Wed, 29 August 2018
This edition of The Lawfare Podcast grows out of an email exchange between David Kris and Jack Goldsmith over a draft article Jack had written about John Brennan and other intelligence community former leaders who were criticizing the president in public and from whom the president was threatening to pull their security clearances in response.
What is appropriate for intelligence community leaders to say about the president? What is going too far? What is outside their lane? And what is required by the current moment when intelligence community leaders face a rogue elephant of a president who is violating every norm we know?
Sat, 25 August 2018
Bob Mueller and the president's legal team are engaged in an extended negotiation over whether the president will sit for an interview with the Mueller team. As it turns out, there are three people in the world who have interviewed a sitting president as part of a grand jury investigation. This week Benjamin Wittes sat down with one of them—Solomon Wisenberg.
Wisenberg served as deputy independent counsel under Ken Starr during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigation. On Thursday, Wisenberg discussed his experience interviewing Bill Clinton, how that can inform thinking on the next possible presidential interview, and how both prosecutors and the president's lawyers can think strategically about next steps.
Mon, 20 August 2018
What a weird weekend it has been. The Manafort jury is deliberating, the White House lawyer is cooperating with the special prosecutor and giving 30 hours of interview about presidential conduct, and Michael Cohen seems poised to either be indicted or form a cooperation deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.
Benjamin Wittes jumped on the phone to discuss all of this with former White House counsel Bob Bauer, former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero, and Lawfare contributor Paul Rosenzweig.
Fri, 17 August 2018
The President of the United States this week stripped the former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance in a dramatic White House statement by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The White House is threatening more adverse security clearance actions against presidential critics, and former senior security officials are outraged. Benjamin Wittes sat down Friday afternoon with Bradley Moss, who represents people in security clearance revocation processes, to discuss the president's move, how different it is, and what we can expect if a lawsuit develops.
Mon, 13 August 2018
Canada and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads over the past week ever since the Canadian Foreign Minister condemned Saudi Arabia’s arrest of Samar Badawi, a human rights activist. Saudi Arabia's reactions were extreme, including expelling the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, halting trade negotiations and the pulling of the Saudi Arabian ambassador for diplomatic consultation.
To sort this all out, Lawfare senior editor Shannon Togawa Mercer spoke to Scott Anderson, former diplomat and international lawyer, and Canadian professors Stephanie Carvin of The Intrepid Podcast and Carleton University, Bessma Momani of the Stimpson Center, and Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottowa.
They spoke about Saudi Arabian and Canadian strategy, international legal considerations and what comes next.
Fri, 10 August 2018
There’s a new twist in one of the stranger subplots of L’Affaire Russe: Buzzfeed News reports that Peter Smith, a Republican operative who reportedly sought to obtain missing Hillary Clinton emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, made several suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts during the timeframe of his quest for Clinton’s emails—suggesting that he may have paid people he believed were Russian hackers.
Benjamin Wittes is joined by Buzzfeed reporter Anthony Cormier and former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris to make sense of it all.
Tue, 7 August 2018
Encryption usually takes center stage in debates over digital evidence, and the sensitivities around the issue often halt discussions before reaching practical solutions. But on July 25, the Center for Strategic and International Studies unveiled a new report detailing solutions to other, less-fraught challenges that digital evidence presents to federal law enforcement. The launch event featured a panel discussion moderated by Jen Daskal, with an ensemble cast of law enforcement experts, including Lawfare contributing editor David Kris, David Bitkower, Ethan Arenson, Jane Horvath, and Michael Sachs. They talked about the challenges faced by law enforcement in accessing and utilizing digital evidence, the civil liberties and privacy concerns digital evidence provokes, and the role of Internet Service Providers in any new legal or policy framework.
Fri, 3 August 2018
Technologies that distort representations of reality, like audio, photo, and video editing software, are nothing new, but what happens when these technologies are paired with artificial intelligence to produce hyper-realistic media of things that never happened? This new phenomenon, called "deep fakes," poses significant problems for lawyers, policymakers, and technologists. On July 19, Klon Kitchen, senior fellow for technology and national security at the Heritage Foundation, moderated a panel with Bobby Chesney of the University of Texas at Austin Law School, Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and Chris Bregler, a senior computer scientist and AI manager at Google. They talked about how deep fakes work, why they don't fit into the current legal and policy thinking, and about how policy, technology, and the law can begin to combat them.
Tue, 31 July 2018
For years, Shane Harris of The Washington Post has been fascinated with the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe. But that search raises a profound question: Should we try to communicate with aliens? Is there a risk to alerting a potentially hostile species to our presence? On July 12, Shane moderated a conversation hosted by Future Tense with Lucianne Walkowicz, the Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress, and NASA astrophysicist Elisa Quintana, to talk about the ethics of the search for ETs and the associated risks with trying to make contact.