Sat, 29 June 2019
We don't usually do humor on The Lawfare Podcast, but this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike Chase, whom you probably know better on Twitter as @CrimeADay, the long-time anonymous Twitter feed that tweets out one fact pattern a day that violates some combination of the criminal law and the code of federal regulations.
Mike has now outed himself, and he has a new book: "How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender." Ben and Mike chatted about the super wacky laws and wacky fact patterns in the book, the Twitter feed, and all those national security crimes you never knew you were violating.
Tue, 25 June 2019
Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike O'Hanlon who writes on military affairs and foreign policy, and has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution for a long time. His latest book is "The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War Over Small Stakes." The title says it all. It's about the places in the world that are the potentially most explosive flashpoints over the least important U.S. interests. It's about the places in the world where we are treaty-bound to go to war to protect trivia. And, it's about thinking creatively about how to handle low-stakes questions in a high-stakes world.
Sat, 22 June 2019
Errol Morris is a celebrated documentarian whose films have covered an array of topics in law and national security. They include "The Fog of War," which won an Oscar for its account of Robert McNamara's role in and lessons from the Vietnam War, and "The Unknown Known," which told the story of the political career of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Morris most recently directed "American Dharma," a documentary profile of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Earlier this year, Morris sat down with Jack Goldsmith for a conversation about those three films.
They talked about what interested Morris about McNamara, Rumsfeld, and Bannon; why Morris believed each of them agreed to be interviewed by him; and much more.
Mon, 17 June 2019
It's getting ugly in the Persian Gulf: Iran allegedly attacks two oil tankers. It announces that it's going to violate the JCPOA, the so-called Iran nuclear agreement. There's talk of military strikes. Europe is edgy, and the Secretary of State is on Sunday talk shows being edgier still.
Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney and Scott R. Anderson to talk it all through. They talked about whether the AUMF covers Iran, why Iran is doing this stuff, whether the Trump administration brought this all on itself, and where it's all going from here.
Sat, 15 June 2019
Russian and Chinese leaders understand that they’re unlikely to win a shooting war with the United States, but they have other ways to challenge Western interests, turning our greatest strengths—open societies, dominance of technology on Earth and in space, and military innovation—into weaknesses.
CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto calls it “the shadow war,” and it’s the subject of his new book of the same name. David Priess sat down with Jim to talk about these asymmetric threats to national security, and what the United States and its allies can do to fight back.
Tue, 11 June 2019
More than two years after the 2016 presidential election, new information continues to seep into the public about the extent of Russia's sweeping and systematic efforts to interfere in the U.S. democratic process. With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, last week, Stanford's Cyber Policy Center published a report on securing American elections, including recommendations on how the U.S. can protect elections and election infrastructure from foreign actors.
On Monday, Susan Hennessey spoke with two of the report's authors: Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center's Internet Observatory and former Chief Security Officer of Facebook, and Nate Persily, Stanford law professor and expert on election administration. They talked about what happened in 2016, and the enormously complex landscape of defending not just election infrastructure but also preserving the integrity of the information ecosystems in which Americans make their decisions about how to vote, including the possible consequences of regulating foreign media.
Sat, 8 June 2019
In this episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with John Bellinger.
John is one of the country's foremost experts in international law. His career has included the private practice of law and more than a decade in the federal government, as both a career official and a political appointee. From 2001–2005, John served in the White House under George W. Bush as legal advisor to the National Security Council and as senior associate counsel to the president. From 2005–2009, he served as a legal advisor to the Department of State, and in 2009, he returned to private practice at Arnold & Porter, where he heads the firm's public international law practice.
In his remarks, John expresses a profound anguish over assaults on the rules-based international order. We in the United States largely built this system, and we have benefitted enormously from it—some critics would say we've benefitted too much. And now we are tearing it down, to the delight of Russian President Putin and authoritarian leaders worldwide. It's a sobering conversation with one of America's foremost international lawyers.
Tue, 4 June 2019
In movies and TV shows like Zero Dark Thirty and Homeland, Hollywood has fictionalized the roles of intelligence officers in tracking down terrorists. But the truth is often filled with personal and political challenges beyond those that screenwriters imagine. Nada Bakos worked in several jobs at the CIA, including as a targeting officer focusing on the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In her new book, 'The Targeter,' she describes the experiences and challenges she faced along the way.
Last week, David Priess got on the phone with Nada to talk about what a CIA targeting officer does, what it was like interrogating detainees in Iraq, and the difficulties she encountered in getting her book to print.
Sat, 1 June 2019
The U.S. intelligence community is, by design, shrouded in secret, but it is ultimately responsible to the public. So how do intelligence agencies balance competing interests in protecting privacy and civil liberties, ensuring transparency and accountability, and safeguarding the country’s most sensitive secrets? To shed light on the subject, on Friday, Brookings hosted a conversation between Ben Huebner, Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer at the CIA, and Brookings Federal Executive Fellow Ryan Trapani, who previously served as a spokesman for the agency, who discussed how the CIA handles that dynamic. They talked about the job of the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officers; the legal and regulatory regime that governs how the agency collects, handles, and uses data; and the privacy and security considerations that agency employees manage every day.