The Lawfare Podcast

Amidst the chaos surrounding Michael Flynn’s departure as national security advisor and the slowly unspooling news story on the Trump team’s reported contacts with the Russian government, it’s worth taking a step back and remembering a previous political controversy involving the Kremlin: Edward Snowden’s asylum in Moscow. In his recent book How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft, Epstein argues that Snowden was effectively acting as a Russian spy, though he believes it’s not clear when and to what extent Snowden came under Russian influence. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Epstein at the Hoover Book Soiree to chat about the book and discuss its more controversial elements.

Direct download: Episode_209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EDT

Donald Trump's election as president brought a surge of interest in the previously obscure Emoluments Clause, which prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, ethics experts for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, have been leading the charge to hold Trump accountable under the Emoluments Clause for his failure to divest of his businesses. Recently, they filed suit against him in their capacity as chair and vice-chair of the good government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Benjamin Wittes chats with Norm about the Emoluments Clause, the lawsuit, and what all this has to do with national security.

Direct download: Episode_208.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31am EDT

On Monday, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend President Trump's executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, only to be quickly fired by Trump. Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman, who have both served in senior positions in the Office of Legal Counsel, penned responses—Jack criticizing Yates's actions and Marty defending them. We got them on the line for a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast. 

Direct download: Episode_207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53pm EDT

President Trump kicked off the first foreign policy crisis of his new administration by signing an executive order mandating the construction of the much-promised border wall with Mexico, resulting in as-yet-unresolved confusion as to how the wall will be paid for and an ongoing diplomatic scuffle with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Stephanie Leutert, the Mexico Security Initiative Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and writer of Lawfare's "Beyond the Border" series, to chat about what the wall might look like, how effective it will or won't be, and what this means for U.S.-Mexico relations. 

Direct download: Episode_206.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:54pm EDT

On January 13th, Benjamin Wittes and Emma Kohse released a new paper challenging the assumption that "privacy is an eroding value," worn away by the incessant collection of online data about consumer habits. Their paper, "The Privacy Paradox II: Measuring the Privacy Benefits of Privacy Threats," uses empirical data from Google consumer surveys to study how many people actually experience the technologies often accused of eroding privacy as increasing their privacy instead. 

In an event at the Brookings Institution, Ben sat down with Stewart Baker of Steptoe & Johnson and Amie Stepanovich of Access now to discuss the paper. This week, we're bringing you that conversation on the podcast. 

One note: Ben's opening remarks reference Powerpoint slides containing the survey results, which you can view in the paper itself—available here.

Direct download: Episode_205.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:04pm EDT

Jameel Jaffer, author of The Drone Memos: Targeted Killing, Secrecy, and the Law, joins Jack Goldsmith at the Hoover Book Soiree. 

Direct download: Episode_204.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35am EDT

In an interview with The New York Times before his intelligence briefing on Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election on Friday, President-elect Donald Trump called the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference a "political witch hunt." In that spirit, we brought Lawfare managing editor Susan Hennessey and former GCHQ information security specialist Matt Tait on the podcast to discuss evidence of Russian attempts to influence the presidential election and Trump's baffling response. 

Direct download: Episode_203.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:08pm EDT

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. 

Direct download: Episode_202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EDT

The annual Cato Surveillance Conference kicked off this week with a panel on "Intelligence Under a Trump Administration," featuring former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen and Lawfare's own Susan Hennessey, Timothy Edgar, and Carrie Cordero. In a discussion moderated by Shane Harris of The Wall Street Journal (and Rational Security), the group discussed how Trump's antagonistic approach to the intelligence community and his dismissive attitude toward intelligence briefings will shape the coming administration. 

 

Direct download: Episode_201.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

The Lawfare Podcast has made it to our 200th episode! Thank you to all our listeners, old and new.

This week at the Hoover Book Soiree, Jack Goldsmith interviewed Christopher Moran, a professor at the University of Warwick, on his book Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs, and the CIA. Moran's work is a history of CIA memoirs, but it's also a history of the Agency itself and its efforts to shape its image in the public eye. How does an organization whose work depends on keeping secrets justify its efforts within a democratic society?

Direct download: Episode_200.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT