer to the president and his inner circle and if it will result in a series of seditious conspiracy charges.

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Mar 22, 2021
Nicole Perlroth on the Cyberweapons Arms Race
1:07:13

Jack Goldsmith spoke with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth about her new book, "This is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race." They discussed the dark world of markets for zero-day vulnerabilities that are so vital in offensive cyber operations, the history of the markets, how they work, who the players are and why the United States doesn't control as much as it used to. They also discussed broader issues of U.S. cybersecurity policy, including the recent SolarWinds hack.

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Mar 19, 2021
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Section 230 Reform
56:19

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Daphne Keller, the director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center and an expert on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the statute that shields internet platforms from civil liability for third-party content on their websites. The statute has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, and both President Trump and President Biden separately called for its repeal. So what should we expect in terms of potential revision of 230 during the current Congress? What does Daphne think about the various proposals on the table? And how is it that so many proposals to reform 230 would be foiled by that pesky First Amendment?

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Mar 18, 2021
Covert Action
1:02:17

David Kris sat down with David Robarge, the chief historian at the Central Intelligence Agency, to discuss covert action. All together, around 50 covert actions have been declassified over the years, and Kris and Robarge discuss several of them, involving the Middle East, Western Europe, Africa and Central America. They also talked about the legal and policy rules governing covert action, the process by which covert action is reviewed and approved and the famous "Washington Post test."

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Mar 17, 2021
Dmitri Alperovitch on SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange
37:51

Dmitri Alperovitch is the executive chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, and he's the co-founder and former chief technology officer at CrowdStrike. With Ian Ward, he is the author of the recent article on Lawfare, entitled, "How Should the U.S. Respond to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange Hacks?" Benjamin Wittes sat down with him to discuss the article and the hacks. They talked about how they were similar to one another and how they were different, why the SolarWinds hack has received so much more attention than the much more damaging Microsoft Exchange hack, and whether the U.S. should come down hard on Russia for its activities or if it go easy on the Russians.

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Mar 16, 2021
'2034: A Novel of the Next World War'
42:10

Alex Vindman sat down with retired Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman, the authors of "2034: A Novel of the Next World War." Admiral Stavridis spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of four-star admiral and who served as the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Elliot Ackerman is the author of several novels, including "Dark at the Crossing," which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, "Waiting for Eden." They discussed the objective for writing a novel on the next world war, the lessons the novel offers national security professionals and policymakers, and key points in the backstory that precipitated the march to this fictional but highly realistic portrayal of the next world war.

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Mar 15, 2021
War Powers and the Biden Administration
1:03:11

President Joe Biden has conducted military strikes in Syria, has articulated legal theories under which the series of strikes were proper and has temporarily reined in the use of drone strikes. To talk about Biden and war powers, Benjamin Wittes sat down with John Bellinger, who served as the legal adviser at the State Department and the legal adviser for the National Security Council in the Bush administration; Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, who worked in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser, as well as in the Iraqi embassy; and Rebecca Ingber, who also worked in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser and is currently a professor at Cardozo Law School. They talked about how the Biden administration justified the strikes in Syria, the reports it has not yet given on its legal and policy framework for counterterrorism, whether this is the year that AUMF reform might finally happen and which authorizations to use military force might finally see reform.

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Mar 12, 2021
Content Moderation and the First Amendment for Dummies
56:55

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Genevieve Lakier, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School and First Amendment expert. It’s basically impossible to have a conversation about content moderation without someone crying, “First Amendment!” at some point. But the cultural conception of the First Amendment doesn’t always match the legal conception. Evelyn and Quinta spoke with Genevieve about what First Amendment doctrine actually says, how its history might be quite different from what you think and what the dynamism of the doctrine over time—and the current composition of the Supreme Court—might suggest about the First Amendment’s possible futures for grappling with the internet.

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Mar 11, 2021
America's War in Afghanistan's Pech Valley
45:45

Wesley Morgan is a former military affairs reporter at Politico and the author of the new book, "The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley." Bryce Klehm sat down with Wesley to talk about the evolution of the war in Afghanistan, from the United States's early hunt for Osama bin Laden, to the increased use of drone strikes during the Obama and Trump administrations. They also discussed the current state of the war in Afghanistan, including the fight against the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate.

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Mar 10, 2021
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on 'The Daughters of Kobani'
39:43

Since 2014, the civil war in Syria has involved an incredibly diverse and complex array of actors representing all manner of ideology and sectarian identity. But one group has captured the public imagination more than perhaps any other: the all-female Women's Protective Units, or YPJ, that have played a central role in the fight against the Islamic State and are continuing to fight for political communities, premised, in part, on gender equality. In her new book, "The Daughters of Kobani," journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon details the journey of several of the young Kurdish women involved in the YPJ and the role they have played thus far in the broader Syrian civil war. Scott R. Anderson sat down with her to talk about the origins of the YPJ, how they have weathered the end of the counter Islamic State campaign and what role they may play in a future Syria.

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Mar 09, 2021
The National Security Law Guys Talk War Powers, Islamic State Detainees and Much More
36:24

Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck host the weekly National Security Law Podcast from the University of Texas Law School, a discussion of current national security law developments. In their most recent episode, Bobby and Steve discuss a range of topics that we thought would be of interest to listeners, so we are bringing you a distilled version of their conversation. Bobby and Steve talk about recent U.S. air strikes and the Biden administration's war powers report, updated reporting on Islamic State detainees in Iraq and Syria, the report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and a collection of other national security law issues.

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Mar 08, 2021
January 6 Oversight with No Bull
1:43:19

On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Rules Committee held their second hearing to examine the January 6 attack on the Capitol. What explains the delay in deploying National Guard troops? What reforms are the agencies planning to implement in order to better handle the threat posed by domestic extremist violence and white supremacist groups? And why was the intelligence reporting late and insufficient? Four officials from different agencies testified: Melissa Smislova, who performs the duties of the undersecretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis; Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI counterterrorism division; Robert Salesses, who performs the duties of the assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security at the Defense Department; and Major General William Walker, the commanding general of D.C.'s National Guard. We took out all the nonsense, the opening statements and the repetition, and brought you every question and every answer, only once.

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Mar 05, 2021
Emily Bell on Journalism in the Platform Era
52:23

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Emily Bell, the founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. Emily testified before Congress last week about the role of legacy media, and cable news in particular, in spreading disinformation, but she’s also one of the keenest observers of the online news ecosystem and knows a lot about it from her days as director of digital content for The Guardian. They talked about the relationship between online and offline media in spreading disinformation, the role different institutions need to play in fixing what’s broken and whether all the talk about “fighting misinformation” is a bit of a red herring.

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Mar 04, 2021
Chris Wray vs. the Committee with No Bull
1:37:46

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray faced the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to talk about the January 6 riot and insurrection. The hearing covered whether the FBI had intelligence that the riot was planned for January 6 and how it communicated what it knew to the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police, as well as topics from SolarWinds to diversity at the FBI. We cut out all of the nonsense and all of the repetitive questions to bring you only what you need to hear.

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Mar 03, 2021
Rosa Brooks on American Policing
45:55

Many scholars have written about the police, but almost all have done so from the outside. Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few exceptions. In 2016, Brooks—already a successful scholar of national security law and a former official in the Department of Defense—joined Washington, D.C.'s volunteer Police Reserve Corps as a sworn police officer. For several years, she patrolled in some of D.C.'s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, an experience she has chronicled in her new book, "Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Brooks about her time in law enforcement, the structural challenges facing police in the United States and the prospects for reform.

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Mar 02, 2021
Your Questions on Iraq
56:18

The United States hit targets in Syria associated with two Iraqi militias last week in the first military operations of the Biden administration. To catch up on the situation on the ground in Iraq, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, who served in the embassy in Iraq, and Marsin Alshamary, a postdoctoral fellow with the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy program and an expert in domestic Iraqi politics. They talked about the groups that the U.S. attacked, the constellation of forces in the current Iraqi government, the legal authority for the attack and where Iraqi politics go from here.

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Mar 01, 2021
Mary Anne Franks on Section 230
36:52

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 immunizes platforms for the behavior of their users. It's been called by some the Magna Carta of the internet—but how foundational is it? Mary Anne Franks, a professor of law and Dean's Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami, thinks that Section 230 is indeed a cornerstone of the modern internet, but not in a good way. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, she recently published a paper entitled, "Section 230 and the Anti-Social Contract," in which she argues that far from expanding freedom, Section 230 has simply continued a long tradition of marginalizing the most vulnerable among us. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with her about her paper, about how Section 230 fits into the broader history of American political thought and about her ideas for a better internet.

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Feb 26, 2021
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen on Australia, Facebook and the Future of Journalism
46:16

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the director of the Reuters Institute and professor of political communication at the University of Oxford, about the fight between Australia and Facebook. After Australia proposed a law that would force Facebook to pay for content linked on its platform from Australian news sites, Facebook responded by blocking any news posts in the country. The company and the Australian government have since resolved the spat—for now—but the dust-up raises bigger questions about the relationship between traditional media and social media platforms and the future of the media industry. They talked not only about Australia, but also about the role of social media in contributing to political polarization, the outlook for various business models funding journalism and what political solutions—other than Australia’s—might look like.

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Feb 25, 2021
Merrick Garland vs. the Judiciary Committee with No Bull
1:47:39

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland faced the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday for a multi-hour session of questions and answers from senators. There were opening statements, there was a lot of speechifying, and there was posturing on the part of senators of both parties. We stripped it all out to bring you just the questions and the answers with no repetition. The committee covered a lot of ground: How will Merrick Garland handle the John Durham investigation? How will he handle white supremacist violence? How will he handle antifa? And will he answer—finally—questions from senators on the committee?

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Feb 24, 2021
Alex Klass on the Texas Energy Crisis
38:31

For more than a week now, Texas has been struggling with a massive power outage caused by record low temperatures. Millions have been without power, heat and running water, and at least dozens have been confirmed to have died as a result. All states are confronting extreme weather, but Texas is unique in that its electricity is almost completely independent from the rest of the United States' grid. This has at times lowered costs and increased innovation in the Texas energy markets, but as the current crisis shows, Texas's energy exceptionalism comes at a cost. Alexandra Klass is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and a nationally recognized expert on energy law and policy who recently wrote about the Texas energy crisis for Lawfare. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with her about the current situation and the future of energy policy, both for Texas and for the United States.

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Feb 23, 2021
Trust, Software and Hardware
59:46

David Hoffman is associate general counsel and global privacy officer for the Intel Corporation, as well as the Steed Family Professor of Practice in Cybersecurity Policy for Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. He invited Benjamin Wittes to give a talk to a group of students about trust and technology development in which they discussed what the components of trust really are, how many of them are technical and how many of them involve other things like corporate governance, including brand and the regulatory environment in which products are produced.

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Feb 22, 2021
The Coup in Myanmar
40:21

On February 1, Myanmar's military overthrew the country's democratically elected government in a coup and declared a state of emergency for a year. It returns Myanmar to full military rule after nearly a decade of quasi-democracy that began in 2011. The coup came just hours before the start of a new session of Parliament, which was expected to endorse the results of a November election where de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party won in a landslide and the military-backed party performed poorly. The military has alleged voter fraud, but Myanmar's election commission has said that there is no evidence to support its claims. Since then, the country has seen daily peaceful protests and large-scale strikes against military rule, at times clashing with security forces who have been seen using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. To break it all down, Rohini Kurup spoke with Aye Min Thant, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist based in Myanmar. They discussed Myanmar's history of military rule, what it is like living through a coup and what to expect in the coming weeks.

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Feb 19, 2021
Chinmayi Arun on India and the Future of the Internet
51:08

Right now in India, there’s a legal battle that could portend the future of the internet. In this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked to Chinmayi Arun, a resident fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and an affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She discussed one of the biggest stories about freedom of expression online today—the battle between Twitter and the Indian government, which has demanded that Twitter geoblock a large number of accounts, including the account of a prominent investigative magazine, in response to protests by tens of thousands of farmers across India. Chinmayi walked us through the political context of the farmers’ protests, how the clash between Twitter and the Indian government is part of an increasingly constrained environment for freedom of expression in India, and where this battle might end up.

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Feb 18, 2021
How the Impeachment Trial Ends
49:20

The second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is now over. It ended with a roar and then a whimper, and then a little bit of a roar again, as seven Republicans joined all of the Democrats to convict the former president. It wasn't enough, as the Senate needed 67 votes to convict and it only had 57, but it made a statement of sorts—or did it? To discuss the impeachment trial, its weird ending and where it fits in with the effort to hold Donald Trump accountable, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess, senior editor Scott R. Anderson and congressional guru Molly Reynolds. They talked about how the impeachment trial ended, what it meant that the Senate voted to call witnesses and then didn't bother, how to interpret the Senate's performance overall in the second impeachment trial and what the options are now that Donald Trump is a private citizen facing potential civil litigation, as well as criminal investigations and a possible 9/11-style commission.

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Feb 17, 2021
Iran, the U.S. and the Middle East at a Turning Point
53:41

The Biden administration has promised significant changes to the U.S. relationship with Iran that could have a marked impact on the Middle East. What is the likelihood that this new administration will be successful? And how will other regional developments—from the Abraham Accords between Israel and a few Arab states, to the healing of the rift within the Gulf Cooperation Council, to the ongoing morass in Syria—affect the dynamics here?

To address these questions, David Priess hosted a panel discussion on February 11 for the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy and International Security at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. He sat down with Norman Roule, a 34-year veteran of the CIA, who served as the national intelligence manager for Iran for more than eight years; Kirsten Fontenrose, formerly the senior director for the Persian Gulf on the National Security Council staff and currently the director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council; and Ambassador Dennis Ross, who has served in U.S. government positions pertaining to the Middle East for some 40 years, and who is now a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Feb 16, 2021
Canada Takes on the Proud Boys
45:18

Lost in the shuffle of an impeachment trial here in the United States was big news from Canada last week. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety added the Proud Boys to Canada’s terror entity list. The listing might be in Canada, but the group had a role in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. The listing has all sorts of interesting legal and national security implications, so Jacob Schulz talked it through with two Canadian national security experts. Jessica Davis is a former senior strategic intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who is now the president of Insight Threat Intelligence and a PhD student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. And Leah West is an assistant professor of International Affairs at Carleton University and serves as counsel with Friedman Mansour LLP. They talked about right-wing extremism in Canada, what the consequences of the listing might be and what it reveals about the relationship between Canada and the United States.

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Feb 12, 2021
Ben Smith on Gatekeepers in the Internet Age
45:29

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Smith, media columnist for the New York Times and former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News. Ben spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the gatekeepers who hold the power to shape our public sphere. At BuzzFeed, he capitalized on the way the rise of the internet allowed upstarts to work around the Old Gatekeepers, the legacy media organizations; now, at the Times, he’s one of them. But there are also the other New Gatekeepers: the Platforms, flailing around as much as the rest of us in trying to make sense of the role they’ve found themselves in. So what does Ben think about the current state of the media ecosystem and where it's headed? And why, in his view, was February 26, 2015—almost exactly 6 years ago—the last good day on the internet?

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Feb 11, 2021
An Update from Hong Kong
37:42

While we have been dealing with an insurrection in Washington, protestors in Hong Kong are being tried under the city's new Beijing-imposed national security law. For an update on what's going on in Hong Kong and in its relationship with China, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Sophia Yan, Beijing correspondent for The Telegraph in London, and Alvin Cheung, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and a non-resident affiliate scholar with NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute. They talked about how the national security law is being applied in Hong Kong, whether the protests are likely to reignite as the coronavirus epidemic fades and what activists are doing now that they do not know what Beijing will tolerate.

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Feb 10, 2021
The Legacy of George Shultz with Nicholas Burns and Kori Schake
40:42

George Shultz passed away on February 6, just two months after passing his 100th birthday. He was a momentous and fascinating national security figure who has quite a legacy within national defense, foreign policy and even management circles in the federal government. To talk about his legacy and what made him such a special senior government leader, David Priess sat down with Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Kori Schake. Nick Burns is a man of many titles, including professor at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, building on almost three decades of U.S. government service, including a role as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008. Kori Schake is the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, coming after service in the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Department of State. They talked about about George Shultz, the positions he had, the influence he had on those around him and his influence on future administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

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Feb 09, 2021
An Impeachment Trial Preview
36:09

The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump—the sequel—gets underway this week when the House impeachment managers and Trump's new defense team spar on the Senate floor under the gavel of Senator Patrick Leahy. What should we expect from this second round of impeachment trial? For a preview, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Molly Reynolds, Lawfare's congressional guru and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Lawfare's managing editor Quinta Jurecic; and Lawfare's chief operating officer David Priess. They talked about what rules are going to apply this time and whether they will be different from the last time around, whether there will be witnesses, what will be different with Senator Leahy presiding, how the president is likely to present his defense and how he might scuttle his lawyers' efforts.

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Feb 08, 2021
Transnational Repression: Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach
49:10

Some countries don't just abuse their citizens within their own borders; increasingly, they target individuals after they have gone abroad. A range of nefarious acts play a role here, and together they make up a phenomenon called transnational repression.

Nate Schenkkan, the director of research strategy at Freedom House, and Isabel Linzer, Freedom House's research analyst for technology and democracy, are the two authors of "Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach: Understanding Transnational Repression," a new report detailing the practice and Freedom House's research on the topic. David Priess sat down with them to discuss the variety of forms transnational repression can take, whom is targeted and why, examples from the governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Rwanda and even Equatorial Guinea, and recommendations to buck this growing trend

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Feb 05, 2021
Lawfare Enters the Substack Discourse
47:32

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Quinta Jurecic sat down with Lawfare’s deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz, and Jordan Schneider, host of the ChinaTalk podcast, to talk about Substack. The newsletter service is the new cool thing in the journalism world—and, like any newly popular online service, it is already running into questions around content moderation.

Jacob wrote about Substack’s content moderation policy earlier this month, and Jordan uses Substack to send out his ChinaTalk newsletter, so he filled us in on the platform’s nuts and bolts. Why is Substack so popular right now, anyway? Does it help writers step outside the unhealthy dynamics that help spread disinformation and discontent on social media, or does it just play into those dynamics further? And what might the platform’s content moderation policies leave to be desired?

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Feb 04, 2021
Impeachment Briefing
43:10

There is an impeachment trial next week, and the two sides—the impeachment managers for the House of Representatives and the lawyers for the former president of the United States—filed their briefs before the Senate. The briefs could not be more different. One is long, legally dense and factually rich; the other is short—a mere 14 pages—and contains some interesting oddities and errors. To chew over the briefs, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare's managing editor Quinta Jurecic and chief operating officer David Priess. They talked about what the two sides are arguing, what it says about the cases they mean to present to the Senate and whether there are going to be witnesses next week when the two sides have to present their cases before the senators themselves.

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Feb 03, 2021
Alina Polyakova on the Protests in Russia
41:26

It was the second weekend of major protests in Russia, as Russians across the country took to the streets to protest the detention of Alexei Navalny. In a major show of force, the police rounded up a very large number of people and there were a number of beatings. To bring us up to speed on the situation in Russia, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alina Polyakova, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis. They talked about whether the protests are dwindling or gathering strength, and whether that's really about the Russian security services or the 30-degree-below-0 weather. They talked about Putin's game plan, Navalny's game plan and where this is all heading over the next few months and years.

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Feb 02, 2021
DHS Warning: Domestic Violent Extremists!
48:19

On January 27, the Department of Homeland Security issued an unusual National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin—unusual because it addressed solely the heightened threat environment of violence from domestic violent extremists, with no mention of foreign terrorist organizations or even the word terrorism. It's a striking document both for what it describes and for what it leaves unsaid.

To discuss the bulletin, its context and what comes next, David Priess sat down with Carrie Cordero, former counsel to the National Security Division at the Department of Justice and senior associate general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI; Elizabeth Neumann, former deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of Homeland Security and assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at DHS; and Nick Rasmussen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

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Feb 01, 2021
The Least Dangerous Branch … of Facebook
48:30

Yesterday was a big day—the day that the Facebook Oversight Board released its first decisions. The independent board, an experiment in platform governance set up by Facebook, handed down five rulings weighing in on the company’s decision to remove various posts for violating Facebook’s community guidelines. It may not be Marbury v. Madison, but it’s still a big moment for online speech regulation.

To mark the occasion, Lawfare is setting up a new page collecting and tracking the board’s decisions.

For this episode of the podcast, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, and Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz. They discussed everything you need to know about the Oversight Board, including those most basic but crucial of questions: What exactly is it, anyway? What’s in the decisions? And why should we care?

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Jan 29, 2021
Joan Donovan on Disinformation and Social Movements
50:11

For this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joan Donovan, the research director at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her work focuses on networked social movements, disinformation and media manipulation—so she’s the perfect person to help untangle the continued fallout not only from the January 6 Capitol riot, but from the last four years more broadly. They talked about Joan’s route from researching Occupy Wall Street to studying far-right disinformation, the importance of understanding networks of communication and coordination in studying social media, and the responses of big social platforms to the violence in the Capitol.

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Jan 28, 2021
Project VENONA
57:34

David Kris sat down with David Hatch, the senior historian at the U.S. National Security Agency. They discussed Project VENONA, an incredibly significant intelligence program involving encrypted Soviet messages that began during World War II and went on for many years thereafter. It's a story full of unusual events and interesting lessons about intelligence and counterintelligence and spy vs. spy. There's also a little review of encryption—specifically, the risks of reusing one-time encryption pads—and a discussion of the declassification process of Project VENONA and why we can talk about the project at all.

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Jan 27, 2021
'The President Who Would Not Be King'
55:16

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Michael McConnell, the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of the new book, "The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power Under the Constitution." They discussed McConnell's textual historical approach to interpreting presidential power under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the many novel elements of executive power embodied in Article II and the proper understanding of Article II's Vesting Clause. They also talked about contemporary implications of his reading of Article II for war powers, the unitary executive and late impeachments.

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Jan 26, 2021
Confirmation Hearing Blitz with No Bull
1:54:59

The day before last week's inauguration of President Joe Biden, four of the Biden administration's core national security nominees appeared before various Senate committees for their confirmation hearings. Avril Haines, Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Alejandro Mayorkas, the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, appeared before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; retired general Lloyd Austin, Biden's nominee to head the Defense Department, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for Secretary of State, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The hearings included a whole lot of performative partisan flattery and outrage, but they also provided a snapshot of the Biden administration's national security priorities. We cut out all of the nonsense, all of the unnecessary information and the duplicative questions to leave you only the most interesting questions and answers.

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Jan 25, 2021
Dan Byman on the Sequel that Never Came to Be
33:22

It was supposed to be the big sequel to the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally-turned-riot. It was supposed to be the largest armed protest in the history of the United States, taking place in all 50 state capitals. And yet, Inauguration Day turned out to be peaceful. Protesters were few; acts of violence were even fewer. It's a major counterterrorism success, and like many major counterterrorism successes, it has largely been unremarked upon. How did we go without the sequel to the bloody events of January 6? To what extent should we credit law enforcement action or the deplatforming of the president and his followers, or is the explanation something entirely different? To talk it through, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Dan Byman, Lawfare's foreign policy editor and counterterrorism expert, who has identified six major factors that likely contributed to this week's success.

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Jan 22, 2021
Information Disorder During and After the Trump Presidency
47:40

During his inaugural address yesterday, President Biden spoke about the subject of this podcast: disinformation. “There is truth and there are lies,” Biden said, “lies told for power and for profit.” And he asked Americans to unify rather than “turn inward” against those “who don't get their news from the same sources you do.”

But in an era of QAnon and pandemic disinformation, how will that unification be possible? The day before the inauguration, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Kate Starbird, an associate professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, for this first episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries under the Biden administration. Kate last came on the podcast in March 2020 to discuss disinformation and misinformation around the coronavirus, and she has had a long year since then researching online ecosystems around the pandemic and supposed voter fraud. And the Capitol riot on January 6 threw all this into sharp relief, as the things that Kate studies every day boiled over into mainstream consciousness with a vengeance. They spoke with Kate about what led up to the riot, what the disinformation landscape looks like now and what kind of work will be required to move forward.

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Jan 21, 2021
Jeff Kosseff on the Fight Against Online Child Pornography
33:34

Private entities—in particular, technology giants like internet service providers, email services and social networks—play a vital role in helping law enforcement fight child pornography online. But the involvement of private entities does not eliminate the Fourth Amendment issues that come with electronic surveillance. In fact, the more the private entities cooperate with the government, the more likely it is that courts will consider them government agents, and the evidence they collect will be subject to the same Fourth Amendment restrictions as apply to law enforcement agencies. Jeff Kosseff is an assistant professor at the United States Naval Academy's Cyber Science Department. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, he published a paper entitled, "Online Service Providers and the Fight Against Child Exploitation: The Fourth Amendment Agency Dilemma." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jeff about how the government and internet companies can thread the needle on fighting digital child exploitation without running afoul of the Constitution.

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Jan 20, 2021
Dan Hemel and Gerard Magliocca on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment
47:03

In the wake of the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol, some have called for the invocation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 disqualifies anyone who has engaged in rebellion or insurrection against United States from public office. In particular, critics of President Trump have seized on this as a potential way of preventing him from running in 2024. Alan Rozenshtein spoke about Section 3 with professors Daniel Hemel of the University of Chicago Law School and Gerard Magliocca of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

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Jan 19, 2021
David Kris on the NSA Annex
44:04

The NSA this week released a long-awaited update to its signals intelligence policy, which had not been updated since 1988. David Kris, former assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, shortly thereafter produced an even longer paper analyzing the dense and technical policy document. David joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the significance of this new policy document, what it does and how it is different from the document it replaces. They also talked about David's paper, how he came to write it, why it is so much longer than the policy document itself and what the implications of the new NSA policies are for signals intelligence collection and civil liberties.

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Jan 15, 2021
Jonathan Zittrain on the Great Deplatforming
1:00:08

Yesterday, January 13, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump a second time for encouraging the violent riot in the Capitol Building on January 6. And yet, the impeachment is probably less of a crushing blow to the president than something else that’s happened in recent days: the loss of his Twitter account.

After a few very eventful weeks, Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation is back. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jonathan Zittrain, the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School, about the decision by Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other platforms to ban the president in the wake of the Capitol riot. Jonathan, Evelyn and Quinta take a step back and situate what’s happening within the broader story of internet governance. They talked about how to understand the bans in the context of the internet’s now not-so-brief history, how platforms make these decisions and, of course, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Listeners might also be interested in Zittrain's February 2020 Tanner Lecture, "Between Suffocation and Abdication: Three Eras of Governing Digital Platforms," which touches on some of the same ideas discussed in the podcast.

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Jan 14, 2021
Late Impeachments
40:18

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, to talk about an important issue in the news this week: late impeachments. In the current context, the issue of a late impeachment would arise if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump before he leaves office but the Senate does not hold the trial for Trump, with possible conviction and disqualification from further office, until after he leaves office. They discussed how the Constitution and its historical background and structure inform this question, as well as what the practice of impeachments over 230 years teaches us. They also talked about how former President Trump might challenge any trial, conviction or disqualification that takes place after he leaves office.

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Jan 13, 2021
The Incredible Vanishing President
51:59

Donald Trump is headed for a second impeachment, a whole lot of people have been charged in federal and local courts in Washington, and an even larger number are probably about to be. What's more, the president's social media accounts have vanished; in fact, one of the very networks on which the president's supporters organized has itself disappeared. To talk through it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare's Alan Rozenshtein, Bryce Klehm, David Priess, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey. They talked about whether impeachment is inevitable now, if the article of impeachment Congress is considering is well-crafted, who has been charged and who is going to be charged, and what we should make of the actions of the tech companies against the president and his allies.

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Jan 12, 2021
Jamie Gorelick on Merrick Garland and the Justice Department Team
40:17

Jamie Gorelick was the deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In that capacity, she hired as her top aide and adjutant one Merrick Garland. This was before Garland became a D.C. Circuit judge, but it was a fateful period for the department, a period in which Garland supervised some high-profile cases, including the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gorelick to talk about Garland's history at the department, his selection as attorney general and the team that will surround him.

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Jan 11, 2021
Who Let the Barbarians Through the Gates?
46:59

The storming of the Capitol on Wednesday was a catastrophic failure of protective law enforcement, as rioters overran Capitol Police barricades and gained access to a building that a lot of police were supposed to be protecting. How did it happen? Who screwed up? And what can be done about it? Benjamin Wittes sat down with Fred Burton, the executive director of the Center for Protective Intelligence at Ontic and a former protective officer; Garrett Graff, a journalist who covers federal law enforcement and who wrote a book about continuity in government; and Lawfare's executive editor Susan Hennessey. They talked about how bad the failure was on the part of the Capitol Police, who is responsible for it, what can be done now to bring the perpetrators to justice and how we should think about changing security protocols on Capitol Hill going forward.

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Jan 08, 2021
Emergency Edition: Insurrection at the Capitol
50:02

Today a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally at which the president spoke. Congressional efforts to count the electoral votes were suspended, and an armed standoff, in which at least one person was killed, ensued. To discuss the matter, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic; Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess; Georgetown's Mary McCord, who used to run the National Security Division at the Justice Department; and Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown and Lawfare's foreign policy editor.

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Jan 07, 2021
Counting the Electoral Votes
46:35

It is electoral count voting day, and members of Congress in a joint session will open and count the electoral votes and declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners of the election. It will not be without controversy, however, as members from both houses plan to object, forcing debate, and as the Proud Boys descend on Washington. In anticipation of turmoil inside and outside of the Capitol, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, Brookings and Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, and law professor and election law specialist Ned Foley of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. They talked about what the rules are for counting electoral votes, how much latitude they have, what could really happen today and what role, if any, Mike Pence could play in the disposition of the final stage of the presidential election.

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Jan 06, 2021
The Role of the Pardon Attorney
39:46

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Margaret Love, the United States Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department from 1990 to 1997. They discussed Donald Trump's very controversial pattern of pardons and commutations, Trump's circumvention of the traditional pardon attorney process and the historical operation of that process prior to Trump. They also discussed various potential reforms of the process for determining pardons and commutations.

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Jan 05, 2021
Dr. Geoffrey Gresh on 'To Rule Eurasia's Waves'
47:44

Alexander Vindman sat down with Dr. Geoffrey Gresh to discuss his new book, "To Rule Eurasia's Waves: The New Great Power Competition at Sea." Dr. Gresh is a professor of International Security Studies at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., with a primary research focus on maritime affairs. He has also served as the chair of the Department of International Security Studies and as CSIA's director for the South and Central Asia Security Studies program. They discussed Russia's, China's and India's interests in their near-seas competition cooperation and the implications of great power competition for U.S. policy.

The views expressed by Dr. Gresh in this episode do not represent the U.S. government, the Department of Defense or National Defense University.

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Jan 04, 2021
Bye Bye, 2020
52:39

It is the last podcast of the year, and we are giving 2020 an appropriate send-off. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennessey, managing editor Quinta Jurecic, senior editor Scott Anderson, and Lawfare contributor and law professor Alan Rozenshtein to talk about the worst stories of the year, as well as their expectations and predictions for the coming year.

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Dec 30, 2020
Bob Bauer on the White House Counsel in an Antidemocratic Moment
37:23

Bob Bauer is a former White House counsel, and he has been leading the legal response for the Biden campaign and transition to the unprecedented onslaught of efforts on the part of the president to overturn the 2020 election. He also recently wrote a piece for Lawfare on the current occupant of the White House counsel's office, Pat Cipollone, and how he should be handling the incredibly difficult position the president has put him in. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Bob about the article, the role of the White House counsel when the president is trying to overturn a democratic election, and the spate of pardons the White House has issued over the last few weeks.

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Dec 29, 2020
Ask Us Anything
57:14

It's the end of the year, and that means we opened the phones for the annual "Ask Us Anything" edition. You called in with your questions, which we routed to Lawfare contributors for their answers. Benjamin Wittes, Molly Reynolds, Steve Vladeck, David Priess, Susan Hennessey, Scott Anderson, Judd Devermont and Rohini Kurup responded to questions on everything from pardons to prosecuting contractors to ethnic diversity at Lawfare.

Thank you for your questions. And as always, thank you for listening.

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Dec 28, 2020
Conflict in Ethiopia
54:58

It’s not something that has gotten a lot of attention amid a busy U.S. news cycle, but much has been happening in Ethiopia over the past two months. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who just last year won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring unity between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea, led a military battle against domestic forces in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. The fighting has caused the significant displacement of people living in the region and has involved reports of atrocities. In early December, the Prime Minister claimed victory, but concerns remain about how long tensions will endure—or at least continue to simmer. It’s a complicated situation with major implications for stability in the East Africa and Horn of Africa region. To break it all down, Jacob Schulz talked with two different experts. First, to get a sense of what’s going on and how we got to this point, he spoke with Emmanuel Igunza, a reporter in East Africa for BBC News; then, he spoke with Beza Tesfaye, the director of research and learning for migration at Mercy Corps, about the humanitarian problems implicated by the crisis.

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Dec 23, 2020
Jane Bambauer and Brian Ray on the Lost Promise of Digital Contact Tracing
38:47

In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology was touted as a potential savior. In particular, there was a burst of enthusiasm around so-called digital contact tracing apps, which would track people's movements and interactions and notify them if they had been exposed to COVID. Apple and Google, which together control the operating systems for virtually the entire smartphone market, joined forces and created a standard to help researchers, private entities and governments create contact tracing apps. But despite the early hype, enthusiasm about these apps quickly fizzled, and even today, they remain underdeveloped and rarely used. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, law professors Jane Bambauer from the University of Arizona and Brian Ray from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, published a paper titled, "COVID-19 Apps Are Terrible—They Didn't Have to Be." Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Jane and Brian to talk about why contact tracing never played more than a marginal role in managing the pandemic.

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Dec 22, 2020
Government Agencies that Really Listen To You: SIGINT in the UK
1:03:37

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been conducting and regulating signals intelligence, SIGINT, since before the United States was born. To talk about how they do it across the pond, David Kris sat down with two experts on UK SIGINT and SIGINT regulation: Michael Drury and Tony Comer, both veterans of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart to our own National Security Agency. Michael was GCHQ's first full-time legal advisor from 1996 to 2010, when he joined the private sector, and Tony was GCHQ's historian until his retirement earlier this year. They compared and contrasted the U.S. and UK experience with SIGINT, SIGINT regulation, popular support for SIGINT and intelligence in general, and also some cutting-edge issues, including how SIGINT works today, synergies between SIGINT and cyber, GDPR encryption and online harms.

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Dec 21, 2020
Jasmine El-Gamal on What She Lost and Found at Guantanamo
48:11

Jasmine El-Gamal is a nonresident senior fellow with the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council. Between 2008 and 2015, she served as a Middle East advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as a special assistant to three undersecretaries of defense for policy. She is the author of a recent article in Newlines magazine entitled, "Lost and Found in Guantanamo Bay: Two encounters with two different men in the most notorious detention facility in the world shaped my faith – and my life – forever." She joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the article, how she ended up as a young woman as a translator at Guantanamo and in Iraq, what she's done since, and how the experience of Guantanamo shaped her later policy career, as well as her view of America, Islam and counterterrorism.

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Dec 18, 2020
No One Expects the Spanish Disinformation
50:21

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jaime Longoria, an investigative researcher at First Draft, who monitors information disorder in Latino or Latinx communities in the United States and in Latin America. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, there was an explosion of press stories about mis- and dis-information in Spanish-speaking communities. But this is hardly a new phenomenon. They talked with Jaime about the long-standing and ongoing information disorder in these communities, how it is or isn’t distinctive, why it tends to go under the radar in public conversation and what can be done about it.

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Dec 17, 2020
It's Over, or Is It?
41:09

It is two days after the Electoral College has met in 50 state capitals, voted and given 306 electoral votes to Joe Biden, making him the next president of the United States. Or did it? There is talk of a kind of electoral Alamo wherein a final showdown takes place over the counting of those electoral votes come January 6 when Congress meets in a joint session to receive the votes of the state electors. To discuss what happened this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Molly Reynolds, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare senior editor and fellow at the Brookings Institution. They talked about whether the election is actually over, or if we are heading toward some kind of final cataclysm where the forces of Trumpism take on the last stage of the electoral process.

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Dec 16, 2020
Yaya Fanusie on 'Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Threat From Money Launderers and How to Stop Them'
39:54

Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Yaya Fanusie, a former CIA analyst and an expert on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies, who recently published a paper as part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, entitled, "Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Threat From Money Launderers and How to Stop Them." They talked about how central banks are exploring digital currencies, how those currencies might in turn be used by criminals and terrorist groups, and how governments and the private sector should respond.

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Dec 15, 2020
China-Australia Relations and What the U.S. Should Do About It
1:10:07

In the first part of this episode, Jordan Schneider, the host of ChinaTalk, sat down with Yun Jiang, a former Australian government official and an editor at the Australian National University's China Story blog, for a deep dive into the Australia-China relationship, providing much needed context on why tension has boiled over in recent months. In the second part, we excerpt a conversation that Jordan had with Wendy Cutler, a long-time USTR official and current vice president and managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute. They talked about how the Biden administration could address China on trade, and she offers her take on Yun and Jordan's policy proposals for shoring up Australia.

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Dec 14, 2020
The Past, Present and Future of Sovereign Immunity
1:03:56

This week, the Supreme Court returned once again to the complex and sometimes controversial Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA, that protects foreign sovereigns from litigation before U.S. courts. At the same time, Congress is once again debating new exceptions to the protections provided by the FSIA on issues ranging from cybercrime to the coronavirus pandemic, an effort that may risk violating international law and exposing the United States to similar lawsuits overseas. To discuss these developments and where they may be headed, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading scholars on sovereign immunity issues: Chimène Keitner, a professor at the UC Hastings School of Law and a former counselor on international law at the U.S. State Department, and Ingrid Wuerth, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and one of the reporters for the American Law Institute's Fourth Restatement on U.S. foreign relations law.

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Dec 11, 2020
The Vaccine Misinformation Cometh
51:20

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Claire Wardle, the co-founder and leader of the nonprofit organization First Draft and a research fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. First Draft recently released a report on the information environment around the development of vaccines for COVID-19, and Claire talked about what she and her team found in terms of online discussion of the vaccine in English, Spanish and French. What kinds of misinformation should we be ready for as vaccines begin to be administered across the world? Why might fact-checking and labeling by platforms not be effective in countering that misinformation? And why is Claire still pessimistic about the progress that platforms and researchers have made in countering dis- and misinformation over the last four years?

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Dec 10, 2020
General Austin as Secretary of Defense
36:01

President-elect Joe Biden has selected a new defense secretary, retired general Lloyd Austin, former commander of Central Command. The selection has received somewhat mixed reviews, and to discuss why, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Brookings senior fellow Mike O'Hanlon, a defense policy analyst, and Kori Schake, the head of defense and foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute. They talked about why people are upset about General Austin's nomination, his background, the experience he has and doesn't have, who would have been a better choice and whether it matters that this is the second administration in a row that begins by putting a retired general at the head of the Pentagon.

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Dec 09, 2020
Kyle Langvardt on Platform Speech and the First Amendment
46:51

On Monday, Lawfare released the first paper in its "The Digital Social Contract" paper series. For each paper, Alan Rozenshtein will be doing a podcast interview with the author, and the first guest is law professor Kyle Langvardt of the University of Nebraska College of Law. His paper, "Platform Speech Governance and the First Amendment: A User-Centered Approach," examines how the First Amendment should and should not apply to the content moderation decisions of major internet platforms. Plus, Alan and Benjamin Wittes have a brief discussion to introduce the paper series as a whole.

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Dec 08, 2020
Cristina Rodríguez and Adam Cox on 'The President and Immigration Law'
48:26

Jack Goldsmith spoke with Adam Cox and Christina Rodríguez, the authors of "The President and Immigration Law," a new book about the historical rise and operation of a president-dominated immigration system. They discussed the various ways that Congress has delegated extraordinary power over immigration to the president, how what the authors call "de facto delegation" confers massive presidential enforcement discretion that is the basis for programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the benefits, costs and legal limits of this system. They also discussed what President Donald Trump accomplished with his immigration program during his term in office and President-elect Biden's possible immigration agenda.

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Dec 07, 2020
Lindsay Wiley and Josh Blackman on Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo
47:09

In a ruling late in the night, the day before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction against Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, preventing him from imposing restrictions on how many people could attend houses of worship—restrictions that Governor Cuomo defended as necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In a lawsuit brought by a Catholic Diocese and an organization of Orthodox Jews, a majority of the Court held that the occupancy restrictions had a high likelihood of violating the free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment. To help explain that decision and to discuss its implications for future public health responses to COVID, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with law professors Lindsay Wiley of American University and Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law.

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Dec 04, 2020
Can Democracies Play Offense on Disinformation?
56:20

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on platforms and disinformation, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alina Polyakova and Ambassador Daniel Fried, the former U.S. ambassador to Poland and the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The two have a new paper out on “Democratic Offense Against Disinformation,” published by the Atlantic Council and the Center for European Policy Analysis. They have written previously on how democracies can defend themselves against disinformation and misinformation from abroad, but this time, they turned their attention to what it would mean for democracies to take the initiative against foreign purveyors of disinformation, rather than just playing defense.

So how effective are democracies at countering disinformation? What tools are available if they want to play offense? And is it even possible to do so without borrowing tactics from the same authoritarian regimes that democracies seek to counter?

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Dec 03, 2020
An Assassination in Iran
50:02

The top Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed, apparently in an Israeli strike. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who has long been the mastermind of the Iranian nuclear program, was gunned down in an attack with a remote control machine gun. Iranian reprisals are expected, although their timing and nature is not clear. It also puts the incoming Biden administration, which is looking to bring back the Iran nuclear deal, in a bit of a pickle.

To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, international law specialist and Lawfare senior editor; Suzanne Maloney, the vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and an Iran scholar; and Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings where he focuses on Israeli policy. They talked about why the Israelis would conduct this operation, how effective its killing of Iranian nuclear scientists has been, whether any of it is legal and what it means for the future of U.S.-Iran relations.

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Dec 02, 2020
Why Businesses Need to Take Espionage Seriously
50:35

“American companies are in a bind.” So argue Bill Priestap and Holden Triplett, who have written a series of articles for Lawfare making the case that more and more state intelligence agencies are turning their attention to private businesses, using the tools of espionage in order to build their own economic power. Both writers are speaking from experience: Priestap ran the FBI’s counterintelligence division from 2015 to 2018, and Triplett led the FBI office in Beijing from 2014 to 2017 and was deputy head of the FBI office in Moscow from 2012 to 2014. Quinta Jurecic sat down with them to discuss why countries have started to use their intelligence services in this way, what dangers this creates for American businesses and why counterintelligence risks are hard to intuitively understand.

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Dec 01, 2020
H. R. McMaster on China
44:22

Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, sat down with H. R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security advisor. They talked about his time in government; the origins of the 2017 national security strategy, which focused the U.S. government on China; how he thinks history is best applied to policymaking; and even why he considers himself to be the funkiest NSA in U.S. history.

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Nov 30, 2020
Collaborating to Counter Violent Extremism Online
54:06

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on platforms and disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nick Rasmussen, the Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (also known as GIFCT). The GIFCT is an organization working to facilitate cross-industry efforts to counter the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. It was founded in 2017 by four platforms, but is now transitioning to a new life as an independent organization, which Nick is heading up.

Online violent extremism is one of the most difficult problems of the internet age, and collaboration between companies and governments may be the only way to effectively tackle it. But how can the GIFCT balance this with the need to respect legitimate free speech concerns? How is Nick thinking about the transparency and accountability problems that such collaboration might exacerbate? And why might the GIFCT be one of the most important institutions for the future of online free speech?

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Nov 25, 2020
Biden's Victory Around the World
1:57:33

We have a new president-elect here in the United States, which means changes to certain U.S. domestic policies and also a different way of doing foreign policy. So, what does Biden’s win mean for different countries and regions globally? Jacob Schulz brings you dispatches from around the world about the effects of Biden’s win with Boris Ruge on Germany and the EU, Alina Polyakova on Russia and Ukraine, Emmanuel Igunza on East Africa and the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Antonio Garza on Mexico, Tanvi Madan on India, Sophia Yan on China, Ben Hubbard on Saudi Arabia, Rasha Al Aqeedi on Iraq, Daniel Reisner on Israel and Kemal Kirişci on Turkey.

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Nov 24, 2020
A Conversation with Alexander Vindman
54:04

Following his appearance on Friday on the Lawfare Podcast, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, appeared on Lawfare Live for a live video conversation and audience Q&A. It was a very good conversation—so good that we thought we would bring you an edited version of it as Part Two of our conversation with Alex Vindman. He discussed how one becomes an NSC director while serving in the active duty military, what risks the transition period has in foreign relations, whether he has any regrets about his decision to speak out during the impeachment and much more.

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Nov 23, 2020
Alex Vindman Talks Eastern Europe
48:53

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.) is now the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, the newest member of the Lawfare team. You've heard his story, likely in his testimony in the impeachment proceedings for President Trump. But Benjamin Wittes sat down with him for a different reason—his substantive expertise in Eastern Europe policy, Russia matters and great power competition. They talked about the challenges the Biden administration will face as it tries to pick up the pieces the Trump administration has left it, how democracies can hang together and harden themselves against attacks from authoritarian regimes, what a good Russia policy looks like, how China fits in and how we can rebuild traditional American alliances.

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Nov 20, 2020
The Most Intense Online Disinformation Event in American History
50:37

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic are bringing you a conversation with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Alex was last on the show in August to talk about the newly established Election Integrity Partnership, which he helped set up to focus on detecting and mitigating disinformation around the U.S. 2020 election. Well, the election is over! So Alex is back to talk about what the partnership saw, how well the information ecosystem held up and what the landscape looks like as the dust begins to settle.

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Nov 19, 2020
Is Trump Creating a Deep State?
49:20

In the waning days of his administration, the president has attempted to install a political loyalist as General Counsel of the National Security Agency, a position that is traditionally a merits position, not a political position. He has also issued an executive order that gives the executive branch greater control over the civil service, making it easier to hire and fire people in agencies. It all raises the question: Is Donald Trump attempting to create the very deep state that he has spent the last four years denouncing? To talk over this question in its various permutations, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Susan Hennessey, who recently wrote an article about the NSA General Counsel appointment; Scott Anderson, Lawfare senior editor; and Rudy Mehrbani, senior advisor at Democracy Fund Voice, senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and former assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel and former associate White House counsel in the Obama administration.

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Nov 18, 2020
Job Openings in Al Qaeda
35:50

The world’s most dangerous job apparently has a vacancy once again. Al Qaeda’s #2 reportedly has been killed in Iran by Israeli forces acting on U.S. intelligence. In addition, there are some rumors about Al Qaeda's #1, Ayman al-Zawahri, also passing into the hereafter. To talk about the reports and the rumors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's foreign policy editor, Brookings scholar and Georgetown professor Daniel Byman.

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Nov 17, 2020
'Homegrown: ISIS in America'
53:31

The Islamic State in America is a topic that once garnered front-page headlines, but it has fallen a bit out of public attention in the past year or so. Jacob Schulz sat down with Seamus Hughes, the author with Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Bennett Clifford of "Homegrown: ISIS in America." They talked about the book, how the Islamic State has attracted American followers, how the organization operates differently in the U.S. versus Europe, the FBI and the role it plays in countering homegrown extremism, and what Seamus is most concerned about going forward.

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Nov 16, 2020
Kori Schake on What the Heck is Going On at the Pentagon
41:15

Kori Schake is a long-time Pentagon watcher; she is a former Defense Department, State Department and National Security Council official; and she leads the foreign policy and defense policy team at the American Enterprise Institute. She is also the author of an article in The Atlantic this week about the latest mishegoss at the Pentagon—a decapitating strike against the military civilian leadership of the United States by the president. She joined Benjamin Wittes to talk through possible explanations of why the president is firing all the leaders of the Department of Defense. Is this a grand plan to do something terrible in the last two months of his presidency, or is this just flailing narcissism? And even if it's the latter, what harm could it do?

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Nov 13, 2020
Marietje Schaake on Reclaiming Democratic Control of the Internet
53:08

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Marietje Schaake about how Europe is not necessarily waiting for America to get its act together and is moving ahead with tech regulation. Marietje served as a Member of European Parliament for 10 years for the Dutch liberal democratic party and is now the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. They spoke about what’s happening in Europe in the tech space, what distance there may be between European and American ideas about regulation of tech platforms, and whether that distance is bridgeable—especially under a Biden administration.

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Nov 12, 2020
Firings, Transitions and Staffing, Oh My!
50:25

Yesterday, President Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the latest in a string of dismissals. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is trying to put a transition together, but the head of the General Services Administration will not ascertain that the transition has begun. To talk about it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Steve Vladeck, Susan Hennessey and Scott R. Anderson. They discussed the president's surprise—or not so surprising—removal of staff who have offended him, how you run a transition, what the law requires, why the GSA won't get this one started, how you staff an administration and the particular challenges Biden will face.

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Nov 10, 2020
Trump is Defeated
42:24

Well, that's it, folks. We have a president elect in Joe Biden. And, we have a president who is now officially a lame duck. To talk through the transition from Donald Trump to a more normal presidency, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz and Susan Hennessey.

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Nov 09, 2020
Almost Done...
47:01

The votes are almost all counted, but they're not quite all counted. We kind of know where the electoral votes are going, but some of them have not gone there yet. We think we know the outcome, but the outcome has not been officially called. To talk through the next several days, Benjamin Wittes sat down for a late-Thursday-evening chat with Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson and Lawfare senior contributor Alan Rozenshtein.

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Nov 06, 2020
We're Almost Done
50:01

Benjamin Wittes sat down with an all-Lawfare crew to discuss the election. Scott Anderson, David Priess, Jacob Schulz, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey joined Ben to talk about where the election is, whether we are in a transition or in a contested election, the challenges a Biden transition team might face and what concerns the team finds particularly alarming as they imagine the next few weeks and months.

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Nov 05, 2020
Adam Tooze on World Order, Then and Now
1:14:12

In a conversation completely unrelated to yesterday's election, Jordan Schneider of ChinaTalk and Matthew Klein, author of the recent "Trade Wars Are Class Wars," spoke with Adam Tooze, a professor at Columbia University and an economic historian. They discussed what we can learn from the diplomatic and economic modes of the 1930s, why Nazi legal theory resonates so well in China today, how Xinjiang's camps echo the logic of Soviet gulags, whether the U.S. in fact lost the Cold War and the bureaucracies in which Adam would have loved to work.

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Nov 04, 2020
Are We Having a Healthy Election?
41:34

On this Election Day, we are checking in on how healthy the election actually is. Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law School and Charles Stewart III of MIT together run the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. Zahavah Levine and Chelsey Davidson manage the project on the Stanford side. Together, they have supervised a collection of students who have produced 32 articles for Lawfare on election administration as part of the project. Benjamin Wittes sat down with all four of them to discuss how the election is actually going, what the rules of mail-in voting are, how litigation has affected the conduct of the vote, if we have enough poll workers and what results we can expect this evening.

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Nov 03, 2020
Daniel Byman and Colin Clarke on Violence at the Polls
40:27

We're all hoping for a peaceful Election Day tomorrow, but some people are worried about violence at the polls. Two of those people are Dan Byman, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, the foreign policy editor of Lawfare and a professor at Georgetown University; and Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Center and an assistant teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Together, they wrote a piece on the Brookings FixGov blog on why the risk of election violence is high. They joined Benjamin Wittes for an unnerving conversation about the set of facts that led them to write such an alarming piece, how violence could manifest at the polls and what could ease the threat.

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Nov 02, 2020
Laura Rosenberger on Foreign Interventions in U.S. Campaigns
45:36

Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was foreign policy advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign four years ago, where she had to respond to Russian information operations against the campaign in real time. She has been working on combating foreign interference in U.S. domestic politics ever since, and she is the author of two recent significant articles—one in Foreign Affairs and one on Lawfare—both on the subject of foreign influence operations and interference in U.S. politics. She joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the strategic purpose of these operations, whether we have to fear more operations during or after the election, and if U.S. voters should have confidence in their system.

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Oct 30, 2020
Casey Newton on Four Years of Platform Chaos
51:28

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Casey Newton, veteran Silicon Valley editor for The Verge who recently went independent to start a newsletter on Substack called Platformer. Few people have followed the stories of platforms and content moderation in recent years as closely and carefully as Casey, so Evelyn and Quinta asked him about what’s changed in the last four years—especially in the lead-up to the election. They also spoke about the challenges of reporting on the tech industry and whether the increased willingness of platforms to moderate content means that the name of this podcast series will have to change.

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Oct 29, 2020
What To Do About Xinjiang
40:46

There is a human rights crisis going on in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has been rounding up minority groups, most notably the Uighurs, and putting them into forced labor and reeducation camps. The government has gone to great lengths to keep Xinjiang away from international attention, and it has had some success in doing so. Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, wrote an essay on Lawfare last week outlining how the U.S. can respond and push back on the Chinese government's abuses in the region. During a live event for ChinaTalk, Lawfare's Jacob Schulz talked through Xinjiang and potential U.S. responses with Schneider and Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at UT Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

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Oct 28, 2020
'Tomorrow, the World'
1:02:09

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Stephen Wertheim, deputy director of research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is the author of the new book, "Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy." They discussed the surprising World War II origins of U.S. hegemonic militarism, the changes in what it meant to be an internationalist during this period and the domestic political origins of the U.S. embrace of the UN Charter. They also discussed the relationship between Wertheim's book and his work for the Quincy Institute, a think tank devoted to fostering U.S. military restraint.

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Oct 27, 2020
Congressman Jim Himes on the Intelligence Innovation Race
45:17

This month, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research released a report entitled, "Rightly Scaled, Carefully Open, Infinitely Agile: Reconfiguring to Win the Innovation Race in the Intelligence Community." Susan Hennessey sat down with Subcommittee Chair Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut to discuss the challenges the United States is facing with near-peer national competitors in science and technology and the impact on the intelligence community. They talked about the role of China, stemming intelligence community brain drain, the need for basic research and how Congress can heal itself to become part of the solution.

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Oct 26, 2020
Foreign Interference... It's Happening
42:37

It's been a wild couple of days of disinformation in the electoral context. Intelligence community officials are warning about Russian and Iranian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election—and claiming that Iran is responsible for sending threatening emails from fake Proud Boys to Democratic voters. What exactly is going on here? To talk through the developments and the questions that linger, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic.

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Oct 23, 2020
How to Report on Hacks and Disinformation
44:21

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Janine Zacharia, the Carlos Kelly McClatchy Lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Communication, and Andrew Grotto, director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance and the William J. Perry International Security Fellow at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

In 2016, a key part of the Russian influence campaign involved the hacking and leaking of emails belonging to the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Journalists at mainstream news outlets rushed to write up the emails without giving adequate context to how they had been obtained.

So how can the press avoid a similar disaster in 2020? Zacharia and Grotto teamed up in recent months to write a playbook for reporters facing the dilemma of writing about hacked material or disinformation without participating in a disinformation campaign. (They’ve also written an article on the subject for Lawfare.) They spoke with Alina and Quinta about their recommendations for reporters, what the American press might be able to learn from colleagues abroad and how to assess the mainstream media’s response to the New York Post’s bizarre reporting on Hunter Biden.

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Oct 22, 2020
Fear and Loathing at the U.S. Agency for Global Media
48:44

While everyone’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus and the run-up to the 2020 election, a lot has been happening at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees a number of government-funded entities, including the Voice of America. Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker, was confirmed as the head of the Agency for Global Media in June after much controversy on Capitol Hill. Once installed, Pack gutted the top leadership and took actions critics say breached the firewall meant to protect these various overseas news outlets from politicization. He held back congressionally appropriated funds and even defied a bipartisan congressional subpoena for his testimony. Investigations have been opened, and lawsuits have been filed. Margaret Taylor sat down with NPR’s David Folkenflik to sort it all out.

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Oct 21, 2020
The Quad with Tanvi Madan and Lavina Lee
50:49

One of the most interesting strategic developments in the past few years has been the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad—the growing partnership between the United States, Japan, Australia and India. To look at how this institution resurrected itself after a false start back in 2007, what it is and isn't doing now, and whether China is right to look warily at this dialogue, David Priess spoke with Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program and the director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution, and Lavina Lee, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who was appointed by the defense minister in Australia to be a director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council in Canberra earlier this year.

The World As You’ll Know It is available now, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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Oct 20, 2020
An October Surprise from the New York Post
49:05

On October 14, the New York Post began publishing what it touted as a series of blockbuster articles on emails and photos obtained from a laptop mysteriously abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop—emails and photos that, the Post announced, belonged to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The materials had been provided to the tabloid by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And from there, it only gets weirder.

In the eyes of many commentators, this looked like a continuation of Giuliani’s 2019 efforts to smear Joe Biden by claiming falsely that, while vice president, Biden had intervened to protect a Ukrainian company for which Hunter was working from investigation by Ukrainian law enforcement. That didn’t add up then, and it doesn’t now—the elder Biden’s work in Ukraine was aimed at combating corruption, not enabling it. But nevertheless, Trump and other Republicans are seizing on the Post’s stories—and complaining about efforts by social media companies to limit distribution of the stories on their platforms.

To get some perspective on what’s been going on, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Thomas Rid, a Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and the author of the book “Active Measures,” and Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

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Oct 19, 2020
Ambassador Doug Silliman on the Fate of Embassy Baghdad
49:13

The past year has been a difficult one for the U.S. relationship with Iraq, a country that has increasingly found itself caught in the middle of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign against Iran and Iran's own efforts to strike back at the United States. Now, the relationship between the United States and Iraq appears to be reaching a new low, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unless the Iraqi government does more to thwart attacks by militias associated with Iran against U.S. personnel stationed there. But is the Trump administration really willing to take such a dramatic and seemingly self-defeating step? Or are there other factors at play? To find out, Scott R. Anderson sat down with former ambassador Doug Silliman who knows the situation in Baghdad like few others. They discussed the threat to close the embassy, the legacy of the Soleimani strike for the bilateral U.S.-Iraq relationship and what the future that relationship might look like if Secretary Pompeo makes good on his threat.

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Oct 16, 2020
Maria Ressa on the Weaponization of Social Media
56:56

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek spoke with Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist and co-founder of Rappler, an online news site based in Manila. Maria was included in Time's Person of the Year in 2018 for her work combating fake news, and is currently fighting a conviction for “cyberlibel” in the Philippines for her role at Rappler. Maria and her fight are the subject of the film, “A Thousand Cuts,” released in virtual cinemas this summer and to be broadcast on PBS Frontline in early next year.

As a country where Facebook is the internet, the Philippines was in a lot of ways ground zero for many of the same dynamics and exploitations of social media that are currently playing out around the world. What is the warning we need to take from Maria’s experience and the experience of Philippine democracy? Why is the global south both the beta test and an afterthought for companies like Facebook? And how is it possible that Maria is still, somehow, optimistic?

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Oct 15, 2020
David Priess Accepts the Results of the Presidential Election
30:26

Last Friday, Lawfare's chief operating officer, David Priess, published a piece on the site titled, "The Powerful Norm of Accepting the Results of a Presidential Election." It recounts the long history, with few exceptions, of presidents and other candidates who respected election results even if they did not go their way—a commitment that the current president and vice president have both failed to make. David joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the piece, the history, the president and the vice president's statements, and what it all means for the presidency and the transition of power.

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Oct 14, 2020
Charles Kupchan on 'Isolationism'
54:09

Many of us think of the history of the United States' interaction with the world as one of relentless expansion, growth and engagement. From the early colonies, through the Spanish American War, through involvement in two world wars and of course, the Cold War era, the story is one of America increasingly getting involved with countries in its region and around the globe. Charles Kupchan has a thing or two to say about that. He recently researched and wrote the book, "Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World." He joined David Priess to talk through the idea that much of American history in terms of its relations to the outside world can be explained by isolationist tendencies, with only occasional bursts into more engagement, most notably in the Cold War world. But is that period coming to an end? And how does Donald Trump play into these trends?

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Oct 13, 2020
Molly Reynolds and Margaret Taylor Talk Congress
51:34

Congress is capable of moving a Supreme Court justice at record speed, yet it can't get coronavirus relief passed. It has struggled to keep the government open, and it has pending business that it has to accomplish now or during the lame duck session. Margaret Taylor and Molly Reynolds, both of Lawfare and the Brookings Institution, joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the health of this first branch of government and its functioning during the combined crises of the coronavirus and an election in the midst of extreme partisan polarization. They talked about how oversight has worked (and how it hasn't), the relationship between Congress and the courts, whether McConnell can get the Supreme Court nomination through and what might be able to stop him.

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Oct 12, 2020
Andrew Weissmann on 'Where Law Ends'
51:17

Andrew Weissmann was the general counsel of the FBI. He was the head of the Justice Department's fraud section and helped run the Enron Task Force. And yet, he is best known these days for having been one of Bob Mueller's top prosecutors—and certainly the most smeared of Bob Mueller's prosecutors. Weismann's name became a kind of tagline for Mueller's supposedly evil alter ego as the investigation went on, and Andrew's new book, "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation," recounts the whole experience. In it, Weissman describes what the Mueller investigation did right, what it did wrong, what it could have done differently and how it all went down from the inside. He joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the book.

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Oct 09, 2020
Yochai Benkler on Mass-Media Disinformation Campaigns
1:03:19

On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

With only weeks until Election Day in the United States, there’s a lot of mis- and disinformation flying around on the subject of mail-in ballots. Discussions about addressing that disinformation often focus on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. But a new study by the Berkman Klein Center suggests that social media isn’t the most important part of mail-in ballot disinformation campaigns—rather, traditional mass media like news outlets and cable news are the main vector by which the Republican Party and the president have spread these ideas.

So what’s the research behind this counterintuitive finding? And what are the implications for how we think about disinformation and the media ecosystem?

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Oct 08, 2020
Scott Anderson on State Election Rules
44:44

We have an election in less than a month, and a lot of analysts seem to be expecting contested results. Doomsday scenarios are playing out in the pages of national magazines, the campaigns are gearing up for legal challenges and a lot of people are super worried about it. But there's something missing from a lot of these conversations: actual state law. State laws are the rules under which an election will initially be challenged, and they differ a great deal from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott Anderson who led a team for Lawfare that surveyed the key battleground states' challenge regimes for contested elections. They talked about how these regimes differ, how they are similar, which ones give rise to particular concerns and what it all means for the upcoming federal election.

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Oct 07, 2020
John Brennan Remains Undaunted
1:09:00

Starting in January 2017, John Brennan became one of President Trump's most blunt critics among former national security professionals. In the years since, he has been working on writing a book, now available, called "Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies at Home and Abroad." David Priess sat down with John to talk about the book and his career. They talked about what brought him to the CIA, his career as a CIA officer and manager, his work overseas at the CIA, his time at the White House as the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for President Obama in his first term, and his time as CIA director in President Obama's second term. They covered some controversies, including enhanced interrogation, the reorganization of the CIA in the so-called "modernization effort," Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of course, his outspoken criticisms of the president ever since.

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Oct 06, 2020
The President and the Coronavirus
47:26

President Trump is at Walter Reed with the COVID virus. A large number of executive and legislative branch officials have also tested positive. What happens when the president is seriously ill? What happens when the president is incapacitated? And what happens when a presidential candidate falls seriously ill—after people have already started voting? These are not all questions entirely answered by the law, but they are all questions on which the law has something to say. To talk it all through, Benjamin Wittes spoke with an all Lawfare panel including managing editor Quinta Jurecic, founding editor Jack Goldsmith and chief operating officer David Priess.

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Oct 05, 2020
An Islamic State Hoax?
46:51

On September 25, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Canadian man for faking his involvement in the Islamic State. It’s a strange charge, but the situation is made more complicated by the fact that the man—who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Huzayfah—was the primary subject of “Caliphate” a popular New York Times podcast series about the Islamic State. In that series, Abu Huzayfah talked at length about spending time with the Islamic State and rehashed in great detail his involvement in the executions of prisoners detained by the group. It’s a complicated set of facts with a lot to unpack. Do we have any real sense of what happened? What features of the Canadian national security apparatus might have contributed to the bizarre situation? And what does the whole ordeal reveal about the challenges and pitfalls of telling stories about the war on terror?

To talk through everything, Jacob Schulz spoke with Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute, and Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University.

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Oct 02, 2020
Everything is On Fire
51:21

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked about how everything is on fire—not metaphorically, but literally. In recent months, wildfires in the American West have caused unprecedented devastation and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. And along with the fires, the West has been grappling with a surge of false material circulating online about the flames. But this isn’t the first time wildfires and disinformation have gone together. This past December and January, Australia was hit with both a brutal bushfire season and a similar wave of disinformation and misinformation about what sparked the fires and the role of climate change.

Evelyn and Quinta spoke about the offline and online conflagrations on both sides of the Pacific with Charlie Warzel of the New York Times and Cam Wilson, a reporter for Gizmodo Australia and Business Insider Australia.

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Oct 01, 2020
Trump's Money and National Security
1:00:00

On Sunday, September 27, the New York Times dropped bombshell new reporting on nearly two decades of Donald Trump's tax return data. The story has attracted enormous attention and paints a dismal picture. Donald Trump paid no personal income taxes for 11 of the past 18 years, he uses tax deductions aggressively, and last year he paid only $750 in federal income tax. So, is this a story of a president merely in massive debt, or is there something more sinister at play? To whom does the president owe all this money? And what are the national security risks of the president being in this sort of financial position? To try to break it all down, Susan Hennessey sat down with Margaret Taylor, a fellow at Brookings and senior editor at Lawfare; Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of "The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency"; and Adam Davidson, a contributing writer to The New Yorker who has written extensively on Trump's financial entanglements.

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Sep 30, 2020
Peter Baker and Susan Glasser on 'The Man Who Ran Washington'
1:04:30

James A. Baker III has been a lawyer, a presidential campaign manager, the White House Chief of Staff for two presidents, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State and the point person for George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. His career demonstrates what it takes to acquire political power; to wield it effectively to reach bipartisan compromises, even after bitter campaigns; and to wrestle with the tension between partisan loyalty and the principles of good government.

David Priess spoke about Baker's remarkable life and career with Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, authors of the new book, "The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III."

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Sep 29, 2020
TikTok, WeChat and Trump
41:02

It's been a wild few weeks with President Trump threatening to shut WeChat and TikTok out of the U.S. market and rip them out of the app stores. There have been lawsuits, a preliminary injunction—and a sudden deal to purchase TikTok and moot the issue out. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare co-founder Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin Law School, and Jordan Schneider, the voice behind the podcast ChinaTalk. They talked about how we got here, whether the threat from these companies is real or whether this is more Trump nonsense, and whether the deal to save TikTok will actually work.

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Sep 28, 2020
Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Lissner on 'An Open World'
45:16

Rebecca Lissner is an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College. Mira Rapp-Hooper is a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center. Together, they are the authors of "An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for 21st-Century Order." It's an ambitious book that looks beyond the liberal world order, arguing that China's rise and America's weakness render the old order obsolete. So, what will replace it? Lissner and Rapp-Hooper argue that the United States should push for an open order. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss why the liberal world order is failing, what role Donald Trump plays in that, whether it can be rehabilitated and what it means to have the open order that they are describing.

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Sep 25, 2020
Nina Jankowicz on 'How to Lose the Information War'
47:13

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, about her new book: “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict.” The book chronicles Nina’s journey around Europe, tracing down how information operations spearheaded by Russia have played out in countries in the former Soviet bloc, from Georgia to the Czech Republic. What do these case studies reveal about disinformation and how best to counter it—and how many of these lessons can be extrapolated to the United States? How should we understand the role of locals who get swept up in information operations, like the Americans who attended rallies in 2016 that were organized by a Russian troll farm? And what is an information war, anyway?

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Sep 24, 2020
Portland, DHS and the Rule of Law
30:23

Bobby Chesney sat down with former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Texas Congressman Chip Roy as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. They discussed Portland, DHS, domestic violence and even the shortage of civil discourse in our society.

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Sep 23, 2020
Detention Questions and the Women of the Islamic State
42:49

It’s not something that gets a lot of attention in American news outlets, but there remain large numbers of women and children linked with the Islamic State detained in various camps in Syria. Some of the population in the camps are native to Iraq or Syria, but there are also significant numbers who traveled to the Islamic State from outside the Middle East. Many of these travelers came from Central Asia, but a not-insignificant number of them came from various countries in Western Europe—and many of those countries shied away from efforts to bring the women back home to face trial or otherwise reintegrate into society. Who are these women? What are conditions like in the camps? What is behind the reluctance of European countries to repatriate? And how should we think about the security threat that these women pose?

Jacob Schulz talked through these issues with Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post interviewing four women in these camps, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

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Sep 22, 2020
Elizabeth Neumann and Kathleen Belew on White Power Violence
55:05

Elizabeth Neumann served as the assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She has recently been speaking out about President Trump and, among other things, his failure of leadership with respect to the threat of white supremacist violence. In the course of doing so, she made reference to a book by Kathleen Belew, a historian at the University of Chicago: "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America," a history of violent white power movements in the modern United States.

Elizabeth and Kathleen joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the interactions of policy and the history that Belew describes. Why have we underestimated this threat for so long? How has it come to be one of the foremost threats that DHS faces? And what can we do about it, given the First Amendment?

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Sep 21, 2020
Goldsmith and Bauer on 'After Trump'
46:48

"After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," a new book published by Lawfare, is a look at the manner in which Donald Trump has disrupted the presidency across a range of areas, as well as a series of proposals for reforms to try to restore those norms that his presidency has disrupted. Its authors, Bob Bauer, former White House counsel in the Obama White House, and Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare co-founder and former OLC chief in the Bush administration, joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss they book, how they came to write it, and the specific proposals they put on the table. They talked about ethics, about disclosure, about the relationship between the Justice Department and the White House, and about what the problems are that can—and can't—be solved through reform.

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Sep 18, 2020
Congress's Control Over the Military
51:00

In recent years, Congress has taken unprecedented steps to push back against the Trump administration's efforts to pull U.S. troops from certain long-standing deployments overseas. The most recent such provision is contained in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 that is currently being debated and would prohibit the president from reducing U.S. troop levels in Germany and Europe unless certain conditions are met.

But does Congress have the authority to direct these deployments, or does doing so interfere with the president's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two legal experts who have written extensively on the subject: Ashley Deeks of the University of Virginia School of Law and Zachary Price of the UC Hastings College of Law. They discussed the legal limits on Congress's authority over the military, what the president's commander-in-chief authority actually entails and what it all means for the future of U.S. troop deployments overseas.

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Sep 17, 2020
The Spymasters with Chris Whipple
51:48

What is the proper relationship between the CIA director and the president? How should directors handle arguably illegal orders? How important is the director's role as the nation's honest broker of information during times of crisis?

To get at these questions, David Priess sat down with Chris Whipple, a documentary filmmaker, journalist and the author of two books about the people around the president. "The Gatekeepers," based upon his documentary of the same name, examines White House chiefs of staff, and his new book, "The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future," is based on the Showtime documentary "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," for which Whipple was the writer and executive producer. They talked about CIA directors through the last several decades and how they've impacted U.S. history and national security.

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Sep 16, 2020
Alina Polyakova on the Poisoning of Alexei Navalny
33:36

Alexei Navalny is Russia's most prominent dissident, opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader—and the latest such person to be poisoned by the Vladimir Putin regime, which, of course, it denies. When we recorded this episode, Navalny's condition was improving as he received medical treatment in Germany. To discuss Navalny's career and why Putin chose now to attack him, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis. They talked about how Navalny has become such a thorn in the side of the Putin regime, why Putin keeps poisoning people as opposed to killing them by other means and why the Russians are so ineffective at poisonings when they undertake them.

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Sep 15, 2020
Mike Schmidt on Stopping a President
47:27

Michael S. Schmidt is a reporter for The New York Times, a reporter who broke a number of key stories during the Russia investigation. He is most recently the author of "Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President," a new book with exhaustive reporting on the history of the Russia investigation and the confrontations between the president and those in his administration who tried to put the brakes on his most extreme behaviors.

Schmidt joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the book. They talked about Jim Comey and his wife Patrice; they talked about former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was in an impossible situation as both a deep believer in the Trump agenda and an informant for the Mueller investigation; and they talked about the Mueller investigation and why it never answered those counterintelligence questions that everyone expected it to address.

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Sep 14, 2020
Pete Strzok on 'Compromised'
1:21:13

Peter Strzok served in the FBI from 1996 to 2018 and eventually became the deputy head of the counterintelligence division, where he supervised, among other things, the Russia investigation, both at the FBI and later under Robert Mueller. His new book is called, "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump." Benjamin Wittes sat down with Peter for an extended conversation over Zoom, sponsored by the Georgetown Center for Security Studies, to discuss the book, Pete's own history, why he still thinks the president is compromised by the Russians and his response to criticisms of the way the Russia investigation was conducted.

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Sep 11, 2020
Ben Nimmo on the Return of the Internet Research Agency
45:31

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Nimmo, the director of investigations at Graphika. Ben has come on the podcast before to discuss how he researches and identifies information operations, but this time he talked about one specific information operation: a campaign linked to the Internet Research Agency “troll farm.” Yes, that’s the same Russian organization that Special Counsel Robert Mueller pinpointed as responsible for Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election on social media. They’re still at it, and Graphika has just put out a report on an IRA-linked campaign that amplified content from a fake website designed to look like a left-wing news source. They discussed what Graphika found, how the IRA’s tactics have changed since 2016 and whether the discovery of the network might represent the rarest of things on the disinformation beat—a good news story.

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Sep 10, 2020
Cheap Fakes on the Campaign Trail
44:20

It was a big week for manipulated video and audio content. In just 36 hours, senior republicans or people associated with the Trump campaign tweeted, posted or shared manipulated audio or video on social media three times, prompting backlash from media and tech companies. Last week, Lawfare's managing editor, Quinta Jurecic, and associate editor, Jacob Schulz, wrote a piece analyzing these incidents. To talk through issues of deep fakes and cheap fakes, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Quinta, Jacob and Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the Boston University School of law. They talked about who posted what on Twitter and other social media, how the companies responded, what more they could have done and whether posting manipulated video is still worth it, given how companies now respond.

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Sep 09, 2020
Everything You Wanted to Know About the Hatch Act But Were Afraid to Ask
41:09

The Hatch Act has been in the news a lot recently, between the Republican National Convention's use of the White House grounds and Secretary Pompeo's decision to address the Convention from an official trip in Jerusalem. What does the law really require, what does it forbid and what does it permit? Benjamin Wittes spoke with Amanda Kane Rapp, senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about whether the RNC violated the Hatch Act, where the rules come from and how in the future they might be changed.

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Sep 08, 2020
A Busy Week at the DC Circuit
45:34

It was a big week for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals who handed down opinions in two cases involving former presidential White House advisors. The case of Don McGahn, former White House Counsel, was decided by a panel of the court, having been kicked back to that panel by the full court earlier in the summer. The case of Michael Flynn was decided by the full court, reversing a panel that had earlier ordered a lower court judge to throw the criminal case out.

It's a dizzying series of events involving a complex bunch of cases. To talk through it, Benjamin Wittes got together with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson who clerked on the DC Circuit, and Jonathan David Shaub, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law. They talked about the Flynn case, the McGahn case, the en banc court vs. the panels that it has generated, and where the cases are going next.

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Sep 04, 2020
Alissa Starzak on Cloudflare, Content Moderation and the Internet Stack
42:46

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alissa Starzak, the head of public policy at Cloudflare—a company that provides key components of the infrastructure that helps websites stay online. They talked about two high-profile incidents in which Cloudflare decided to pull its services from websites publishing or hosting extremist, violent content. In August 2017, after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince announced that he would no longer be providing service to the Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. Two years later, Cloudflare also pulled service from the forum 8chan after the forum was linked to a string of violent attacks.

They talked about what Cloudflare actually does and why blocking a website from using its services has such a big effect. They also discussed how Cloudflare—which isn’t a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter—thinks about its role in deciding what content should and shouldn’t stay up.

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Sep 03, 2020
Briefings Schmiefings
43:34

Last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed Congress that elections security briefings in the run-up to the 2020 election would no longer be oral. There would be written intelligence product only, and there would be no Q&A sessions. Members of Congress are not happy about it.

To discuss the the change, Benjamin Wittes spoke with David Priess, a former CIA briefer who used to do briefings like this, and Margaret Taylor, a former congressional staffer who used to consume briefings like this. They discussed how big a change this actually is, whether it will stick and what tools Congress has to push back against it.

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Sep 02, 2020
Election Anxieties and the U.S. Postal Service with Kevin Kosar and Anne Joseph O’Connell
54:17

On August 13, President Trump said in a news interview that he opposed supplemental funding for the United States Postal Service because such funding is needed for the delivery of universal mail-in ballots for the 2020 election. His comments sparked panic about whether the Trump administration is slowing Postal Service delivery in order to sway the election. Images of blue mailboxes being removed and anecdotes about slow mail delivery added fuel to the fire. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was called to testify before Senate and House oversight committees. Lawsuits were filed by a host of state Attorneys General.

So what’s really going on here? Is this election interference, the implementation of legitimate policies or something else? Margaret Taylor sat down with Kevin Kosar of the American Enterprise Institute and Anne Joseph O’Connell of Stanford Law School to sort through the facts, the policy changes, the investigations and the lawsuits—and what it all means for the 2020 election.

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Sep 01, 2020
Trade War Powers: Past, Present and Future
55:49

Earlier this month, the Trump administration re-imposed tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada, signaling a new salvo in the now years-long trade war it has been waging with countless U.S. trading partners. But what gives the president the authority to pursue such measures unilaterally, even when he lacks support from members of his own party in Congress? To talk through this question, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Kathleen Claussen of the University of Miami School of Law and Timothy Meyer of Vanderbilt Law School. They discussed the scope of the president's authority over trade, where it came from and what a future Congress might be able to do about it.

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Aug 31, 2020
"What’s Going on at Pompeo’s State Department?" with Nahal Toosi and Scott Anderson
1:03:17

In mid-May, President Trump fired the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. The ouster came as a surprise, and although it is clear that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked Trump to fire him, the reasons Pompeo gave for it have changed over time. This is just one of a series of controversies coming out of the Department of State in recent months. With the House Foreign Affairs Committee investigating and additional Inspector General reports becoming public over the last month, Margaret Taylor sat down with Politico’s foreign affairs correspondent, Nahal Toosi, and Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, to sort through it all. They talked about the implications of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Republican National Convention, the IG’s report on Pompeo’s controversial decision to declare an emergency to expedite the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, questions about the use of Department resources in support of Susan Pompeo and the State Department’s responses to the House and Senate requests for documents related to Biden and Burisma.

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Aug 28, 2020
Emma Llansó on the Most Important Content Moderation Database You’ve Never Heard Of
53:24

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Emma Llansó, the director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). They discussed the Global Internet Forum, or GIFCT, a consortium which houses a shared database of content that platforms use to remove terrorism-related material. Emma makes the case for why it’s worth paying attention to—and why she finds it concerning.

They also talked about CDT’s lawsuit against President Trump over his recent executive order aiming to constrain platforms’ leeway to moderate content, which the CDT is arguing violates the First Amendment.

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Aug 27, 2020
Yemen's Ongoing Tragedy
40:13

Yemen is home to the most tragic circumstances imaginable right now—years upon years of war, environmental disasters and severe humanitarian plight, exacerbated by cholera, diphtheria and now COVID-19. To discuss the ongoing situation, David Priess sat down with Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford University, who has spent extensive time on the ground in Yemen, and Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. They talked about the roots of the Yemeni war and its humanitarian toll, its evolution through conflict and COVID-19, and prospects for improved conditions.

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Aug 26, 2020
Harold Holzer on 'The Presidents vs. the Press'
54:26

Jack Goldsmith spoke with Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, about his new book, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media from the Founding Fathers to Fake News." They discussed the long and interesting history of the contentious relationship between presidents and the press, and how President Trump's relationship with journalists has many precedents and is not the low point in president-press relations. They also discussed the likely arc of the battle between the White House and the media after Trump leaves office.

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Aug 25, 2020
The State of the U.S.-China Relationship
1:02:08

In recent months, relations between the United States and China seem to have reached a new low as disagreements over trade, tech, human rights and the coronavirus have led the two sides to exchange increasingly harsh rhetoric. Just weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to suggest that the decades-long experiment of U.S. engagement with China had been a mistake. But is this heightened tension just a bump in the road, or is it a new direction for one of the United States's most important bilateral relationships? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with an all-star panel of China watchers, including Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Elsa Kania of the Center for a New American Security, and Rob Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.

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Aug 24, 2020
The Senate Intelligence Committee, the 2016 Campaign and the Counterintelligence Threat
56:49

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released the final counterintelligence volume of its extensive report related to many aspects of the Russian information warfare and influence campaign surrounding the 2016 election. To dissect it, David Priess sat down with Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Margaret Taylor. They discussed what's in this report, how it relates to the Mueller report and what actions, if any, it will spur from its hard-hitting findings.

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Aug 21, 2020
Alex Stamos on Fighting Election Disinformation in Real Time
55:38

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security officer of Yahoo and Facebook. Alex has appeared on the podcast before, but this time, they discussed a new coalition he helped set up called the Election Integrity Partnership—a coalition focused on detecting and mitigating attempts to limit voting or delegitimize election results. Disinformation and misinformation around the U.S. presidential election has already started popping up online, and it’s only going to increase as November draws closer. The coalition aims to counter this in real time. So how will it actually work?

They also asked Alex for his hot takes on TikTok—the popular video sharing platform facing pressure over concern about influence from the Chinese government.

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Aug 20, 2020
Scott Anderson and Richard Gowan on the Disagreement in the Security Council on the Snapback of UN Sanctions on Iran
42:03

Late last week, the UN Security Council voted down a resolution, offered by the United States, to indefinitely extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October. The lifting of the arms embargo was one of the sweeteners that was part of the Obama administration's Iran nuclear agreement. Now, the Trump administration has announced it will begin the process of triggering the snapback of UN sanctions on Iran using procedures outlined in UNSCR 2231—a move that could be the death knell for the Iran nuclear agreement. Margaret Taylor sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, and Richard Gowan, the UN director for the Crisis Group, an independent research and advocacy organization, to talk through the legal and political issues, as well as what will unfold on this matter in the weeks and months to come.

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Aug 19, 2020
Manipulating Intelligence Then and Now with Robert Draper
44:54

President Trump's relationship with the intelligence community is back in the news again after allegations that his administration manipulated an intelligence report to show a false equivalency between Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election on his behalf and similar efforts by China and Iran on behalf of his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Trump isn't the first president to try to get the intelligence community to align its assessments with his preferred version of the facts, and he's most likely not the last. This week, Scott R. Anderson sat down with journalist Robert Draper to discuss his new book on one of the most infamous cases of intelligence manipulation in recent history, entitled "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq." They also discussed his recent article for The New York Times Magazine detailing the Trump administration's efforts to change intelligence reports on election interference and what these cases can tell us about the relationship between the presidency and the intelligence community.

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Aug 18, 2020
A Surprise UAE-Israel Deal
45:30

In a surprise announcement last week, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are normalizing relations, and Israel is putting on hold its plans for annexation of West Bank territory. To discuss the announcement and its diverse implications for various actors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson; Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist who is acting head of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings; Natan Sachs, the director of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy; and Hady Amr, a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings who served as the United States deputy special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They talked about what the deal covers; its implications for the domestic politics of Israel, Iran and the United States; how it might affect the larger regional dynamics and what it means for the Palestinians.

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Aug 17, 2020
Adam Jentleson and Molly Reynolds on Getting Rid of the Senate Filibuster
52:52

On July 30, former President Barack Obama, speaking at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, threw his weight behind ending the Senate filibuster if necessary to pursue a voting rights agenda. His comments brought to the forefront a debate that has been simmering for years within the Democratic party. Margaret Taylor spoke with Adam Jentleson, who served as deputy chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid during the Obama administration, and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds, about the history of the filibuster, how it actually works and what the consequences could be if a Democratic-controlled Senate actually got rid of it.

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Aug 14, 2020
Shane Huntley on Countering Digital Threats at Google
46:11

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Shane Huntley, the director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group—a team that leads Google’s efforts to track threats from nation states and hacker groups. If you’ve ever received a notification from Google that a state-sponsored actor is trying to access your email account, you’ve heard from the Threat Analysis Group. The group examines everything from attempts to steal cryptocurrency to what Google calls “coordinated influence campaigns.”

Recently, the Threat Analysis Group has begun putting out blog posts with updates on their work against coordinated influence campaigns. Alina and Quinta asked Shane about his “bulletin” for the first quarter of 2020.

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Aug 13, 2020
Trump Takes Aim at TikTok and WeChat
55:10

President Trump recently issued executive orders aimed at banning TikTok and WeChat from operating in the United States. To discuss the sanction, Bobby Chesney sat down with Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a faculty affiliate with the Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the Clements Center for National Security at UT; and Dr. Ronald Deibert, a professor of political science and the founder and director of The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. In addition to the executive orders concerning TikTok and WeChat, they also discussed the larger U.S.-China relationship and the role of technology competition in that space.

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Aug 12, 2020
The McGahn Decision and Proxy Voting
52:10

Last week, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington handed down a major en banc decision on the question of whether the president's former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, even needs to show up in response to a congressional subpoena, or whether he has absolute immunity from testifying before Congress. A strong seven judge majority of the DC Circuit overturned a panel opinion that had held that a congressional committee had no standing to sue to enforce its subpoena. The full DC Circuit ruled that yes, it does have standing. In a separate case, a lower court ruled on an internecine dispute within the House of Representatives over proxy voting instituted by speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The court ruled that Republicans could not challenge the proxy voting rule because of the Speech and Debate Clause. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editors Margaret Taylor and Scott Anderson about what this all means for congressional oversight, whether these opinions will stand up on further review and what will happen next.

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Aug 11, 2020
Jim Sciutto on Trump and 'The Madman Theory'
46:00

During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon employed an unusual scare tactic in his efforts to reach a withdrawal—he led Vietnam to believe he was crazy enough to start a nuclear war, an approach he described as the madman theory. From his first days in office, President Trump has employed his own madman theory, from menacing North Korea with fire and fury to threatening withdrawal from NATO, leaving not just adversaries, but also U.S. allies and even his own advisors unsure of what he will do next. David Priess spoke with CNN's chief national security correspondent and anchor of CNN Newsroom, Jim Sciutto, who has analyzed Trump's foreign policy through this lens and written "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes On the World."

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Aug 10, 2020
Chad Wolf vs. the Committee with No Bull
59:49

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. He was asked about the recent DHS personnel deployments in the wake of mass protests, particularly in Portland, Oregon. The hearing included some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

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Aug 07, 2020
Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny Explain QAnon
53:07

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, reporters at NBC News. Writing at NBCNews.com, they report on disinformation and misinformation in health and politics. Their work covers a lot of ground, but for this episode, they discussed one increasingly prominent issue on that beat: QAnon, a conspiracy theory built around anonymous posts on an internet forum claiming that Donald Trump is waging war against a deep state and a vast network of child sex traffickers. The conspiracy theory has inspired acts of violence and is becoming increasingly mainstream, with several candidates for U.S. Congress being QAnon believers. They talked about how QAnon started, why we need to take it seriously and how the internet—and big technology platforms—have allowed the theory to spread.

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Aug 06, 2020
DHS Compiles Intelligence on Journalists … Including our Editor-In-Chief
53:47

“What if J. Edgar Hoover Had Been a Moron?” That’s the question Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes asks in a new article about his experience learning that his tweets had been written up in an intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. After reporting on an internal DHS document and publishing other documents to Twitter, Wittes learned that I&A had distributed intelligence reports about those tweets along with the tweets of New York Times reporter Mike Baker. After Shane Harris reported on I&A’s activities at the Washington Post, DHS announced that it was halting the practice of collecting information on journalists and the head of the office was reassigned. Quinta Jurecic discussed the bizarre story with Wittes and former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris.

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Aug 05, 2020
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic Staff Report on Diplomacy in Crisis
1:04:08

Last Friday the Lawfare Podcast brought you Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's full statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his question and answer session with the senators, all with "no bull." A few days before that hearing, the Democratic staff of the Committee released its most recent oversight report titled "Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration's Decimation of the State Department." Following remarks by Ranking Member Bob Menendez, Margaret Taylor moderated a panel discussion about the report featuring three distinguished former ambassadors with close to 75 years of diplomatic experience between them—Tom Shannon, Barbara Stephenson and Bonnie Jenkins—as well as Elizabeth Shackelford, who in 2017 resigned her career post in protest of the Trump administration. They talked about the contents of the minority staff report, the recommendations it contains and the long-term consequences of what the report documents for America's foreign policy and national security interests.

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Aug 04, 2020
Michel Paradis on 'Last Mission to Tokyo'
53:06

Michel Paradis is a scholar of international law and human rights who has worked for more than a decade for the U.S. Department of Defense Military Commissions Defense Organization, where he has worked on a number of the landmark court cases to arise out of Guantanamo Bay. Most recently, he is the author of the book "Last Mission to Tokyo: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raiders and Their Final Fight for Justice." It's the story of two military commissions that arose out of the first U.S. bombing raid over Japan during World War II: One, the trial by the Japanese of a number of Americans who participated in the raid, and the other after the war, of the Japanese who conducted the first trial for their conduct of that trial. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Michel about the extraordinary history he uncovered, how he came to be interested in these cases and how they relate to the ongoing U.S. experiments with military commissions.

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Aug 03, 2020
Pompeo vs. the Committee with No Bull
1:26:20

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. Pompeo was asked about the threats posed by China and Russia, the decision to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, the upcoming presidential election and much more. The hearing did include some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

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Jul 31, 2020
Jillian C. York on Free Expression on a Broken Internet
46:05

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jillian C. York, the director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She’s been an activist working on issues of internet freedom and free expression for many years, which gives her a unique perspective on debates over disinformation and platform governance. Jillian and Kate discussed Facebook’s Oversight Board—the entity designed to provide accountability for the platform’s content moderation decisions—whose development they have watched closely, and about which Kate has written a recent article. They also discussed why Jillian thinks content moderation is broken, what technology companies could do better and how discussions of platform governance tend to focus on the United States to the exclusion of much of the rest of the world.

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Jul 30, 2020
Barr vs. the Committee with No Bull
1:23:10

Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Barr was asked about the federal government's response to protests, the upcoming presidential election, the dismissal of former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and much more. The hearing did include a lot of bickering and grandstanding, but we cut out all of the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

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Jul 29, 2020
What to Do With Detained Islamic State Fighters in Iraq and Syria
49:31

For a while, there have been large numbers of alleged former Islamic State state fighters and affiliates detained by the Iraqi government and by autonomous authorities in Syria. The fate of these detainees—and the more than 60,000 people affiliated with the men who live in refugee camps in the region—remains a pressing national security issue for countries in the region, as well as the United States and its Western allies. To talk about the situation, Jacob Schulz spoke with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor of law at the University of Texas; Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post on trials of Islamic State fighters in Iraq; and Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute. They talked about how the trials have gone in Iraq and Syria; how the U.S., Canada and European countries have responded to the situation; and what lessons can be drawn from U.S. experiences with post-9/11 detention and trials of suspected terrorists.

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Jul 28, 2020
Anne Applebaum on the Twilight of Democracy
38:43

Anne Applebaum is a columnist, writer, historian and most recently, the author of "Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lore of Authoritarianism," a book that explores why authoritarian ideologies are on the ascendance in countries as diverse as Poland, Hungary, Spain, the United States and Great Britain. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Anne about the themes of the book: Why are all of these authoritarian ideologies on the rise now? What is the role of social media in their rise? What are the major themes that they have in common, and how different are they location by location? How did conservative ideology come to fracture the way it has over so brief a period of time? And how is the modern wave of authoritarianism different from earlier iterations of it?

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Jul 27, 2020
How Corruption Works in China
1:02:58

Why has modern China prospered in spite of vast corruption? On this episode of ChinaTalk, Jordan Schneider talks with Yuen Yuen Ang, associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, about her new book, "China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption." She draws comparisons between U.S. history and the China of today, arguing that access money in China functions like campaign finance in the States. They also discuss the implications of corruption for regime stability.

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Jul 24, 2020
Hany Farid on Deep Fakes, Doctored Photos and Disinformation
53:01

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on analyzing and identifying altered photo and video—what’s known as digital image forensics. Recently, he has done work on deep fakes—realistic synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is altered to show them doing or saying something they never did or said. He’s also helped develop technology used by platforms to identify and remove material related to child sexual abuse. They talked about how dangerous deep fakes really are, how much of that danger is the technology itself and how much of it has to do with how big platforms amplify incendiary content, and whether platforms should moderate disinformation and misinformation in the same aggressive way they take down sexually abusive material.

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Jul 23, 2020
Schrems II and the Future of Transatlantic Data
37:01

Last week, the European Court of Justice released its much awaited decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Maximilian Schrems, commonly known as Schrems II, which addressed which privacy requirements governments and corporations within the European Union will be required to secure before participating in international data transfers. The court's decision casts serious doubt on many of the measures currently in place, most notably in relation to the United States's own national security and surveillance activities, and thus raises new questions about how the European Union would continue to interact with the global digital economy. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Peter Swire, professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology and himself a former privacy official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Stewart Baker, currently of counsel at Steptoe & Johnson and previously the assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration.

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Jul 22, 2020
The Expanded Intelligence Activities of the Department of Homeland Security
56:49

Yesterday, Lawfare published an article revealing and analyzing a document from the Department of Homeland Security that offers legal guidance to analysts in its Office of Intelligence and Analysis regarding the appropriate intelligence activities to mitigate the threat to monuments, memorials and statues, among other things. To discuss this new information and its implications, David Priess spoke with not only the two authors of the article —Lawfare's editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck—but also Carrie Cordero, senior fellow and general counsel at the Center for a New American Security, who has researched and written extensively on DHS authorities and policies, and Paul Rosenzweig, senior fellow for National Security & Cybersecurity at the R Street Institute and a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at DHS.

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Jul 21, 2020
The Forgotten War Remembered
50:49

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Though often called the "Forgotten War," the Korean War has highly conditioned much of our contemporary international politics in East Asia, and the people of Korea continue to live with its aftermath, both in the north and in the south. And the shadow of the Korean War looms large over something we often debate on Lawfare—war powers. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the Korean War, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Katharine Moon, a professor of political science at Wellesley College and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy; Matt Waxman, a professor at Columbia University Law School and long-time Lawfare contributor; and Scott R. Anderson, senior editor of Lawfare and a specialist on war powers, among other things. They talked about what happened on the Korean peninsula during the war, how it affected the way we talk about war powers, and the international law status of the conflict in Korea.

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Jul 20, 2020
John Allen and Darrell West on Artificial Intelligence
48:28

Darrell West is vice president of the Brookings Institution and director of Governance Studies at Brookings. John Allen is the president of the Brookings Institution and a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general. Together, they are the authors of the book, "Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence," a broad look at the impact that artificial intelligence systems are likely to have on everything from the military, to health care, to vehicles and transportation, and to international great power competition. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the book and the question of how we should govern AI systems. What makes for ethical uses of AI? What makes it scary? What are the anxieties that people have about artificial intelligence and to what extent are the fears legitimate?

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Jul 17, 2020
Jane Lytvynenko on Debunking the Disinformation Garbage Fire
49:46

This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jane Lytvynenko, a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News who focuses on disinformation. If you use Twitter regularly and have looked at the platform during any major media events—disasters, protests, you name it—you’ve likely seen her enormous tweet threads where she debunks hoaxes and misinformation. Recently, she’s turned her debunking skills toward misinformation and disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic, reporting on the various “fake experts” peddling misleading stories about the virus and the long half-life of the conspiratorial “Plandemic” video. She’s also written on the rise of “disinformation for hire”—PR firms that turn to disinformation as a marketing tool. So what is it like to report on disinformation and misinformation in real time? How can journalists help readers understand and spot that bad information? And, is there any cause to be optimistic?

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Jul 16, 2020
A Deep Dive on China and the Uighurs
58:35

We talk a lot about Chinese policy in Hong Kong, but there's another human rights crisis going on in China in the province of Xinjiang. It concerns the Turkic minority known as the Uighurs whom the Chinese government has been rounding up and putting in reeducation camps. It is an ugly story—one that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to keep from international attention, with some degree of success. To walk us through the situation in Xinjiang, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jessica Batke, a senior editor at ChinaFile; Darren Byler, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose research focuses on Uighur dispossession; and Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, who has written extensively on the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence and big data in mass surveillance in China.

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Jul 15, 2020
David Rohde on the Supposed "Deep State"
51:23

In a 2018 poll, 74 percent of Americans said they believed that some group of unelected government and military officials was definitely or probably secretly manipulating or directing national policy. What is the actual history of presidents and Congress clashing with national security and law enforcement institutions? And how has that led to Trump's notion of a deep state out to get him? David Priess spoke with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde of The New Yorker, who has turned his attention to this tricky topic in the new book, "In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's 'Deep State.'" They talked about intelligence, law enforcement, inspectors general, public trust in government and of course, Bill Barr.

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Jul 14, 2020
COVID-19 and its National Security Implications in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa
47:30

You've heard a lot about COVID-19 and its effects in the United States, China and East Asia, Europe and Brazil. But what about the Middle East, South Asia and Africa? The virus is hitting these regions hard with profound political and national security consequences. To discuss it all, David Priess sat down with Mona Yacoubian, a senior advisor on Syria, the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Institute of Peace; Nilanthi Samaranayake, the director of the Strategy and Policy Analysis Program at CNA with expertise on Indian Ocean and South Asia security; and Judd Devermont, the director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former national intelligence officer for Africa.

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Jul 13, 2020
The Subpoena Cases Come Down
52:39

Yesterday, the Supreme Court, on the final day of its term, handed down the two big subpoena cases: Trump v. Vance, in which the president tried to beat back a subpoena from a New York grand jury, and Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, in which the president tried to beat back a congressional subpoena for his financial records. He didn't entirely succeed in either case, but he made some headway in the Mazars case. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's Margaret Taylor, Scott Anderson, Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds. They talked about whether the president has a path forward before the New York grand jury, and what the cryptic decision in Mazars portends, both for Trump and for the executive-legislative oversight relationship.

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Jul 10, 2020
Brandi Collins-Dexter on COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities
55:40

In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the senior campaign director at the advocacy organization Color of Change and a visiting fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She recently published a report with the Shorenstein Center on “Canaries in the Coal Mine: COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities,” tracing how different false narratives about the pandemic surfaced among Black social media users in the United States. So what makes this misinformation unique and especially dangerous? And how should the responses of technology companies account for the ways the Black community is particularly vulnerable to this kind of misinformation? They also discussed Color of Change’s role in the #StopHateForProfit campaign, an ad boycott of Facebook in protest of the company’s handling of potentially harmful speech on its platform.

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Jul 09, 2020
Xinjiang, Hong Kong and China
41:57

The protests in Hong Kong have grabbed international headlines, but Hong Kong is hardly the only region of China that is experiencing brutal repression from the Chinese Communist Party. The latest unrest in the city and the imposition of the new national security law in Hong Kong mirrors actions taken in Xinjiang, the province of China that is inhabited principally by Uighur Muslims. To talk about it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Alvin Cheung, a non-resident affiliated scholar of NYU's U.S. Asia Law Institute and an expert on Hong Kong law; Jeremy Daum of the Paul Tsai China Center at the Yale Law School and an expert on Chinese criminal procedure and the detention of Uighurs outside of it; and Sophia Yan, the Beijing-based China correspondent for The Telegraph in London. They talked about what's going on in Hong Kong, what's going on in Xinjiang, what's going on in Tibet, and what's going on in the mainland of China itself.

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Jul 08, 2020
David Priess on the History of the President's Daily Brief
44:32

David Priess is the chief operating officer of the Lawfare Institute. He is also a former CIA briefer for the Attorney General and the FBI director, and he's the author of "The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents." The president's daily brief has been in the news of late because of the Russia bounties story and the question of whether President Trump is actually internalizing the intelligence he is given in his daily briefing. Benjamin Wittes spoke with David about the history of the president's daily brief, how different presidents have gotten intelligence information and whether President Trump's behavior in this regard is exceptional or not.

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Jul 07, 2020
Chris Brose on 'The Kill Chain'
41:50

Christian Brose was the staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he was also John McCain's senior policy adviser. He now works as the chief strategy officer of Anduril Industries, and he is the author of "The Kill Chain: Defending America and the Future of High-Tech Warfare," a look at how far behind the United States is growing in possible conflict against its principal national security adversary: China. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Chris to talk through what would happen if China and the United States actually fought a war. How has China modernized its military so quickly without the kind of military spending the United States has engaged in? And what does the United States need to do to stay current?

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Jul 06, 2020
David Shimer on "Rigged"
1:01:20

Jack Goldsmith spoke with David Shimer, the author of "Rigged: America, Russia and 100 Years of Covert Electoral Interference." They discussed United States and Soviet interference in elections during the Cold War, how and why the U.S. attitude toward foreign electoral interference changed after the Cold War, and whether and to what degree the Central Intelligence Agency still covertly intervenes in foreign elections today. They also discussed how the rise of the Internet asymmetrically empowers Russia and its long term efforts to disrupt domestic U.S. politics.

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Jul 03, 2020
Darius Kazemi on The Great Bot Panic
50:43

On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Darius Kazemi, an internet artist and bot-maker extraordinaire. Recently, there have been a lot of ominous headlines about bots—including an NPR article stating that nearly 50 percent of all Twitter commentary about the pandemic has been driven by bots rather than human users. That sounds bad—but Darius thinks that we shouldn’t be so worried about bots. In fact, he argues, a great deal of reporting and research on bots is often wrong and actually causes harm by drumming up needless worry and limiting online conversations. So, what is a bot, anyway? Do they unfairly take the blame for the state of things online? And if weeding out bot activity isn’t a simple way to cultivate healthier online spaces, what other options are there for building a less unpleasant internet?

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Jul 02, 2020
Taking China to Court Over the Coronavirus
55:20

As the United States continues to suffer from the effects of the coronavirus, the controversy surrounding China's alleged role in the pandemic has continued to grow. In recent weeks, it has even entered the U.S. courts, as private plaintiffs have brought claims against the Chinese government and related institutions for allegedly contributing to the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, members of Congress have introduced legislation aimed at making such litigation even easier to pursue, specifically by stripping away the sovereign immunity protections that normally protect foreign states from such claims. But can these efforts really provide Americans with needed relief, or are they just a dangerous distraction from the real issues with the United States's own coronavirus response? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Chimène Keitner, the Alfred and Hanna Fromm Professor of International Law at the University of California Hastings School of Law, and Robert Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at the Yale Law School.

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Jul 01, 2020
About Those Russian Bounties
54:36

The New York Times and Washington Post both report that a Russian intelligence unit is paying bounties to Taliban-affiliated militants for killing coalition, including U.S., soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. The White House denies that the president has been briefed on the subject, although the newspapers report that the White House was alerted to it and didn't do anything about it. Congress is asking questions, and Trump's critics are certain that this is the latest example of the president bowing before Vladimir Putin.

Benjamin Wittes spoke with Scott Anderson, Susan Hennessey and David Priess of Lawfare, and Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, about how solid the intelligence is, what we can say about the president's knowledge—or lack thereof—of the situation, and why Russia would want to do this in the first place.

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Jun 30, 2020
Eric Posner on ‘The Demagogue's Playbook'
58:55

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Eric Posner, the Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, and the author of the new book, "The Demagogue's Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy from the Founders to Trump." They discussed why demagogues are a characteristic threat in democracies, how the founders of the U.S. Constitution tried to ensure elite control and prevent a demagogue from becoming president, how these safeguards weakened over time and how Donald Trump's demagoguery helped him win election as president. They also explored how Posner's perception of Trump as a threat to American democracy fits with his writings in support of a powerful president.

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Jun 29, 2020
Hong Kong’s Protests One Year On
1:16:06

Jordan Schneider, the host of ChinaTalk, sat down with Antony Dapiran, Hong Kong-based lawyer and author of two books on protests in Hong Kong. They discussed the history and legacy of the 2019 protests on the anniversary of one of the largest protests in human history, when two million Hongkongers marched against the extradition bill. They talked about the lead-up and aftermath of that day, how protests grew increasingly violent, the new national security law, and how these protests compare and contrast to Black Lives Matter.

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Jun 26, 2020
Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner on Our Polluted Information Environment
56:07

In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner, authors of the new book, “You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape.” Phillips is an assistant professor in Communications and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University, and Milner is an associate professor of Communication at the College of Charleston. In “You Are Here,” they look at the uniquely disorienting aspects of the current online information environment and how that is exacerbated by aspects of “internet culture” that don’t make sense from the outside. They discussed the challenges for journalists in understanding and reporting on that culture and how that can fuel information pollution, how the internet got to this point where everything is so polluted, and, of course, what QAnon has to do with it.

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Jun 25, 2020
Election Meltdown Update
42:31

COVID-19 is still rampaging around the country, primaries in several states did not go as planned, and, of course, there are Russians lurking in the background. With all of this happening around us, what is going to happen with the election we are about to hold in November? Benjamin Wittes checked in with Nate Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, a guru on conducting a safe and efficacious election in the era of COVID, and Lawfare senior editor Margaret Taylor, who has been tracking what, if anything, Congress is going to do about any of this. They talked about where we are, where we need to be and how long a road we can expect over the next few months.

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Jun 24, 2020
Glenn Kessler on Donald Trump's Assault on Truth
40:15

Glenn Kessler is the head of the Fact Checker staff of the Washington Post. Along with Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, he is the author of the new book, "Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President's Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies." It is a compilation and distillation of the 19,000 false or misleading statements Donald Trump has made and the Washington Post has documented in its mammoth database of presidential untruths since the president took office. Kessler spoke with Benjamin Wittes about what makes Trump different from other presidents, the task of documenting the president's lack of candor on a daily basis and what it all means to have a president who lies this much.

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Jun 23, 2020
John Bolton’s Book is Out of the Barn
52:45

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton's White House memoir, titled “The Room Where it Happened,” has made a lot of waves recently. Not only has Bolton faced criticism for publishing his account of his time in the Trump administration in a book rather than testifying in the president’s impeachment trial, but the Justice Department is now suing Bolton for publishing what it claims is classified information. So what is the government arguing? And, is Bolton’s book any good? On Friday, June 19, Quinta Jurecic discussed it all with Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman.

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Jun 22, 2020
Mira Rapp-Hooper on 'Shields of the Republic'
35:34

Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper is the Stephen A. Schwarzman senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book, "Shields of the Republic: The Triumph and Peril of America's Alliances." Matthew Waxman spoke with Mira about the history and strategic importance of American alliances, some of the constitutional issues alliances raise and what the United States should do to revitalize its alliances going forward.

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Jun 19, 2020
Laura Rosenberger on Chinese Information Operations
47:29

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. When it comes to information operations, most Americans probably think of Russia as the primary culprit. After all, the memory of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election is still fresh. But over the past year, Chinese information operations have gained prominence with the Chinese Communist Party involved in aggressive online campaigns regarding unrest in Hong Kong and the ongoing pandemic. They talked about how the Chinese government wields information online, how Chinese tactics are different from Russian tactics in the information space and how democracies should respond.

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Jun 18, 2020
Norm Ornstein and John Fortier on the Continuity of Government
53:12

Molly Reynolds spoke with Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center about the Continuity of Government Commission, an effort they helped to lead beginning in 2002 to ensure that our three branches of government would be able to function after a catastrophic attack that killed or incapacitated large numbers of our legislators, executive branch officials or judges. They discussed the findings of the Commission, how they relate to the challenges facing the federal government today and how the various branches of government have or have not acted to ensure smooth operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Jun 17, 2020
Lawrence Douglas on Presidential Election Concessions
41:08

The 2020 presidential election is less than five months away. As the election inches closer and closer, concerns have grown about the possibility that President Trump, should he lose the election, would refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the result. How can we think about that risk? Do we have adequate statutory and constitutional guardrails that protect us from electoral catastrophe? Jacob Schulz sat down with Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, and author of the new book “Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020.” They talked about the vulnerabilities in our electoral system, historical examples of mishaps in presidential elections and how to think about the president’s continued hostility toward elections and, in particular, mail-in voting.

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Jun 16, 2020
Patrick Skinner on Warrior Cops and Neighborhood Policing
57:02

Patrick Skinner is a police officer in Savannah, Georgia, who brings diverse experience to that job. He served as a case officer at the Central Intelligence Agency, handling foreign intelligence sources in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan. He also has previous law enforcement experience with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service. David Priess spoke with Skinner about today's policing crisis, Pat's experiences with counterterrorism operations and what they taught him about effective law enforcement, and the hazards of the warrior mentality that is common across many police departments today.

Thanks to Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

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Jun 15, 2020
Evan Osnos on Tiananmen and Lafayette
37:41

ChinaTalk is the newest member of the Lawfare Podcast family, and its impresario, Jordan Schneider, does a wide range of interviews related to China's economy and security. In this episode, Jordan interviews Evan Osnos of The New Yorker about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the relationship between that date and the clearing of Lafayette Square. They talk about everything from the psychological similarities and differences between Donald Trump, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, to Chinese hip hop and why it is not catching on internationally.

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Jun 12, 2020
Eileen Donahoe on Protecting Free Expression Online
40:14

On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Eileen Donahoe, the Executive Director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University. There’s no shortage of controversies roiling right now about free expression and the future of the internet—from platforms aggressively removing misinformation about the ongoing pandemic, to President Trump’s executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Eileen, Quinta and Alina take a step back and review the landscape of online speech as a whole, to get a more holistic sense of what things look like right now and where platforms and governments might be headed when it comes to regulating speech. They talked about the various debates over content moderation taking place within the United States and around the world, and Eileen made the case for why international human rights law should be used as the framework for both protecting and moderating online speech.

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