The Lawfare Podcast

This week, New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane came on the Lawfare Podcast to provide an overview of his new book on the life and death of radical Islamic cleric Anwar al Awlaki, Objective Troy: A Terrorist, A President, and the Rise of the Drone. Shane provides an overview of the book, examining the role played by al Awlaki in al Qaeda plots against the United States, his continued influence on the jihadi movement, and how his life and death was intimately tied to the rise of the drone in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Why and how did al Awlaki transform from a leader in American Islamic thought into a recruiter for al Qaeda? And what lessons can the trajectory of his life teach us about countering violent extremism and the methods the United States uses to achieve its counterterrorism goals?

Direct download: Episode_141--Scott_Shane_on_Anwar_al_Awlaki.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EDT

On this week’s Lawfare Podcast, Gregory Johnsen outlines the state-of-play currently in Yemen. Johnsen, who is a writer-at-large for Buzzfeed News, a doctoral candidate at Princeton University, and an all-things-Yemen-expert, walks Ben through the byzantine power politics in Sanaa that led to the conflict now engulfing Yemen and he explains why the war shouldn’t be viewed as just another Sunni-Shia fight. Yet while he clarifies that the issues that sparked the war are much more local, he warns that the longer the conflict goes on, the more likely it is to expand. Johnsen also outlines the events that led to the Saudi intervention and just whether or not Yemen, which he says is really twelve separate countries now, can ever be put back together again.  

Johnsen is the author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, al Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia. Follow him on Twitter for the latest updates on Yemen.  

Direct download: Episode_140---Gregory_Johnsen_on_Yemen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54pm EDT

Last week, Ben attended a symposium at the Pentagon on the rise of so-called “hybrid conflicts,” whereprofessionals from around the national security establishment attempted to define the idea as well as its implications for existing legal structures and the law of war. In this week’s podcast, Brig. Gen. Richard Gross, the legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explains that the DOD’s senior leadership has increasingly begun discussing conflicts such as Ukraine, Syria, and the South China sea, in terms of hybrid conflict. He and Ben explore what lawyers should do with the idea, asking is it really new and should the law adjust to deal with it?

Direct download: Episode_139--An_Interview_with_Richard_Gross.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am EDT

On this week’s Lawfare Podcast, Ben sits down with Professor Gabriella Blum, professor at Harvard Law School, and Dustin Lewis, a senior researcher at Harvard Law Schools’ Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, to discuss their new report written with Naz Modirzadeh entitled Medical Care in Armed Conflict: IHL and State Responses to Terrorism. The conversation takes a look at whether we should consider medical care a form of illegitimate support to terrorists. Their argument? We shouldn't, because IHL lays down extensive protections for medical care, and those protections in many instances should also constrain domestic material support cases. Yet the authors make clear that in their view, there's also more to be done, as there are gaps and weaknesses in the protections afforded by IHL itself.   

Lawfare ran a summary of the report earlier this week, which you can read here

Direct download: Episode_138--Medical_Care_in_IHL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47pm EDT

It's a special encore performance of our panel discussion from last year on the legal architecture of the zombie apocalypse: Foreign Policy's Shane Harris hosts a panel--incuding Bobby Chesney, Benjamin Wittes, and Jennifer Daskal--on the law of the War on Zombies. What will be the legal architecture when the dead walk and come for your brains? Do we need a zombie AUMF? Do zombies have due process rights? Find out on this week's special episode. 


Direct download: Reair_Bone-Crushing_Zombie_Action.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am EDT

With Congress is away, the economists will play, and last week, Brookings hosted a discussion on the health of the U.S. national security industrial base. The panel, which featured Brookings scholars Michael O'Hanlon, Ben Bernanke, and Mark Muro, looks across the spectrum at both the security and economic sides of the defense economy, evaluating the effects of sequestration, how America’s defense needs are informed by the threats it faces, and exactly what impact defense spending has on regional and national job creation and technological innovation.

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #137: The American Defense Economy and the Future of American Prosperity 

Direct download: Episode_137--Defense_and_the_Economy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT

Last week, Ben posted five hard questions to both government and industry regarding encryption and the "going dark" debate. We posed these questions and more on the issues of technology, public policy and corporate responsibility to Mike Janke, co-founder and Chairman of Silent Circle, an international company that sells a platform of devices and services with built-in privacy-by-design. As a former Navy SEAL, Mr. Janke, who previously was CEO and founder of a private security company, offers a unique perspective with respect to the equities of law enforcement and other government officials who have a mandate to keep people safe, individuals' right to privacy, and corporate duties to protect intellectual property and customer data.

One thing that listeners will likely take away from the interview is that law enforcement has a long way to go before convincing sophisticated industry participants that the FBI or other government entities are not actually technically capable of accessing the communications or devices they need in a pinch. Janke also makes a compelling case for why companies should be wary of the cybersecurity risks posed by communications or storage services or products that are capable of being decrypted. And yet, we identify what just might be a fault line between tech leaders' claims that end-to-end encryption is necessary to address the privacy concerns of everyday users, and the reality of who is the real market for a secure platform, at least in Silent Circle's recent experience. And we leave open the door as to whether there is room in the debate to carve out some middle ground when innocent victims are in harms way.

Direct download: Episode_136--Mike_Janke_on_Silent_Signal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

The war with ISIS turns one today. This week, Senator Kaine marked the anniversary of the fight with a speech at the Cato Institute, which has generously allowed us to use the audio for the podcast. With more than 5,000 airstrikes, more than 3,500 troops on the ground, and new fronts opening with Division 30 and the Turkish military, Senator Kaine wonders how it is that Congress has still failed to live up to, in his view, it most solemn duty---that of authorizing war. In his address, Kaine explores how Congress’s failure is fundamentally transforming the Congressional-Executive relationship and even the presidency itself.


Gene Healy, Vice President of the Cato Institute, moderated the discussion.

Direct download: Episode_135--Tim_Kaine_on_ISIS_at_Cato.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:45pm EDT

Last week, the Aspen Security Forum featured interviews from a host of Obama administration national security officials, some of which we provided last week. This week is part II, wherein we share edited discussions from White House Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 

Monaco's conversation with Mike Isikoff of Yahoo News ventures into the Administration's policy on ISIS and what she calls a "generational struggle," the trials of social media as a recruitment vehicle, and most interestingly, whether Obama would act unilaterally to move Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States. 

Clapper's discussion with Andrew Mitchell of MSNBC is most notable for his comments on lone wolf attacks and going dark, a threat about which he shares much of the same concern as FBI Director Comey. Later, Clapper touches on the OPM hack and why the United States is choosing to respond much more forcefully to economic espionage than "traditional" espionage.

Finally, in her interview with Andrew Mitchell, Loretta Lynch walks us through the challenges of domestic terrorism, the Justice Department's approach to intvestigating and prosecuting home grown ISIS supporters, and the legal protections afforded to Guantanamo Bay detainees should they be moved to the United States. 

Direct download: Episode_134---Aspen_Security_Inst.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm EDT

FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers all spoke this week at the Aspen Security Forum. CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Comey. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza spoke with Johnson. And New York Times reporter David Sanger interviewed Rogers. We have edited the interviews down to manageable length and strung them together for listeners. Thanks to the folks at the Aspen Security Forum for giving us permission to use the audio.

Direct download: Episode_134.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT