The Lawfare Podcast

This week, we asked Lorenzo Vidino and his co-author, Seamus Hughes, both from the George Washington University Program on Extremism, into the studio to discuss their new report, “ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa.” Their study looked at the 71 Americans charged with ISIS-related activities. So what commons denominators did they find within the group? How much of a role does social media play in radicalization and recruitment? And what should law enforcement do to counter violent extremism? We discuss all that and more. 

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #151: ISIS in America: Disrupting Retweets from Raqqa.

Direct download: Episode_151--ISIS_in_America.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

We welcome Edward Lucas, a senior editor at the Economist and author of the new book, Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internetto the show this week. At the third Hoover Book Soiree a few weeks ago, Lucas shared a drink with Lawfare’s Ben Wittes and discussed the rapid increase in cybercrime, the difficulties of identity verification on the web, and why, even today, we still do not take cybersecurity seriously enough. Lucas paints a bleak picture of our cybersecurity landscape, but closes with a few recommendations for how we can fix it.

It’s a conversation that prompted Ben to digitally betray his country, and the rest of us to grab our dongles and strengthen our passwords.  

And it’s the Lawfare Podcast, Episode #150: Edward Lucas on the Sum of All Cyberphobias. 

Direct download: Episode_150--Cyberphobia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

The show this week features Natan Sachs, a Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, who recently published an article in Foreign Affairs on anti-solutionism as strategy in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

During his conversation with Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Ben Wittes, Sachs argues that what resembles the absence of a constructive national security agenda is actually better described as a belief on the part of the Israeli right that there are currently no solutions to the challenges Israel faces. Sachs call this policy “strategic conservatism” and explains that it is a philosophy U.S. policymakers need to better understand in order to make smart decisions about the problems in the Middle East.

Direct download: Episode_149--Natan_Sachs_on_Anti-solutionism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EDT

At the last Hoover Book Soiree—which if you haven’t attended one yet, you really should—Charlie Savage, New York Times national security reporter and author of the newly released book Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidencysat down with Lawfare’s Jack Goldsmith for a detailed discussion of the Obama administration’s national security legacy. The conversation, and so too the book, is chocked full of insider accounts of just about all of the most important Obama administration legal and policy decisions. We won't spoil the fun here, but Charlie walks Jack through how Abdulmutallab’s failed underwear bombing affected President Obama, and the two discuss exactly why a president who came into office critiquing Bush's national security policies ended up keeping so many of them. They even touch on whether he will actually shutter Guantanamo Bay.

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #148: Charlie Savage on the Power Wars of the Obama Administration. 

You can read Jack's review of Power Wars, mentioned in the podcast, here

The third Hoover Book Soiree will be held on December 2nd, from 5:00-7:00 pm in Washington D.C. Ben Wittes will interview Edward Lucas of the Economist on his new book, Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security, and the Internet. RSVP.

Direct download: Episode_148--Charlie_Savage_Power_Wars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

Earlier this week, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes interviewed John Carlin at the Atlantic Council on National Security and the Cyber Threat Landscape. Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, walks Ben through recent changes in his division of the Justice Department, the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to deter and disrupt cyber threats, and how the shorter flash-to-bang timeline of modern day inspired terrorist attacks is affecting investigations and prosecutorial decisions. They even dive into the U.S.-China Cyber Deal. 

Direct download: Episode_147--John_Carlin_Ben_Wittes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:48pm EDT

Last week, George Washington University and the CIA co-hosted an event entitled Ethos and Profession of Intelligence. As part of the conference, Kenneth Wainstein moderated a conversation between CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass, Orin Kerr, and Benjamin Wittes on Bridging 20th Century Law and 21st Century Intelligence. What new legal questions are raised by rapidly evolving technologies and how do those questions interact with existing national security law? Can the United States strike a balance between privacy, security and the economic imperatives driving innovation?

The panel addresses these critical issues and more. 

Direct download: Episode_146--CIA_Event_at_GW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

Perhaps you’ve heard, but tensions between the United States and Russia are heating up. With Putin upping the ante in Syria, Marvin Kalb, journalist, scholar, and a nonresident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings, came to Brookings to launch his new book that looks at the Russian leader’s last foray titled, Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine, and the New Cold War. Putin’s recent actions in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and, more recently, in Syria have provoked a sharp deterioration in East-West relations. But is this the beginning of a new Cold War, or is Putin just wearing the costume of a prizefighter?

Joining the discussion were Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Nina Khrushcheva, a professor at The New School. Brookings President Strobe Talbott provided introductory remarks while Martin Indyk, Executive Vice President of Brookings moderated the conversation.

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #145: Putin’s Imperial Gamble

Direct download: Episode_145--Kalb_on_Ukraine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EDT

Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, and William McCants, author of The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, join Benjamin Wittes in the first Hoover Book Soiree. 

Direct download: Episode_144.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted Ben, along with Laura Donohue of Georgetown Law, former NSA Director General 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. 

Direct download: Episode_143--Surveillance_Reform_After_Snowden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

As listeners may know, while we often talk about cybersecurity on the show, Brookings itself has been subject to a number of cyber-attacks in recent years. Those attacks have ranged  from infiltrations led by Chinese government-affiliated units to the more run-of-the-mill hacker intrusions targeting credit and financial information.

This week on the Lawfare Podcast, Helen Mohrmann, the Chief Information Officer at the Brookings Institution, discusses the difficulties of securing a large, public facing organization from a vast array of cyber-attacks. Helen walks Ben through the threat environment that an organization like Brookings faces (and how that is continuously changing) and she outlines some of the steps organizations and individuals can take to shore up their own security.

Direct download: Episode_142--Helen_on_Cybersecurity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:44pm EDT