The Lawfare Podcast

President Donald Trump has pledged to end the defense sequester and make the development of defensive and offensive cyber capabilities a White House priority, but the contours of U.S. cyber policy under the new administration have yet to be set—in fact, the administration still hasn't released its much-heralded Executive Order on cybersecurity, though several drafts have been leaked. So what should we expect to see from the new administration regarding cybersecurity?

To answer that question, we're bringing you audio from a conference hosted by Lawfare with the Hoover Institution in Washington and Intel Security and featuring a keynote address from Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer at Intel, along with a panel discussion on cybersecurity and Congress moderated by Carrie Johnson of NPR with Hill staffers including Brett DeWitt, Hope Goins, Allen Souza, Michael Bahar, and Brett Freedman. 

Direct download: Episode_213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21pm EDT

This week on the podcast, Jack Goldsmith sat down with former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen to talk about the current state of national security. What should we make of the president's tweeted allegations of politically motivated wiretapping? Of the revised executive order restricting entry into the United States from six majority-Muslim countries? Of the most recent release by Wikileaks? Of Trump's persistent attacks on the integrity of the intelligence community? Jack and Matt are here, if not to explain things, then at least to talk them through.

Direct download: Episode_212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

Yesterday, Just Security and the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law hosted Benjamin Wittes for a conversation on a question he and I have posed about the path of the Trump presidency so far: what happens when we can’t take the president’s oath of office seriously?

Ben’s talk focused on an essay by him and myself that went up on Lawfare simultaneously, in which we argued that the presidential oath—little discussed though it may be in constitutional jurisprudence and academic literature—is actually the glue that holds together many of our assumptions about how government functions. And when large enough numbers of people cause to doubt the sincerity of the president’s oath, those assumptions begin to crumble.

Many thanks to Ryan Goodman of Just Security and Zachary Goldman of the Center on Law and Security for putting together this event. Make sure to also read Ryan’s Just Security followup post on his post-talk discussion with Ben and the questions raised by our essay.

Direct download: Episode_211.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

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. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Paul to discuss his time as special envoy and what’s next for Guantanamo under President Trump.

Direct download: Episode_210.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:26pm EDT

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