The Lawfare Podcast

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.

Direct download: Episode_199.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:31pm EST

This week on the podcast, we’re bringing you some post-Thanksgiving food for thought on the uncertain state of the Arab world. On November 21, Madeleine Albright, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Stephen Hadley, and Amr Hamzawy sat down at the Brookings Institution to discuss a new report on “Real Security: Governance and Stability in the Arab World." What lead to the breakdown of governance across Arab countries? What can be done to establish more stable governance and increase security? And what role does the United States have in all of this?

Direct download: Episode_198.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08pm EST

At this week's Hoover Book Soiree, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bill Banks, Professor of Law at Syracuse University and the Founding Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, to talk about Bill's book with Stephen Dycus, Soldiers on the Homefront: The Domestic Role of the American MilitaryThe book examines how both law and culture has shaped and constrained the military's domestic activities, reviewing the legal history of the various different roles that soldiers have played at home, from law enforcement to martial law. Given the widespread concern over the strength of the next administration's commitment to civil liberties and the rule of law, it's a conversation that's unfortunately more relevant than ever. 

Direct download: Episode_197.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34pm EST

This week, the Lawfare Podcast brings you a joint episode of the show together with Rational Security. The usual Rational Security gang—Shane, Ben, Tamara, and Susan—reflect on the results of the election and ask: What national security themes drove Donald Trump's supporters? What challenges does Trump face forming a government? And how will America’s allies react to his election?

Direct download: Episode_196.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm EST

Two weeks ago, Lawfare’s Jack Goldsmith sat down with David Priess at the Hoover Institution for a Hoover Book Soiree on Priess’s new book, The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents from Kennedy to Obama. While the book is framed as a study of the history of the President’s Daily Brief, it’s also a history of the American intelligence community since WWII and a history of how presidents deal with intelligence organizations.

Consider this Lawfare's gift to you: you don't have to suffer through yet another podcast about what's going to happen on November 8th. We're all stressed and stir-crazy over here, too. Take a listen to the podcast and give yourself a break from worrying. 

Direct download: Episode_195.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EST

On Thursday, October 20th, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled once again on the case of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, a Guantanamo detainee convicted by a military commission for inchoate conspiracy to commit war crimes. In a divided and inconclusive en banc decision, the D.C. Circuit affirmed Bahlul’s conviction, overturning the court’s decision vacating the conviction last June, in which a three-judge panel held that Bahlul could not be convicted of the domestic law offense of conspiracy as a war crime because Article III of the Constitution only permits military commission trials of offenses against the international laws of war. The Lawfare Podcast has covered the twists and turns of Bahlul’s case in the past, and now we’re back once more with Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law and Bob Loeb, a partner at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe and the former Acting Deputy Director of the Civil Division Appellate Staff at the Department of Justice.

 

Direct download: Episode_194.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EST

On October 19th, Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History at Harvard University, closed out a one-day conference on “The Next President's Fight Against Terror” at New America with a talk on “How Warfare Became Both More Humane and Harder to End.” He argues that we’ve moved toward a focus on ending war crimes and similar abuses rather than a focus on preventing war’s outbreak in the first place. And in his view, the human rights community shares culpability for this problem. It’s an issue that will be of great consequence as the next president takes office amidst U.S. involvement in numerous ongoing military interventions across the globe.

Direct download: Episode_193.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47am EST

When audio dropped last Friday of Donald Trump boasting of attacks on women, the news quickly eclipsed another, just-as-important election story released right alongside it: reports that the United States government had decided to formally lay the blame for the recent hacking of Democratic Party information at the Kremlin's feet. In any other year, Russia's apparent attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election would be the biggest story of the moment. Thankfully, we at Lawfare were able to bring in our own Jack Goldsmith and Susan Hennessey to talk about Russia's hacking and leaking, its apparent probing and scanning of state-level electoral systems, and the U.S. government's confusion regarding what on earth to do about it.

Direct download: Episode_192.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EST

Stephanie Leutert, the Mexico Security Initiative Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Lawfare's Beyond the Border series, joined Benjamin Wittes on this week's podcast to talk about the epidemic of violence plaguing Mexico and Central America. Despite the crisis going on immediately to our south, those of us in the United States who work and think on national security issues rarely consider this violence as relevant to national security. But Stephanie argues that we should.

Direct download: Episode_191.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm EST

At this week's Hoover Book Soiree, Rosa Brooks joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about her new book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon. The book covers an extraordinary range of territory, from Brooks' personal experiences working as a civilian advisor at the Pentagon, to the history of the laws of war, to an analysis of the U.S. military's expanded role in a world in which the lines between war and peace are increasingly uncertain. 

How should we think about the military’s responsibilities outside the realm of traditional warfare? And is it desirable, or even possible, to rethink the way we approach the distinctions between wartime and peacetime?

 

Direct download: Episode_190.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm EST