The Lawfare Podcast

“American companies are in a bind.” So argue Bill Priestap and Holden Triplett, who have written a series of articles for Lawfare making the case that more and more state intelligence agencies are turning their attention to private businesses, using the tools of espionage in order to build their own economic power. Both writers are speaking from experience: Priestap ran the FBI’s counterintelligence division from 2015 to 2018, and Triplett led the FBI office in Beijing from 2014 to 2017 and was deputy head of the FBI office in Moscow from 2012 to 2014. Quinta Jurecic sat down with them to discuss why countries have started to use their intelligence services in this way, what dangers this creates for American businesses and why counterintelligence risks are hard to intuitively understand.

Direct download: Why_Businesses_Need_to_Take_Espionage_Seriously.mp3
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Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, sat down with H. R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security advisor. They talked about his time in government; the origins of the 2017 national security strategy, which focused the U.S. government on China; how he thinks history is best applied to policymaking; and even why he considers himself to be the funkiest NSA in U.S. history.

Direct download: HR_McMaster_on_China.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on platforms and disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nick Rasmussen, the Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (also known as GIFCT). The GIFCT is an organization working to facilitate cross-industry efforts to counter the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. It was founded in 2017 by four platforms, but is now transitioning to a new life as an independent organization, which Nick is heading up.

Online violent extremism is one of the most difficult problems of the internet age, and collaboration between companies and governments may be the only way to effectively tackle it. But how can the GIFCT balance this with the need to respect legitimate free speech concerns? How is Nick thinking about the transparency and accountability problems that such collaboration might exacerbate? And why might the GIFCT be one of the most important institutions for the future of online free speech?

Direct download: Collaborating_to_Counter_Violent_Extremism_Online.mp3
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We have a new president-elect here in the United States, which means changes to certain U.S. domestic policies and also a different way of doing foreign policy. So, what does Biden’s win mean for different countries and regions globally? Jacob Schulz brings you dispatches from around the world about the effects of Biden’s win with Boris Ruge on Germany and the EU, Alina Polyakova on Russia and Ukraine, Emmanuel Igunza on East Africa and the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Antonio Garza on Mexico, Tanvi Madan on India, Sophia Yan on China, Ben Hubbard on Saudi Arabia, Rasha Al Aqeedi on Iraq, Daniel Reisner on Israel and Kemal Kirişci on Turkey.

Direct download: Biden_Victory_Around_the_World.mp3
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Following his appearance on Friday on the Lawfare Podcast, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, appeared on Lawfare Live for a live video conversation and audience Q&A. It was a very good conversation—so good that we thought we would bring you an edited version of it as Part Two of our conversation with Alex Vindman. He discussed how one becomes an NSC director while serving in the active duty military, what risks the transition period has in foreign relations, whether he has any regrets about his decision to speak out during the impeachment and much more.

Direct download: A_Conversation_with_Alexander_Vindman.mp3
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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.) is now the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, the newest member of the Lawfare team. You've heard his story, likely in his testimony in the impeachment proceedings for President Trump. But Benjamin Wittes sat down with him for a different reason—his substantive expertise in Eastern Europe policy, Russia matters and great power competition. They talked about the challenges the Biden administration will face as it tries to pick up the pieces the Trump administration has left it, how democracies can hang together and harden themselves against attacks from authoritarian regimes, what a good Russia policy looks like, how China fits in and how we can rebuild traditional American alliances.

Direct download: Alex_Vindman_Talks_Eastern_Europe.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic are bringing you a conversation with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Alex was last on the show in August to talk about the newly established Election Integrity Partnership, which he helped set up to focus on detecting and mitigating disinformation around the U.S. 2020 election. Well, the election is over! So Alex is back to talk about what the partnership saw, how well the information ecosystem held up and what the landscape looks like as the dust begins to settle.

Direct download: Most_Intense_Online_DIsinformation_Event.mp3
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In the waning days of his administration, the president has attempted to install a political loyalist as General Counsel of the National Security Agency, a position that is traditionally a merits position, not a political position. He has also issued an executive order that gives the executive branch greater control over the civil service, making it easier to hire and fire people in agencies. It all raises the question: Is Donald Trump attempting to create the very deep state that he has spent the last four years denouncing? To talk over this question in its various permutations, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Susan Hennessey, who recently wrote an article about the NSA General Counsel appointment; Scott Anderson, Lawfare senior editor; and Rudy Mehrbani, senior advisor at Democracy Fund Voice, senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and former assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel and former associate White House counsel in the Obama administration.

Direct download: Is_Trump_Creating_a_Deep_State.mp3
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The world’s most dangerous job apparently has a vacancy once again. Al Qaeda’s #2 reportedly has been killed in Iran by Israeli forces acting on U.S. intelligence. In addition, there are some rumors about Al Qaeda's #1, Ayman al-Zawahri, also passing into the hereafter. To talk about the reports and the rumors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's foreign policy editor, Brookings scholar and Georgetown professor Daniel Byman.

Direct download: Job_Openings_in_Al_Qaeda.mp3
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The Islamic State in America is a topic that once garnered front-page headlines, but it has fallen a bit out of public attention in the past year or so. Jacob Schulz sat down with Seamus Hughes, the author with Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Bennett Clifford of "Homegrown: ISIS in America." They talked about the book, how the Islamic State has attracted American followers, how the organization operates differently in the U.S. versus Europe, the FBI and the role it plays in countering homegrown extremism, and what Seamus is most concerned about going forward.

Direct download: Homegrown_ISIS_in_America.mp3
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Kori Schake is a long-time Pentagon watcher; she is a former Defense Department, State Department and National Security Council official; and she leads the foreign policy and defense policy team at the American Enterprise Institute. She is also the author of an article in The Atlantic this week about the latest mishegoss at the Pentagon—a decapitating strike against the military civilian leadership of the United States by the president. She joined Benjamin Wittes to talk through possible explanations of why the president is firing all the leaders of the Department of Defense. Is this a grand plan to do something terrible in the last two months of his presidency, or is this just flailing narcissism? And even if it's the latter, what harm could it do?

Direct download: Kori_Schake_on_What_the_Heck_is_Going_On_at_the_Pentagon.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Marietje Schaake about how Europe is not necessarily waiting for America to get its act together and is moving ahead with tech regulation. Marietje served as a Member of European Parliament for 10 years for the Dutch liberal democratic party and is now the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. They spoke about what’s happening in Europe in the tech space, what distance there may be between European and American ideas about regulation of tech platforms, and whether that distance is bridgeable—especially under a Biden administration.

Direct download: Marietje_Schaake_on_Reclaiming_Democratic_Control_of_the_Internet.mp3
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Yesterday, President Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the latest in a string of dismissals. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is trying to put a transition together, but the head of the General Services Administration will not ascertain that the transition has begun. To talk about it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Steve Vladeck, Susan Hennessey and Scott R. Anderson. They discussed the president's surprise—or not so surprising—removal of staff who have offended him, how you run a transition, what the law requires, why the GSA won't get this one started, how you staff an administration and the particular challenges Biden will face.

Direct download: Firings_Transitions_and_Staffing.mp3
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Well, that's it, folks. We have a president elect in Joe Biden. And, we have a president who is now officially a lame duck. To talk through the transition from Donald Trump to a more normal presidency, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz and Susan Hennessey.

Direct download: Trump_is_Defeated.mp3
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The votes are almost all counted, but they're not quite all counted. We kind of know where the electoral votes are going, but some of them have not gone there yet. We think we know the outcome, but the outcome has not been officially called. To talk through the next several days, Benjamin Wittes sat down for a late-Thursday-evening chat with Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson and Lawfare senior contributor Alan Rozenshtein.

Direct download: Almost_Done.mp3
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Benjamin Wittes sat down with an all-Lawfare crew to discuss the election. Scott Anderson, David Priess, Jacob Schulz, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey joined Ben to talk about where the election is, whether we are in a transition or in a contested election, the challenges a Biden transition team might face and what concerns the team finds particularly alarming as they imagine the next few weeks and months.

Direct download: We-re_Almost_Done.mp3
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In a conversation completely unrelated to yesterday's election, Jordan Schneider of ChinaTalk and Matthew Klein, author of the recent "Trade Wars Are Class Wars," spoke with Adam Tooze, a professor at Columbia University and an economic historian. They discussed what we can learn from the diplomatic and economic modes of the 1930s, why Nazi legal theory resonates so well in China today, how Xinjiang's camps echo the logic of Soviet gulags, whether the U.S. in fact lost the Cold War and the bureaucracies in which Adam would have loved to work.

Direct download: Adam_Tooze_on_World_Order_Then_and_Now.mp3
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On this Election Day, we are checking in on how healthy the election actually is. Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law School and Charles Stewart III of MIT together run the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. Zahavah Levine and Chelsey Davidson manage the project on the Stanford side. Together, they have supervised a collection of students who have produced 32 articles for Lawfare on election administration as part of the project. Benjamin Wittes sat down with all four of them to discuss how the election is actually going, what the rules of mail-in voting are, how litigation has affected the conduct of the vote, if we have enough poll workers and what results we can expect this evening.

Direct download: Are_We_Having_a_Healthy_Election.mp3
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We're all hoping for a peaceful Election Day tomorrow, but some people are worried about violence at the polls. Two of those people are Dan Byman, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, the foreign policy editor of Lawfare and a professor at Georgetown University; and Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Center and an assistant teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Together, they wrote a piece on the Brookings FixGov blog on why the risk of election violence is high. They joined Benjamin Wittes for an unnerving conversation about the set of facts that led them to write such an alarming piece, how violence could manifest at the polls and what could ease the threat.

Direct download: Daniel_Byman_and_Colin_Clarke_on_Violence_at_the_Polls.mp3
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Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was foreign policy advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign four years ago, where she had to respond to Russian information operations against the campaign in real time. She has been working on combating foreign interference in U.S. domestic politics ever since, and she is the author of two recent significant articles—one in Foreign Affairs and one on Lawfare—both on the subject of foreign influence operations and interference in U.S. politics. She joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the strategic purpose of these operations, whether we have to fear more operations during or after the election, and if U.S. voters should have confidence in their system.

Direct download: Laura_Rosenberger_on_Foreign_Interventions_on_US_Campaigns.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Casey Newton, veteran Silicon Valley editor for The Verge who recently went independent to start a newsletter on Substack called Platformer. Few people have followed the stories of platforms and content moderation in recent years as closely and carefully as Casey, so Evelyn and Quinta asked him about what’s changed in the last four years—especially in the lead-up to the election. They also spoke about the challenges of reporting on the tech industry and whether the increased willingness of platforms to moderate content means that the name of this podcast series will have to change.

Direct download: Casey_Newton_on_Four_Years_of_Platform_Chaos.mp3
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There is a human rights crisis going on in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has been rounding up minority groups, most notably the Uighurs, and putting them into forced labor and reeducation camps. The government has gone to great lengths to keep Xinjiang away from international attention, and it has had some success in doing so. Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, wrote an essay on Lawfare last week outlining how the U.S. can respond and push back on the Chinese government's abuses in the region. During a live event for ChinaTalk, Lawfare's Jacob Schulz talked through Xinjiang and potential U.S. responses with Schneider and Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at UT Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Direct download: What_To_Do_About_Xinjiang.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Stephen Wertheim, deputy director of research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is the author of the new book, "Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy." They discussed the surprising World War II origins of U.S. hegemonic militarism, the changes in what it meant to be an internationalist during this period and the domestic political origins of the U.S. embrace of the UN Charter. They also discussed the relationship between Wertheim's book and his work for the Quincy Institute, a think tank devoted to fostering U.S. military restraint.

Direct download: Tomorrow_the_World.mp3
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This month, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research released a report entitled, "Rightly Scaled, Carefully Open, Infinitely Agile: Reconfiguring to Win the Innovation Race in the Intelligence Community." Susan Hennessey sat down with Subcommittee Chair Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut to discuss the challenges the United States is facing with near-peer national competitors in science and technology and the impact on the intelligence community. They talked about the role of China, stemming intelligence community brain drain, the need for basic research and how Congress can heal itself to become part of the solution.

Direct download: Congressman_Jim_Himes_on_the_Intelligence_Innovation_Race.mp3
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It's been a wild couple of days of disinformation in the electoral context. Intelligence community officials are warning about Russian and Iranian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election—and claiming that Iran is responsible for sending threatening emails from fake Proud Boys to Democratic voters. What exactly is going on here? To talk through the developments and the questions that linger, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic.

Direct download: ForeignInterference_ItsHappening.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Janine Zacharia, the Carlos Kelly McClatchy Lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Communication, and Andrew Grotto, director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance and the William J. Perry International Security Fellow at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

In 2016, a key part of the Russian influence campaign involved the hacking and leaking of emails belonging to the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Journalists at mainstream news outlets rushed to write up the emails without giving adequate context to how they had been obtained.

So how can the press avoid a similar disaster in 2020? Zacharia and Grotto teamed up in recent months to write a playbook for reporters facing the dilemma of writing about hacked material or disinformation without participating in a disinformation campaign. (They’ve also written an article on the subject for Lawfare.) They spoke with Alina and Quinta about their recommendations for reporters, what the American press might be able to learn from colleagues abroad and how to assess the mainstream media’s response to the New York Post’s bizarre reporting on Hunter Biden.

Direct download: How_to_Report_on_Hacks_and_Disinformation.mp3
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While everyone’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus and the run-up to the 2020 election, a lot has been happening at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees a number of government-funded entities, including the Voice of America. Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker, was confirmed as the head of the Agency for Global Media in June after much controversy on Capitol Hill. Once installed, Pack gutted the top leadership and took actions critics say breached the firewall meant to protect these various overseas news outlets from politicization. He held back congressionally appropriated funds and even defied a bipartisan congressional subpoena for his testimony. Investigations have been opened, and lawsuits have been filed. Margaret Taylor sat down with NPR’s David Folkenflik to sort it all out.

Direct download: Fear_and_Loathing_at_the_US_Agency_for_Global_Media.mp3
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One of the most interesting strategic developments in the past few years has been the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad—the growing partnership between the United States, Japan, Australia and India. To look at how this institution resurrected itself after a false start back in 2007, what it is and isn't doing now, and whether China is right to look warily at this dialogue, David Priess spoke with Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program and the director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution, and Lavina Lee, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who was appointed by the defense minister in Australia to be a director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council in Canberra earlier this year.

The World As You’ll Know It is available now, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

Direct download: The_Quad_with_Tanvi_Madan_and_Lavina_Lee.mp3
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On October 14, the New York Post began publishing what it touted as a series of blockbuster articles on emails and photos obtained from a laptop mysteriously abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop—emails and photos that, the Post announced, belonged to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The materials had been provided to the tabloid by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And from there, it only gets weirder.

In the eyes of many commentators, this looked like a continuation of Giuliani’s 2019 efforts to smear Joe Biden by claiming falsely that, while vice president, Biden had intervened to protect a Ukrainian company for which Hunter was working from investigation by Ukrainian law enforcement. That didn’t add up then, and it doesn’t now—the elder Biden’s work in Ukraine was aimed at combating corruption, not enabling it. But nevertheless, Trump and other Republicans are seizing on the Post’s stories—and complaining about efforts by social media companies to limit distribution of the stories on their platforms.

To get some perspective on what’s been going on, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Thomas Rid, a Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and the author of the book “Active Measures,” and Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Direct download: An_October_Surprise_from_the_New_York_Post.mp3
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The past year has been a difficult one for the U.S. relationship with Iraq, a country that has increasingly found itself caught in the middle of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign against Iran and Iran's own efforts to strike back at the United States. Now, the relationship between the United States and Iraq appears to be reaching a new low, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unless the Iraqi government does more to thwart attacks by militias associated with Iran against U.S. personnel stationed there. But is the Trump administration really willing to take such a dramatic and seemingly self-defeating step? Or are there other factors at play? To find out, Scott R. Anderson sat down with former ambassador Doug Silliman who knows the situation in Baghdad like few others. They discussed the threat to close the embassy, the legacy of the Soleimani strike for the bilateral U.S.-Iraq relationship and what the future that relationship might look like if Secretary Pompeo makes good on his threat.

Direct download: Ambassador_Doug_Silliman_on_the_Fate_of_Embassy_Baghdad.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek spoke with Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist and co-founder of Rappler, an online news site based in Manila. Maria was included in Time's Person of the Year in 2018 for her work combating fake news, and is currently fighting a conviction for “cyberlibel” in the Philippines for her role at Rappler. Maria and her fight are the subject of the film, “A Thousand Cuts,” released in virtual cinemas this summer and to be broadcast on PBS Frontline in early next year.

As a country where Facebook is the internet, the Philippines was in a lot of ways ground zero for many of the same dynamics and exploitations of social media that are currently playing out around the world. What is the warning we need to take from Maria’s experience and the experience of Philippine democracy? Why is the global south both the beta test and an afterthought for companies like Facebook? And how is it possible that Maria is still, somehow, optimistic?

Direct download: Maria_Ressa_on_the_Weaponization_of_Social_Media.mp3
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Last Friday, Lawfare's chief operating officer, David Priess, published a piece on the site titled, "The Powerful Norm of Accepting the Results of a Presidential Election." It recounts the long history, with few exceptions, of presidents and other candidates who respected election results even if they did not go their way—a commitment that the current president and vice president have both failed to make. David joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the piece, the history, the president and the vice president's statements, and what it all means for the presidency and the transition of power.

Direct download: David_Priess_Accepts_the_Results_of_the_Presidential_Election.mp3
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Many of us think of the history of the United States' interaction with the world as one of relentless expansion, growth and engagement. From the early colonies, through the Spanish American War, through involvement in two world wars and of course, the Cold War era, the story is one of America increasingly getting involved with countries in its region and around the globe. Charles Kupchan has a thing or two to say about that. He recently researched and wrote the book, "Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World." He joined David Priess to talk through the idea that much of American history in terms of its relations to the outside world can be explained by isolationist tendencies, with only occasional bursts into more engagement, most notably in the Cold War world. But is that period coming to an end? And how does Donald Trump play into these trends?

Direct download: Charles_Kupchan_on_Isolationism.mp3
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Congress is capable of moving a Supreme Court justice at record speed, yet it can't get coronavirus relief passed. It has struggled to keep the government open, and it has pending business that it has to accomplish now or during the lame duck session. Margaret Taylor and Molly Reynolds, both of Lawfare and the Brookings Institution, joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the health of this first branch of government and its functioning during the combined crises of the coronavirus and an election in the midst of extreme partisan polarization. They talked about how oversight has worked (and how it hasn't), the relationship between Congress and the courts, whether McConnell can get the Supreme Court nomination through and what might be able to stop him.

Direct download: Molly_Reynolds_and_Margaret_Taylor_Talk_Congress.mp3
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Andrew Weissmann was the general counsel of the FBI. He was the head of the Justice Department's fraud section and helped run the Enron Task Force. And yet, he is best known these days for having been one of Bob Mueller's top prosecutors—and certainly the most smeared of Bob Mueller's prosecutors. Weismann's name became a kind of tagline for Mueller's supposedly evil alter ego as the investigation went on, and Andrew's new book, "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation," recounts the whole experience. In it, Weissman describes what the Mueller investigation did right, what it did wrong, what it could have done differently and how it all went down from the inside. He joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the book.

Direct download: Andrew_Weissman_on_Where_Law_Ends.mp3
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On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

With only weeks until Election Day in the United States, there’s a lot of mis- and disinformation flying around on the subject of mail-in ballots. Discussions about addressing that disinformation often focus on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. But a new study by the Berkman Klein Center suggests that social media isn’t the most important part of mail-in ballot disinformation campaigns—rather, traditional mass media like news outlets and cable news are the main vector by which the Republican Party and the president have spread these ideas.

So what’s the research behind this counterintuitive finding? And what are the implications for how we think about disinformation and the media ecosystem?

Direct download: Yochai_Benkler_on_Mass_Media_Disinformation_Campaigns.mp3
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We have an election in less than a month, and a lot of analysts seem to be expecting contested results. Doomsday scenarios are playing out in the pages of national magazines, the campaigns are gearing up for legal challenges and a lot of people are super worried about it. But there's something missing from a lot of these conversations: actual state law. State laws are the rules under which an election will initially be challenged, and they differ a great deal from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott Anderson who led a team for Lawfare that surveyed the key battleground states' challenge regimes for contested elections. They talked about how these regimes differ, how they are similar, which ones give rise to particular concerns and what it all means for the upcoming federal election.

Direct download: Scott_Anderson_on_State_Election_Rules.mp3
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Starting in January 2017, John Brennan became one of President Trump's most blunt critics among former national security professionals. In the years since, he has been working on writing a book, now available, called "Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies at Home and Abroad." David Priess sat down with John to talk about the book and his career. They talked about what brought him to the CIA, his career as a CIA officer and manager, his work overseas at the CIA, his time at the White House as the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for President Obama in his first term, and his time as CIA director in President Obama's second term. They covered some controversies, including enhanced interrogation, the reorganization of the CIA in the so-called "modernization effort," Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of course, his outspoken criticisms of the president ever since.

Direct download: John_Brennan_Remains_Undaunted.mp3
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President Trump is at Walter Reed with the COVID virus. A large number of executive and legislative branch officials have also tested positive. What happens when the president is seriously ill? What happens when the president is incapacitated? And what happens when a presidential candidate falls seriously ill—after people have already started voting? These are not all questions entirely answered by the law, but they are all questions on which the law has something to say. To talk it all through, Benjamin Wittes spoke with an all Lawfare panel including managing editor Quinta Jurecic, founding editor Jack Goldsmith and chief operating officer David Priess.

Direct download: The_President_and_the_Coronavirus.mp3
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On September 25, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Canadian man for faking his involvement in the Islamic State. It’s a strange charge, but the situation is made more complicated by the fact that the man—who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Huzayfah—was the primary subject of “Caliphate” a popular New York Times podcast series about the Islamic State. In that series, Abu Huzayfah talked at length about spending time with the Islamic State and rehashed in great detail his involvement in the executions of prisoners detained by the group. It’s a complicated set of facts with a lot to unpack. Do we have any real sense of what happened? What features of the Canadian national security apparatus might have contributed to the bizarre situation? And what does the whole ordeal reveal about the challenges and pitfalls of telling stories about the war on terror?

To talk through everything, Jacob Schulz spoke with Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute, and Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University.

Direct download: An_Islamic_State_Hoax.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked about how everything is on fire—not metaphorically, but literally. In recent months, wildfires in the American West have caused unprecedented devastation and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. And along with the fires, the West has been grappling with a surge of false material circulating online about the flames. But this isn’t the first time wildfires and disinformation have gone together. This past December and January, Australia was hit with both a brutal bushfire season and a similar wave of disinformation and misinformation about what sparked the fires and the role of climate change.

Evelyn and Quinta spoke about the offline and online conflagrations on both sides of the Pacific with Charlie Warzel of the New York Times and Cam Wilson, a reporter for Gizmodo Australia and Business Insider Australia.

Direct download: Everything_is_On_Fire.mp3
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On Sunday, September 27, the New York Times dropped bombshell new reporting on nearly two decades of Donald Trump's tax return data. The story has attracted enormous attention and paints a dismal picture. Donald Trump paid no personal income taxes for 11 of the past 18 years, he uses tax deductions aggressively, and last year he paid only $750 in federal income tax. So, is this a story of a president merely in massive debt, or is there something more sinister at play? To whom does the president owe all this money? And what are the national security risks of the president being in this sort of financial position? To try to break it all down, Susan Hennessey sat down with Margaret Taylor, a fellow at Brookings and senior editor at Lawfare; Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of "The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency"; and Adam Davidson, a contributing writer to The New Yorker who has written extensively on Trump's financial entanglements.

Direct download: Trump_Money_and_National_Security.mp3
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James A. Baker III has been a lawyer, a presidential campaign manager, the White House Chief of Staff for two presidents, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State and the point person for George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. His career demonstrates what it takes to acquire political power; to wield it effectively to reach bipartisan compromises, even after bitter campaigns; and to wrestle with the tension between partisan loyalty and the principles of good government.

David Priess spoke about Baker's remarkable life and career with Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, authors of the new book, "The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III."

Direct download: Peter_Baker_and_Susan_Glasser_on_The_Man_Who_Ran_Washington.mp3
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It's been a wild few weeks with President Trump threatening to shut WeChat and TikTok out of the U.S. market and rip them out of the app stores. There have been lawsuits, a preliminary injunction—and a sudden deal to purchase TikTok and moot the issue out. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare co-founder Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin Law School, and Jordan Schneider, the voice behind the podcast ChinaTalk. They talked about how we got here, whether the threat from these companies is real or whether this is more Trump nonsense, and whether the deal to save TikTok will actually work.

Direct download: TikTok_WeChat_and_Trump_Update.mp3
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Rebecca Lissner is an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College. Mira Rapp-Hooper is a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center. Together, they are the authors of "An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for 21st-Century Order." It's an ambitious book that looks beyond the liberal world order, arguing that China's rise and America's weakness render the old order obsolete. So, what will replace it? Lissner and Rapp-Hooper argue that the United States should push for an open order. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss why the liberal world order is failing, what role Donald Trump plays in that, whether it can be rehabilitated and what it means to have the open order that they are describing.

Direct download: An_Open_World.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, about her new book: “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict.” The book chronicles Nina’s journey around Europe, tracing down how information operations spearheaded by Russia have played out in countries in the former Soviet bloc, from Georgia to the Czech Republic. What do these case studies reveal about disinformation and how best to counter it—and how many of these lessons can be extrapolated to the United States? How should we understand the role of locals who get swept up in information operations, like the Americans who attended rallies in 2016 that were organized by a Russian troll farm? And what is an information war, anyway?

Direct download: Nina_Jankowicz_on_How_to_Lose_the_Information_War.mp3
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Bobby Chesney sat down with former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Texas Congressman Chip Roy as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. They discussed Portland, DHS, domestic violence and even the shortage of civil discourse in our society.

Direct download: Portland_DHS_and_the_Rule_of_Law.mp3
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It’s not something that gets a lot of attention in American news outlets, but there remain large numbers of women and children linked with the Islamic State detained in various camps in Syria. Some of the population in the camps are native to Iraq or Syria, but there are also significant numbers who traveled to the Islamic State from outside the Middle East. Many of these travelers came from Central Asia, but a not-insignificant number of them came from various countries in Western Europe—and many of those countries shied away from efforts to bring the women back home to face trial or otherwise reintegrate into society. Who are these women? What are conditions like in the camps? What is behind the reluctance of European countries to repatriate? And how should we think about the security threat that these women pose?

Jacob Schulz talked through these issues with Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post interviewing four women in these camps, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Direct download: Detention_Questions_and_the_Woman_of_the_Islamic_State.mp3
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Elizabeth Neumann served as the assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She has recently been speaking out about President Trump and, among other things, his failure of leadership with respect to the threat of white supremacist violence. In the course of doing so, she made reference to a book by Kathleen Belew, a historian at the University of Chicago: "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America," a history of violent white power movements in the modern United States.

Elizabeth and Kathleen joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the interactions of policy and the history that Belew describes. Why have we underestimated this threat for so long? How has it come to be one of the foremost threats that DHS faces? And what can we do about it, given the First Amendment?

Direct download: Elizabeth_Neumann_and_Kathleen_Belew_on_White_Power_Violence.mp3
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"After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," a new book published by Lawfare, is a look at the manner in which Donald Trump has disrupted the presidency across a range of areas, as well as a series of proposals for reforms to try to restore those norms that his presidency has disrupted. Its authors, Bob Bauer, former White House counsel in the Obama White House, and Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare co-founder and former OLC chief in the Bush administration, joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss they book, how they came to write it, and the specific proposals they put on the table. They talked about ethics, about disclosure, about the relationship between the Justice Department and the White House, and about what the problems are that can—and can't—be solved through reform.

Direct download: Goldsmith_and_Bauer_on_After_Trump.mp3
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In recent years, Congress has taken unprecedented steps to push back against the Trump administration's efforts to pull U.S. troops from certain long-standing deployments overseas. The most recent such provision is contained in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 that is currently being debated and would prohibit the president from reducing U.S. troop levels in Germany and Europe unless certain conditions are met.

But does Congress have the authority to direct these deployments, or does doing so interfere with the president's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two legal experts who have written extensively on the subject: Ashley Deeks of the University of Virginia School of Law and Zachary Price of the UC Hastings College of Law. They discussed the legal limits on Congress's authority over the military, what the president's commander-in-chief authority actually entails and what it all means for the future of U.S. troop deployments overseas.

Direct download: Congress_Control_Over_the_Military.mp3
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What is the proper relationship between the CIA director and the president? How should directors handle arguably illegal orders? How important is the director's role as the nation's honest broker of information during times of crisis?

To get at these questions, David Priess sat down with Chris Whipple, a documentary filmmaker, journalist and the author of two books about the people around the president. "The Gatekeepers," based upon his documentary of the same name, examines White House chiefs of staff, and his new book, "The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future," is based on the Showtime documentary "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," for which Whipple was the writer and executive producer. They talked about CIA directors through the last several decades and how they've impacted U.S. history and national security.

Direct download: The_Spymasters_with_Chris_Whipple.mp3
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Alexei Navalny is Russia's most prominent dissident, opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader—and the latest such person to be poisoned by the Vladimir Putin regime, which, of course, it denies. When we recorded this episode, Navalny's condition was improving as he received medical treatment in Germany. To discuss Navalny's career and why Putin chose now to attack him, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis. They talked about how Navalny has become such a thorn in the side of the Putin regime, why Putin keeps poisoning people as opposed to killing them by other means and why the Russians are so ineffective at poisonings when they undertake them.

Direct download: Alina_Polyakova_on_the_Poisoning_of_Alexei_Navalny.mp3
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Michael S. Schmidt is a reporter for The New York Times, a reporter who broke a number of key stories during the Russia investigation. He is most recently the author of "Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President," a new book with exhaustive reporting on the history of the Russia investigation and the confrontations between the president and those in his administration who tried to put the brakes on his most extreme behaviors.

Schmidt joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the book. They talked about Jim Comey and his wife Patrice; they talked about former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was in an impossible situation as both a deep believer in the Trump agenda and an informant for the Mueller investigation; and they talked about the Mueller investigation and why it never answered those counterintelligence questions that everyone expected it to address.

Direct download: Mike_Schmidt_on_Stopping_a_President.mp3
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Peter Strzok served in the FBI from 1996 to 2018 and eventually became the deputy head of the counterintelligence division, where he supervised, among other things, the Russia investigation, both at the FBI and later under Robert Mueller. His new book is called, "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump." Benjamin Wittes sat down with Peter for an extended conversation over Zoom, sponsored by the Georgetown Center for Security Studies, to discuss the book, Pete's own history, why he still thinks the president is compromised by the Russians and his response to criticisms of the way the Russia investigation was conducted.

Direct download: Pete_Strzok_on_Compromised.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Nimmo, the director of investigations at Graphika. Ben has come on the podcast before to discuss how he researches and identifies information operations, but this time he talked about one specific information operation: a campaign linked to the Internet Research Agency “troll farm.” Yes, that’s the same Russian organization that Special Counsel Robert Mueller pinpointed as responsible for Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election on social media. They’re still at it, and Graphika has just put out a report on an IRA-linked campaign that amplified content from a fake website designed to look like a left-wing news source. They discussed what Graphika found, how the IRA’s tactics have changed since 2016 and whether the discovery of the network might represent the rarest of things on the disinformation beat—a good news story.

Direct download: Ben_Nimmo_on_the_Return_of_the_Internet_Research_Agency.mp3
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It was a big week for manipulated video and audio content. In just 36 hours, senior republicans or people associated with the Trump campaign tweeted, posted or shared manipulated audio or video on social media three times, prompting backlash from media and tech companies. Last week, Lawfare's managing editor, Quinta Jurecic, and associate editor, Jacob Schulz, wrote a piece analyzing these incidents. To talk through issues of deep fakes and cheap fakes, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Quinta, Jacob and Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the Boston University School of law. They talked about who posted what on Twitter and other social media, how the companies responded, what more they could have done and whether posting manipulated video is still worth it, given how companies now respond.

Direct download: Cheap_Fakes_on_the_Campaign_Trail.mp3
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The Hatch Act has been in the news a lot recently, between the Republican National Convention's use of the White House grounds and Secretary Pompeo's decision to address the Convention from an official trip in Jerusalem. What does the law really require, what does it forbid and what does it permit? Benjamin Wittes spoke with Amanda Kane Rapp, senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about whether the RNC violated the Hatch Act, where the rules come from and how in the future they might be changed.

Direct download: Everything_You_Wanted_to_Know_About_the_Hatch_Act.mp3
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It was a big week for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals who handed down opinions in two cases involving former presidential White House advisors. The case of Don McGahn, former White House Counsel, was decided by a panel of the court, having been kicked back to that panel by the full court earlier in the summer. The case of Michael Flynn was decided by the full court, reversing a panel that had earlier ordered a lower court judge to throw the criminal case out.

It's a dizzying series of events involving a complex bunch of cases. To talk through it, Benjamin Wittes got together with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson who clerked on the DC Circuit, and Jonathan David Shaub, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law. They talked about the Flynn case, the McGahn case, the en banc court vs. the panels that it has generated, and where the cases are going next.

Direct download: A_Busy_Week_at_the_DC_Circuit.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alissa Starzak, the head of public policy at Cloudflare—a company that provides key components of the infrastructure that helps websites stay online. They talked about two high-profile incidents in which Cloudflare decided to pull its services from websites publishing or hosting extremist, violent content. In August 2017, after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince announced that he would no longer be providing service to the Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. Two years later, Cloudflare also pulled service from the forum 8chan after the forum was linked to a string of violent attacks.

They talked about what Cloudflare actually does and why blocking a website from using its services has such a big effect. They also discussed how Cloudflare—which isn’t a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter—thinks about its role in deciding what content should and shouldn’t stay up.

Direct download: Alissa_Starzak_on_Cloudflare.mp3
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Last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed Congress that elections security briefings in the run-up to the 2020 election would no longer be oral. There would be written intelligence product only, and there would be no Q&A sessions. Members of Congress are not happy about it.

To discuss the the change, Benjamin Wittes spoke with David Priess, a former CIA briefer who used to do briefings like this, and Margaret Taylor, a former congressional staffer who used to consume briefings like this. They discussed how big a change this actually is, whether it will stick and what tools Congress has to push back against it.

Direct download: Briefings_Schmiefings.mp3
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On August 13, President Trump said in a news interview that he opposed supplemental funding for the United States Postal Service because such funding is needed for the delivery of universal mail-in ballots for the 2020 election. His comments sparked panic about whether the Trump administration is slowing Postal Service delivery in order to sway the election. Images of blue mailboxes being removed and anecdotes about slow mail delivery added fuel to the fire. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was called to testify before Senate and House oversight committees. Lawsuits were filed by a host of state Attorneys General.

So what’s really going on here? Is this election interference, the implementation of legitimate policies or something else? Margaret Taylor sat down with Kevin Kosar of the American Enterprise Institute and Anne Joseph O’Connell of Stanford Law School to sort through the facts, the policy changes, the investigations and the lawsuits—and what it all means for the 2020 election.

Direct download: Election_Anxieties_and_the_US_Postal_Service.mp3
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Earlier this month, the Trump administration re-imposed tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada, signaling a new salvo in the now years-long trade war it has been waging with countless U.S. trading partners. But what gives the president the authority to pursue such measures unilaterally, even when he lacks support from members of his own party in Congress? To talk through this question, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Kathleen Claussen of the University of Miami School of Law and Timothy Meyer of Vanderbilt Law School. They discussed the scope of the president's authority over trade, where it came from and what a future Congress might be able to do about it.

Direct download: Trade_War_Powers_Past_Present_and_Future.mp3
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In mid-May, President Trump fired the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. The ouster came as a surprise, and although it is clear that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked Trump to fire him, the reasons Pompeo gave for it have changed over time. This is just one of a series of controversies coming out of the Department of State in recent months. With the House Foreign Affairs Committee investigating and additional Inspector General reports becoming public over the last month, Margaret Taylor sat down with Politico’s foreign affairs correspondent, Nahal Toosi, and Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, to sort through it all. They talked about the implications of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Republican National Convention, the IG’s report on Pompeo’s controversial decision to declare an emergency to expedite the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, questions about the use of Department resources in support of Susan Pompeo and the State Department’s responses to the House and Senate requests for documents related to Biden and Burisma.

Direct download: Pompeos_State_Department_with_Nahal_Toosi_and_Scott_Anderson.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Emma Llansó, the director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). They discussed the Global Internet Forum, or GIFCT, a consortium which houses a shared database of content that platforms use to remove terrorism-related material. Emma makes the case for why it’s worth paying attention to—and why she finds it concerning.

They also talked about CDT’s lawsuit against President Trump over his recent executive order aiming to constrain platforms’ leeway to moderate content, which the CDT is arguing violates the First Amendment.

Direct download: Emma_Llanso_on_GIFCT.mp3
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Yemen is home to the most tragic circumstances imaginable right now—years upon years of war, environmental disasters and severe humanitarian plight, exacerbated by cholera, diphtheria and now COVID-19. To discuss the ongoing situation, David Priess sat down with Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford University, who has spent extensive time on the ground in Yemen, and Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. They talked about the roots of the Yemeni war and its humanitarian toll, its evolution through conflict and COVID-19, and prospects for improved conditions.

Direct download: Yemens_Ongoing_Tragedy.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith spoke with Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, about his new book, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media from the Founding Fathers to Fake News." They discussed the long and interesting history of the contentious relationship between presidents and the press, and how President Trump's relationship with journalists has many precedents and is not the low point in president-press relations. They also discussed the likely arc of the battle between the White House and the media after Trump leaves office.

Direct download: Harold_Holzer_on_The_Presidents_vs_the_Press.mp3
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In recent months, relations between the United States and China seem to have reached a new low as disagreements over trade, tech, human rights and the coronavirus have led the two sides to exchange increasingly harsh rhetoric. Just weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to suggest that the decades-long experiment of U.S. engagement with China had been a mistake. But is this heightened tension just a bump in the road, or is it a new direction for one of the United States's most important bilateral relationships? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with an all-star panel of China watchers, including Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Elsa Kania of the Center for a New American Security, and Rob Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.

Direct download: The_State_of_the_US-China_Relationship.mp3
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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released the final counterintelligence volume of its extensive report related to many aspects of the Russian information warfare and influence campaign surrounding the 2016 election. To dissect it, David Priess sat down with Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Margaret Taylor. They discussed what's in this report, how it relates to the Mueller report and what actions, if any, it will spur from its hard-hitting findings.


This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security officer of Yahoo and Facebook. Alex has appeared on the podcast before, but this time, they discussed a new coalition he helped set up called the Election Integrity Partnership—a coalition focused on detecting and mitigating attempts to limit voting or delegitimize election results. Disinformation and misinformation around the U.S. presidential election has already started popping up online, and it’s only going to increase as November draws closer. The coalition aims to counter this in real time. So how will it actually work?

They also asked Alex for his hot takes on TikTok—the popular video sharing platform facing pressure over concern about influence from the Chinese government.

Direct download: Alex_Stamos_on_Fighting_Election_Disinformation_in_Real_Time.mp3
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Late last week, the UN Security Council voted down a resolution, offered by the United States, to indefinitely extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October. The lifting of the arms embargo was one of the sweeteners that was part of the Obama administration's Iran nuclear agreement. Now, the Trump administration has announced it will begin the process of triggering the snapback of UN sanctions on Iran using procedures outlined in UNSCR 2231—a move that could be the death knell for the Iran nuclear agreement. Margaret Taylor sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, and Richard Gowan, the UN director for the Crisis Group, an independent research and advocacy organization, to talk through the legal and political issues, as well as what will unfold on this matter in the weeks and months to come.

Direct download: Gowan_and_Anderson_on_Snapback_on_UN_Sanctions_on_Iran.mp3
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President Trump's relationship with the intelligence community is back in the news again after allegations that his administration manipulated an intelligence report to show a false equivalency between Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election on his behalf and similar efforts by China and Iran on behalf of his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Trump isn't the first president to try to get the intelligence community to align its assessments with his preferred version of the facts, and he's most likely not the last. This week, Scott R. Anderson sat down with journalist Robert Draper to discuss his new book on one of the most infamous cases of intelligence manipulation in recent history, entitled "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq." They also discussed his recent article for The New York Times Magazine detailing the Trump administration's efforts to change intelligence reports on election interference and what these cases can tell us about the relationship between the presidency and the intelligence community.

Direct download: Manipulating_Intelligence_Then_and_Now_with_Robert_Draper.mp3
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In a surprise announcement last week, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are normalizing relations, and Israel is putting on hold its plans for annexation of West Bank territory. To discuss the announcement and its diverse implications for various actors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson; Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist who is acting head of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings; Natan Sachs, the director of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy; and Hady Amr, a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings who served as the United States deputy special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They talked about what the deal covers; its implications for the domestic politics of Israel, Iran and the United States; how it might affect the larger regional dynamics and what it means for the Palestinians.

Direct download: A_Surprise_UAE-Israel_Deal.mp3
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On July 30, former President Barack Obama, speaking at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, threw his weight behind ending the Senate filibuster if necessary to pursue a voting rights agenda. His comments brought to the forefront a debate that has been simmering for years within the Democratic party. Margaret Taylor spoke with Adam Jentleson, who served as deputy chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid during the Obama administration, and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds, about the history of the filibuster, how it actually works and what the consequences could be if a Democratic-controlled Senate actually got rid of it.


This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Shane Huntley, the director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group—a team that leads Google’s efforts to track threats from nation states and hacker groups. If you’ve ever received a notification from Google that a state-sponsored actor is trying to access your email account, you’ve heard from the Threat Analysis Group. The group examines everything from attempts to steal cryptocurrency to what Google calls “coordinated influence campaigns.”

Recently, the Threat Analysis Group has begun putting out blog posts with updates on their work against coordinated influence campaigns. Alina and Quinta asked Shane about his “bulletin” for the first quarter of 2020.

Direct download: Shane_Huntley_on_Countering_Digital_Threats_at_Google.mp3
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President Trump recently issued executive orders aimed at banning TikTok and WeChat from operating in the United States. To discuss the sanction, Bobby Chesney sat down with Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a faculty affiliate with the Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the Clements Center for National Security at UT; and Dr. Ronald Deibert, a professor of political science and the founder and director of The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. In addition to the executive orders concerning TikTok and WeChat, they also discussed the larger U.S.-China relationship and the role of technology competition in that space.

Direct download: Trump_Takes_Aim_at_TikTok_and_WeChat.mp3
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Last week, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington handed down a major en banc decision on the question of whether the president's former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, even needs to show up in response to a congressional subpoena, or whether he has absolute immunity from testifying before Congress. A strong seven judge majority of the DC Circuit overturned a panel opinion that had held that a congressional committee had no standing to sue to enforce its subpoena. The full DC Circuit ruled that yes, it does have standing. In a separate case, a lower court ruled on an internecine dispute within the House of Representatives over proxy voting instituted by speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The court ruled that Republicans could not challenge the proxy voting rule because of the Speech and Debate Clause. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editors Margaret Taylor and Scott Anderson about what this all means for congressional oversight, whether these opinions will stand up on further review and what will happen next.

Direct download: The_McGahn_Decision_and_Proxy_Voting.mp3
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During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon employed an unusual scare tactic in his efforts to reach a withdrawal—he led Vietnam to believe he was crazy enough to start a nuclear war, an approach he described as the madman theory. From his first days in office, President Trump has employed his own madman theory, from menacing North Korea with fire and fury to threatening withdrawal from NATO, leaving not just adversaries, but also U.S. allies and even his own advisors unsure of what he will do next. David Priess spoke with CNN's chief national security correspondent and anchor of CNN Newsroom, Jim Sciutto, who has analyzed Trump's foreign policy through this lens and written "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes On the World."

Direct download: Jim_Sciutto_on_Trump_and_the_Madman_Theory.mp3
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Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. He was asked about the recent DHS personnel deployments in the wake of mass protests, particularly in Portland, Oregon. The hearing included some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Chad_Wolf_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, reporters at NBC News. Writing at NBCNews.com, they report on disinformation and misinformation in health and politics. Their work covers a lot of ground, but for this episode, they discussed one increasingly prominent issue on that beat: QAnon, a conspiracy theory built around anonymous posts on an internet forum claiming that Donald Trump is waging war against a deep state and a vast network of child sex traffickers. The conspiracy theory has inspired acts of violence and is becoming increasingly mainstream, with several candidates for U.S. Congress being QAnon believers. They talked about how QAnon started, why we need to take it seriously and how the internet—and big technology platforms—have allowed the theory to spread.

Direct download: Ben_Collins_and_Brandy_Zadrozny_Explain_QAnon_.mp3
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“What if J. Edgar Hoover Had Been a Moron?” That’s the question Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes asks in a new article about his experience learning that his tweets had been written up in an intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. After reporting on an internal DHS document and publishing other documents to Twitter, Wittes learned that I&A had distributed intelligence reports about those tweets along with the tweets of New York Times reporter Mike Baker. After Shane Harris reported on I&A’s activities at the Washington Post, DHS announced that it was halting the practice of collecting information on journalists and the head of the office was reassigned. Quinta Jurecic discussed the bizarre story with Wittes and former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris.

Direct download: DHS_Compiles_Intelligence_on_Journalists.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Last Friday the Lawfare Podcast brought you Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's full statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his question and answer session with the senators, all with "no bull." A few days before that hearing, the Democratic staff of the Committee released its most recent oversight report titled "Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration's Decimation of the State Department." Following remarks by Ranking Member Bob Menendez, Margaret Taylor moderated a panel discussion about the report featuring three distinguished former ambassadors with close to 75 years of diplomatic experience between them—Tom Shannon, Barbara Stephenson and Bonnie Jenkins—as well as Elizabeth Shackelford, who in 2017 resigned her career post in protest of the Trump administration. They talked about the contents of the minority staff report, the recommendations it contains and the long-term consequences of what the report documents for America's foreign policy and national security interests.

Direct download: SFRC_Report_Diplomacy_in_Crisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Michel Paradis is a scholar of international law and human rights who has worked for more than a decade for the U.S. Department of Defense Military Commissions Defense Organization, where he has worked on a number of the landmark court cases to arise out of Guantanamo Bay. Most recently, he is the author of the book "Last Mission to Tokyo: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raiders and Their Final Fight for Justice." It's the story of two military commissions that arose out of the first U.S. bombing raid over Japan during World War II: One, the trial by the Japanese of a number of Americans who participated in the raid, and the other after the war, of the Japanese who conducted the first trial for their conduct of that trial. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Michel about the extraordinary history he uncovered, how he came to be interested in these cases and how they relate to the ongoing U.S. experiments with military commissions.

Direct download: Michel_Paradis_on_Last_Mission_to_Tokyo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. Pompeo was asked about the threats posed by China and Russia, the decision to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, the upcoming presidential election and much more. The hearing did include some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Pompeo_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jillian C. York, the director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She’s been an activist working on issues of internet freedom and free expression for many years, which gives her a unique perspective on debates over disinformation and platform governance. Jillian and Kate discussed Facebook’s Oversight Board—the entity designed to provide accountability for the platform’s content moderation decisions—whose development they have watched closely, and about which Kate has written a recent article. They also discussed why Jillian thinks content moderation is broken, what technology companies could do better and how discussions of platform governance tend to focus on the United States to the exclusion of much of the rest of the world.

Direct download: Jillian_York_on_Free_Expression_on_a_Broken_Internet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Barr was asked about the federal government's response to protests, the upcoming presidential election, the dismissal of former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and much more. The hearing did include a lot of bickering and grandstanding, but we cut out all of the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Barr_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

For a while, there have been large numbers of alleged former Islamic State state fighters and affiliates detained by the Iraqi government and by autonomous authorities in Syria. The fate of these detainees—and the more than 60,000 people affiliated with the men who live in refugee camps in the region—remains a pressing national security issue for countries in the region, as well as the United States and its Western allies. To talk about the situation, Jacob Schulz spoke with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor of law at the University of Texas; Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post on trials of Islamic State fighters in Iraq; and Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute. They talked about how the trials have gone in Iraq and Syria; how the U.S., Canada and European countries have responded to the situation; and what lessons can be drawn from U.S. experiences with post-9/11 detention and trials of suspected terrorists.

Direct download: What_to_do_with_Detained_Islamic_State_Fighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Anne Applebaum is a columnist, writer, historian and most recently, the author of "Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lore of Authoritarianism," a book that explores why authoritarian ideologies are on the ascendance in countries as diverse as Poland, Hungary, Spain, the United States and Great Britain. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Anne about the themes of the book: Why are all of these authoritarian ideologies on the rise now? What is the role of social media in their rise? What are the major themes that they have in common, and how different are they location by location? How did conservative ideology come to fracture the way it has over so brief a period of time? And how is the modern wave of authoritarianism different from earlier iterations of it?

Direct download: Anne_Applebaum_on_the_Twilight_of_Democracy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Why has modern China prospered in spite of vast corruption? On this episode of ChinaTalk, Jordan Schneider talks with Yuen Yuen Ang, associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, about her new book, "China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption." She draws comparisons between U.S. history and the China of today, arguing that access money in China functions like campaign finance in the States. They also discuss the implications of corruption for regime stability.

Direct download: How_Corruption_Works_in_China.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on analyzing and identifying altered photo and video—what’s known as digital image forensics. Recently, he has done work on deep fakes—realistic synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is altered to show them doing or saying something they never did or said. He’s also helped develop technology used by platforms to identify and remove material related to child sexual abuse. They talked about how dangerous deep fakes really are, how much of that danger is the technology itself and how much of it has to do with how big platforms amplify incendiary content, and whether platforms should moderate disinformation and misinformation in the same aggressive way they take down sexually abusive material.

Direct download: Hany_Farid_on_Deep_Fakes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Last week, the European Court of Justice released its much awaited decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Maximilian Schrems, commonly known as Schrems II, which addressed which privacy requirements governments and corporations within the European Union will be required to secure before participating in international data transfers. The court's decision casts serious doubt on many of the measures currently in place, most notably in relation to the United States's own national security and surveillance activities, and thus raises new questions about how the European Union would continue to interact with the global digital economy. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Peter Swire, professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology and himself a former privacy official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Stewart Baker, currently of counsel at Steptoe & Johnson and previously the assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration.

Direct download: Schrems_II_and_the_Future_of_Transatlantic_Data.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Yesterday, Lawfare published an article revealing and analyzing a document from the Department of Homeland Security that offers legal guidance to analysts in its Office of Intelligence and Analysis regarding the appropriate intelligence activities to mitigate the threat to monuments, memorials and statues, among other things. To discuss this new information and its implications, David Priess spoke with not only the two authors of the article —Lawfare's editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck—but also Carrie Cordero, senior fellow and general counsel at the Center for a New American Security, who has researched and written extensively on DHS authorities and policies, and Paul Rosenzweig, senior fellow for National Security & Cybersecurity at the R Street Institute and a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at DHS.

Direct download: The_Expanded_Intelligence_Activities_of_the_DHS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Though often called the "Forgotten War," the Korean War has highly conditioned much of our contemporary international politics in East Asia, and the people of Korea continue to live with its aftermath, both in the north and in the south. And the shadow of the Korean War looms large over something we often debate on Lawfare—war powers. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the Korean War, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Katharine Moon, a professor of political science at Wellesley College and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy; Matt Waxman, a professor at Columbia University Law School and long-time Lawfare contributor; and Scott R. Anderson, senior editor of Lawfare and a specialist on war powers, among other things. They talked about what happened on the Korean peninsula during the war, how it affected the way we talk about war powers, and the international law status of the conflict in Korea.

Direct download: The_Forgotten_War_Remembered.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Darrell West is vice president of the Brookings Institution and director of Governance Studies at Brookings. John Allen is the president of the Brookings Institution and a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general. Together, they are the authors of the book, "Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence," a broad look at the impact that artificial intelligence systems are likely to have on everything from the military, to health care, to vehicles and transportation, and to international great power competition. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the book and the question of how we should govern AI systems. What makes for ethical uses of AI? What makes it scary? What are the anxieties that people have about artificial intelligence and to what extent are the fears legitimate?

Direct download: John_Allen_and_Darrell_West_on_Artificial_Intelligence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jane Lytvynenko, a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News who focuses on disinformation. If you use Twitter regularly and have looked at the platform during any major media events—disasters, protests, you name it—you’ve likely seen her enormous tweet threads where she debunks hoaxes and misinformation. Recently, she’s turned her debunking skills toward misinformation and disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic, reporting on the various “fake experts” peddling misleading stories about the virus and the long half-life of the conspiratorial “Plandemic” video. She’s also written on the rise of “disinformation for hire”—PR firms that turn to disinformation as a marketing tool. So what is it like to report on disinformation and misinformation in real time? How can journalists help readers understand and spot that bad information? And, is there any cause to be optimistic?

Direct download: Jane_Lytvynenko_on_Debunking_the_Disinformation_Garbage_Fire.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

We talk a lot about Chinese policy in Hong Kong, but there's another human rights crisis going on in China in the province of Xinjiang. It concerns the Turkic minority known as the Uighurs whom the Chinese government has been rounding up and putting in reeducation camps. It is an ugly story—one that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to keep from international attention, with some degree of success. To walk us through the situation in Xinjiang, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jessica Batke, a senior editor at ChinaFile; Darren Byler, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose research focuses on Uighur dispossession; and Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, who has written extensively on the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence and big data in mass surveillance in China.

Direct download: A_Deep_Dive_on_China_and_the_Uighurs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

In a 2018 poll, 74 percent of Americans said they believed that some group of unelected government and military officials was definitely or probably secretly manipulating or directing national policy. What is the actual history of presidents and Congress clashing with national security and law enforcement institutions? And how has that led to Trump's notion of a deep state out to get him? David Priess spoke with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde of The New Yorker, who has turned his attention to this tricky topic in the new book, "In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's 'Deep State.'" They talked about intelligence, law enforcement, inspectors general, public trust in government and of course, Bill Barr.

Direct download: David_Rohde_on_the_Supposed_Deep_State.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

You've heard a lot about COVID-19 and its effects in the United States, China and East Asia, Europe and Brazil. But what about the Middle East, South Asia and Africa? The virus is hitting these regions hard with profound political and national security consequences. To discuss it all, David Priess sat down with Mona Yacoubian, a senior advisor on Syria, the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Institute of Peace; Nilanthi Samaranayake, the director of the Strategy and Policy Analysis Program at CNA with expertise on Indian Ocean and South Asia security; and Judd Devermont, the director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former national intelligence officer for Africa.

Direct download: COVID19_National_Security_Implications_MiddleEast_SouthAsia_Africa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Yesterday, the Supreme Court, on the final day of its term, handed down the two big subpoena cases: Trump v. Vance, in which the president tried to beat back a subpoena from a New York grand jury, and Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, in which the president tried to beat back a congressional subpoena for his financial records. He didn't entirely succeed in either case, but he made some headway in the Mazars case. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's Margaret Taylor, Scott Anderson, Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds. They talked about whether the president has a path forward before the New York grand jury, and what the cryptic decision in Mazars portends, both for Trump and for the executive-legislative oversight relationship.

Direct download: The_Subpoena_Cases_Come_Down.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the senior campaign director at the advocacy organization Color of Change and a visiting fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She recently published a report with the Shorenstein Center on “Canaries in the Coal Mine: COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities,” tracing how different false narratives about the pandemic surfaced among Black social media users in the United States. So what makes this misinformation unique and especially dangerous? And how should the responses of technology companies account for the ways the Black community is particularly vulnerable to this kind of misinformation? They also discussed Color of Change’s role in the #StopHateForProfit campaign, an ad boycott of Facebook in protest of the company’s handling of potentially harmful speech on its platform.

Direct download: Brandi-Collins-Dexter-Covid19-Disinfo-and-Black-Communities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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