The Lawfare Podcast

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. 

Direct download: Episode_528.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm EDT

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, it can be difficult to keep track of how the virus has spread and how different countries have responded. So, this week we are doing something a little bit different. We are bringing you dispatches about how nine different countries are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. Jacob Schulz spoke with experts about the situations in Poland, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Iran, China, and Great Britain. You will hear from journalists, Brookings experts, a former CIA officer, and a Member of European Parliament, among others.

What are the restrictions different governments have put in place? What legal authorities have they relied on? How has COVID-19 and the corresponding government response affected life in each of the countries?

Guests this week were Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Radek Sikorski, Member of European Parliament and former Polish Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Alex Finley, satirist and former CIA officer; Brian Kim, Lawfare contributor and law student at Yale Law School; Giovanna De Maio, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution; Joshua Yaffa, the Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker; Erin Bates, law student and freelance broadcast journalist in South Africa; Suzanne Maloney, Interim Vice President of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution; and Sophia Yan, China correspondent for the Telegraph.

Direct download: Episode_527.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am EDT

On this bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast, we have combined two conversations about about how the Department of State and the Department of Defense are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the impact on the workforce of these agencies, their efforts to assist and protect Americans abroad and domestically, and the broader national security and foreign policy consequences for the United States. Margaret Taylor sat down virtually with Robbie Gramer, the diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy magazine covering the State Department. And Scott Anderson sat down remotely with Katie Bo Williams, the senior national security correspondent for the Defense One news outlet.

Direct download: DoD_and_State_Bonus_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Baybars Örsek, the Director of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. Fact-checking has become newly prominent in recent years, as fact-checkers work to counter surges of online disinformation and misinformation. And it’s more important than ever right now in the middle of a pandemic, when incorrect information circulating online has immediate consequences for people’s health. Baybars has been on the front lines of fact-checking in recent years. Quinta and Evelyn spoke with him about the IFCN’s “Fact-Checkers’ Code of Principles,” Facebook’s partnership with fact-checkers for content shared on their platforms, and why fact-checking is important right now.

Direct download: Episode_526.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm EDT

Like a marriage, a healthy relationship between an intelligence officer and an asset usually features ample attention and extensive energy. And of course, a lot of time spent with one another. But how do intelligence officers have the necessary face-to face-meetings when going outside is all but forbidden? What about conducting surveillance detection or servicing dead drops on empty streets in the coronavirus era?

Three former CIA officers—Alex Finley, Jonna Mendez, and David Priess—explored this tricky topic in a recent article on Lawfare, which David reads in full for this edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts.

Direct download: Shorts_-_How_Do_You_Spy_When_the_World_is_Shut_Down.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

Since 1974, Freedom House has compiled the “Freedom in the World” report, a comparative assessment of global rights and civil liberties that ranks each country’s level of freedom and identifies regional and global trends. And the results for 2019 do not look good.

David Priess spoke with Michael Abramowitz and Sarah Repucci of Freedom House about the threat to civil rights in India and Kashmir; the ethnic cleansing of muslims in China; the decline of democracy even in traditional strongholds like the United States; the era of peaceful, non-violent protests across the globe; and recommendations for supporting burgeoning democracies overseas.

Direct download: Episode_525.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52pm EDT

Democracies around the world are under assault, with their norms and institutions undermined by authoritarian actors. From Hungary to India and beyond, illiberal or populist governments are weakening the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the integrity of elections.

As part of a two-episode Lawfare podcast series on the state of global democracy, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Alina Polyakova and Torrey Taussig about democracy promotion. They discussed “The Democracy Playbook,” a report by Alina and Torrey—along with Brookings experts Norman Eisen, Andrew Kenealy, and Susan Corke—outlining strategies that supporters of liberal democracy can implement to prevent and reverse democratic backsliding. They talked about Central and Eastern Europe, the drivers of democratic discontent, and how all of this compares to the situation in the United States.

Direct download: Episode_524.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

What can the president do in a national emergency? What limits what the president can do? What authorizes the president to do all those things he can do in a national emergency? Is the president abusing, misusing, using appropriately, or under-using emergency powers during the coronavirus crisis? And what are the logical end points for how far this could go? For this bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast, Benjamin Wittes got on the phone with Steve Vladeck to work through these questions and talk about all things presidential emergency powers.

Direct download: Steve_Vladeck_on_Emergency_Powers_and_Coronavirus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:03pm EDT

Dr. Rebecca Katz is the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center. She also teaches courses on global health diplomacy, global health security, and emerging infectious disease in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. From 2004 to 2019, she was a consultant to the Department of State, working on issues related to the biological weapons convention, pandemic influenza, and disease surveillance. On Sunday, Margaret Taylor spoke with Rebecca about the international legal architecture and institutions for pandemic preparedness response, how some Asian and European countries have approached the problem, and the United States's response.

Direct download: Episode_523.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm EDT

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Kate Starbird, an Associate Professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She’s long done fascinating research about online disinformation and misinformation—and she's an expert in what’s called crisis informatics, or the study of how information flows during crisis events. For this conversation, they focused on one crisis in particular: Covid-19. They talked about the possibilities and dangers of social media and the internet in times of crisis, how communities make sense of disaster, and the anxiety of living in the world right now.

Direct download: Episode_522.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Josh Sharfstein is the vice dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also served as the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was the principal deputy commissioner and at some point, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and he was the Commissioner of Health for the city of Baltimore. He is remarkably well qualified to talk about coronavirus crisis response at the federal, state, and local levels. He's even written a book about managing public health crises, and he's hosting a daily podcast of his own on the coronavirus crisis. He joined Benjamin Wittes in the virtual Jungle Studio to talk about the role of coercion in managing these crises, how the U.S. government has performed (and not performed), and what we should be doing differently to get the corona crisis under control.

Direct download: Episode_521.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joshua R. Fattal about a fascinating law review article he’s written: “FARA on Facebook: Modernizing the Foreign Agents Registration Act to Address Propagandists on Social Media.” The Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, is an American law that requires lobbyists for foreign entities to register with the Justice Department. It made the headlines when Special Counsel Robert Mueller claimed that Russians spreading social media disinformation around the 2016 election failed to register under the law. Josh argues that Mueller’s indictments represent an innovative new use of FARA—and he suggests that the law could offer a mechanism for the U.S. government to address disinformation campaigns.

Direct download: Episode_520.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

Since we are recording remotely due to coronavirus concerns, it is a good day to discuss the congressional response to coronavirus. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Margaret Taylor, Lawfare's congressional guru, about what legislation Congress has passed, what legislation Congress and the Trump administration are considering in relation to the virus, and how Congress has responded institutionally.

Direct download: Episode_519.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_518.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Lisa Kaplan and Sophie Lawton of Alethea Group, an organization that works to detect and mitigate disinformation on social media. Lisa recently published a piece on Lawfare about a massive network of companies run by TheSoul Publishing—founded in Russia by a company called AdMe. The companies publish bizarre craft videos on Youtube and Facebook, along with a handful of videos about history and politics with an overtly pro-Russian slant. So what is actually going on here? They talked about what red flags Lisa and Sophie look for in hunting down disinformation, their experiences tackling disinformation while working for Senator Angus King’s reelection campaign in 2018, and how political campaigns need to tackle online influence efforts in 2020.

Direct download: Episode_517.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

On Friday afternoon, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision concerning the House of Representatives' efforts to compel Don McGahn, Donald Trump's former White House counsel, to testify about his conduct with respect to the president, the Mueller investigation, presidential obstruction of justice, and other matters. At the president's direction, McGahn has refused show up, citing absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas. In a surprise ruling for a lot of people, the DC Circuit determined that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the House lacks standing to bring it. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jonathan David Shaub, Lawfare contributor and incoming faculty at the University of Kentucky Law School, and Lawfare senior editors Margaret Taylor and Scott R. Anderson.

Direct download: Bonus_Edition_-_The_Don_McGahn_Decision.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

The population of Africa is projected to double by 2050, giving the continent one quarter of the world's people by then. Nigeria alone will have a larger population than the United States. To the extent they aren't so already, the world's problems and opportunities will be Africa's, too, and African problems and opportunities will also be the world's. David Priess spoke about developments in African politics and international engagement with two experts from the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies—its director Judd Devermont, and one of its senior associates, Emilia Columbo.

Direct download: Episode_516.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51am EDT

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig are reporters at The Washington Post and the authors of the new book, 'A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America.' This week, Susan Hennessey sat down with Rucker and Leonnig to talk about the new book, the president's interactions with his cabinet, his attitude toward the law, and the efficacy of his public attacks.

Direct download: Episode_515.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Bridget Barrett and Daniel Kreiss of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and UNC’s Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. In all the controversy around social media platforms at the moment, perhaps nothing is taking up as much oxygen as their policies around political ads. But it’s difficult to discuss this topic without a detailed understanding of what the platforms are actually doing. That’s where Bridget and Daniel come in. They’ve worked to provide a comprehensive account of the different policies in this space, how those policies interact, and how they’re changing—or not—the way we interact with politics.

Direct download: Episode_514.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EDT

Ben Buchanan is a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a scholar on cybersecurity and statecraft. He has a new book out this week: “The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics." Jack Goldsmith sat down with Buchanan to talk about Ben’s new book, about the so-called name-and-shame of Justice Department indictments, and about the various reasons why states engage in offensive cyber operations.

Direct download: Bonus_Edition_with_Ben_Buchanan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:10pm EDT

Every year for a quarter of a century, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, or both, have hosted the worldwide threat briefing featuring open unclassified testimony from leaders of the intelligence community about the biggest threats facing the United States. That is, at least until this year, when it is still unclear when the worldwide threat testimony will take place, if at all. To shed some light on the history, the norms, and the value of this open intelligence testimony, we gathered an extraordinary group of intelligence leaders who have done it, in some cases many times. David Priess spoke with Jim Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency; Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, former principal deputy DNI, and former director of the National Security Agency; and Andrew McCabe, the former Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Direct download: Episode_513.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

Lisa Monaco was Barack Obama's counterterrorism and Homeland Security advisor in the White House, and headed the Justice Department's national security division. Sophia Yan is a Beijing-based correspondent for the British newspaper The Telegraph. Lisa and Sophia may not seem to have a lot in common, but these days, they are both spending a lot of time thinking about coronavirus. Monaco managed epidemic and pandemic disease events for the Obama administration, and Yan is in the middle of covering the ongoing epidemic in China. Benjamin Wittes joined Lisa (in the Jungle Studio) and Sophia (remotely from Beijing) on Thursday to talk about how the Chinese government has responded, how the Trump administration has responded, and how much worse this is likely to get before it ebbs.

Direct download: Episode_512.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth University. We talk a lot about the crisis of falsehoods circulating online, but Nyhan’s work focuses on empirical research on what the effects of disinformation and misinformation actually are. And he’s found that those effects might play less of a role in political discourse than you’d think—or at least not quite in the way you might think. They talked about the fake news about fake news and the echo chamber about echo chambers.

Direct download: Episode_511.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_510.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

In what ways did American foreign policy fail to capitalize on victory in the Cold War? Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus at Boston University and co-founder and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, tackles that question and more in "The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory." Jack Goldsmith sat down with Professor Bacevich to talk about his new book. The pair discussed the establishment consensus on American foreign policy, the state of civil-military relations, and the mission of the newly founded Quincy Institute.

Direct download: Episode_509.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT

In 2013, Patrick Radden Keefe, a staff writer for the New Yorker, came across the obituary of a woman named Dolours Price, a former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Keefe's interest in Price led to sprawling research about an appalling crime that took place over the course of the three-decade Troubles in Northern Ireland: The disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed young mother of ten children. His research led to his 2019 book, “Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.”

Mikhaila Fogel sat down with Keefe to discuss his book, the shocking history of McConville’s disappearance, the broader context of the terrorism and counterterrorism campaigns in Northern Ireland over the course of the Troubles, and what happened to the perpetrators and the victims of this crime.

Direct download: Episode_508.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck host the weekly National Security Law Podcast from the University of Texas Law School, a discussion of current national security law developments. In this episode, the third edition of a Lawfare edited National Security Law Podcast, Bobby and Steve discuss a range of topics that we thought would be of interest to listeners. So we are bringing you a distilled version of their conversation. Bobby and Steve talk about the legal side of accusations that President Trump pressured the Justice Department to amend a sentencing recommendation in the case of Roger Stone and his retaliation against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. They give context about the federal quarantine law, as the coronavirus continues to spread globally. And, they go over recent war powers developments and a special listener request about the case of Omar Ameen.

 A quick logistical note: Bobby and Steve recorded this conversation on Wednesday, so news about the Flynn case and about the Senate passing War Powers legislation are not mentioned in their discussion.

Direct download: NSL202.1420intro_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm EDT

In this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Kate Klonick spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Prior to joining Stanford, Alex served as the chief security officer at Facebook, and before that, as the chief information security officer at Yahoo. They talked about Alex's experience at Facebook handling 2016 election interference, as well as his work on cybersecurity, disinformation, and end-to-end encryption.

Direct download: Episode_507.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Episode_506.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

Russia continues to sporadically poke its head into American media headlines, whether it be for its role in Syria or for anxieties about fresh election interference in 2020. But these news stories seldom provide a window into life in Putin’s Russia. Jacob Schulz sat down with Joshua Yaffa, the Moscow correspondent for the New Yorker, to talk about his new book, "Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia." The book gives a series of portraits of prominent figures within Putin’s Russia and details the compromises they make to maintain their status and goodwill with the Kremlin. They talked about this framework as a way to understand Russia, what Putin’s rule looks like on the peripheries of the country, and about a couple of the fascinating characters that animate the book.

Direct download: Episode_505.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

The 2020 election cycle opened up with a dramatic failure, as the Iowa caucus was marred by a delayed announcement of the caucus results and an abundance of misinformation about its cause. It was a painful demonstration of the importance of election security and election infrastructure. We put together a special edition podcast to discuss what went wrong in Iowa and the factors that have increased mistrust in American elections. Benjamin Wittes interviewed Richard Hasen, an election-law expert and the author of “Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy.” The two talked about Hasen’s new book, about the flaws that can plague elections and about how to think about electoral legitimacy. 

Direct download: Rick_Hasen_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump of abuse of power, by a vote of 48-52, and obstruction of Congress, by a vote of 47-53. Over the course of the trial, Lawfare and Goat Rodeo have been compiling the most essential parts of each day’s proceeding into manageable podcast episodes. Here is the final episode of that series. It includes some remarks made by senators including Mitt Romney of Utah, who became the first person in history to vote to remove a president of his own party, followed by the vote. The episode ends with a conversation with Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic, David Priess and Margaret Taylor, hosted by Benjamin Wittes.

Direct download: Lawfare_Podcast_Special_Edition_The_Impeachment_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19am EDT

Leon Neyfakh is the co-creator and former host of Slow Burn, which won the iHeartRadio podcast award for Podcast of the Year last year. Now, he's the co-creator and host of Fiasco, entering its second season on Luminary. This second season deals with the Iran–Contra scandal, including some of the stories and people that you know—like Iran and Nicaragua, Bud McFarlane, John Poindexter, and Oliver North—but also some things you might not remember that make the story a very rich scandal indeed.

David Priess spoke with Leon about Slow Burn, Fiasco, and especially about the Iran–Contra scandal.

Direct download: Episode_504.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:50pm EDT

Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck, both of the University of Texas Law School, host the National Security Law Podcast, a weekly deep dive on national security law topics. In this second edition of a Lawfare-edited National Security Law Podcast, Bobby and Steve had a particularly useful conversation about the legal issues surrounding John Bolton’s role in the impeachment trial and about important developments in the military commissions that have been overshadowed by events in Washington.

Two logistical points: We have edited this podcast down to the most substantive exchanges between Bobby and Steve. Also, this podcast was recorded on Wednesday, January 29, and thus the conversation occurred before the Senate's vote on Friday to block witnesses in the impeachment trial. 

Direct download: Episode_503.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

For the past several months, Australia has been struck by massive bushfires like nothing seen before in recent memory. As the country has grappled with the spread of these unprecedented blazes, it’s also grappled with the spread of falsehoods about what caused them.


This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Elise Thomas, a journalist and researcher at the Australia Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Center. Elise has been tracking misinformation and disinformation around the blazes—from the suggestion by the right-wing Australian press that arson, not climate change, is to blame for the fires, to online conspiracy theories imported in from the United States. They talked not only about the fires, but also about the global nature of the fight against mis- and disinformation online and why we need to be cautious about focusing too much on bots in waging that fight.

Elise was calling in from Canberra, and unfortunately we had some audio glitches, but it's too great a conversation to miss.

Direct download: Episode_502.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EDT

We have an impeachment trial going on. We've had hours and hours of presentation by the House managers, and hours of presentation by the president's defense team, and there are likely hours to go. To bring us up to speed with where we are, where we are after the big John Bolton bombshell over the weekend, and the coming fight over witnesses, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Margaret Taylor, Quinta Jurecic, and Jonathan David Shaub.

Direct download: Episode_501.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm EDT

The past few years have seen an uptick in Russian covert actions across Europe, including assassinations and attempted killings of people in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Just this week, Bulgaria charged three Russian agents with the poisoning of a prominent Bulgarian arms manufacturer. Michael Schwirtz has been an investigative reporter with the New York Times for almost 15 years, and he's been tracking this Russian skulduggery carefully in many of those countries for much of that time. Recently, he's reported on how quite a bit of that activity is linked to one particular unit within the Russian GRU. David Priess sat down with Michael to work through this increasingly aggressive Russian action and what it all means going forward.

Direct download: Episode_500.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:03am EDT

For this episode of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Renee DiResta, the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory. Renee has done fascinating work on how technology platforms and algorithms interact with false and misleading narratives, ranging from misleading information on health issues to propaganda pushed by the Islamic State and the Russian government.

Direct download: Episode_499.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:39pm EDT

"Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office," by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, was published today. The Brookings Institution hosted a launch event, moderated by Fred Hiatt, in which Susan and Ben discussed the book. "Unmaking the Presidency" is an attempt to explore the Trump presidency through the lens of the norms of the traditional presidency that he has violated. It's a look at his vision of the presidency, a look at the range of presidential powers that vision affects, and a look at the history of how those norms developed.

Direct download: Episode_498.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EDT

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump starts Tuesday. The President now has a legal team. And over the weekend, both the House impeachment managers and the President's lawyers filed initial briefs. In this special edition of the podcast, Benjamin Wittes, Margaret Taylor, Susan Hennessey, David Priess, Scott Anderson, and Paul Rosenzweig talk it all through. What should we make of the president's legal team? What do the briefs say? And what should we expect from the trial to come?

Direct download: Special_Edition_1-20-20_Impeachment_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is set to begin on Jan. 21, and the question of what constitutes an impeachable offense is sure to feature in the trial itself and in the broader discussion of the president’s conduct. To answer that question, many commentators, lawmakers and experts may rely on what the Founders said at the time the Impeachment Clause was written into the Constitution. But there’s another way to think about an impeachable offense: by looking at the offenses for which Congress has actually impeached people. Hilary Hurd explored that sordid and unexpected history of impeachment in a recent article for Lawfare. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.

Direct download: Hilary20Hurd20Shorts_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT

Batya Ungar-Sargon is the opinion editor of The Forward, the Jewish newspaper published out of New York City. She has been among the chroniclers, both in print and on Twitter, of the recent spate of attacks against Orthodox communities in New York and New Jersey. She joined Benjamin Wittes by Skype to talk about the origins of these attacks, why it is so hard to respond to them, and why they don't fit in with any of our political preconceptions.

Direct download: Episode_497.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

On this episode of the Arbiters of Truth series, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with law professors Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron about deep fakes—that is, artificial audio and video that can be used to depict a person doing or saying something that they never did or said. They talked about the paper that Bobby and Danielle wrote in 2018 about how deep fakes pose a looming challenge for privacy, democracy, and national security. And with recently circulated, doctored video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidate Joe Biden, they talked about how the issue hasn't gone away, as well as the distinction between deep fakes and other less sophisticated forms of editing.

Direct download: Episode_496.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47am EDT

There's going to be a House vote tomorrow to send the impeachment articles over to the Senate. Then there's going to be a little parade where the appointed managers from the House take them over. And then, we're going to have a Senate trial. Benjamin Wittes gathered in the Jungle Studio with Margaret Taylor, Molly Reynolds, David Priess, and Jonathan Shaub (by phone) to imagine what that trial will look like. They talked about the ceremonial aspects of the impeachment trial; witnesses, who they can force to show up, and whether they can force them to answer questions; and how the president's defense might defend Donald Trump against these charges.

Direct download: Episode_495.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56pm EDT

As part of Lawfare's continuing coverage of the killing of Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, we are bringing you an edited version of the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast, in which Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck discuss the legality of the strike and what this means for the future of U.S.-Iranian relations. We edited the podcast down solely to focus solely on the discussion of Soleimani.

Direct download: Episode_494.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

It’s 2020, and The Lawfare Podcast's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation is back for the new year. Quinta Jurecic sat down with cohosts Evelyn Douek, Kate Klonick, and Alina Polyakova to discuss what they’ve learned over the last few months of putting together this podcast—and what they should expect for the year to come. What new regulation or oversight mechanisms will we see for social media companies? Should Twitter remove or hide the president’s tweets? How should we think about the unique challenges of addressing disinformation and misinformation in an election year in the United States? And just how bad are things going to get?

Direct download: Episode_493.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27am EDT

To kick off this year of The Lawfare Podcast, we wanted to hear from you. You tweeted your questions and you left us voicemails, and we did our best to answer you. Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Bobby Chesney, David Priess, Quinta Jurecic, David Kris, Scott R. Anderson, Molly Reynolds, and Margaret Taylor came together to tackle your impeachment questions, your foreign policy questions, your FISA questions, your recommendation requests, and everything in-between.

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

Direct download: Episode_492.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EDT

On Friday, the Lawfare Podcast hosted a conversation on the wide-ranging policy implications of the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qassem Soleimani and militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy commander of Iraq’s quasi-official Popular Mobilization Forces and leader of the Iraqi militia and PMF Keta’ib Hezbollah. 

Today’s special edition episode leaves the policy debate behind to zero-in on the law behind the strike. Law of war and international law experts Scott R. Anderson, Bobby Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Ashley Deeks and Samuel Moyn join Benjamin Wittes to discuss the domestic and international law surrounding the strike, how the administration might legally justify it, what the president might do next and how Congress might respond. 

Direct download: Law_and_the_Souleimani_Strike_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm EDT

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.

Direct download: UPDATE_Solemani_Special_Edition_Podcast_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Iran is in turmoil. Protests erupted across the country last month, sparked by the government's decision to triple the price of gasoline. The Iranian government has responded with brute force, imposing a blackout of the internet and deploying security forces to crack down in the streets. The crackdown has left hundreds dead and thousands injured or detained. On December 18, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on the unrest in Iran, what it means for the future of the country and the region, and how the United States and the international community should respond. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius led the conversation, which featured Brookings senior fellow Suzanne Maloney and film maker and journalist Maziar Bahari, who leads IranWire, a news site that conveys original information from Iran via citizen journalists.

Direct download: Episode_491.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:16pm EDT

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