The Lawfare Podcast

This week, we asked Lorenzo Vidino and his co-author, Seamus Hughes, both from the George Washington University Program on Extremism, into the studio to discuss their new report, “ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa.” Their study looked at the 71 Americans charged with ISIS-related activities. So what commons denominators did they find within the group? How much of a role does social media play in radicalization and recruitment? And what should law enforcement do to counter violent extremism? We discuss all that and more. 

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #151: ISIS in America: Disrupting Retweets from Raqqa.

Direct download: Episode_151--ISIS_in_America.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

We welcome Edward Lucas, a senior editor at the Economist and author of the new book, Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internetto the show this week. At the third Hoover Book Soiree a few weeks ago, Lucas shared a drink with Lawfare’s Ben Wittes and discussed the rapid increase in cybercrime, the difficulties of identity verification on the web, and why, even today, we still do not take cybersecurity seriously enough. Lucas paints a bleak picture of our cybersecurity landscape, but closes with a few recommendations for how we can fix it.

It’s a conversation that prompted Ben to digitally betray his country, and the rest of us to grab our dongles and strengthen our passwords.  

And it’s the Lawfare Podcast, Episode #150: Edward Lucas on the Sum of All Cyberphobias. 

Direct download: Episode_150--Cyberphobia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

The show this week features Natan Sachs, a Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, who recently published an article in Foreign Affairs on anti-solutionism as strategy in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

During his conversation with Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Ben Wittes, Sachs argues that what resembles the absence of a constructive national security agenda is actually better described as a belief on the part of the Israeli right that there are currently no solutions to the challenges Israel faces. Sachs call this policy “strategic conservatism” and explains that it is a philosophy U.S. policymakers need to better understand in order to make smart decisions about the problems in the Middle East.

Direct download: Episode_149--Natan_Sachs_on_Anti-solutionism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EDT

At the last Hoover Book Soiree—which if you haven’t attended one yet, you really should—Charlie Savage, New York Times national security reporter and author of the newly released book Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidencysat down with Lawfare’s Jack Goldsmith for a detailed discussion of the Obama administration’s national security legacy. The conversation, and so too the book, is chocked full of insider accounts of just about all of the most important Obama administration legal and policy decisions. We won't spoil the fun here, but Charlie walks Jack through how Abdulmutallab’s failed underwear bombing affected President Obama, and the two discuss exactly why a president who came into office critiquing Bush's national security policies ended up keeping so many of them. They even touch on whether he will actually shutter Guantanamo Bay.

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #148: Charlie Savage on the Power Wars of the Obama Administration. 

You can read Jack's review of Power Wars, mentioned in the podcast, here

The third Hoover Book Soiree will be held on December 2nd, from 5:00-7:00 pm in Washington D.C. Ben Wittes will interview Edward Lucas of the Economist on his new book, Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security, and the Internet. RSVP.

Direct download: Episode_148--Charlie_Savage_Power_Wars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

Earlier this week, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes interviewed John Carlin at the Atlantic Council on National Security and the Cyber Threat Landscape. Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, walks Ben through recent changes in his division of the Justice Department, the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to deter and disrupt cyber threats, and how the shorter flash-to-bang timeline of modern day inspired terrorist attacks is affecting investigations and prosecutorial decisions. They even dive into the U.S.-China Cyber Deal. 

Direct download: Episode_147--John_Carlin_Ben_Wittes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:48pm EDT

Last week, George Washington University and the CIA co-hosted an event entitled Ethos and Profession of Intelligence. As part of the conference, Kenneth Wainstein moderated a conversation between CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass, Orin Kerr, and Benjamin Wittes on Bridging 20th Century Law and 21st Century Intelligence. What new legal questions are raised by rapidly evolving technologies and how do those questions interact with existing national security law? Can the United States strike a balance between privacy, security and the economic imperatives driving innovation?

The panel addresses these critical issues and more. 

Direct download: Episode_146--CIA_Event_at_GW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

Perhaps you’ve heard, but tensions between the United States and Russia are heating up. With Putin upping the ante in Syria, Marvin Kalb, journalist, scholar, and a nonresident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings, came to Brookings to launch his new book that looks at the Russian leader’s last foray titled, Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine, and the New Cold War. Putin’s recent actions in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and, more recently, in Syria have provoked a sharp deterioration in East-West relations. But is this the beginning of a new Cold War, or is Putin just wearing the costume of a prizefighter?

Joining the discussion were Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Nina Khrushcheva, a professor at The New School. Brookings President Strobe Talbott provided introductory remarks while Martin Indyk, Executive Vice President of Brookings moderated the conversation.

It’s the Lawfare Podcast Episode #145: Putin’s Imperial Gamble

Direct download: Episode_145--Kalb_on_Ukraine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EDT

Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, and William McCants, author of The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, join Benjamin Wittes in the first Hoover Book Soiree. 

Direct download: Episode_144.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted Ben, along with Laura Donohue of Georgetown Law, former NSA Director General Michael Hayden, and Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society, to discuss the future of surveillance reform in a post-Snowden world. What have we learned about NSA surveillance activities and its oversight mechanisms since June 2013? In what way should U.S. intelligence operations be informed by their potential impact on U.S. on economic interests? What privacy interests do non-Americans have in U.S. surveillance? And domestically, has the third-party doctrine outlived its applicability?

Tom Karako of CSIS moderated the panel. 

Direct download: Episode_143--Surveillance_Reform_After_Snowden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

As listeners may know, while we often talk about cybersecurity on the show, Brookings itself has been subject to a number of cyber-attacks in recent years. Those attacks have ranged  from infiltrations led by Chinese government-affiliated units to the more run-of-the-mill hacker intrusions targeting credit and financial information.

This week on the Lawfare Podcast, Helen Mohrmann, the Chief Information Officer at the Brookings Institution, discusses the difficulties of securing a large, public facing organization from a vast array of cyber-attacks. Helen walks Ben through the threat environment that an organization like Brookings faces (and how that is continuously changing) and she outlines some of the steps organizations and individuals can take to shore up their own security.

Direct download: Episode_142--Helen_on_Cybersecurity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:44pm EDT

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

While the world powers and Iran were embroiled in last minute negotiations last week, Brookings hosted a discussion on the meaning of another power’s recent nuclear threats: this time looking at Russia. In recent months, Russia has issued a variety of nuclear threats: Putin's has commented both on his nuclear options during the Crimea crisis and issued a mild threat to nuke the Danish navy. Given that Russia maintains the power to at least theoretically destroy the world, how serviously should we take these provocations? 


The panel was moderated by Brookings Fellow Jeremy Shapiro and  featured Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists and Brookings scholars Pavel Baev and Steven Pifer. Together, they take a deep dive into Russia’s recent nuclear threats during the Crimea crisis, the country’s capabilities---both conventional and nuclear---relative to NATO, and its ongoing modernization program. They conclude with terrifying thought: The folks surrounding Putin just might not fully understand deterrence. 

Direct download: Episode_132---Russian_Nuclear_Forces.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

This week, we invited the the Virginia Cyber Commission’s Executive Director, Rear Admiral Bob Day (USCG, Ret.) to come tell us more about the Commission’s work and the upcoming release of its report later this month. The Commission’s mandate is expansive and ambitious. It aims to take on: securing Virginia’s government networks, systems and data; incorporating cybersecurity into state government emergency planning; improving citizens' cyber hygiene; developing a cybersecurity workforce; and improving economic development opportunities for cybersecurity business sector, particularly in relation to military facilities and defense industry present in Virginia. 

We also talked about the accountability issue, and how in the world it can still be the case that large organizations – whether in the private sector or government – are still struggling with whose job it is to be responsible for the cybersecurity of an organization. Who or what entity is accountable for proactive cybersecurity as well as for incident response has been the subject of some recent  debate on Lawfare, as it relates to the OPM breach. Finally, we took on the confidence issue. Cybersecurity failures - not only in prevention (which will not be fail-safe), but in detection and handling – are reducing Americans’ confidence in industry, and in government. We'll see what governments and organizations at all levels, are doing to address that.

It's the Lawfare Podcast, Episode #131: Admiral Bob Day on Cybersecurity and Accountability

Direct download: Episode_131---Interview_w_Adm._Day.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT

Last week, Brookings convened three policy experts, Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute, Brookings fellows Michael O’Hanlon and Jeremy Sharpiro, as well as Senator Chris Murphy for the first ever Brookings Debate. The question at hand? Should the United States put boots on the ground to fight ISIS?

As the ground continues to advance against Iraqi security forces, is ISIS a threat to the region, the U.S. and the world? Or is it a distraction from other, much more important strategic interests? How should the U.S. proceed in its effort to degrade and defeat ISIS? And, if there is a Sarah Palin doctrine, is the Obama administration following it?



Bloomberg journalist Indira Lakshmanan moderated the debate, while Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk provided opening remarks. 

Direct download: Episode_130---The_Brookings_Debate_ISIS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

Benjamin Wittes gives a lecture at the George Mason Law and Economic Center on his paper with Jodie Liu, "The Privacy Paradox: The Privacy Benefits of Privacy Threats."


Direct download: Episode_129.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:12pm EDT

On this week’s Lawfare Podcast, Lawfare Managing Editor Wells Bennett invited Steve Vladeck of both Lawfare and Just Security, and Adam Thurschwell, an attorney with the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel of the Military Commissions, into the Lawfare studio to discuss the D.C. Circuit’s decision in al Bahlul v. USA, in which the Court vacated Ali Hamza Suliman al Bahlul’s conviction for inchoate conspiracy. The show takes a deep dive into the case and the Court’s opinion, ponders the future of the military commissions, and outlines what we can expect the government to do next in the case. 

Direct download: Episode_128----Al_Bahlul.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EDT

On this week’s Lawfare Podcast, Lawfare Founding Editor Jack Goldsmith and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Marty Lederman sat down to discuss the Supreme Court’s sweeping ruling in Zivotofsky v. Kerry. In its opinion, the Court ruled that the President has the exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns, and he therefore can disregard a Congressional statute requiring him to designate “Israel” on the passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. What are the consequences of this decision? What does this now mean for the method of determining the President’s exclusive powers? And could the Court have reached a more limited ruling? Goldsmith and Lederman tackle all this and more. 

Direct download: Episode_127---Zivotofsky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42pm EDT

The Daily Beast's Shane Harris takes stages a coup, takes over the podcast, and interviews temporarily-deposed host Benjamin Wittes about the new website Lawfare is unveiling next week and the development of Lawfare that took a small blog to this new place.  


Direct download: Episode2023126--Lawfare20is20Dead--Long20Life20Lawfare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm EDT

Last week, FBI Director James Comey spoke at the 3rd Annual Cybersecurity Law Institute, hosted by Georgetown University Law Center in cooperation with the American Bar Association Cybersecurity Legal Task Force, Bloomberg BNA, and the Center for Internet SecuritBenjamin Powell, a partner at WilmerHale, interviewed Director Comey.


Direct download: Episode_125--Ben_Powell_Interviews_Jim_Comey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14pm EDT

Last May, the Bharatiya Janata Party won the first majority government in India in 25 years, giving newly minted Prime Minister Narendra Modi a broad mandate to initiate much needed reforms in the country. The question is, how is Modi delivering on his promises to root out corruption, spur economic growth and job creation, and garner greater respect for India on the world stage? 

This Wednesday, the India Project at Brookings hosted a roundtable of India experts to evaluate Modi's first year in office. They panel considers developments over the last year in India's economic, social, and foreign policy, including its treatment of minorities, its accent to the title of fastest growing economy in the world, and its revived engagement with its neighbors and world powers alike. They also take a turn towards the future. Has Modi set expectations so high he cannot help but disappoint? Or is India on the up-and-up, with what he calles "Acche Din" or "Good Days" on the way? And what does all this mean for the United States and how engages with both India and the rest of the Asia-Pacific?

The panel includes Tanvi Madan, Bruce Jones, Diane Farrell, Vikram Singh Mehta, and Milan Vaishnav. 

It's the Lawfare Podcast, Episode #124: The Modi Government in India Turns One

Direct download: Episode_124--One_year_of_Modi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

For months, the world has been transfixed by the apparent brutality of the Islamic State's practices in war. The beheading of journalists, the burning of prisoners and the enslavement of religious minorities all seem like a return to a barbaric past. Certainly, these practices seem far removed from any notion of conduct constrained by law.

Islam, however, has a robust religious legal tradition, including on matters of war. So to better understand that tradition and its connection (or lack thereof) with the warfare of contemporary groups, including the Islamic State, we turned to Andrew March, Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. March is the author of Islam and Liberal Citizenship: The Search for an Overlapping Consensus as well as numerous scholarly and popular articles on Islamic political and legal thought. In the last few weeks, he has also published pieces in Foreign Affairs and on Brookings' own Markaz blog taking a closer look at the Islamic State and the ways it interprets, adjusts and applies traditional Islamic jurisprudence.

In this podcast, March discusses the Islamic law of war, both in the classical tradition and in the discourse and practice of contemporary states and non-state actors. In doing so, he walks us through some of this vast, complex tradition, and he warns Western governments that their interests are best served by staying out of the internal interpretive debates of religious communities.

Direct download: Episode_123--Yishai_and_Andrew_March.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44pm EDT

The Triple Entente Beer Summit was a great success, with an audience that filled the Washington Firehouse loft and a cast that mashed up Lawfare, Rational Security, and the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.  We attribute the podcast’s freewheeling interchange to the engaged audience, our profound respect for each other, and, mostly, the beer. After a discussion of between the combined panels, we throw the event over to the audience, which demonstrates that we could have produced almost as good a program by randomly selecting audience members to appear on the panel with us.


Direct download: Triple_Entente_Beer_Summit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01am EDT

This week, following the New York Times revelation of the purported identities of three covert CIA agents, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies, along with the James Madison Project and Just Security, hosted an entitled “Whistleblowing and America’s Secrets: Ensuring a Viable Balance,” which with the support of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins, we now present to you in full. In the discussion, Bob Litt, General Counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, along with Ken Dilanian of the Associated Press, Dr. Gabriel Schoenfeld of the Hudson Institute, and Lawfare’s own Steve Vladeck, tackle the important legal and policy questions surrounding classified leak prosecutions, the responsibilities of the press, whistleblower protections, and the future of the Espionage Act.

Mark Zaid, the Executive Director of the James Madison Project moderated the discussion.

Direct download: Episode_121_--_Bob_Litt_on_NYTimes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

This week, Benjamin Wittes spoke at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas on his and Gabriella Blum's new book, The Future of Violence. Robert Chesney introduces Wittes in what turns into a lively discussion with an engaged audience. 


Direct download: Lawfare_Podcast_Episode_120.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am EDT

A few weeks ago, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Brookings for a public address on the current priorities and future prospects for U.S. engagement in Central Asia. With the draw-down in Afghanistan on the horizon, Mr. Blinken makes clear that the United States is not relinquishing its interests in the region. Blinken stresses that the security of the United States is enhanced by a more secure Central Asia, and a stable Central Asia is most likely if the nations there are sovereign and independent countries, connected with one another, and fully capable of defending their own borders. He concludes that investing in connectivity can spur commerce from Istanbul to Shanghai while serving as a stabilizing force for Afghanistan's transition. 

Senior Fellow Fiona Hill introduced Mr. Blinken, and Brookings President Strobe Talbot moderated the conversation. 

Direct download: Episode_119--Tony_Blinken_on_Central_Asia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:43pm EDT

When Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai was nearly 19, her family fled Damascus for Washington under death threats from the Bashar Assad regime. Since she left, she has watched as her country has fallen apart. 

Direct download: Episode_118--Complete_Oula_Interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:56pm EDT

With a tenuous ceasefire holding in Ukraine, we asked Fiona Hill onto the show to discuss the man behind the unrest: Vladimir Putin. Fiona is the co-author of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. On the Lawfare Podcast, Fiona tackles the hard questions about Putin. Who exactly is he? What does he want? Is Putin an unhinged madman obsessed with personal appearances or a shewed realist with a nuanced understanding of the geopolitical challenges his country faces? And, how should the West respond to Russian aggression based on what we know about its leader?

It's an important look at an often caricatured but rarely understood man--The Lawfare Podcast: Who is Vladimir Putin? 

Direct download: Episode_117--Fiona_Hill_on_Putin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

This week, Brookings hosted a book launch with Jessica Stern and co-author Brookings Fellow J.M. Berger for their new book, ISIS: The State of Terror. The panel, which also featured Brookings Fellow William McCants, details ISIS’s strategies and techniques--its unprecedented mix of brutality, media savvy, territorial gain, and recruitment. The authors also outline their recommendations for how the United States and its allies should respond to the ISIS threat.

Direct download: Episode_116--ISIS_State_of_Terror.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

This week, we invited Major General Michael Lehnert (Ret.), the first commander of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, onto the show. In January 2002, General Lehnert deployed to Guantanamo Bay as Commander of Joint Task Force 160 with the mission to construct and operate the detention facilities for Taliban and Al Qaeda Detainees. He is now one of the most prominent voices calling for the closure of the prison facility. In the interview, Gen. Lehnert describes those early days before GITMO became GITMO, how he managed the facility, and what he thinks should be done with the remaining detainees. In the end, he offers advice for avoiding mistakes when conducting critical missions and making hard national security choices. 

Direct download: Episode_115--Gen._Michael_Lehnert.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EDT

This week, Brookings hosted a book launch with Harvard Law Professor Gabriella Blum and co-author Benjamin Wittes for their new book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting a New Age of Threat. The panel, which also featured Senior Fellow William Galston and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner, explored the book’s themes surrounding the potential dangers of modern technology in a world of many to many threats and defenses. What does technological proliferation mean for the framework of state and global security? How should we think about the interaction of liberty, security, and privacy? And, does this world of empowered individuals challenge the foundations of the liberal state?

Direct download: Episode_114--The_Future_of_Violence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

This week, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a controversial address to a joint session of Congress over US President Barack Obama's objections. The speech, repeatedly interrupted by thunderous applause focused heavily on the nature of the developing nuclear accord between the P5+1 and Iran, and insisted a better deal was possible. The speech was also heavily colored by its proximity to the upcoming Israeli elections, with many Israel watchers wondering whether it was meant to play more to Israel voters than to Congress.

Just after Netanyahu's address, we invited Brookings Fellow Natan Sachs into the Lawfare studios to unpack the speech, including what it means for the US-Israeli relationship, the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, and Bibi's chances in the upcoming election.

Direct download: Episode_113--Natan_Sachs_on_Bibis_Big_Day.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm EDT

On Thursday of this week, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Bobby Chesney, along with General Jack Keane, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to provide “Outside Perspectives on the President’s Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” It’s an in-depth hearing that delves extensively into the President’s proposed AUMF, its merits and its flaws, and how those failings can be addressed. For today’s podcast, we’ve removed any non-AUMF discussion so that only the most relevant parts are included.


Direct download: Episode_112--HASC_AUMF_Hearing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

In mid-September, Benjamin Wittes, Editor-in-Chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, delivered a keynote address on Constitution Day at the National Security Agency. We are pleased to now be able to provide that speech in full. That’s right - it took this long for an unclassified speech, from someone without a security clearance, to pass through the declassification process. To that point, Ben’s address touches on the difficulties of transparency in intelligence operations, outlines just why so many people now struggle to trust the intelligence community, and concludes with three challenges the community must address in order to maintain public confidence in the future. 

Direct download: Episode_111--Ben_Wittes_Constitution_Day_NSA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

A few weeks ago, Shane Harris and Benjamin Wittes spoke at Washington and Lee School of Law’s symposium on Cyber-surveillance in the Post-Snowden Age. Shane and Ben are familiar names to frequent Lawfare readers, no doubt. Ben is the editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Shane is senior correspondent at the Daily Beast and author of @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet ComplexTheir speech, under the title "Point/Counter-point," is a lighthearted, but thorough, overview of the prevailing debates around NSA surveillance including the role of congressional oversight, our evolving perception of privacy, and how the law can respond to rapid technological change.

Direct download: Episode_110--Shane_and_Ben_Show.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:31pm EDT

This week, Robert S. Litt, General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence gave a keynote speech at the Brookigns Institution on US Intelligence Community Surveillance One Year after President Obama’s Address. In his address, Litt discusses the progress the Administration and the IC has made in carrying out Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive, or PPD-28. He outlines the legal authority for certain surveillance programs, particularly those set to expire in 2015, and addresses their implications on privacy, civil liberties, competitiveness, and security. In the end, the conversation addressed many of the questions raised by the implementation of these reforms, and laid out an explanation of where we go from here.  

Direct download: Episode_109--Bob_Litt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

General Michael Hayden, former Director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, gave the keynote address ast weekend at Washington and Lee School of Law's symposium on Cyber-surveillance in the Post-Snowden Age. During his address, General Hayden outlined an unapologetic defense of the NSA’s recently revealed activities, yet remained candid about where the agency has made mistakes and where it can improve. In particular, the speech raises a profound question: can intelligence activities succeed in a society that demands greater and greater transparency about those activities?

Direct download: Episode_108--Michael_Hayden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT

With President Barack Obama on his way to India early next week, we asked Tanvi Madan, Fellow and Director of the India Project here at Brookings, onto the show to preview Obama’s trip and discuss what we can expect from the President’s second India summit in less than four months. It’s a trip that comes with much fanfare: it's the first time that an American president has been invited as chief guest to Republic Day, and it's also the first time a sitting American president has visited India twice. But, can we expect the results to match the hype? What can be done to advance the bilateral relationship on trade, defense cooperation, and regional integration? And, what role does India play in the broader US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region?

Direct download: Episode_107--Tanvi_Madan_on_India.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:21pm EDT

This week, Ben and Matt Waxman sat down with Daniel Reisner, former head of the International Law Branch of the Israeli Defense Forces and current partner with Herzog, Fox and Neeman. Reisner also served as a senior member of Israel’s peace delegations, participating in all negotiation sessions and summits including those at Camp David. He continues to advise senior members of the Israeli government on a variety of issues relating to Middle East peace process and security issues. Colonel Reisner was in New York on a visit sponsored by Academic Exchange for a series of events and discussions on contemporary national security challenges. His experiences set up a wide-ranging conversation touching on everything from Middle East peace to the ethics of targeted killing.

Direct download: Episode_106--Daniel_Reisner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:58pm EDT

This week, Ben and Jack sat down in sunny Palo Alto to discuss what we know about the Sony Pictures cyber-attack, the FBI’s response, and the lingering questions about the credibility of the US government’s claim that North Korea was behind the attack. They explore the tradeoffs inherent in explaining or proving the governments attribution claims, and whether or not the FBI should do so if it will “tip their hand” to the hackers planning future attacks. If technical capabilities cannot solve the public element of the attribution problem, how far should the government go in producing evidence regarding its claims? 

Direct download: Episode_105--Jack_and_Ben_on_Sony.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:49pm EDT