The Lawfare Podcast

By The Lawfare Institute

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Subscribers: 2309
Reviews: 20


 Dec 23, 2021


 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

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
An Islamic State Jailbreak
37:10

Late last week and early this week saw fighting between Islamic State fighters and Syrian democratic forces after the Islamic State attempted a jailbreak of a Kurdish prison containing significant numbers of alleged Islamic State fighters. The makeshift jail housed Syrians, Iraqis, and also alleged fighters from Western Europe and North Africa. It's the most significant jailbreak since ISIS’s territorial defeat—and a major national security story that's gone under the radar.

To talk it all through and to think about the scale of the damage and all of the things that led to this point, Jacob Schulz talked with Leah West, assistant professor of international affairs at Carleton University, and Louisa Loveluck, the Baghdad bureau chief at the Washington Post. They broke down what's happened so far and what to make of it all. 

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Jan 28, 2022
Defunding the Insurrectionists
55:17

As we’ve discussed on the show, online advertisements are the shifting, unstable sand on which the contemporary internet is built. And one of the many, many ways in which the online ad ecosystem is confusing and opaque involves how advertisers can find their ads popping up alongside content they’d rather not be associated with—and, all too often, not having any idea how that happened.

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin of the Check My Ads Institute. Their goal is to serve as a watchdog for the ad industry, and they’ve just started a campaign to let companies know—and call them out—when their ads are showing up next to content published by far-right figures like Steve Bannon who supported the Jan. 6 insurrection. So what is it about the ads industry that makes things so opaque, even for the companies paying to have their ads appear online? What techniques do Claire and Nandini use to trace ad distribution? And how do advertisers usually respond when Check My Ads alerts them that they’re funding “brand unsafe” content?

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Jan 27, 2022
Oona Hathaway and Secrecy’s End
49:45

What if we declared an end to the costly system of how we classify national security information in the United States? Oona Hathaway, the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, poses this question in her article “Secrecy’s End.” Stephanie Pell talked with Oona about some of our classification system’s most corrosive effects on our democratic system of governance and some proposals she has for reforming it. 

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Jan 26, 2022
The Capitol Police and the Enduring Effects of Jan. 6
55:23

Over the last year, our national dialogue about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has become ever more focused on politics, congressional investigations and criminal prosecutions. But what about the people who were actually on the front lines on Jan. 6?

Natalie Orpett sat down with Susan Dominus and Luke Broadwater, who recently published an article in The New York Times Magazine called, “The Capitol Police and the Scars of Jan. 6.” The article tells the stories of some of the law enforcement officers who were there that day, many of whom continue to experience the impact of Jan. 6 in profoundly personal ways. They talked about what they learned through their reporting and what it means for ongoing efforts to respond to the attack.

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Jan 25, 2022
Ned Foley on Electoral Count Act Reform
52:33

As the prospect of broader election reform has grown more remote, bipartisan discussions have increasingly come to center on one long standing law: the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Designed to regulate the process through which Congress counts electoral votes, ambiguities in this antiquated law have been a frequent source of anxiety, most recently in the wake of the 2020 election, when many feared outgoing President Trump would successfully capitalize on them to prevent the certification of his loss. To discuss the Electoral Count Act and its potential reform, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Ned Foley, a professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a leading expert in election law. They discussed the ordinance of the act, a recent congressional report outlining possible reforms and what limits the Constitution may put on what reform can accomplish. 

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Jan 24, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Who is Vladimir Putin?
44:21

From April 4, 2015: With a tenuous ceasefire holding in Ukraine, we asked Fiona Hill onto the show to discuss the man behind the unrest: Vladimir Putin. Hill is the co-author of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlinand a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. On the Lawfare Podcast, she tackles the hard questions about Putin. Who exactly is he? What does he want? Is he an unhinged madman obsessed with personal appearances or a shrewd realist with a nuanced understanding of the geopolitical challenges his country faces? And how should the West respond to Russian aggression based on what we know about its leader?

It's an important look at an often caricatured but rarely understood man.

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Jan 23, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Mark Rozell on 'Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability'
36:44

From August 6, 2019: Over the years, presidents have used different language to describe the withholding of information from Congress. To discuss the concept of "executive privilege," Margaret Taylor sat down with Mark Rozell, the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and the author of "Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability," which chronicles the history of executive privilege in its many forms since the founding of the United States. They talked about what executive privilege is, what is new in the Trump administration's handling of congressional demands for information, and what it all means for the separation of powers in our constitutional democracy.

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Jan 22, 2022
Trump’s Documents, the Jan. 6 Committee and the Supreme Court
54:33

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Trump v. Thompson, denying Donald Trump's motion to block the National Archives from producing his documents to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. To drill down, Natalie Orpett talked with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson and Professor Jonathan Shaub of the University of Kentucky College of Law. They discussed the dispute between Trump and the committee, the central issue of executive privilege and what it all means for the committee’s investigation.

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Jan 21, 2022
Why the Online Advertising Market is Broken
59:45

In December 2020, ten state attorneys general sued Google, alleging that the tech giant had created an illegal monopoly over online advertising. The lawsuit is ongoing, and just this January, new allegations in the states’ complaint were freshly unsealed: the states have accused Google of tinkering with its ad auctions to mislead publishers and advertisers and expand its own power in the marketplace. (Google told the Wall Street Journal that the complaint was “full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit.”)

The complaint touches on a crucial debate about the online advertising industry: does it, well, work? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Tim Hwang, Substack’s general counsel and the author of the book “Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet.” Tim argues that online advertising, which underpins the structure of the internet as we know it today, is a house of cards—that advertisers aren’t nearly as good as they claim at monetizing our attention, even as they keep marketing it anyway. So how worried should we be about this structure collapsing? If ads can’t convince us to buy things, what does that mean about our understanding of the internet? And what other possibilities are there for designing a better online space?

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Jan 20, 2022
Hal Brands on Lessons from the Cold War
57:20

Bryce Klehm sat down with Hal Brands, the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Professor Brands is the author of the new book, “The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today.” He is also the author of a new article in Foreign Affairs, “The Overstretched Superpower,” which argues that the United States might have more rivals than it can handle. They covered a range of topics, including the origins of containment, the rise of Sovietology in academia and what the Biden administration could learn from the Cold War.

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Jan 19, 2022
What Happens When Congress Investigates Itself?
53:42

A crucial component of the story of Jan. 6 involves what members of Congress were doing on that day. What kinds of conversations did Republican lawmakers have with President Trump? To what extent did any members of Congress play a role in engineering the riot itself? These are some of the questions that the House committee on Jan. 6 is investigating—and it’s seeking information directly from members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. So far, McCarthy and the other lawmakers who have received requests from the committee have vowed not to cooperate.

So will the committee subpoena fellow members of the House? What obstacles might it run into if it did? And what does it say that the committee is taking this step? Quinta Jurecic spoke with Mike Stern, a former senior counsel to the House of Representatives, and Lawfare senior editor and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds about the questions of law and norms raised by the latest turns in the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation. 

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Jan 18, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Paul Lewis on Not Closing Guantanamo
40:55

From February 25, 2017: Under the oversight of Paul Lewis, the Department of Defense’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure under the Obama administration, the detainee population at Guantanamo Bay went from 164 to 41. But Guantanamo remains open, and the Trump administration has promised not only to halt any further transfers or releases of detainees, but also to possibly bring in more detainees in the future. And that's aside from the fact that recent news reports indicate that a former Guantanamo detainee was responsible for an ISIS suicide bombing in Mosul.

With this in mind, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Paul to discuss his time as special envoy, President Obama's failure to close the detention center, and what’s next for Gitmo under President Trump.

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Jan 17, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Adam Jentleson and Molly Reynolds on Getting Rid of the Senate Filibuster
52:37

From August 14, 2020: 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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Jan 16, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Chesney, Monaco, McCord, and Rasmussen on Domestic Terrorism
57:37

From October 15, 2019: A couple of weeks ago, Lawfare and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law sponsored a series of panels at the Texas Tribune Festival. For this episode, we bring you the audio of our Tribfest event on domestic terrorism—what it is, how we define it, how we outlaw it, and what more we can do about it.

David Priess sat down with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and former U.S. government officials Lisa Monaco, Mary McCord, and Nick Rasmussen.

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Jan 15, 2022
Trouble in Ukraine and Kazakhstan
58:45

There's a lot going on in Russia's near-abroad, the countries on the periphery of the Russian Federation. There’s a war brewing in Ukraine, with talks in Geneva between Russia and the West seeming to fail this week. There are also Russian troops in Kazakhstan, there at the invitation of the autocratic Kazakh government in response to protests over fuel prices.

To check in on the situation, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis; Alex Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare; Ambassador William Courtney, who served as ambassador to Kazakhstan; and Dmitri Alperovitch, the founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator. They talked about what's going on in Kazakhstan, the failure of the diplomatic process in Geneva, and the war that seems to be coming in Ukraine.

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Jan 14, 2022
Podcasts Are the Laboratories of Misinformation
59:42

Valerie Wirtschafter and Chris Meserole, our friends at the Brookings Institution, recently published an analysis of how popular podcasters on the American right used their shows to spread the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. These are the same issues that led tech platforms to crack down on misinformation in the runup to the election—and yet, the question of whether podcast apps have a responsibility to moderate audio content on their platforms has largely flown under the radar. 

Why is that? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked through this puzzle with Valerie and Chris. They discussed their findings about podcasts and the “big lie,” why it’s so hard to detect misinformation in podcasting, and what we should expect when it comes to content moderation in podcasts going forward. 

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Jan 13, 2022
Benjamin Wittes and Alan Rozenshtein on Trump v. Thompson, Presidential Immunity and the First Amendment
46:39

On Monday, January 10, a federal district court in DC heard oral argument in Trump v. Thompson. The case considers civil claims against Donald Trump and others for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. It raises a number of complicated legal issues, including whether Trump is immune from these kinds of claims, whether it's possible to establish a conspiracy among the perpetrators of the attack and how the First Amendment factors into all of this.

Natalie Orpett sat down with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein to discuss the state of the law, the main challenges for each side and what we can garner from Monday’s five-hour proceedings. 

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Jan 12, 2022
Dr. Charles Lieber and the China Initiative
43:59

On December 21, Harvard University chemist Dr. Charles Lieber was convicted of making false statements and other tax offenses in connection with his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents program. Lieber’s case got a lot of attention, both because of his profile as a well known researcher at Harvard University, and because of the case’s connection with the U.S. government's occasionally controversial three-year-old program called the China Initiative. The program was unveiled in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and has been used by the Justice Department to investigate and charge a variety of wrongdoings connected with the Chinese government, economic espionage, research security, and other issues.

To talk through the Lieber case and the China Initiative generally, Jacob Schulz sat down with Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall Law School. Emily and Margaret have written extensively about the China Initiative and provide thoughts on the Lieber case, as well as what to make of the initiative as a whole.

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Jan 11, 2022
The January 6 Insurrection One Year Later
1:21:27

Last week marked one year since the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill, in which a mob of Trump supporters attacked Congress in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election as president of the United States. On Thursday, the anniversary itself, Lawfare editors appeared in a Brookings event titled, “The January 6 insurrection: One year later.” Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes moderated a panel that included Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff, Seamus Hughes of the George Washington University's Program on Extremism, and Katie Benner, a New York Times reporter who covers the Department of Justice. On today's episode of The Lawfare Podcast, we’re bringing you a lightly edited audio recording of that event, which features discussion of the role of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, Attorney General Garland's recent remarks about the Jan. 6 prosecutions, and what happened with the Capitol Police. 

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Jan 10, 2022
Lawfare Archive: The Soleimani Strike and Its Fallout
57:00

From January 3, 2020: The American drone strike last night that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, is a seismic event in U.S.-Iranian relations—and for the broader Middle East. We put together an emergency podcast, drawing on the resources of both Lawfare and the Brookings Institution and reflecting the depth of the remarkable collaboration between the two. Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney, terrorism and Middle East scholar Daniel Byman, Middle East scholar and former State Department official Tamara Cofman Wittes and former State Department lawyer and Baghdad embassy official Scott Anderson—who is also a Lawfare senior editor—came together the morning after the strike for a diverse discussion of the reasons for the operation, the vast repercussions of it, the legality of the strike and the role Soleimani played in the Iranian regime.

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Jan 09, 2022
The Aftermath, Episode 1: Day Zero, Ground Zero
54:09

We're bringing you the first episode of Lawfare’s new narrative series, The Aftermath, which we released this past Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Hosted by Lawfare’s executive editor, Natalie Orpett, and produced in partnership with Goat Rodeo, The Aftermath is a multipart series that focuses on what our democracy has been doing over the last year to confront, respond to, and deliver accountability for Jan. 6. The series explores the many questions that have arisen in the aftermath of the insurrection and how our democratic institutions are trying to answer those questions.

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Jan 08, 2022
Roger Parloff on the Conspirators
36:59

Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff has a piece out on Lawfare, entitled “The Conspirators: The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on Jan. 6.” It is an examination of the major conspiracy indictments flowing from the January 6 investigation. Both sets of indictments focus on far right militia organizations that participated in the attack—one set on the group called the Oath Keepers; the other on a group called the Proud Boys. In the article, Parloff argues that the Proud Boys in particular played a pivotal role in the insurrection of January 6, being the first to commit violence, the first to actually breach the Capitol barricades, and the first to destroy property. He sat down with Benjamin Wittes to talk about the indictments, why these cases are significant, what they suggest about the dynamics of January 6, and why there are so few people charged with conspiracy among the hundreds who are charged in connection with the day's events.

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Jan 07, 2022
Content Moderation After January 6
58:15

One year ago, a violent mob broke into the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the electoral vote, aiming to overturn Joe Biden’s victory and keep Donald Trump in power as the president of the United States. The internet played a central role in the insurrection: Trump used Twitter to broadcast his falsehoods about the integrity of the election and gin up excitement over January 6, and rioters coordinated ahead of time on social media and posted pictures afterwards of the violence. In the wake of the riot, a crackdown by major social media platforms ended with Trump suspended or banned from Facebook, Twitter and other outlets.

So how have platforms been dealing with content moderation issues in the shadow of the insurrection? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sat down for a discussion with Lawfare managing editor Jacob Schulz. To frame their conversation, they looked to the recent Twitter ban and Facebook suspension of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene—which took place almost exactly a year after Trump’s ban.

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Jan 06, 2022
The Soleimani Strike Two Years Later
50:52

Two years ago this week, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an American strike. At the time, we convened a group of Brookings and Lawfare experts to talk about the potential benefits and risks of the strike, and two years later, we got the gang back together. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney, the head of Foreign Policy program at Brookings and an Iran specialist; Dan Byman, terrorism expert, Middle East scholar and Lawfare’s foreign policy editor; and Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare senior editor and Brookings fellow, to talk about what two years has wrought. They discussed whether the threat of terrorism and escalation in response to the strike was overstated, if U.S. interests were harmed in Iraq as a result of the strike, and what may have kept the Iranian regime from taking stronger action than it eventually took.

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Jan 05, 2022
Christina Koningisor on Secrecy Creep
38:50

Government secrecy is pervasive when it comes to national security and foreign affairs, and it’s becoming more and more common for state and even local governments to invoke government secrecy rationales that in the past, only the president of the United States and the national intelligence community were able to claim. While some of the secrecy is no doubt necessary to ensure that police investigations aren't compromised and state and local officials are getting candid advice from their staff, government secrecy directly threatens government transparency and thus democratic accountability. Alan Rozenshtein spoke about these issues with Christina Koningisor, a law professor at the University of Utah and the author of “Secrecy Creep” a recently published article in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, along with the Lawfare post summarizing her work.

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Jan 04, 2022
The Annual “Ask Us Anything” Episode
35:32

As is our annual tradition, we're bringing you the Lawfare “Ask Us Anything” episode. You, the listeners, sent over your questions, and we, the Lawfare staff and Lawfare contributors, have got answers. Julian Ku, Alan Rozenshtein, Benjamin Wittes, Natalie Orpett, Scott R. Anderson and David Priess tackle questions about the South China Sea, Jan. 6, and an interesting collection of questions about elected officials, the executive branch and constitutional issues.

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Jan 03, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Afshon Ostovar on Iran's Revolutionary Guard
47:52

From February 11, 2020: Afshon Ostovar is the associate chair for research and an assistant professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is also the author of "Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards." The IRGC has been in the news of late because of the killing of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Ostovar about the fallout from the Soleimani killing, how it is all playing in Iran, and why things are so quiet. They talked about whether people made a mountain out of a molehill at the time the killing happened, or whether the blowback just hasn't happened yet.

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Jan 02, 2022
Lawfare Archive: A Speech on Sextortion by Mona Sedky
50:52

From April 22, 2017: Over the past year, Lawfare has expended a great deal of ink on the problem of sextortion, a form of online sexual assault in which perpetrators obtain explicit images or video of their victims and use those images to extort further explicit content. We even brought Mona Sedky, a Justice Department prosecutor who focuses on sextortion cases, onto the podcast to discuss her work. Now, we’re pleased to feature Mona on the podcast once again with audio of her talk at the George Washington University Law School on prosecuting sextortion.

If you’re interested in reading our Brookings Institution reports on sextortion, you can find them here and here.

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Jan 01, 2022
Lawfare Archive: Missy Cummings on Drones, Drones, Drones
32:02

From March 3, 2012: Missy Cummings, Director of the Humans and Automation Laboratory and a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, sat down with Ritika Singh for the fifth episode of the Lawfare Podcast to talk about robots on our battlefields.

Cummings is a bit of a force of nature. In addition to designing unmanned weapons systems, she was one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots—an experience she chronicles in her book “Hornet's Nest.” 

There are currently around 20,000 robots deployed in U.S. theaters of operation. These robots, which are getting cheaper and easier to make, are characterized by increasing capability and increasing miniaturization. Missy and Ritika discussed the many issues to which these developments give rise, as well as where the science and engineering in weapons systems is likely to go in the future.

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Dec 31, 2021
Rational Security 2.0: The “Choosy Spies Choose JIF” Edition
1:04:22

The Lawfare Podcast isn't Lawfare’s only podcast offering. Each week, Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, Alan Rozenshtein and a special guest sit down on the podcast Rational Security to have a more casual and freewheeling conversation about national security stories in the news. Today, we thought we'd share one of our favorite Rational Security episodes from the past year, originally released on October 13. This episode features Washington Post reporter Shane Harris, himself a former co-host of the earlier iteration of Rational Security and current cohost of Lawfare’s newest podcast offering: the long-form interview show Chatter. They talked about spies, peanut butter, what spies do with peanut butter, and how the Queen feels about nicking bent coppers.

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Dec 30, 2021
Chatter, with Rolling Stone's Noah Shachtman
1:09:46

We're giving you something a bit different for today's Lawfare Podcast. It's an episode of Lawfare’s new podcast, Chatter, in which Shane Harris or David Priess, or occasionally both of them, have extended, one-on-one conversations with fascinating people working at the creative edges of national security.

In this episode, Shane talks with Noah Shachtman, the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone, who got there in part from his work as a national security journalist.

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Dec 29, 2021
“The Lazarus Heist” with Jean Lee and Geoff White
1:04:58

Despite being isolated from much of the rest of the international community, North Korea has emerged as an unexpected powerhouse in the realm of cybercrime, with affiliated hackers pulling off some of the most daring heists in cyberattacks of the past decade.

Scott R. Anderson sat down with journalists Jean Lee and Geoff White, who have put together a podcast series entitled “The Lazarus Heist” for the BBC that explores how North Korea came to play this role. Through the lens of the podcast, they discussed the origins of North Korea's interest in both conventional and cybercrime, what they tell us about North Korea's role in the world, and the ways in which they have been used as part of North Korea's broader international agenda.

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Dec 28, 2021
The Fall of the Soviet Union, with Vladislav Zubok
45:24

This past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. To discuss the collapse and its implications, Bryce Klehm sat down with Vladislav Zubok, professor of international history at the London School of Economics and author of the new book, “Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union.” They covered a range of topics, including Mikhail Gorbachev’s economic and political reforms, Professor Zubok’s experience reading Solzhenitsyn for the first time, and the Russian military’s recent buildup along Ukraine's borders.

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Dec 27, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Surveillance Reform After Snowden
1:30:25

From October 17, 2015: Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted Ben, along with Laura Donohue of Georgetown Law School, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, and Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society, to discuss the future of surveillance reform in a post-Snowden world. What have we learned about NSA surveillance activities and its oversight mechanisms since June 2013? In what way should U.S. intelligence operations be informed by their potential impact on U.S. on economic interests? What privacy interests do non-Americans have in U.S. surveillance? And domestically, has the third-party doctrine outlived its applicability? Tom Karako of CSIS moderated the panel.

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Dec 26, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Jonna Mendez on 'The Moscow Rules'
51:16

From July 28, 2019: In the 1950s and 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency had a major problem. The streets of Moscow were a virtually impossible operating environment due to heavy KGB surveillance and other operational difficulties. Through a series of trial and error, and a whole lot of ingenuity, along came the "Moscow rules," a series of technical advancements in the area of disguise and communications technology, and some different operating tradecraft that allowed CIA case officers to get the information they needed from Soviet sources to help the Cold War stay cold.

Jonna Mendez is a former CIA Chief of Disguise, who is also a specialist in clandestine photography. Her 27-year career, for which she earned the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal, included operational disguise responsibilities in the most hostile theaters of the Cold War, including Moscow, and also took her into the Oval Office. She is the co-author, with her late husband Tony Mendez, of "The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics that Helped America Win the Cold War." David Priess spoke with Jonna about the experiences that she and her husband had at CIA, evolving the Moscow Rules, and applying these new disguises and technologies in the service of national security.

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Dec 25, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Russia Breaking Bad and the Future of the International Order
1:31:40

From August 23, 2014: News broke yesterday that the Russian military has moved artillery units inside of Ukraine and that Russian troops are actively using them against Ukranian forces---a move with dramatic escalatory potential. At the same time, Ukraine appears to be closing in on the last Russian-backed rebel strongholds. As the crisis unfolds and the United States seeks to isolate Russia using a network of sanctions, important questions have arisen about Russia's future role in the region and its relationship with the West. What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal? Why, after so much effort to integrate into the global economy, is Putin choosing another path? Is Russia actually attempting to free itself of the Western dominated world order?

Earlier this week, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on the future of Russia’s place in the international order in the light of recent more aggressive turns in its foreign policy. Thomas Wright, fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy (IOS), moderated the conversation with Brookings President Strobe Talbott, Senior Fellow Clifford Gaddy of Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) and Susan Glasser, editor at Politico Magazine. They describe Putin's worldview and subsequent strategy, and lay out the potential consequences of continued tensions for the global economy, coordinated counter-terrorism efforts, and the increasingly stressed non-proliferation regime.

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Dec 24, 2021
Working Toward Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation
56:48

 In 2018, a group of academics and free expression advocates convened in Santa Clara, California, for a workshop. They emerged with the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation—a high level list of procedural steps that social media companies should take when making decisions about the content on their services. The principles quickly became influential, earning the endorsement of a number of major technology companies like Facebook.

Three years later, a second, more detailed edition of the principles has just been released—the product of a broader consultation process. So what’s changed? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with David Greene, senior staff attorney and civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At EFF, he’s been centrally involved in the creation of version 2.0 of the principles. They talked about what motivated the effort to put together a new edition and what role he sees the principles playing in the conversation around content moderation. And they discussed amicus briefs that EFF has filed in the ongoing litigation over social media regulation laws passed by Texas and Florida.

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Dec 23, 2021
The JFK Assassination Documents, with Gerald Posner and Mark Zaid
54:43

President Biden recently authorized the release of almost 1,500 documents related to the JFK assassination. But ten times that number still have had their release deferred. What might be in them? What's holding them back from release? And how did we get here? 

David Priess spoke with journalist and bestselling author Gerald Posner, who wrote the Pulitzer finalist “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” and attorney Mark Zaid, who apart from representing government whistleblowers and representing current and former U.S. government officials trying to publish their stories or remediate illegal employment actions, has also been very active in the JFK assassination documents area for some 30 years. They talked about the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, the work of the review board that the legislation set up, what is in these new documents and what comes next. 

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Dec 22, 2021
Merrick Garland, Ed Levi and the Power of Speech
28:57

Merrick Garland has been getting a lot of criticism these days, and a lot of it is less than entirely fair, or at least it's premature. But Andrew Kent, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes argue in a Lawfare piece published today that there is at least one matter on which Garland's decision-making is ripe for criticism: He is not speaking enough.

Garland has modeled himself after Attorney General Ed Levi, the first post-Watergate attorney general, and in their article entitled, “Merrick Garland Needs To Speak Up,” Kent, Jurecic and Wittes argue that Levi actually used public speaking as a big part of his strategy to rejuvenate confidence in the Justice Department. Garland, by contrast, has been very quiet. Kent, Jurecic and Wittes hold the two up against one another and argue that Garland should make more of a case for what he's doing than he has so far. This episode is a reading of that article.

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Dec 21, 2021
The Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History, with Aki Peritz
53:05

In 2006, al-Qaeda-trained operatives planned and nearly executed an operation to destroy passenger aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean. Because it was discovered and stopped, it did not accomplish its purpose: killing thousands of people in the air and possibly hundreds or thousands on the ground.

Aki Peritz is a former CIA intelligence officer and current adjunct professor at American University who has researched and written all about this transatlantic airliner plot. He has recently published a new book about it all called, “Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History.” David Priess sat down with Aki to talk about the conspiracy and the heroic efforts by the intelligence services of the United States, Great Britain and even Pakistan to uncover and crush it.

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Dec 20, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Jefferson Powell on ‘Targeting Americans: The Constitutionality of U.S. Drone War’
44:21

From May 21, 2016: Four years ago, Anwar al Awlaki—an American citizen—was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen, marking the first targeted killing of a U.S. citizen by the U.S. government. While the attack occurred almost four years ago, the legality, morality and prudential nature of the strike, and others like it that occur nearly daily in a scattershot of countries around the world, remain a subject of much debate.

Last week, Jefferson Powell joined Lawfare’s Jack Goldsmith at the May Hoover Book Soiree for a discussion of Targeting Americans: The Constitutionality of U.S. Drone Wara new book that takes a deep look into the constitutionality of the programPowell is a Professor of Law at Duke University, and over the hour, he argues that the killing of Anwar al Awlaki under the 2001 AUMF was constitutional, but that the Obama administration’s broader claims of authority are not. He also asserts that American citizens acting as combatants in al Qaeda are not entitled to due process protections. Yet constitutional claims should not be confused with what is moral, or indeed, what is legal under international norms. Those answers, Powell suggests, must be examined through means other than constitutional law.

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Dec 19, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Bruce Schneier on 'Click Here to Kill Everybody'
42:27

From September 18, 2018: Security technologist Bruce Schneier's latest book, "Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World," argues that it won't be long before everything modern society relies on will be computerized and on the internet. This drastic expansion of the so-called 'internet of things,' Schneier contends, vastly increases the risk of cyberattack. To help figure out just how concerned you should be, last Thursday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Schneier. They talked about what it would mean to live in a world where everything, including Ben's shirt, was a computer, and how Schneier's latest work adds to his decades of advocacy for principled government regulation and oversight of 'smart devices.'

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Dec 18, 2021
Peng Shuai
46:44

On November 2, the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused on social media a former vice-premier of China of sexual assault. Chinese authorities responded by taking down her posts and engaging in a mass campaign of censorship on Chinese social media. Later on, Peng disappeared from public view, prompting many tennis stars, athletes and others to demand answers about where she was. It's a long saga that ended with the Women's Tennis Association suspending all tournaments in China in a major move that cut against the trend of Western companies ignoring abuses committed at the hands of the Chinese government. Jacob Schulz sat down with Julian Ku, the Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law at Hofstra University, and Katrina Northrop, a reporter at The Wire China, to talk through what's happened to Peng Shuai and what to make of it. 

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Dec 17, 2021
Free the Data!
56:28

On this show, we’ve discussed no end of proposals for how to regulate online platforms. But there’s something many of those proposals are missing: data about how the platforms actually work. Now, there’s legislation in Congress that aims to change that. The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, sponsored by Senators Chris Coons, Rob Portman and Amy Klobuchar, would create a process through which academic researchers could gain access to information about the operation of these platforms—peering under the hood to see what’s actually happening in our online ecosystems, and perhaps how they could be improved. 

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with the man who drafted the original version of this legislation—Nate Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He’s been hard at work on the draft bill, which he finally published this October. And he collaborated with Coons, Portman and Klobuchar to work his ideas into the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act. They talked about how Nate’s proposal would work, why researcher access to data is so important and what the prospects are for lasting reforms like this out of Congress.

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Dec 16, 2021
The D.C. Circuit Rejects Trump
51:22

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week issued a surprisingly under-discussed opinion in the case of Trump v. Thompson, which involves the production of the executive branch and White House records to the January 6 committee. The opinion of a three-judge panel is a decisive rejection of Trump's assertions of executive privilege after leaving office. It also has potential implications for the witnesses who are refusing to testify before the committee. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, Lawfare contributor and University of Kentucky College of Law professor Jonathan Shaub, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about the opinion itself, what it holds and what it means, what it means for the witnesses who were holding out, whether it will stand, and how the committee is doing in general.

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Dec 15, 2021
Caroline Rose on Syria’s Role in the Captagon Trade
47:25

Syria’s decade-long civil war has left the state and economy shells of their former selves. But a new industry is stepping in to fill the void: the manufacture and export of illicit drugs, specifically Captagon, a type of amphetamine that has a growing global market. To better understand Syria’s emerging role in the global Captagon trade, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Caroline Rose of the Newlines Institute, who has been tracking this industry's development for several years and is preparing to release a major report on the topic. They discussed the origins of Captagon, how it came to Syria, and how it is being used by the Assad regime, its allies and their proxies across the region.

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Dec 14, 2021
Bart Gellman on Trump's Next Coup
51:05

Barton Gellman is a long-time national security reporter for the Washington Post, for The Atlantic and elsewhere. His latest article and Atlantic cover story is entitled, “Trump's Next Coup has Already Begun.” He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about the article; about what the Republican party is doing to position itself to overturn, if necessary, the results of an adverse election in 2024; about why Trump is oddly better positioned to do this now than in 2020 when he held the powers of the presidency; and about what, if anything, can be done to stop it.

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Dec 13, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Amanda Tyler on “Habeas Corpus in Wartime”
1:02:48

From May 15, 2018: In her new book, "Habeas Corpus in Wartime: From the Tower of London to Guantanamo Bay," Amanda Tyler presents a comprehensive account of the legal and political history of habeas corpus in wartime in the Anglo-American legal tradition. On Monday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Tyler at the Hoover Book Soiree for a wide-ranging discussion of the history of habeas corpus, where its origins really lie in English law, and how it has changed over the years in the United States, from the Founding to modern cases of counterterrorism.

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Dec 12, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Matt Olsen on the Future of Section 702
54:18

From June 3, 2017: With the impending sunset of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in December 2017, debate is heating up over how the crucial intelligence-gathering provision will be reauthorized by Congress—and even if it will be reauthorized at all. At the Hoover Institution, Benjamin Wittes sat down with former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen to talk about the intelligence community's perspective on 702 and what lies ahead for it in these turbulent times.

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Dec 11, 2021
Uncovering a Secret U.S. Airstrike in Syria
56:28

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. conducted an airstrike in Baghuz, Syria, as part of its battle against the Islamic State. Two bombs were dropped killing dozens of people, as many as 80 according to U.S. Central Command, the majority of whom seem to have been civilians. But the American public had never heard of the strike until last month when a New York Times investigation revealed not only the fact of the strike, but also the troubling government response that led to its being concealed from public view for more than two years.

Natalie Orpett sat down with Dave Philipps, co-author of the Times article and a veteran national security reporter, and Luke Hartig, a fellow in New America's International Security Program and executive editor at Just Security. They talked about what we know and don't know about the incident itself, the legal and policy framework around airstrikes, allegations of war crimes, and what's been happening within the U.S. government in the years since the strike. 

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Dec 10, 2021
Content Moderation’s Original “Decider”
54:18

We talk a lot about how content moderation involves a lot of hard decisions and trade-offs—but at the end of the day, someone has to make a decision about what stays on a platform and what comes down. This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with “The Decider”—Nicole Wong, who earned that tongue-in-cheek nickname during her time at Google in the 2000s. As the company’s deputy general counsel, Nicole was in charge of decisionmaking over what content Google should remove or keep up in response to complaints from users and governments alike. Since then, she moved on to roles as Twitter’s legal director of products and the deputy chief technology officer of the United States under the Obama administration. In that time, the role of social media platforms in shaping society has grown enormously, but how much have content moderation debates really changed? Quinta and Evelyn spoke with Nicole about her time as the Decider, what’s new and what’s stayed the same since the early days of content moderation, and how her thinking about the danger and promise of the internet has changed over the years.

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Dec 09, 2021
Making Sense of the Crisis in Ethiopia
46:46

For the past year, the country of Ethiopia has been embroiled in a brutal civil war. At the center of it is Tigray, a region that has played a prominent role in the evolution of Ethiopia's modern ethnofederalist state. Just weeks ago, rebels seemed to be on the verge of seizing the capital city of Addis Ababa, leading foreign governments to urge their nationals to evacuate the country as soon as possible. Today, the city remains in government hands, and rebel forces appear to be on the retreat, though how long they will stay that way is anyone's guess. To put this dynamic conflict in context and give us a sense of where it may be headed, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Professor Michael Woldemariam of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and Professor Hilary Matfess of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. They discussed the origins of Ethiopia's ongoing civil war, what it's meant for civilians living there and how it might shape the country's future.

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Dec 08, 2021
COVID and Intelligence with Eric Swalwell, Julie Gerberding and Matt Berrett
51:07

COVID-19 has shown us all that pandemics aren’t just a public health issue, but a national security one as well. Are America’s national security institutions prepared to address this threat? And what role should the intelligence community play in addressing pandemics?  

To address these questions, Lawfare’s David Priess moderated a live recording of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a discussion with Congressman Eric Swalwell, who represents California’s 15th congressional district and sits on the House Intelligence Committee; Dr. Julie Gerberding, who served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2002 to 2009 and now is a senior leader at the pharmaceutical company Merck; and Matt Berrett, a former CIA assistant director and head of its Global Issues Mission Center, and now cofounder of the Center for Anticipatory Intelligence at Utah State University. The event was held in conjunction with two programs at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy & Government: the biodefense program and the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security.

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Dec 07, 2021
Trouble Brewing in Ukraine
52:01

It's a scary time along the Ukrainian-Russian border these days. Russian troops are amassing in alarming numbers, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared recently that there had been a coup planned against him by Russian-aligned forces. How bad is it? Is it going to be another war? Is an incursion imminent? To go over all the questions, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Lt. Col. (ret.) Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare, and Dominic Cruz Bustillos, research assistant to Lt. Col. (ret.) Vindman at Lawfare. They talked about the Russian military buildup, the purported coup attempt and what, if anything, the United States can do to head off a coming disaster.

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Dec 06, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Bob Bauer on Trump and the White House Counsel
50:22

From May 27, 2017: Amidst the hurricane of news coming out of the White House in recent weeks, one question has surfaced again and again: why isn't White House Counsel Don McGahn stopping Donald Trump from doing all this? This week on the podcast, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bob Bauer, former White House Counsel for Barack Obama, to talk about the Office of the White House Counsel and how President Trump can and can't be restrained.

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Dec 05, 2021
Lawfare Archive: A House Divided
55:22

From May 6, 2017: Three months into the Trump presidency, where does the relationship between the President and the intelligence community stand? Donald Trump is no longer quite so regularly combative in his tweets and public comments about the various intelligence agencies, but the White House-intelligence community relationship is still far from normal under this very unusual presidency. Here to ponder the question are former NSA and CIA director General Michael Hayden, former acting and deputy director of CIA John McLaughlin, and former deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism Juan Zarate, who spoke with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius in a recent event at the Aspen Institute.

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Dec 04, 2021
Orin Kerr and Asaf Lubin on Apple v. NSO Group
42:44

Late last month, Apple sued the Israeli technology firm NSO Group under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That's the federal law that criminalizes computer hacking and provides a civil cause of action for hacking victims. NSO Group is primarily known for its Pegasus spyware software, which it provides to many governments for their law enforcement and national security investigations. Apple is suing NSO Group because many of the devices that Pegasus is used against are Apple iOS devices. Apple's lawsuit is just the latest in what has been several bad years for NSO Group, which has come under increasing scrutiny, most notably for the use of its software in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government, and for allegations that its products are used to commit a wide range of human rights abuses by authoritarian governments around the world. 

To talk through the merits of Apple's lawsuit, as well as its implications for the spyware industry and cybersecurity norms more generally, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Orin Kerr, professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, and Asaf Lubin associate professor of law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. 

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Dec 03, 2021
How Zoom Thinks About Content Moderation
1:00:00

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with some of the people behind the app that, by this point in the pandemic, you’re probably sick of: Zoom. Quinta and Evelyn sat down with Josh Kallmer, Zoom’s head of global public policy and government relations, and Josh Parecki, Zoom’s associate general counsel and head of trust and safety.

Most of us have used Zoom regularly over the last few years thanks to COVID-19, but while you’re likely familiar with the platform as a mechanism for work meetings and virtual happy hours, you may not have thought about it in the context of content moderation. Josh and Josh explained the kinds of content moderation issues they grapple with in their roles at Zoom, how their moderation and user appeals process works, and why Zoom doesn’t think of itself like a phone line or a mail carrier, services that are almost entirely hands-off when it comes to the content they carry. 

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Dec 02, 2021
Trump and His Intelligence Briefings with David Priess
55:55

The CIA has opened a window into former president Donald Trump's always interesting and frequently contentious relationship with the intelligence community. A newly published history confirms a lot of what we already knew about Trump's preferences—like that he didn't actually read his daily top secret briefing—but it also shows Trump as privately more appreciative of career intelligence professionals than his public broadsides against their deep-state bosses might suggest. 

Shane Harris sat down with Lawfare’s David Priess, the man who wrote the book about the President's Daily Brief, to chew over a new chapter in the “Getting to Know the President” series by John L. Helgerson, a retired CIA officer and former inspector general. The understated title, “Donald J. Trump—A Unique Challenge,” gives you a hint that as with all things Trump, his relationship to the intelligence community was anything but business as usual. 

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Dec 01, 2021
Cyber Privateering
40:25

Cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone. A cyber attack is no longer confined to the digital realm and can have real impact on various industries like food, gas and medicine. But despite these challenges, there is an opportunity for a new whole-of-society approach to defend against the mounting cyber threats emanating from places like Russia, China and North Korea. One approach advocates that the United States already has a non-governmental model for citizen involvement to adopt for cyberspace. 

Alvaro Marañon sat down with Mark Grzegorzewski and Margaret Smith, who, along with Barnett Koven, are the authors of “Cyber Privateering: A New Model for Cyber Civic Engagement,” a paper they presented at the 2021 Cybersecurity Law and Policy Scholars Conference. They discussed the details around the Estonian model that inspired this paper, the role for Civil Air Patrol and the impact a local civil cyber organization could play in the community. 

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Nov 30, 2021
Timothy Frye on ‘Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia’
46:54

Dominic Cruz Bustillos sat down with Timothy Frye, the Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy within the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, editor of “Post-Soviet Affairs” and co-director of the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Professor Frye is the author of the new book, “Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia,” which draws on cutting-edge social science research to emphasize Russia's similarities to other autocracies and highlight the difficult trade-offs that confront the Kremlin. They discussed Frye’s challenges to the conventional wisdom on Putin's Russia, Russia's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European energy crisis, the recent State Duma elections, U.S.-Russia relations and more. 

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Nov 29, 2021
Lawfare Archive: HASC Hearing on Outside Perspectives on the AUMF
1:37:54

From February 28, 2015: On Thursday of this week, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Bobby Chesney, along with General Jack Keane, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to provide “Outside Perspectives on the President’s Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

The hearing grappled with a number of difficult and vitally necessary questions: What exactly does "enduring ground combat operations" mean? Should the AUMF sunset after three years? And, does a new AUMF accomplish anything if it is not tied to the existing authorities present in the 2001 AUMF? The discussion delved deeply into the President’s proposed AUMF, its merits and its flaws, and how those failings can be addressed.

Note: The Podcast has been edited for length and content; only the most relevant parts of the discussion are included.

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Nov 28, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Adam Segal on ‘The Hacked World Order’
44:22

From April 2, 2016: This week, Adam Segal of the Council on Foreign Relations joins Jack Goldsmith at a Hoover Book Soiree for a discussion of his new book, “The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age.” Segal begins at what he calls “year Zero”—sometime between June 2012 and June 2013—explaining that the events in that year ushered in a new era of geopolitical maneuvering in cyberspace, with great implications for security, privacy and the international system. These changes, he suggests, have the potential to produce unintended and unimaginable problems for anyone with an internet connection.

In March, George Washington University's Henry Farrell reviewed “The Hacked World Order” for the Lawfare Book Review.

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Nov 27, 2021
The Soviet Perspective on the Nuremberg Trials
53:27

Last month marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the Nuremberg Trials. To better understand the trials and their legacy, Bryce Klehm sat down with Francine Hirsch, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Hirsch is the author of the book, “Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II.” They covered a range of topics, including the Nuremberg Trials from the Soviet perspective and the trials’ legacy 75 years later.

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Nov 26, 2021
Rational Security: The "Nothing To Be Thankful For" Edition
1:06:25

For Thanksgiving, we’re bringing you something a little different—an episode of Rational Security, our light, conversational show about national security and related topics. This week, Alan, Quinta and Scott were joined by special guest, Quinta's co-host of the Arbiters of Truth series on the Lawfare podcast feed Evelyn Douek! They sat down to discuss:

—“Getting Rittenhoused”: A jury recently acquitted 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of murder charges for shooting two men in what he claimed was self-defense during last summer’s unrest. What does his trial and its aftermath tell us about the intersection of politics with our criminal justice system?

— “Now That’s a Power Serve”: A global pressure campaign by professional tennis players has forced Chinese officials to disclose the location of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared after publicly accusing a former senior official of sexual assault. Is this a new model for dealing with Chinese human rights abuses?

— “Duck Say Quack and Fish Go Blub—But What Did Fox Say?”: Two prominent conservative commentators have resigned from Fox News over its release of a Tucker Carlson film that they say spreads misinformation and promotes violence. Will this be enough to force the network to curb its behavior?

For object lessons, Quinta endorsed her favorite pie dough recipe. Alan in turn made an unorthodox recommendation of what to put in that dough: sweet potato pie. Scott encouraged listeners to follow up that big meal with a cup of coffee, made on his beloved Aeropress with a Prismo filter attachment. And if that doesn't work, Evelyn suggested folks tuck in for a nap with her favorite weighted blanket from Bearaby

Be sure to visit our show page at www.lawfareblog.com and to follow us on Twitter at @RatlSecurity

And Rational Security listeners can now get a committed ad-free feed by becoming a Lawfare material supporter at www.patreon.com/lawfare!

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Nov 25, 2021
David Kaye on How We Address the Global Spyware Problem
44:39

On November 3, the Commerce Department added four foreign companies to what is often referred to as the “Entity List,” for engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. One of those additions was the Israeli company NSO Group, which sells software—often called spyware—that once remotely installed on a phone can steal things like passwords, photos, communications and web searches. It can also activate cameras and microphones without the knowledge of the user. Companies placed on the Entity List are subject to U.S. government licensing and sanctions requirements. The NSO Group was added to the list based on evidence that it developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that use these tools to target government officials, journalists, activists, academics and embassy workers. 

To talk about the global spyware problem, Stephanie Pell sat down with David Kaye, a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In this former role, he produced a report that called for a moratorium on the sale and transfer of spyware. They discussed the nature of the global spyware problem, what might be done to address it and the important role both civil society groups and journalists have played in exposing it. 

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Nov 24, 2021
Lincoln and the Broken Constitution
1:03:38

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Noah Feldman, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, to discuss his new book,”The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America.” They discussed the evolution of Lincoln's constitutional thought on slavery, compromise and war, from the time he was a young man through his most difficult of presidencies. Was Lincoln a great constitutional thinker? If so, why? They also discussed the moral standing of the Constitution at different times in American history, whether constitutional compromise is good or bad, and what these issues teach about current constitutional controversies. 

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Nov 23, 2021
Mary Sarotte on ‘Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate’
57:12

Alexander Vindman sat down with Dr. Mary Sarotte, the author of the new book, “Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate,” to discuss the 1990s and NATO expansion. They discussed how respective decisions by America, Russia and the European Union impacted NATO expansion and today’s geopolitical environment. 

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Nov 22, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Avril Haines, Eric Rosenbach, and David Sanger on U.S. Offensive Cyber Operations
54:01

From May 28, 2019: From the Washington Post’s February report that U.S. Cyber Command took a Russian disinformation operation offline on the day of the 2018 midterms to fight election interference, to the Pentagon’s announcement last year that it would take more active measures to challenge adversaries in cyberspace, recent news about cyber operations suggests they are playing an increasingly important role in geopolitics. So how should the public understand how the United States deploys its cyber tools to achieve its goals?

To help answer that question, at the 2019 Verify Conference, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation hosted a panel discussion featuring former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines, former Pentagon chief of staff Eric Rosenbach, and New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger. They talked about how the U.S. projects power in cyberspace, the difficulties of developing norms to govern state behavior in that domain, and more.

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Nov 21, 2021
Lawfare Archive: The Future of Somalia
1:19:43

From August 9, 2014: Washington was abuzz this week as more than 50 African leaders were in town for the first U.S.-Africa Summit. On August 8, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of Somalia, spoke at Brookings on the future of his country. In his talk, President Mohamud addresses the challenges to democracy that Somalia faces, and how Somalia, the African Union, and other international partners can work together to ensure security, foster development, and promote stable state-building in the country. President Mohamud also addresses the challenges his state faces in its ongoing battle against Al-Shabab militants—a mission that the U.S. has contributed more than half a billion dollars to since 2007. President Mohamud provides a realistic assessment of that threat, while highlighting the efforts his country is taking to bring democracy to Somalia. Michael E. O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings, provides introductory remarks and moderates the conversation.

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Nov 20, 2021
Fiona Hill on ‘There Is Nothing for You Here’
55:43

Alexander Vindman sat down with Dr. Fiona Hill, the Robert Bosch senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, and the author of the new book, “There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century.” They talked about Russia's military buildup along Ukraine, immigration and opportunities in the 21st century.

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Nov 19, 2021
The Facebook Oversight Board, One Year On
57:28

It’s been roughly a year since the Facebook Oversight Board opened its doors for business—and while you may mostly remember the board from its decision on Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook, but there’s been a lot going on since then. So we thought it was a good time to check in on how this experiment in platform governance is faring. In October, the Board released its first transparency report, and Facebook—now Meta—has published its own update on how it’s been responding to the Board’s decisions and recommendations. Meanwhile, Lawfare is keeping track of developments on our Facebook Oversight Board Blog, run by the inimitable Tia Sewell. 

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked about what the data shows about what cases the Board is taking, how the Board’s role seems to be evolving, and, of course, whether we’re going to have to start calling this the Meta Oversight Board, thanks to Facebook’s name change.

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Nov 18, 2021
Hannah Bloch-Wehba on Police Transparency
40:04

Hannah Bloch-Wehba is an associate professor of law at the Texas A&M School of Law. She’s also the author of a recent Lawfare post, entitled “Alternative Channels for Police Transparency.” She sat down with Jacob Schulz to talk about her Lawfare piece, the law review article that inspired it, trends in police transparency and what to do about it. What are the different sources that inhibit public access to police practice? And what trends in the second half of the 20th century left police transparency in the state that it’s in today?

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Nov 17, 2021
Chattering with Shane and David
35:54

Lawfare has a new podcast: Chatter! Hosted by none other than David Priess, publisher of Lawfare and the Lawfare Institute's chief operating officer, and Shane Harris, intelligence reporter from the Washington Post, Chatter focuses on culture, science and national security issues through long-form interviews with cool people. They joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about what they're doing with the show, what they're planning to do with the show and what sort of people they're going to bring on it. 

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Nov 16, 2021
Roger Parloff on the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Prosecutions
47:25

Roger Parloff is a senior editor at Lawfare and the author of the recent article, “What Do—and Will—the Criminal Prosecutions of the Jan. 6 Capitol Rioters Tell Us?” It is a deep dive on the demographics, the charges and the adjudications of the Capitol riot cases so far. Roger sat down with Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about who the Capitol rioters were, why some of them have been allowed to plead out to misdemeanors, what characterizes the misdemeanor pleas and who is left among the bigger fish.

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Nov 15, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Joel Brenner on America the Vulnerable
39:40

From February 20, 2012: Joel Brenner, who served as inspector general of the National Security Agency and as the national counterintelligence executive in the DNI's office, joined Jack Goldsmith to discuss his new book, America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare. Benjamin Wittes reviewed the book here.

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Nov 14, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Jameel Jaffer, Bob Litt, and William Banks Debate FISA
1:47:06

From November 22, 2014: Earlier this month, the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security held its “24th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law CLE Conference.” As part of the conference, the group held a particularly strong panel discussion on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—featuring Bob Litt, general counsel to the DNI, Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, and Bill Banks of Syracuse University law school. The discussion was moderated by Laura Donohue of Georgetown law.

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Nov 13, 2021
Michel Paradis on Majid Khan
55:32

Majid Khan pled guilty in a military commission at Guantanamo eight years ago, but he has been back in the news of late. At a sentencing hearing at Guantanamo recently, he gave graphic testimony about his torture and treatment at the hands of the CIA and the military. He also took responsibility and showed remorse for his own conduct. His speech in the military commission was sufficiently moving that several members of the jury wrote a letter to the convening authority asking for clemency for Majid Khan. 

To talk about the dramatic events, the history of the case, and the CIA program’s treatment of Majid Khan, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Michel Paradis, an appellate lawyer for the Office of Military Commissions Defense Counsel. They talked about what Majid Khan did, his history in al-Qaeda after a childhood in Baltimore, what was done to him, and whether with all this water under the bridge, something like justice could ever come from a trial.

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Nov 12, 2021
Video Games Cannot Escape the Content Moderation Reckoning
52:08

Content moderation in video games turns out to be just as much of a bummer as content moderation everywhere else, perhaps even more so. This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Daniel Kelley, the director of strategy and operations for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society. He studies how companies deal with the many moderation issues that pop up in gaming, from harassment to digital recreations of violent hate crimes and white nationalist propaganda. And his team at the Anti-Defamation League has a new report out on how players experience abuse—but also joy and connection—while gaming. Quinta and Evelyn asked Daniel to make the case for why everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, should care about games, why harassment in gaming seems particularly bad compared to non-gaming platforms, and where the gaming industry stands when it comes to investing in content moderation.

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Nov 11, 2021
Susan Landau and Ross Anderson on the Going Dark Debate and the Risks of Client-Side Scanning
53:16

The “going dark” debate, which concerns how society and the technology industry should address the challenges that law enforcement faces in investigating crime due to the increasing use of encryption on mobile devices and by communication platforms and services, was in the news again because of Apple's recent proposal to engage in client-side scanning. Apple planned to scan iPhones for child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, before such images were uploaded to iCloud. Prior to Apple's announcement, however, a distinguished group of computer scientists and engineers were already working on a paper to explain the security and privacy risks of client-side scanning. The paper, which they have now released, is called “Bugs in our Pockets: The Risks of Client-Side Scanning.” 

To talk about this most recent development in the going dark debate, Stephanie Pell sat down with two of the paper’s authors: Susan Landau, Bridge Professor of Cybersecurity and Policy in The Fletcher School and at the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, at Tufts University; and Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Edinburgh. They discussed some of the most significant privacy and security risks client-side scanning creates, why client-side scanning requires a different analysis from other aspects of the discussion about government access to encrypted data, and why the authors of the paper consider client-side scanning to be a dangerous technology.

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Nov 10, 2021
America, China and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics
45:48

Jack Goldsmith sat down with John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in the Political Science department at the University of Chicago, to discuss his recent article in Foreign Affairs, called “The Inevitable Rivalry: America, China, and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics.” In that essay, Mearsheimer argues that America's engagement with China following the Cold War, and its fostering of the rise of China's economic and thus military power, was the worst strategic blunder any country has made in recent history. They discussed why he thinks this, why he believes we currently are in a cold war with China that is more dangerous than the one with the Soviet Union, and what concretely the U.S. government should do now to check China's power. 

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Nov 09, 2021
Ambassador Doug Silliman on What's Next in U.S.-Iraq Relations
57:38

The complicated relationship between Iraq and the United States is once again approaching a crossroads. Parliamentary elections held in Iraq last month promise a new government featuring a new cast of political forces with their own difficult histories with the United States. The United States, meanwhile, is approaching the self-imposed deadline by which it has promised to withdraw U.S. combat troops from the country, even as its diplomatic and military presences in the country have continued to come under attack by Iran-backed militias. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down on Lawfare Live with Ambassador Doug Silliman, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2016 to 2019 and was previously the deputy chief of mission and political counselor there. They talked about the Sadrist block that appears to have won the recent elections, what other challenges are facing the Iraqi state and what they all mean for the future of our bilateral relationship.

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Nov 08, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Kenneth Anderson on Living with the UN
32:01

From June 7, 2012: We don't review our own books here on Lawfare—not even if we happen to be Lawfare's book review editor. But Benjamin Wittes sat down the other day with Ken Anderson to discuss his wonderful new book, Living With the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order. It's a terrific read, full of insights about the U.S.-U.N. relationship, the U.N. as an institution, and the international governance movement more broadly.

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Nov 07, 2021
Lawfare Archive: The Case For and Against a FISA Advocate
1:01:17

From June 14, 2014: At the 2014 Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, a panel of experts debated the pros and cons of adding outside lawyers to litigation before two tribunals at the heart of the NSA surveillance controversy: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC") and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ("FISCR"). As is well known, proceedings at those courts generally are held in secret and ex parte, with only the government arguing its position. But, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, many have called for reform, and for greater participation by non-government attorneys.

The group was comprised of panelists Marc Zwillinger, an attorney with experience in surveillance matters; Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Amie Stepanovich, of Access. Lawfare's Steve Vladeck moderated the discussion, which closely examined the question of whether, and how, to add more adversarial process to FISC and FISCR proceedings.

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Nov 06, 2021
Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin from CIA to Congress
58:03

Only twice in history have two women who served as CIA officers been elected to Congress. The first time was 2018, and the second was 2020—both of them featuring Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin. David Priess hosted an event for the Michael V. Hayden Center at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, speaking with both of them about their careers, both in the intelligence community and in Congress. Abigail Spanberger represents Virginia's 7th congressional district and was a CIA operations officer from 2006 to 2014. Elissa Slotkin represents Michigan's 8th congressional district. She served as a CIA analyst, as well as a National Security Council staffer and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. They talked about joining CIA, their experiences there, leaving the intel world, how their CIA experiences help them as legislators, and a few pressing national security issues.

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Nov 05, 2021
What Is Integrity in Social Media?
55:36

There’s been a lot of news recently about Facebook, and a lot of that news has focused on the frustration of employees assigned to the platform’s civic integrity team or other corners of the company focused on ensuring user trust and safety. If you read reporting on the documents leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, you’ll see again and again how these Facebook employees raised concerns about the platform and proposed solutions only to be shot down by executives.

That’s why it’s an interesting time to talk to two former Facebook employees who both worked on the platform’s civic integrity team. This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Sahar Massachi and Jeff Allen, who recently unveiled a new project, the Integrity Institute, aimed at building better social media. The goal is to bring the expertise of current and former tech employees to inform the ongoing discussion around if and how to regulate big social media platforms. They dug into the details of what they feel the Institute can add to the conversation, the nitty-gritty of some of the proposals around transparency and algorithms that the Institute has already set out, and what the mood is among people who work in platform integrity right now. 

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Nov 04, 2021
The Metaverse and Its Discontents
47:22

Last week, Facebook unveiled its new corporate brand—Meta—and its corresponding vision for a new immersive world called the metaverse. The rebrand announcement attracted plenty of consternation from tech journalists, but there are also plenty of interesting issues about the metaverse itself. What type of content moderation problems does virtual reality pose? How might we think about the challenges of platform governance in this new age? What aspects of the metaverse are most worth paying attention to? Jacob Schulz sat down with Lawfare’s Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic to talk it all through. 

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Nov 03, 2021
Shane Harris on the ODNI’s Coronavirus Assessment
38:17

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued a declassified assessment of the origins of the coronavirus, and it’s a bit of a muddle. Was it a lab leak? They don't really know. Was it naturally occurring? They're not quite sure. 

They do know a few things. It wasn't a bioweapon, and we're not going to find out any real answers until China starts cooperating. To chew over the ODNI’s report, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Shane Harris of the Washington Post, who wrote a story about the assessment last week. They talked about what the Intelligence Community could agree on, what it couldn't agree on, why the people with the minority opinion were more confident than the people with the majority opinion, and what we can and can't say about the coronavirus.

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Nov 02, 2021
Mark Nevitt and Erin Sikorsky on Climate Change and National Security
50:53

Last week, the Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Council each released their own reports addressing the issue of climate change as a national security threat. To unpack what's in the reports and what it all means, Natalie Orpett sat down on Lawfare Live with Mark Nevitt, associate professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law, and Erin Sikorsky, director of the Center for Climate and Security and director of the International Military Council on Climate and Security. 

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Nov 01, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Sue Biniaz on the Trump Administration and International Climate Policy
1:27:31

From March 27, 2019: From 1989 to early 2017, Sue Biniaz was the lead climate lawyer and a climate negotiator at the State Department. She was also a key architect of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a UN-negotiated agreement designed to mitigate global warming, which went into effect in November 2016. In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Sue sat down with Lawfare's Jack Goldsmith to talk about the early days of U.S. and international climate action, how the Paris Agreement came into force and the predecessor agreements that gave rise to it, how it was supposed to operate, and what impacts Trump's actions have had on international climate policy.

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Oct 31, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Mary McCord and Jason Blazakis on Criminalizing Domestic Terrorism
51:25

From January 5, 2019: The murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017 and other recent events have drawn in the public discourse to the fact that domestic terrorism is not a federal crime in and of itself. Earlier this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with two experts on domestic terrorism to talk about ways that it might be incorporated into our criminal statutes.

Mary McCord is a professor of practice at Georgetown Law School, a senior litigator at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School, and the former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice. Jason Blazakis is a former State Department official in charge of the office that designates foreign terrorist organizations and a professor of practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Both have proposed ideas in recent months to recognize domestic terrorism in U.S. law. They joined Ben to talk about their very different proposals for how domestic terrorism might become a crime. They talked about why domestic terrorism is currently left out of the criminal code, their two proposals for how it might be incorporated and how those proposals differ, and the First Amendment consequences of their competing proposals.

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Oct 30, 2021
Who Is Éric Zemmour?
40:26

There's a presidential election coming up in France in April 2022. In a surprise to many, recent polls show that the occupant of second place behind the incumbent president is a man who has never run for office before: Éric Zemmour. He's a veteran journalist, a provocateur and a virulent Islamophobe. Jacob Schulz sat down with Yasmeen Serhan, a staff writer at The Atlantic to talk about Zemmour’s rise. Who is he? How did he come to be so popular? Is he even going to run for president? And what about all that's happened so far in France has shades of Donald Trump?

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Oct 29, 2021
The SEC and the Facebook Papers
53:22

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, we’re talking about a subject that doesn’t come up much on the Lawfare Podcast: the Securities and Exchange Commission. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has made waves with her congressional testimony and the many damaging news stories being reported about Facebook based on the documents she released. But before these documents became the Facebook Papers, Haugen also handed them to the SEC as part of a whistleblower complaint against the company. So, we thought we should dig into what that actually means. 

What is the likelihood that Haugen’s SEC filings turn into an investigation into the company? Should Facebook be worried? Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic discussed these questions with Jacob Frenkel, who spent years at the SEC and is now the chair of government investigations and securities enforcement at the law firm Dickinson Wright. He explained how to understand the SEC’s role in cases like these, why whistleblowers like Haugen file complaints with the SEC, and why he thinks it’s unlikely that the agency will investigate Facebook based on Haugen’s disclosures.

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Oct 28, 2021
Somalia, Al-Shabab, and the United States, with Julian Barnes and Emilia Columbo
36:49

In November 2020, a raid against terrorists in Somalia led to the death of an American working for the CIA Special Activities Center. This, after the Trump administration had eased combat rules and airstrikes in Somalia surged. Now the Biden administration seems to be reviewing its policy toward Somalia and the al-Shabab terrorists there.

David Priess talked about it with Julian Barnes, a national security reporter for the New York Times focusing on the intelligence agencies, and coauthor of a recent article in the Times that uses the story of the hunt for an elusive al-Shabab bomb maker to shine a light on the group's continuing strength and the challenges for U.S. policy. Joining them was former CIA senior analyst Emilia Columbo, now a senior associate to the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as senior security risk analyst at VoxCroft Analytics.

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Oct 27, 2021
Katrina Northrop on the Evergrande Debt Crisis
40:08

Evergrande is a massive Chinese real estate company that has found itself with more than $300 billion in liability and no real idea of how to get out of debt. Its financial problems have come to a head in recent months, and concerns have grown about the potential of Evergrande’s debt problems to threaten the Chinese economy. It's a financial story, but one with real implications for China's broader economic picture in great power competition between the U.S. and China. To break it all down, Jacob Schulz spoke with Katrina Northrop. a reporter for The Wire China and the author of a recent profile of Evergrande and its highly mercurial CEO.

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Oct 26, 2021
Pete Strzok on Declining FISAs and Human Source Handling
58:29

Pete Strzok is a former counter-intelligence official at the FBI. He is the author most recently of an article in Lawfare entitled, “The Sussmann Indictment, Human Source Handling, and the FBI’s Declining FISA Numbers.” It's an article that makes an interesting connection between a sentence in the indictment of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann and some data on FISA applications released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They may seem unconnected, but Strzok argues that there may be a deep connection between the two, and he sat down with Benjamin Wittes to discuss it. They talked about the anomaly of the Sussmann indictment; about how it was the tip of a very large iceberg of investigations of officials, agents and analysts who worked on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation; and about the shocking decrease in the number of FISA orders issued over the length of the Trump presidency. 

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Oct 25, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Rep. Adam Schiff on the Role of Congress in Protecting Liberal Democracy
1:03:57

From March 25, 2017: Between leading the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's first open hearing on Russian election interference on Monday, and sparring with HPSCI Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes over Nunes's odd escapades regarding possible incidental collection of communications of Trump associates, HPSCI Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff has had a busy week. On Tuesday, Lawfare and the Brookings Institution were pleased to host Rep. Schiff for an address on "The Role of Congress in Protecting Liberal Democracy." In conversation with Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey, Rep. Schiff spelled out an ambitious legislative program and a vision for revitalizing the power of Congress under the Trump presidency.

If you're interested in reading Rep. Schiff's remarks, Lawfare has published them here in article form.

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Oct 24, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Paul Lewis on Not Closing Guantanamo
41:02

From February 25, 2017: Under the oversight of Paul Lewis, the Department of Defense’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure under the Obama administration, the detainee population at Guantanamo Bay went from 164 to 41. But Guantanamo remains open, and the Trump administration has promised not only to halt any further transfers or releases of detainees, but also to possibly bring in more detainees in the future. And that's aside from the fact that recent news reports indicate that a former Guantanamo detainee was responsible for an ISIS suicide bombing in Mosul.

With this in mind, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Paul to discuss his time as special envoy, President Obama's failure to close the detention center, and what’s next for Gitmo under President Trump.

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Oct 23, 2021
Container Shipping and Supply Chain Delays with Gregg Easterbrook
35:56

Ports in many countries are experiencing congestion. For weeks now, there have been reports that there will be delays in many common products, and people are wondering what is causing this and how it can end. David Priess sat down with Gregg Easterbrook, a former fellow in economics and in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He was a staff writer, national correspondent or contributing editor at The Atlantic for nearly 40 years, and more recently, he is the author of “The Blue Age: How the US Navy Created Global Prosperity—And Why We're in Danger of Losing It.” They talked about everything from the U.S. Navy's dominance of global oceans, to the shipping trade, to the economics of COVID and supply chains. 

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Oct 22, 2021
Twitter’s Head of Public Policy Explains the Company’s Advice to Regulators
44:53

On this week’s episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nick Pickles, the director of global public policy strategy at Twitter. They discussed a new paper just released by Twitter, “Protecting the Open Internet: Regulatory Principles for Policy Makers”—which sketches out, in broad strokes, the company’s vision for what global technology policy should look like. The paper discusses a range of issues, from transparency to everyone’s favorite new topic, algorithms. 

As a platform that’s often mentioned in the same breath as Google and Facebook, but is far smaller—with hundreds of millions of users rather than billions—Twitter stands at an interesting place in the social media landscape. How does Twitter define the “open internet,” exactly? How much guidance is the company actually giving to policymakers? And, what does the director of global public policy strategy do all day?

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Oct 21, 2021
Everything You Wanted to Know About Executive Privilege But Were Afraid to Ask
51:11

Jonathan David Shaub is an assistant professor of law at the University of Kentucky. He is a former OLC attorney and the author of a series of recent Lawfare posts on executive privilege, witnesses, documents and the Jan. 6 committee. He sat down with Benjamin Wittes to talk about Steve Bannon, the former president's suit against the National Archives, all of the privilege claims that are floating around, the misinformation about them that's proliferating on Twitter, and how the Justice Department will think about actually handling the cases that are now presenting themselves to it.

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Oct 20, 2021
Carissa Hessick on Jan. 6 Plea Bargains
52:39

Around a hundred people have already pleaded guilty to crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection on the Capitol. What should we make of the plea deals thus far? Are they overly lenient? Are they what we might expect? To talk through the Jan. 6 plea deals, Jacob Schulz sat down on Lawfare Live with Carissa Byrne Hessick, the Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. They talked through her reaction to the deals, her recent Lawfare article on the deals and about plea bargaining in general, which is the subject of her new book, “Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining Is a Bad Deal.”

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Oct 19, 2021
Liza Goitein and Bob Loeb on State Secrets
56:18

It has been a decade since the Supreme Court decided on a case involving the state secrets privilege, a common law rule that allows the government to block the release of state secrets in civil litigation. In this term, the justices will hear two cases involving the privilege: United States v. Abu Zubaydah and Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga.

To talk about the two cases before the Supreme Court and the state secrets privilege more broadly, Rohini Kurup sat down with Liza Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Bob Loeb, partner in Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice, and former acting deputy director of the Civil Division Appellate Staff at the Department of Justice. They talked about how the state secrets privilege works, the controversy surrounding its use and what we can expect in the two Supreme Court cases. 

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Oct 18, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Coronavirus, Federalism and Supply Chains: A Case Study
41:31

From April 25, 2020: We've covered this novel coronavirus from many angles, focusing on the disaster response issues that make up part of national security. For this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we have something a bit different: a case study of how pandemic control measures intersect with federalism issues and supply chain continuity and security. With a focus on what's happening in Illinois, David Priess spoke with Rob Karr, the president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, representing the industry employing one out of every five people in Illinois, and with Mark Denzler, the co-chair of the state's Essential Equipment Task Force and the president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, representing companies that employ almost 600,000 Illinoisans.

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Oct 17, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Deterring Russian Cyber Intrusions
46:34

From December 24, 2016: Whatever the President-elect might say on the matter, the question of Russian interference in the presidential election is not going away: calls continue in the Senate for an investigation into the Kremlin's meddling, and the security firm Crowdstrike recently released new information linking one of the two entities responsible for the DNC hack with Russia's military intelligence agency. So how should the United States respond?

In War on the Rocks, Evan Perkoski and Michael Poznansky recently reviewed the possibilities in their piece, "An Eye for an Eye: Deterring Russian Cyber Intrusions." They've also written on this issue before in a previous piece titled "Attribution and Secrecy in Cyber Intrusions." We brought them on the podcast to talk about what deterrence of Russian interference would look like and why it's necessary.

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Oct 16, 2021
What's Up With the January 6 Investigation?
48:15

The January 6 investigating committee in the House is busily issuing subpoenas, collecting documents and negotiating with witnesses for depositions. It is also being defied by certain witnesses, and the former president is threatening to try to stop the National Archives from turning over material related to his activities and communications during and leading up to the January 6 insurrection.

To chew over the entire spectrum of issues the committee is facing, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Brookings congressional guru and Lawfare senior editor Molly Reynolds, and Quinta Jurecic, also a senior editor at Lawfare and a Brookings fellow focusing on post-Trump accountability issues. They are the authors together of a recent piece on Lawfare on the hurdles the January 6 investigation may face. They talked about executive privilege claims involving witnesses; about executive privilege claims involving documents; about who controls the privilege, the current president or the past president; and about whether this is all just a complex scheme to run out the clock. 

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Oct 15, 2021
Finstas, Falsehoods and the First Amendment
58:14

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s recent testimony before Congress has set in motion a renewed cycle of outrage over the company’s practices—and a renewed round of discussion around what, if anything, Congress should do to rein Facebook in. But how workable are these proposals, really?

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Kosseff, an associate professor of cybersecurity law at the United States Naval Academy, and the guy that has literally written not just the book on this, but two of them. He is the author of “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” a book about Section 230, and he has another book coming out next year about First Amendment protections for anonymous speech, titled “The United States of Anonymous.” So Jeff is very well positioned to evaluate recent suggestions that Facebook should, for example, limit the ability of young people to create what users call Finstas, a second, secret Instagram account for a close circle of friends—or Haugen’s suggestion that the government should regulate how Facebook amplifies certain content through its algorithms. Jeff discussed the importance of online anonymity, the danger of skipping past the First Amendment when proposing tech reforms, and why he thinks that Section 230 reform has become unavoidable … even if that reform might not make any legal or policy sense.

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Oct 14, 2021
What's Going on in Afghanistan?
46:38

Bryce Klehm sat down with Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson, to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan. They covered a range of issues, including the Taliban government's formation since the U.S. withdrawal, the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the international community's response.

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Oct 13, 2021
Martijn Rasser on CIA and Emerging Technology
45:37

Last week, CIA director William Burns issued a statement with a number of organizational changes and other initiatives regarding the CIA. Most media attention was drawn to the creation of a new China Mission Center, but there were several new initiatives on the technology front that also warrant attention. He talked about a new Technology Fellows program, a new Transnational and Technology Mission Center, a new chief technology officer, and a corporate board devoted to technology issues. 

To talk through these initiatives, David Priess sat down with Martijn Rasser, who used to serve as a senior intelligence officer and analyst at CIA on emerging technology and tech innovation issues. He also served as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as a director at a venture-backed A.I. startup in Silicon Valley, and he is now at the Center for a New American Security as a senior fellow and director of the Technology and National Security Program. 

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Oct 12, 2021
Adam Klein and Benjamin Wittes on FISA
1:00:51

Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General released a report on the FBI's mishandling of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications. It's the latest in a string of Inspector General reports and other documents to talk about the process. To go through the latest report, why the process is so important and what it all means, Jacob Schulz sat down on Lawfare Live with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, and Adam Klein, the former chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, who is now at the University of Texas at Austin’s Strauss Center as director of the program on Technology, Security, and Global Affairs. They discussed what's in the latest report, what to make of it and how to think about reforms to the process in general.

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Oct 11, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Maria Ressa on the Weaponization of Social Media
57:01

From October 15, 2020: 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 10, 2021
White House Pressure, the Justice Department and the Election
50:03

The majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued an interim report, entitled “Subverting Justice: How the Former President and His Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election.” A lot of it covers ground we knew about previously, but it contains a raft of new details about the president's pressure on the Justice Department to support his election fraud claims, the resignation of a U.S. attorney in Georgia, and the bizarre attempt to install as acting attorney general a Justice Department official who might actually support the president's ambitions. 

To go over it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editors Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic, and Lawfare associate editor Bryce Klehm, who has been reading all of the depositions in the matter. They talked about what the committee found, what aspects of it are new and what we might do about this dramatic turn of events.

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Oct 09, 2021
Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith on Reforming the Presidency
49:17

It's been almost a year since Trump lost the presidency and over nine months since a new administration and a new congressional majority took power. We’re moving further and further away from Trump's controversial use of presidential authorities, and it seems like we've lost momentum in the push for systemic changes to prevent future abuses. Fortunately, some people are still pushing. Natalie Orpett sat down with Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to President Obama, and Jack Goldsmith, former assistant attorney general in President Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel. Together, they are the authors of the book, “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency,” which was published in fall 2020. They've now joined together again to start a new organization, the Presidential Reform Project, which proposes a bipartisan blueprint for reconstructing the presidency. They talked about their recommendations for reform, including a few that they've added to their list since writing their book; about what's going on in Congress and the executive branch right now; and they explained why they believe that it really is still possible to implement some of their reforms.

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Oct 08, 2021
Russia Cracks Down on Social Media
59:21

In the last few weeks, the Russian government has been turning up the heat on tech platforms in an escalation of its long-standing efforts to bring the internet under its control. First, Russia forced Apple and Google to remove an app from their app stores that would have helped voters select non-Kremlin-backed candidates in the country’s recent parliamentary elections. Then, the government threatened to block YouTube within Russia if the platform refused to reinstate two German-language channels run by the state-backed outlet RT. And after we recorded this podcast, the Russian government announced that it would fine Facebook for not being quick enough in removing content that Russia identified as illegal.

What’s driving this latest offensive, and what does it mean for the future of the Russian internet? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alina Polyakova, the president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, and Anastasiia Zlobina, the coordinator for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch. They explained what this crackdown means for social media platforms whose Russian employees might soon be at risk, the legal structures behind the Russian government’s actions and what’s motivating the Kremlin to extend its control over the internet.

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Oct 07, 2021
Jessica Davis on Terrorism Financing
45:02

Jessica Davis is the author of a new book on terrorism financing called, “Illicit Money: Financing Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century.” She's also the president and principal consultant at Insight Threat Intelligence, the president of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, and associate fellow at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. She sat down with Jacob Schulz to talk about her new book and about terrorism financing more broadly. They discussed the value of focusing on the financial side of things as opposed to the motivations that drive people to terrorism, the parts of the terrorism financing ecosystem that often get overlooked and much more. 

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Oct 06, 2021
U.S. Prosecutors Indict a Canadian ISIS Propagandist
33:04

Over the weekend, news broke about U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia indicting Mohammed Khalifa, a Canadian who traveled to Syria in 2013 and later joined the Islamic state where he became the English language voice for a series of Islamic State propaganda videos. The indictment is a big deal, both because of the person it implicates and because it's a U.S. court trying a Canadian man for crimes committed in Iraq and Syria. 

To break it all down, Jacob Schulz spoke with Leah West of Carleton University in Canada, and with Amarnath Amarasingam of Queen’s University in Canada. The two are experts on Canadian foreign fighters leaving Canada to go join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and they're also in the unique position of having interviewed Khalifa at a Syrian Democratic Forces prison. 

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Oct 05, 2021
The Saga of Eddie Gallagher and the Navy SEALs
50:07

Bryce Klehm sat down with David Philipps, a New York Times correspondent and the author of “Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs.” They talked about the saga of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL acquitted of stabbing an ISIS prisoner.

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Oct 04, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Mira Rapp-Hooper and Stephan Haggard on North Korea
46:52

From August 5, 2017: The growing threat from North Korea has intensified during the past few weeks after a series of missile tests demonstrated that the Kim regime may soon be able to strike the continental United States. This week, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Mira Rapp-Hooper, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and Stephan Haggard, a distinguished professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, to discuss recent events and the path forward for the United States and the international community. They addressed the diplomatic and military options for addressing the North Korean threat, the likelihood that the Kim regime will respond to traditional deterrence strategies, and how a new administration in the U.S. changes the dynamics in the region.

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Oct 03, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Ambassador David O'Sullivan on the US-EU Relationship
59:14

From October 9, 2018: It's easy to spend all our time focusing on American domestic politics these days, but the rest of the world is not going away. Take the European Union, for example—our neighbors from across the pond, and one of the US's most valuable economic and security relationships. There's a lot going on over there, and some of it even involves us. How is that relationship faring in the age of tariffs, presidential blusters, Brexit, and tensions over Iran sanctions?

To figure that out, Shannon Togawa Mercer and Benjamin Wittes spoke to David O'Sullivan, the EU Ambassador to the United States. They talked about the US-EU trade relationship, Iran and Russia sanctions, Privacy Shield, the rule of law in deconsolidating democracies in the EU, and more.

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Oct 02, 2021
Hostage Diplomacy Between China, Canada and the United States
47:04

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, is free, having been put on a flight from Canada back to her native China. Moments later, two Canadians held in China were also freed and put on flights back to Canada in what many are describing as hostage diplomacy by the People's Republic of China. The United States had indicted Wanzhou and Huawei for bank fraud but dropped the indictment against her at least, having reached a deferred prosecution agreement with her in which she gave statements that may be used against Huawei. To go over all of the angles, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Pete Strzok, former deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI; Julian Ku, a professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law; and Leah West of Carleton University in Canada.

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Oct 01, 2021
Defamation Down Under
54:25

Just two days ago, on September 28, CNN announced that it was turning off access to its Facebook pages in Australia. Why would the network cut off Facebook users Down Under?

It’s not a protest of Facebook or… Australians. CNN’s move was prompted by a recent ruling by the High Court of Australia in Fairfax Media and Voller, which held that media companies can be held liable for defamatory statements made by third parties in the comments on their public pages, even if they didn’t know about them. This is a pretty extraordinary expansion of potential liability for organizations that run public pages with a lot of engagement. 

On this week’s episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with David Rolph, a professor at the University of Sydney Law School and an expert on media law, to understand the ruling and its potential impact. What exactly does Voller mean for media companies with some kind of connection to Australia? What does it mean for you, if someone writes a nasty comment under your Facebook post or your tweet? Why did the court rule the way it did? And why is Australia known as the defamation capital of the world? 

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Sep 30, 2021
Ronen Bergman on the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine
37:03

Ronan Bergman is a reporter for the New York Times and the author of the book, “Rise and Kill First,” a history of Israeli targeted killings. Most recently with Farnaz Fassihi, he is the author of a lengthy New York Times investigative report entitled, “The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine,” which is the story of the use of a ground-based robotic machine gun to kill an Iranian nuclear scientist. He joined Benjamin Wittes from Tel-Aviv to talk about the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the operation and the machine through which it was conducted, the larger policy of Israeli assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and the legal bases on which these are done. 

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Sep 29, 2021
An Election in Germany
39:23

Over the weekend, Germany held elections to see who will succeed Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor. The results are in, but there's still a lot of coalition building to go. To break it all down, Jacob Schulz sat down with Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Yascha Mounk, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies, both of whom are experts in German politics. They talked about the election, how to make sense of the results, and what everything means for the bigger picture of European politics, Germany's role in the world and more.

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Sep 28, 2021
Benjamin Haddad on Submarine Contracts and French Anger
36:49

France is mad. More specifically, France is mad about Australia reneging on a deal for French submarines and opting to go instead with an American contract. It's all part of AUKUS, a new trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that was announced two weeks ago. France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. and otherwise expressed dismay at the development.

Jacob Schulz sat down with Benjamin Haddad, the senior director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council, who is an expert in European politics and transatlantic relations. They talked through the French reaction, what might have caused it, and what it all means for the future of transatlantic relations and U.S. strategy.

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Sep 27, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on ‘Ashley's War’ and the Role of Women on the Special Ops Battlefield
1:00:49

From January 23, 2016: The fourth Hoover Book Soiree, held this week in Hoover's beautiful Washington, D.C. offices, featured Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on her newest book, Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops BattlefieldAt the event, Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes discussed the growing role of women soldiers in special operations and beyond, examining the story of a cultural support team of women hand-picked from the Army in 2011 to serve in Afghanistan alongside Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. Their conversation dives into how the program developed, the lessons learned in the process, and why its success may provide critical insights for future force integration. Former Marine and current Lawfare contributor Zoe Bedell, who served in a similar capacity in Afghanistan, joined them on the panel to discuss her own experiences.

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Sep 26, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Shivshankar Menon on India's Role in the World
1:25:18

From October 11, 2014: On his recent trip to the United States, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized India's desire to take up a greater role on the world stage. With India's renewed ambition, it is increasingly important for policymakers to understand what that role may look like, how it is envisioned from the Indian perspective, and how the country views international developments. Great opportunity exists for improved bilateral relations that bring stability, increased trade, and future defense, intelligence, and counterterrorism cooperation in the region.

This week, Ambassador Shivshankar Menon, former national security adviser and former foreign secretary to the government of India, gave a speech at Brookings entitled, “India’s Role in the World.” In his address, Ambassador Menon discusses the new optimism in U.S.-India bilateral relations on the heels of newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit and how leaders can capitalize on this new momentum. Ambassador Menon also delves into India’s relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries in the region, its evolving outlook on China, and what role, if any, India can play in countering violent extremism found in groups like transnational terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda.

Strobe Talbott, president of The Brookings Institution, introduced Ambassador Menon and moderated the discussion.

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Sep 25, 2021
The Quad Summit with Lavina Lee, Tanvi Madan and Sheila Smith
52:39

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, more commonly known as the Quad, brings together the United States, Australia, Japan and India in strategic dialogue on everything from disaster relief, to military readiness, to technology and supply chains. Today, the leaders of those four countries will meet for the first-ever summit, a gathering which would have been difficult to imagine just a few years ago. 

To understand what led up to this point and what could develop from it, David Priess sat down with three experts who look at the Quad from different perspectives. Lavina Lee is a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Last year, she was appointed by the Australian minister of defense as director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council. Tanvi Madan is a senior fellow at and director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution, and she focuses in particular on India's foreign and security policies. And Sheila Smith is a senior fellow for Asia Pacific studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a renowned expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy. 

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Sep 24, 2021
Inside the Facebook Files
47:32

Today, we’re bringing you another episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem. We’ll be talking about “The Facebook Files”—a series of stories by the Wall Street Journal about Facebook’s failures to mitigate harms on its platform. There’s a lot of critical reporting about Facebook out there, but what makes the Journal’s series different is that it’s based on documents from within the company itself—memos from Facebook researchers, identifying problems based on hard data, proposing solutions that Facebook leadership then fails or refuses to implement and contradicts in public statements. One memo literally says, “We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.”

To discuss the Journal’s reporting, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Horwitz, a technology reporter at the paper who obtained the leaked documents and led the team reporting the Facebook Files. What was it like working on the series? What's his response to Facebook's pushback? And why is there so much discontent within the company?

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Sep 23, 2021
What's Up at Congress with Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds
41:28

Congress, which has been on recess for the month of August, has a lot on its plate. The January 6 committee is starting to receive information, and it has gone into stealth mode. If Congress doesn't get its act together, the government is going to shut down and we're going to default on the federal debt. And there's actually been some oversight hearings recently. We decided to check in on it all with Molly Reynolds and Quinta Jurecic, both of the Brookings Institution and both senior editors at Lawfare. They joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about what Congress has been doing, what's coming down the pike and if we are headed toward disaster.

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Sep 22, 2021
Milley, Trump and Civil-Military Relations with Peter Feaver, Kori Schake and Alexander Vindman
58:05

A new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa contains reporting about several controversial actions by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in late 2000 and early 2021, regarding conversations with his Chinese counterparts, his discussion with senior military officers about following standard nuclear procedures (if need be), and reaching out to others like the CIA and NSA directors to remind them to watch everything closely. Were each of these reported actions proper for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and why? And what about all of this coming out in books? 

To talk through it all, David Priess sat down with an A-team on civil-military relations. Peter Feaver is a civil-military relations expert at Duke University and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. He served in National Security Council staff positions in both the Bill Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations. Kori Schake is the director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute who has worked in the Joint Staff J5, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the National Security Council’s staff, as well as the State Department's policy planning staff during Bush 43’s administration. She has also researched and written extensively on civil-military relations. And Alex Vindman is Lawfare’s Pritzker Military Fellow and a visiting fellow at Perry World House. His government experience includes multiple U.S. Army assignments, time inside the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in the National Security Council staff.

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Sep 21, 2021
Seth Stoughton on the Shooting of Ashli Babbitt
1:03:42

On January 6, a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the Electoral College vote. As lawmakers were being evacuated by Capitol police, Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, tried to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd shot Babbitt as she was climbing through the window and Babbitt died later that day. In the polarized debate over January 6, the death of Ashli Babbitt has become a focal point and one of unusual political valence. Many on the right view her as a martyred hero and the police officer that shot her as an example of excessive force. Those on the left, who have traditionally been outspoken about police killings, have largely stayed quiet. To the extent they've commented, it's been to emphasize the unique circumstances of the Capitol insurrection as justification for the use of lethal force. The Department of Justice, having reviewed the incident, determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Officer Byrd with violating Babbitt's civil rights, although DOJ did not conclude one way or the other, whether the shooting was justified under the Fourth Amendment.

To work through the legal issues around the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Seth Stoughton, associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina and the coauthor of a recent Lawfare post on the shooting. Stoughton is a nationally recognized expert on police use of force. A former police officer himself, he was a key witness for the murder prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd. Alan spoke with Stoughton about the murky factual records surrounding the Babbitt shooting, the complex constitutional and statutory issues that it raises and what its political effects say about the broader prospects for police reform.

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Sep 20, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Defending an Unowned Internet
1:38:51

A discussion at the Berkman Center: In the wake of the disclosures about government surveillance and the rise of corporate-run applications and protocols, is the idea of an “unowned” Internet still a credible one? The Berkman Center’s Jonathan Zittrain moderates a panel, incluing Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School), Ebele Okobi (Yahoo!), Bruce Schneier (CO3 Systames), and Benjamin Wittes (Brookings Institution) to explore surveillance, and the potential for reforms in policy, technology, and corporate and consumer behavior.

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Sep 19, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Benjamin Wittes Gives a Talk at Parliament on Whether Drones are the New Guantanamo
1:00:56

Lawfare's editor in chief, Benjamin Wittes, gives a talk at the Palace of Westminster--sponsored by the Henry Jackson Society--on whether drones are becoming the new Guantanamo.

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Sep 18, 2021
A Sneak Peak: Lawfare’s New “No Bull” Podcast
13:43

It’s Lawfare No Bull” with: “For today’s episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we are bringing you a preview of a new podcast Lawfare is launching: Lawfare ‘No Bull,’ which brings you a curated feed of the most essential speeches, testimony, and other found audio relating to national security. Subscribe to the separate Lawfare ‘No Bull’ podcast feed to receive future episodes!

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Sep 17, 2021
The Broken Rube Goldberg Machine of Online Advertising
55:54


Today, we’re bringing you another episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem.


In a 2018 Senate hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to a question about how his company makes money with a line that quickly became famous: “Senator, we sell ads.” And indeed, when you open up your Facebook page—or most other pages on the internet—you’ll find advertisements of all sorts following you around. Sometimes they’re things you might really be interested in buying, even if you’ve never heard of them before—tailored to your interests with spooky accuracy. Other times, they’re redundant or just … weird. Like the aid for a pair of strange plaid pajamas with a onesie-style flap on the bottom that briefly took over the internet in December 2020.


Shoshana Wodinsky, a staff reporter at Gizmodo, wrote a great piece explaining how exactly those onesie pajamas made their way to so many people’s screens. She’s one of very few reporters covering the business of online advertisements outside industry publications—so Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to her this week about what it’s like reporting on ads. How exactly does ad technology work? Why is it that the ad ecosystem gets so little public attention, even as it undergirds the internet as we know it? And what’s the connection between online ads and content moderation?


It’s the Lawfare Podcast, September 16: The Broken Rube Goldberg Machine of Online Advertising

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Sep 16, 2021
Bruce Reidel with Breaking 9/11 News
44:08

Lawfare Editor-In-Chief Benjamin Wittes sits down with Bruce Reidel of the Brookings Institution to discuss a pair of new articles in Lawfare on his first hand accounts of events in the wake of 9/11.

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Sep 15, 2021
U.S Security Commitments Post-Afghanistan Withdrawl
1:05:01
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Sep 14, 2021
Jack Goldsmith and Ben Wittes on Lawfare Origins and 9/11
1:00:56

More than 11 years ago. Bobby Chesney, Jack Goldsmith and Ben started a national security law blog called Lawfare. Focused, almost exclusively on issues related to the US government's reaction to 9/11 and the reactions to those government policies and the legal justifications for them in its early days, Lawfare was largely unknown to the general public outside of national security lawyers inside the U S government Lawfare didn't even have a podcast.


Jack and Ben joined me to talk through these origins of Lawfare, it's intimate connection to 9/11 and its aftermath, and the importance of analyzing these issues at the intersection of national security, law, and policy.

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Sep 13, 2021
Lawfare Archive: How Osama bin Laden Escaped Afghanistan
1:19:36
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Sep 12, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Kent Roach on the 9/11 Effect
54:00

Lawfare's Alan Rozenshtein interviews University of Toronto Professor Kent Roach about his new book, The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism.

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Sep 11, 2021
Marc Polymeropoulos on the CIA, 9/11 and Havana Syndrome
1:03:16

Marc Polymeropoulos served for 26 years in the CIA. He joined the agency working on Afghanistan in the 1990s and moved on to operational roles across the Middle East, recruiting spies and hunting terrorists. Later, he became a senior officer responsible for operations in Russia, which as you'll hear, led to a fateful trip to Moscow that altered the course of his career and his life. Marc has chronicled all of this and more in a new book, “Clarity in Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the CIA.” It's part memoir, part management handbook. Shane Harris sat down with Marc to talk about his career and to look back at the past 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. Marc talked about what the CIA got right, what it did wrong and how he has come to peace with an unexpected sense of betrayal after he developed symptoms of Havana Syndrome, a mysterious and debilitating brain injury. 

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Sep 10, 2021
Content Moderation Comes for Parler and Gettr
56:28

Let’s say you’re a freedom-loving American fed up with Big Tech’s effort to censor your posts. Where can you take your business? One option is Parler—the social media platform that became notorious for its use by the Capitol rioters. Another is Gettr—a new site started by former Trump aide Jason Miller.

Unfortunately, both platforms have problems. They don’t work very well. They might leak your personal data. They’re full of spam. And they seem less than concerned about hosting some of the internet’s worst illegal content. Can it be that some content moderation is necessary after all?

Today, we’re bringing you another episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on the online information ecosystem. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with David Thiel, the big data architect and chief technical officer of the Stanford Internet Observatory. With his colleagues at Stanford, David has put together reports on the inner workings of both Parler and Gettr. They talked about how these websites work (and don’t), the strange contours of what both platforms are and aren’t willing to moderate, and what we should expect from the odd world of “alt-tech.”

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Sep 09, 2021
‘Humane’ with Samuel Moyn
1:00:58

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and a professor of history at Yale University. The two discussed Professor Moyn’s latest book, “Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.” The conversation touched on the changing nature of war, the decoupling of conflict from our national conversations and even Tolstoy. 

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Sep 08, 2021
Tony Saich on 100 Years of the CCP
57:42

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. To get more insight into the workings of the CCP, Bryce Klehm sat down with Tony Saich, the director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Professor Saich is the author of the new book, “From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party.” They talked about a range of subjects, from tracing the thirteen original leaders of the CCP to President Xi Jinping's current policies.

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Sep 07, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Danielle Citron on Feminism and National Security
44:07

From December 12, 2019: Live from the #NatSecGirlSquad Conference in Washington, DC, on December 12, 2019, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Danielle Citron, professor of law at Boston University, VP of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow. Ben and Danielle talked about technology, sexual privacy, sextortion, and the previously unexplored intersections of feminism and cybersecurity.

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Sep 06, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Phil Carter on Civil-Military Relations in the Trump Administration
38:48

From February 20, 2018: The military has been not been a refuge from the Trump administration's norm-defying nature. Jack Goldsmith speaks to Phil Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, about the history of civil-military relations, episodes that highlight the Trump administration's departure from that tradition, and what that may mean for the future.

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Sep 05, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Shane Harris on Drones
46:38

From January 29, 2012: Our subject in the podcast's inaugural episode is a remarkable article by journalist Shane Harris entitled "Out of the Loop: The Human-Free Future of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles."

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Sep 04, 2021
Sue Gordon and John McLaughlin on Intelligence and the Afghanistan Withdrawal
55:46

Many questions involving intelligence and Afghanistan have come up in the past few weeks. Did intelligence prepare policymakers for the rapid collapse of the Afghan forces and the Taliban’s taking of the capital? How unusual is it for a CIA director to visit a de facto war zone—in this case, Bill Burns to travel to Kabul to meet with Taliban leaders? What's the context for intelligence sharing with the Taliban? To tackle these issues, David Priess sat down with Sue Gordon, who for two years during the Trump administration was the principal deputy director of national intelligence after decades of service at the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and John McLaughlin, who served as the acting director of central intelligence and the deputy director during the George W. Bush presidency, after a career as an analyst, manager and executive in the CIA. 

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Sep 03, 2021
The Disinformation Industrial Complex
53:36

This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, we’re going to be talking about … disinformation! What else? It’s everywhere. It’s ruining society. It’s the subject of endless academic articles, news reports, opinion columns, and, well, podcasts. 

Welcome to what BuzzFeed News reporter Joe Bernstein has termed “Big Disinformation.” In a provocative essay in the September issue of Harper’s Magazine, he argues that anxiety over bad information has become a cultural juggernaut that draws in far more attention and funding than the problem really merits—and that the intellectual foundations of that juggernaut are, to a large extent, built on sand. 

Joe joined Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic to discuss his article and the response to it among researchers and reporters who work in the field. Joe explained his argument and described what it feels like to be unexpectedly cited by Facebook PR. What led him to essentially drop a bomb into an entire discipline? What does his critique mean for how we think about the role of platforms in American society right now? And … is he right?

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Sep 02, 2021
Data Brokers and National Security
40:58

A privacy and national security threat that goes under-discussed is data brokers, the secretive industry of companies buying, aggregating, selling, licensing and otherwise sharing consumer data. Justin Sherman is a fellow at Duke University's Technology Policy Lab, where he directs the project on data brokers. He also recently wrote a piece for Lawfare about data brokers advertising data on U.S. military personnel. Jacob Schulz sat down with Justin to talk about data brokers and the national security threat that they pose.

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Sep 01, 2021
‘Reign of Terror’ with Spencer Ackerman
1:11:56

Jack Goldsmith sat down with national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, the author of the new book, “Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump.” The two discussed the book and the consequences of twenty years of the War on Terror. With the recent developments in Afghanistan, the conversation touches on the complicated history of the United States and the Middle East, a conflict that has now spanned four presidencies, Ackerman argues that America's response to 9/11 paved the way for the rise of political figures like Donald Trump.

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Aug 31, 2021
AUMF Reform After Afghanistan
57:03

Since January, talk about reforming the nearly 20-year-old 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that provides the legal basis for most overseas U.S. counterterrorism activities, has once again been on the rise. While past efforts have generally failed to yield results, the combination of growing bi-partisan disenchantment with the status quo and a seemingly supportive Biden administration had led some to believe that this is the moment in which reform might finally happen. But now, the collapse in Afghanistan has some wondering whether the Biden administration will still have an appetite for the type of risk that AUMF reform is likely to entail, especially given that President Biden appears to have doubled down on global counterterrorism efforts in recent public remarks. 

Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading experts in war powers: Professor Oona Hathaway of Yale Law School and Professor Matt Waxman of Columbia Law School. They discussed where the impetus for reform comes from, what AUMF reforms may be on the table and what recent events mean for the future of reform efforts.

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Aug 30, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Bob Bauer and A.B. Culvahouse on Defending the President
35:17

From October 7, 2017: Last month, Lawfare and Foreign Policy hosted an event on lawyering for the Trump presidency. Susan Hennessey spoke with former White House Counsels Bob Bauer, who served in the Obama administration from 2010 to 2011, and A.B. Culvahouse, who served in the Reagan administration from 1987 to 1989, in a lively discussion on providing legal support when your client is the president. They talked about the distinction between a president’s personal counsel and White House counsel, the challenges of defending a president during an investigation, and the quotidian aspects of the role of the White House Counsel.

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Aug 29, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Michelle Melton on Climate Change as a National Security Threat
44:56

From April 16, 2019: Since November, Lawfare Contributor Michelle Melton has run a series on our website about Climate Change and National Security, examining the implication of the threat as well as U.S. and international responses to climate change. Melton is a student a Harvard Law school. Prior to that she was an associate fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she focused on climate policy.

She and Benjamin Wittes sat down to discuss the series. They talked about why we should think about climate change as a national security threat, the challenges of viewing climate change through this paradigm, the long-standing relationship between climate change and the U.S. national security apparatus, and how climate change may affect global migration.

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Aug 28, 2021
The World Reacts to Afghanistan
1:06:57

Much of the world has been watching the rapidly developing situation in Afghanistan with a mix of shock and anguish. Bryce Klehm spoke with five experts to get a sense of how the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is being perceived around the world. You’ll hear from Madiha Afzal, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, on Pakistan; Suzanne Maloney, the vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, on Iran; Yun Sun, the director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, on China; Joy Neumeyer, a writer and historian of Russia and the Soviet Union who has also worked as a journalist in Moscow, on Russia; and Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, on Germany. 

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Aug 27, 2021
Why the Taliban Can’t Use Facebook
57:04

When the Taliban seized power following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan this month, major platforms like Facebook and Twitter faced a quandary. What should they do with accounts and content belonging to the fundamentalist insurgency that was suddenly running a country? Should they treat the Taliban as the Afghan government and let them post, or should they remove Taliban content under U.S. sanctions law? 

If you’re coming at this from the tech sphere, you may have been seeing conversation in recent weeks about how this has raised new and difficult issues for platforms thrust into the center of geopolitics by questions of what to do about Taliban accounts. But, how new are these problems, really? On this week’s episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Scott R. Anderson, a senior editor at Lawfare and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, whom you might have heard on some other Lawfare podcasts about Afghanistan in recent weeks. They talked about the problems of recognition and sanctions law that platforms are now running into—and they debated whether or not the platforms are navigating uncharted territory, or whether they’re dealing with the same problems that other institutions, like banks, have long grappled with.

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Aug 26, 2021
‘Bitskrieg’ with John Arquilla
54:38

Jack Goldsmith sat down with John Arquilla, an analyst with the RAND Corporation and professor emeritus with the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He's the author of the new book, “Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare.” The two discussed the challenges posed by cyber warfare, which John argues have been neither met nor mastered. He offers solutions for protecting against enemies that are often anonymous, unpredictable, and capable of projecting force and influence vastly disproportionate to their size, strength or wealth. 

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Aug 25, 2021
China’s Perfect Police State in Xinjiang
53:53

Bryce Klehm spoke with Geoffrey Cain, an investigative journalist and the author of the new book, “The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China's Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future.” They had a wide-ranging discussion about the Chinese government's use of surveillance technology to suppress its Uyghur population, the history of Xinjiang since 9/11, the development of China's tech industry and much more.

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Aug 24, 2021
Tom Nichols on ‘Our Own Worst Enemy’
59:18

All across the world, citizens of liberal democracies are justifying their rejection of democratic norms and traditions as a protest against a cast of elite villains. It comes in different flavors around the world, but the underlying trend seems to be the same.

While most observers are focusing on the impact of globalization or the activities of these very elites, Tom Nichols is placing responsibility somewhere else: the citizens themselves. Tom Nichols is professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and the author of “The Death of Expertise,” and most recently, “Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from within on Modern Democracy.” He's also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy champion and has over half a million followers on Twitter, where he rages about everything from rock music, to Indian food, to national security. He sat down with David Priess for a wide-ranging conversation about democratic decline, its causes and effects, the tough process of looking in the mirror and related issues, from civil military affairs to the current Afghan crisis.

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Aug 23, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Joseph Nye on "Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump"
43:22

From March 7, 2020: We ask a lot of questions about foreign policy on this podcast. Why do certain countries make certain decisions? What are the interests of the players in question? What are the consequences and, of course, the legality of foreign policy choices. In a new book, Joseph Nye, professor emeritus and former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, asks another question about foreign policy. Do morals matter? Jack Goldsmith sat down with Nye to discuss his new book, 'Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump.' They discussed the ethical and theoretical factors by which Nye judged each president before going through many of the cases he focuses on in the book.

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Aug 22, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Jihadology Podcast: al-Qaeda's Franchising Strategy
1:15:36

From February 2, 2016: Barak Mendelsohn comes on the Jihadology Podcast to discuss his new book, “The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences.” Some of the topics covered include:

  • How organizations expand
  • Why AQ decided to branch out and the strategy behind that decision
  • AQ’s choices on where to expand
  • Case studies on AQ’s different branches


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Aug 21, 2021
The State of the Kabul Airlift
56:48

The city of Kabul’s international airport has become the unlikely focal point of an unprecedented humanitarian effort as U.S. soldiers and diplomats seek to maintain control of their airport facility while facilitating the evacuation of thousands of Americans and foreign nationals, as well as at least some vulnerable Afghans. Meanwhile, on the outside, an improvised network of veterans, former diplomats, humanitarian workers and civil society groups has been desperately working to help vulnerable Afghans evade the Taliban, get into the airport and onto a flight to safety before it is too late. 

Scott R. Anderson sat down with three people who have been closely involved in this latter effort: Susannah Cunningham of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Camille Mackler of the Truman Center for National Policy and the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative, and Chris Purdy of Human Rights First. They discussed what's happening on the ground at Kabul airport, what’s likely to come next for those who make it through and what the Biden administration needs to do to save more lives while there's still time.

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Aug 20, 2021
Facebook Shuts Down Research On Itself
59:58

In October 2020, Facebook sent a cease and desist letter to two New York University researchers collecting data on the ads Facebook hosts on its platform, arguing that the researchers were breaching the company’s terms of service. The researchers disagreed and kept up with their work. On August 3, after months of failed negotiations, Facebook shut off access to their accounts—an aggressive move that journalists and scholars denounced as an effort by the company to shield itself from transparency. 

For this week’s episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alex Abdo, the litigation director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University (where, full disclosure, Evelyn will soon join as a senior research fellow). The Knight Institute is providing legal representation to the two NYU researchers, Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy—and Alex walked us through what exactly is happening here. Why did Facebook ban Edelson and McCoy’s accounts, and what does their research tool, Ad Observer, do? What’s the state of the law, and is there any merit to Facebook’s claims that its hands are tied? And what does this mean for the future of research and journalism on Facebook?

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Aug 19, 2021
Zack Beauchamp on the American Right’s Embrace of the Hungarian Regime of Viktor Orbán
55:08

Earlier this month, Tucker Carlson, whose nightly news show on Fox has become the most popular show in U.S. cable news history, traveled to Budapest to record a special version of his show. The centerpiece of his visit was an interview with Hungary's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orbán. But far from criticizing Orbán or questioning him on Hungary's increasing move away from liberal democracy, Carlson was all compliments, praising the fence that Hungary has built along its border and allowing Orbán to lash out against his critics at home and abroad. 

Carlson is not the only one with kind words for Hungary's would-be strongman. In the past months, an increasing number of conservative media and intellectual elites have praised Hungary, as well as earlier models like Portugal under the post-World War II right-wing dictator António Salazar, for what they view as its willingness to use state power to fight for conservative social, cultural and religious values.

To discuss what this embrace of foreign authoritarianism means for the American conservative movement, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Zack Beauchamp, a senior correspondent at Vox, who has written about the right’s embrace of Orbánism and what it means for the future of American democracy.

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Aug 18, 2021
After the Fall in Afghanistan
57:16

This past Sunday, Americans woke up to a new reality in the country of Afghanistan—the Afghan government that the United States and its allies have supported for the last two decades is gone. In its place is a resurgent Taliban, now firmly in control of nearly the entire country. Meanwhile, the U.S. presence has been reduced to Kabul’s international airport where soldiers and diplomats are working 24-7 to safely evacuate U.S. and allied personnel, U.S. and foreign civilians, and at least some vulnerable Afghans and their families, even as the rest of the country sits and waits to find out what life will be like under the new Taliban regime.

To discuss these unprecedented events, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Afghanistan policy experts Madiha Afzal of the Brookings Institution, Laurel Miller of the International Crisis Group and Jonathan Schroden of CNA. They discussed the state of play in Afghanistan, how we got here and what we should expect next.

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Aug 17, 2021
How Can Congress Take on the Ransomware Problem?
53:13

The United States government has been wrestling with what to do about a particular type of cyber threat—ransomware—that holds a victim's data and computer systems hostage until they pay, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, to an anonymous recipient. Recent ransomware attacks have threatened everything from hospitals to the media industry, with payment being the main way that most companies are choosing to get back online. But what does giving into such demands mean for broader U.S. efforts to prevent and deter ransomware attacks? Scott R. Anderson sat down on Lawfare Live with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and Lawfare fellow in cybersecurity law Alvaro Marañon, who together recently authored a piece for Lawfare entitled, “Ransomware Payments and the Law.” They argue that stemming the flow of payments is essential to deterring ransomware attacks and argue that the United States should adopt a policy banning such payments in all but the most serious cases. They discussed the threat that ransomware poses to the U.S. economy, how payments should be dealt with, and what Congress and the Biden administration seem to be doing about it.

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Aug 16, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Fighting Deep Fakes
45:19

From August 4, 2018: Technologies that distort representations of reality, like audio, photo and video editing software, are nothing new, but what happens when these technologies are paired with artificial intelligence to produce hyper-realistic media of things that never happened? This new phenomenon, called "deep fakes," poses significant problems for lawyers, policymakers, and technologists.

On July 19, Klon Kitchen, senior fellow for technology and national security at the Heritage Foundation, moderated a panel with Bobby Chesney of the University of Texas at Austin Law School, Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and Chris Bregler, a senior computer scientist and AI manager at Google. They talked about how deep fakes work, why they don't fit into the current legal and policy thinking, and about how policy, technology and the law can begin to combat them.

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Aug 15, 2021
Lawfare Archive: A Conversation with John Rizzo
48:36

From April 19, 2014: Benjamin Wittes had meant to have a book review of former CIA lawyer John Rizzo's new book, Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA, ready to run along with this episode of the podcast. But he was still working on the review, which will be up shortly, and he didn't want to hold up the podcast while he finished it.

Ben caught up with Rizzo at a recent conference at Pepperdine University Law School. They talked about the book, some of its major themes, the persistence of the interrogation controversies and their latest manifestations. They also talked about the growth of lawyering at the CIA and why all the lawyers in the world can't seem to keep the agency out of trouble. And they talked about a career that, in many ways, tells the story of the modern CIA and the effort to do intelligence and covert action under law—from the Church Committee to the post 9/11 scandals.

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Aug 14, 2021
Mayank Varia and Riana Pfefferkorn on Apple's Decision to Scan for Child Exploitation Material
1:02:45

Two of the biggest controversies in tech are how to stop the spread of child pornography and other exploitation material, and whether encryption prevents legitimate law enforcement investigations. In an announcement last week, Apple dropped a bomb into both of these debates.

Apple announced that future versions of its iPhone operating system would scan photos its users post to the cloud and automatically detect if those photos contain child exploitation material. If so, Apple would notify the government. While many in law enforcement and in organizations devoted to child safety have hailed Apple's announcement, it has proven hugely controversial among many technologists, security researchers and digital civil society advocates. They worry that Apple’s system will harm privacy and civil rights, especially if governments demand that it be used to scan for content other than child exploitation. To help make sense of all of this, Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Mayank Varia, a cryptographer at Boston University, and Riana Pfefferkorn, a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. 

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Aug 13, 2021
With Disinformation, The Past Isn’t Past
49:45

We live in the Disinformation Age. The internet has revolutionized our information ecosystem and caused disruption totally unprecedented in human history, and democracy may not survive. ... Just like it didn’t survive the television, radio, telegram and printing press before it. Right?

When it comes to talking about the internet, all too often history is either completely ignored with bold claims about how nothing like this has ever happened before—or it’s invoked with simple analogies to historical events without acknowledging their very different contexts. As usual, the real answer is more complicated: talking about history can inform our understanding of the dilemmas we face today, but it rarely provides a clear answer one way or another to contemporary problems. This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Heidi Tworek, an associate professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and History at the University of British Columbia. In a recent essay, she made the case for how a nuanced view of history can better inform ongoing conversations around how to approach disinformation and misinformation. So how do current discussions around disinformation leave out or misinterpret history? What’s the difference between a useful historical comparison and a bad one? And why should policymakers care?

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Aug 12, 2021
A Moratorium Fiasco
52:11

You've probably heard about the craziness around the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium. They consulted outside law professors instead of the Justice Department. Or did they? The president said he didn't have the authority to do it, and then he did it anyway. Lawfare has published two big articles on the subject in the last couple of days—one of them by Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein, and the other by Lawfare founding editor Jack Goldsmith. They both joined Benjamin Wittes to talk it all through. What exactly did the Biden administration say? What exactly did it do? Where was the Justice Department? And did any of this violate the law? 

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Aug 11, 2021
Ben Kaiser and Jonathan Mayer on Fighting Misinformation Online
42:05

The spread of misinformation is one of the biggest challenges facing social media platforms. A standard approach is to label suspicious posts or links so as to warn users that what they're engaging with is not reputable, but warnings, despite their wide use, haven't proven to be particularly successful. So what's a social media platform to do? 

Two Princeton University computer scientists, Ben Kaiser, a PhD student, and Professor Jonathan Mayer, think they've found a better way. Instead of warning users about misinformation, they propose putting roadblocks between users and the misinformation they're tempted to click on. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Ben and Jonathan about their research and about a piece they and Dr. J. Nathan Matias wrote recently for Lawfare entitled, "Warnings that Work: Combating Misinformation Without Deplatforming." 

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Aug 10, 2021
The Olympics Aren't All Fun and Games
46:39

The Olympics ended yesterday after more than two weeks of exciting international competition in Tokyo. On this episode of the podcast, we're taking a look back at some of the security and international affairs issues that you might have noticed in this year's games and in Olympic history. Rohini Kurup sat down with author Roy Tomizawa to talk about the last time that Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964 and the similarities with this year's games. Bryce Klehm spoke with Libby Lange, a former speech writer for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, about the tense relations between China and Taiwan on display at the Olympics. Jacob Schulz spoke with ​Ethan Scheiner, a professor at UC Davis, about the history of violence at the Olympics. And Bryce talked with Claire Collins, an Olympic rower and a member of the U.S. national team, about participating in this year's games and some of the security challenges that followed.

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Aug 09, 2021
Lawfare Archive: War Powers History You Never Knew with Matt Waxman
1:00:39

From March 9, 2019: For the past year, Matthew Waxman has been writing a series of vignettes on Lawfare about interesting—and usually overlooked—historical episodes of American constitutional war powers in action, and relating them to modern debates. These include the stories of St. Claire’s Defeat and the Whiskey Rebellion during the Washington administration, congressional war powers and the surprisingly late termination of World War I, the proposed Ludlow Amendment during the interwar years, and Dwight Eisenhower’s surprisingly broad Taiwan force authorization.

Benjamin Wittes invited Matt on the podcast to talk about these episodes and how they fit together into the book broader project from which they sprung. It's a great discussion, very different from the usual war powers debates. Even if you think you know a lot about constitutional war powers, you’ll learn a lot.

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Aug 08, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Antony Blinken on the Future of Central Asia
1:05:27

From the April 18, 2015: Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Brookings for a public address on the current priorities and future prospects for U.S. engagement in Central Asia. With the draw-down in Afghanistan on the horizon, Mr. Blinken makes clear that the United States is not relinquishing its interests in the region. Blinken stresses that the security of the United States is enhanced by a more secure Central Asia, and a stable Central Asia is most likely if the nations there are sovereign and independent countries, connected with one another, and fully capable of defending their own borders. He concludes that investing in connectivity can spur commerce from Istanbul to Shanghai while serving as a stabilizing force for Afghanistan's transition.

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Aug 07, 2021
Unfinished Business at the Department of Justice
1:05:45

It's been a busy few weeks at the Justice Department. There was a major indictment of the chair of the former president's inaugural committee. There have been new policies promulgated on subpoenas to media organizations and on Justice Department White House contacts. There's been a decision not to defend a member of Congress for his role in the Jan. 6 uprising, and there are questions about what positions the Justice Department is going to take as the Jan. 6 committee begins its work. To talk about it all, Lawfare executive editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero, now with the Center for a New American Security, and Chuck Rosenberg, who served at both DOJ and FBI. 

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Aug 06, 2021
Facebook’s Thoughts on Its Oversight Board
58:36

There have been a thousand hot takes about the Facebook Oversight Board, the Supreme Court-like thing Facebook set up to oversee its content moderation. The Board generated so much press coverage when it handed down its decision on Donald Trump’s account that Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Atlantic called the whole circus “like Shark Week, but less scenic.” Everyone weighed in, from Board Members, to lawmakers, academics, critics and even Lawfare podcast hosts. But there’s a group we haven’t heard much from: the people at Facebook who are actually responsible for sending cases to the Board and responding to the Board’s policy recommendations. Everyone focuses on the Board Members, but the people at Facebook are the ones that can make the Board experiment actually translate into change—or not. So this week for our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information environment, in light of Facebook’s first quarterly update on the Board, Evelyn Douek talked with Jennifer Broxmeyer and Rachel Lambert, both of whom work at Facebook on Facebook’s side of the Oversight Board experiment. What do they think of the first six or so months of the Oversight Board’s work? How do they grade their own efforts? Why is their mark different from Evelyn’s? And, will the Oversight Board get jurisdiction over the metaverse?

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Aug 05, 2021
Peter Bergen Reassessing Osama bin Laden
51:50

The U.S. raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that brought Osama bin Laden to ultimate justice also recovered nearly half a million files. In 2017, these files were publicly released, but few people have the expertise, the experience and the time to go through those materials, as well as interview family members of bin Laden and former associates to try to paint a full picture of the man. One person who fits that description is Peter Bergen, the author or editor of eight books, including "Holy War, Inc.," the definitive early study of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Peter is also a vice president at New America and a national security analyst for CNN. Most recently, he is author of "The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden," a cradle-to-grave biography that takes advantage of a lot of this new material. 

David Priess sat down with Peter to talk about bin Laden's evolution from a shy, humble, religious young man to the leader of a global terrorist network bent on killing thousands of civilians. They talked about the development of al-Qaeda as an organization and the U.S. response to al-Qaeda attacks, but they focused especially on what Peter learned from the 470,000+ files and his interviews that made him change his mind about a few things regarding al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

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Aug 04, 2021
Alex Vindman on 'Here, Right Matters'
47:19

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, a former NSC staffer, and of course, an impeachment witness in the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump. He is also the author of the new book, "Here, Right Matters: An American Story." He joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the book and the ground it covers—from Vindman's immigration as a small child, to his departure from the Army, the decision he made to report what he heard Donald Trump say to President Zelensky of Ukraine and the fallout, positive and negative. 

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Aug 03, 2021
Sue Gordon and John McLaughlin on Intelligence, Biden and Trump
47:00

The president's interactions with intelligence and public comments about intelligence are dramatically different in the first six months of the Biden administration than they were during the last presidency. To talk about those differences and why they matter for intelligence and national security, David Priess sat down with Sue Gordon and John McLaughlin. Sue Gordon, for two years during the Trump administration, was the principal deputy director of national intelligence, after decades of service at CIA and at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA. John McLaughlin served as the acting director of central intelligence during the Bush 43 administration, after a career as an analyst, manager and executive in the CIA. 

They talked about the differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration when it comes to intelligence focused on the presidents themselves. And they talked about President Biden's recent comments at Liberty Crossing in McLean, Virginia, the home of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center, what he said and what he didn't say, and what it all reveals about intelligence and policymaking in the Biden years.

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Aug 02, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Mark Rozell on 'Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability'
37:02

From August 6, 2019: Over the years, presidents have used different language to describe the withholding of information from Congress. To discuss the concept of "executive privilege," Margaret Taylor sat down with Mark Rozell, the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and the author of "Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability," which chronicles the history of executive privilege in its many forms since the founding of the United States. They talked about what executive privilege is, what is new in the Trump administration's handling of congressional demands for information, and what it all means for the separation of powers in our constitutional democracy.

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Aug 01, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Bryan Fogel on 'Icarus' and Russia
41:46

From August 12, 2017: The new Netflix documentary Icarus may seem at first glance off the beaten path for Lawfare. It's a film about doping in international sports, not national security law or policy. But as Benjamin Wittes explained when he reviewed it here, it's really about much more than that:

Icarus is not about L’Affaire Russe or Russian interference with the 2016 election. But if you want to understand L’Affaire Russe, you should watch it. Because Icarus is the story of the Russian government’s corruption of the integrity of supposedly neutral international processes and its use of covert action to tamper with those processes. If that sounds a little familiar, it should. It is easy to substitute in one’s mind as one watches this film a foreign country’s electoral system for the elaborate anti-doping testing regime whose systematic circumvention and undermining Icarus portrays. The corruption of process is similar. The motivation—the elevation of Russian national pride—significantly overlaps. The lies about it in the face of evidence are indistinguishable. And the result in both cases is a legitimacy crisis, of Olympic medals in one case and of a presidential election in another—a crisis that produces investigation and scandal.

This week, Wittes asked Fogel to come on the podcast and talk about the film and its relationship to the broader concerns about Russia that have dominated public attention of late.

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Jul 31, 2021
Sarah Yerkes on Tunisia's Democracy in Crisis
38:49

For the past decade, Tunisia's democracy has stood out as one of the few remaining bright spots of the Arab Spring. But earlier this week, it entered its own crisis as President Kais Saied declared a state of emergency, suspended parliament and stated his intent to move forward with widespread prosecutions as part of a long-promised anti-corruption effort. Some argue that Saied's strong-arm tactics are exactly what's needed to break the stagnation that's been plaguing Tunisia's economic and political systems, but others fear that it may be the beginning of the end for Tunisian democracy as we know it. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Sarah Yerkes, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert on Tunisia. They discussed the context for Saied's actions, how other actors in Tunisia and the region have reacted, and what the international community can and should do about it.

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Jul 30, 2021
The FBI, Social Media and Jan. 6
59:30

The attempted insurrection on January 6 is back in the headlines. This week, the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot began its work with its very first hearing. So for our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information environment, Evelyn Douek interviewed Quinta Jurecic about social media’s role in warning of the riot. Specifically, they talked about an essay Quinta wrote in Lawfare on the FBI’s failure to examine social media posts announcing plans to storm the Capitol—and how FBI Director Christopher Wray’s explanations don’t hold water.

So why does Quinta think Wray has been misleading in his answers to Congress on why the FBI didn’t review those posts from soon-to-be-rioters? What about the First Amendment issues raised by the U.S. government refreshing your Twitter feed? What role is social media playing in the Jan. 6 prosecutions—and what does that say about how tech companies should preserve online evidence of wrongdoing, rather than just taking it down?

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Jul 29, 2021
Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds on the First Jan. 6 Hearings
49:59

Yesterday saw the first hearing of the special House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riots and insurrection. Four law enforcement officers testified before the committee, which consisted of the Democrats along with two renegade Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Quinta Jurecic, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. They talked about how the first hearing went, what it says about where the committee is headed, the fissures within the Republican party over how to handle this committee and whether the committee will have enough time and focus to get to real accountability.

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Jul 28, 2021
Jonathan Schroden on the State of the Afghanistan Withdrawal
52:12

The United States is just over a month out from completing its full military withdrawal from Afghanistan, but as U.S. troops have moved on, the situation on the ground has only gotten more challenging, with the Taliban claiming control of a growing portion of the country. In recent days, the United States even reentered the arena with airstrikes on the Taliban intended to reinforce U.S. support for Afghan security forces and dissuade a major Taliban offensive on Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city. Whether this will be enough to stave off a broader Afghan civil war, however, remains to be seen.

To get a better sense of the state of things, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Dr. Jonathan Schroden, director of the Countering Threats and Challenges Program at the nonprofit research and analysis organization, CNA. They discussed how the withdrawal has gone so far, the impact it is having on the ground and what it all means for the future of Afghanistan.

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Jul 27, 2021
Trump’s Final Year with Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker
47:29

There are some stunning revelations coming out of the new blockbuster book by Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.” If you thought you knew how bad some things during that final year of the Trump presidency were, this book will surprise you with what it tells us about the things that even those of us who watched the presidency closely did not know. 

David Priess sat down with Leonnig, a national investigative reporter at the Washington Post and author of “Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service,” and Rucker, the senior White House correspondent at the Washington Post and coauthor with Carol of the book, “A Very Stable Genius,” to talk about what they discovered in their book and their reporting. They discussed not only a few of the headline scoops, but also some lesser reported stories in their book, ranging from Trump's briefing before the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, to Trump's attitude toward potential 2024 running mates, to what we've learned about the behavior of people around the president near the end of the administration, like Mark Milley, Bill Barr, Mark Meadows and Mike Pompeo.

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Jul 26, 2021
Lawfare Archive: Amanda Sloat on Boris Johnson and Brexit
52:19

From August 10, 2019: The United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister. It also has a looming cliff it is careening toward and about to leap off of on Halloween of this year. This week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with his Brookings colleague Amanda Sloat to talk about all things Brexit. They talked about the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his views on Brexit, the deadlock between Britain and the European Union, and the way the Brexit debate plays out in American politics.

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Jul 25, 2021
Lawfare Archive: John Carlin on 'Dawn of the Code War'
55:29

From November 24, 2018: John Carlin served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division from April 2014 to October 2016. In his new book with Garrett Graff, called “Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat," Carlin explains the cyber conflicts the U.S. faces and how the government fights back. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Carlin last week to talk about the book. They talked about about the FBI and Justice Department’s fight against cyber espionage, about how the Justice Department attributes cyberattacks to the responsible actors, and about Carlin’s experience as FBI director Robert Mueller’s chief of staff.

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Jul 24, 2021
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