The Lawfare Podcast

On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Rules Committee held their second hearing to examine the January 6 attack on the Capitol. What explains the delay in deploying National Guard troops? What reforms are the agencies planning to implement in order to better handle the threat posed by domestic extremist violence and white supremacist groups? And why was the intelligence reporting late and insufficient? Four officials from different agencies testified: Melissa Smislova, who performs the duties of the undersecretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis; Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI counterterrorism division; Robert Salesses, who performs the duties of the assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security at the Defense Department; and Major General William Walker, the commanding general of D.C.'s National Guard. We took out all the nonsense, the opening statements and the repetition, and brought you every question and every answer, only once.

Direct download: January_6_Oversight_with_No_Bull.mp3
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On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Emily Bell, the founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. Emily testified before Congress last week about the role of legacy media, and cable news in particular, in spreading disinformation, but she’s also one of the keenest observers of the online news ecosystem and knows a lot about it from her days as director of digital content for The Guardian. They talked about the relationship between online and offline media in spreading disinformation, the role different institutions need to play in fixing what’s broken and whether all the talk about “fighting misinformation” is a bit of a red herring.

Direct download: Emily_Bell_on_Journalism_in_the_Platform_Era.mp3
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FBI Director Christopher A. Wray faced the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to talk about the January 6 riot and insurrection. The hearing covered whether the FBI had intelligence that the riot was planned for January 6 and how it communicated what it knew to the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police, as well as topics from SolarWinds to diversity at the FBI. We cut out all of the nonsense and all of the repetitive questions to bring you only what you need to hear.

Direct download: Chris_Wray_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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Many scholars have written about the police, but almost all have done so from the outside. Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few exceptions. In 2016, Brooks—already a successful scholar of national security law and a former official in the Department of Defense—joined Washington, D.C.'s volunteer Police Reserve Corps as a sworn police officer. For several years, she patrolled in some of D.C.'s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, an experience she has chronicled in her new book, "Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Brooks about her time in law enforcement, the structural challenges facing police in the United States and the prospects for reform.

Direct download: Rosa_Brooks_on_American_Policing.mp3
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The United States hit targets in Syria associated with two Iraqi militias last week in the first military operations of the Biden administration. To catch up on the situation on the ground in Iraq, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, who served in the embassy in Iraq, and Marsin Alshamary, a postdoctoral fellow with the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy program and an expert in domestic Iraqi politics. They talked about the groups that the U.S. attacked, the constellation of forces in the current Iraqi government, the legal authority for the attack and where Iraqi politics go from here.

Direct download: Your_Questions_on_Iraq.mp3
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Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 immunizes platforms for the behavior of their users. It's been called by some the Magna Carta of the internet—but how foundational is it? Mary Anne Franks, a professor of law and Dean's Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami, thinks that Section 230 is indeed a cornerstone of the modern internet, but not in a good way. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, she recently published a paper entitled, "Section 230 and the Anti-Social Contract," in which she argues that far from expanding freedom, Section 230 has simply continued a long tradition of marginalizing the most vulnerable among us. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with her about her paper, about how Section 230 fits into the broader history of American political thought and about her ideas for a better internet.

Direct download: Mary_Anne_Franks_on_Section_230.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the director of the Reuters Institute and professor of political communication at the University of Oxford, about the fight between Australia and Facebook. After Australia proposed a law that would force Facebook to pay for content linked on its platform from Australian news sites, Facebook responded by blocking any news posts in the country. The company and the Australian government have since resolved the spat—for now—but the dust-up raises bigger questions about the relationship between traditional media and social media platforms and the future of the media industry. They talked not only about Australia, but also about the role of social media in contributing to political polarization, the outlook for various business models funding journalism and what political solutions—other than Australia’s—might look like.


Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland faced the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday for a multi-hour session of questions and answers from senators. There were opening statements, there was a lot of speechifying, and there was posturing on the part of senators of both parties. We stripped it all out to bring you just the questions and the answers with no repetition. The committee covered a lot of ground: How will Merrick Garland handle the John Durham investigation? How will he handle white supremacist violence? How will he handle antifa? And will he answer—finally—questions from senators on the committee?

Direct download: Merrick_Garland_v_the_Judiciary_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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For more than a week now, Texas has been struggling with a massive power outage caused by record low temperatures. Millions have been without power, heat and running water, and at least dozens have been confirmed to have died as a result. All states are confronting extreme weather, but Texas is unique in that its electricity is almost completely independent from the rest of the United States' grid. This has at times lowered costs and increased innovation in the Texas energy markets, but as the current crisis shows, Texas's energy exceptionalism comes at a cost. Alexandra Klass is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and a nationally recognized expert on energy law and policy who recently wrote about the Texas energy crisis for Lawfare. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with her about the current situation and the future of energy policy, both for Texas and for the United States.

Direct download: Alex_Klass_on_the_Texas_Energy_Crisis.mp3
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David Hoffman is associate general counsel and global privacy officer for the Intel Corporation, as well as the Steed Family Professor of Practice in Cybersecurity Policy for Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. He invited Benjamin Wittes to give a talk to a group of students about trust and technology development in which they discussed what the components of trust really are, how many of them are technical and how many of them involve other things like corporate governance, including brand and the regulatory environment in which products are produced.

Direct download: Trust_Hardware_and_Software.mp3
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On February 1, Myanmar's military overthrew the country's democratically elected government in a coup and declared a state of emergency for a year. It returns Myanmar to full military rule after nearly a decade of quasi-democracy that began in 2011. The coup came just hours before the start of a new session of Parliament, which was expected to endorse the results of a November election where de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party won in a landslide and the military-backed party performed poorly. The military has alleged voter fraud, but Myanmar's election commission has said that there is no evidence to support its claims. Since then, the country has seen daily peaceful protests and large-scale strikes against military rule, at times clashing with security forces who have been seen using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. To break it all down, Rohini Kurup spoke with Aye Min Thant, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist based in Myanmar. They discussed Myanmar's history of military rule, what it is like living through a coup and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Direct download: The_Coup_in_Myanmar.mp3
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Right now in India, there’s a legal battle that could portend the future of the internet. In this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked to Chinmayi Arun, a resident fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and an affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She discussed one of the biggest stories about freedom of expression online today—the battle between Twitter and the Indian government, which has demanded that Twitter geoblock a large number of accounts, including the account of a prominent investigative magazine, in response to protests by tens of thousands of farmers across India. Chinmayi walked us through the political context of the farmers’ protests, how the clash between Twitter and the Indian government is part of an increasingly constrained environment for freedom of expression in India, and where this battle might end up.

Direct download: Chinmayi_Arun_on_India_and_the_Future_of_the_Internet.mp3
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The second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is now over. It ended with a roar and then a whimper, and then a little bit of a roar again, as seven Republicans joined all of the Democrats to convict the former president. It wasn't enough, as the Senate needed 67 votes to convict and it only had 57, but it made a statement of sorts—or did it? To discuss the impeachment trial, its weird ending and where it fits in with the effort to hold Donald Trump accountable, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess, senior editor Scott R. Anderson and congressional guru Molly Reynolds. They talked about how the impeachment trial ended, what it meant that the Senate voted to call witnesses and then didn't bother, how to interpret the Senate's performance overall in the second impeachment trial and what the options are now that Donald Trump is a private citizen facing potential civil litigation, as well as criminal investigations and a possible 9/11-style commission.

Direct download: How_the_Impeachment_Trial_Ends.mp3
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The Biden administration has promised significant changes to the U.S. relationship with Iran that could have a marked impact on the Middle East. What is the likelihood that this new administration will be successful? And how will other regional developments—from the Abraham Accords between Israel and a few Arab states, to the healing of the rift within the Gulf Cooperation Council, to the ongoing morass in Syria—affect the dynamics here?

To address these questions, David Priess hosted a panel discussion on February 11 for the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy and International Security at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. He sat down with Norman Roule, a 34-year veteran of the CIA, who served as the national intelligence manager for Iran for more than eight years; Kirsten Fontenrose, formerly the senior director for the Persian Gulf on the National Security Council staff and currently the director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council; and Ambassador Dennis Ross, who has served in U.S. government positions pertaining to the Middle East for some 40 years, and who is now a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Direct download: Iran_the_US_and_the_Middle_East_at_a_Turning_Point.mp3
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Lost in the shuffle of an impeachment trial here in the United States was big news from Canada last week. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety added the Proud Boys to Canada’s terror entity list. The listing might be in Canada, but the group had a role in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. The listing has all sorts of interesting legal and national security implications, so Jacob Schulz talked it through with two Canadian national security experts. Jessica Davis is a former senior strategic intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who is now the president of Insight Threat Intelligence and a PhD student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. And Leah West is an assistant professor of International Affairs at Carleton University and serves as counsel with Friedman Mansour LLP. They talked about right-wing extremism in Canada, what the consequences of the listing might be and what it reveals about the relationship between Canada and the United States.

Direct download: Canada_Takes_on_the_Proud_Boys.mp3
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On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Smith, media columnist for the New York Times and former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News. Ben spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the gatekeepers who hold the power to shape our public sphere. At BuzzFeed, he capitalized on the way the rise of the internet allowed upstarts to work around the Old Gatekeepers, the legacy media organizations; now, at the Times, he’s one of them. But there are also the other New Gatekeepers: the Platforms, flailing around as much as the rest of us in trying to make sense of the role they’ve found themselves in. So what does Ben think about the current state of the media ecosystem and where it's headed? And why, in his view, was February 26, 2015—almost exactly 6 years ago—the last good day on the internet?

Direct download: Ben_Smith_on_Gatekeepers_in_the_Internet_Age.mp3
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While we have been dealing with an insurrection in Washington, protestors in Hong Kong are being tried under the city's new Beijing-imposed national security law. For an update on what's going on in Hong Kong and in its relationship with China, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Sophia Yan, Beijing correspondent for The Telegraph in London, and Alvin Cheung, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and a non-resident affiliate scholar with NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute. They talked about how the national security law is being applied in Hong Kong, whether the protests are likely to reignite as the coronavirus epidemic fades and what activists are doing now that they do not know what Beijing will tolerate.

Direct download: An_Update_from_Hong_Kong.mp3
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George Shultz passed away on February 6, just two months after passing his 100th birthday. He was a momentous and fascinating national security figure who has quite a legacy within national defense, foreign policy and even management circles in the federal government. To talk about his legacy and what made him such a special senior government leader, David Priess sat down with Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Kori Schake. Nick Burns is a man of many titles, including professor at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, building on almost three decades of U.S. government service, including a role as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008. Kori Schake is the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, coming after service in the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Department of State. They talked about about George Shultz, the positions he had, the influence he had on those around him and his influence on future administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

Direct download: The_Legacy_of_George_Shultz.mp3
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The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump—the sequel—gets underway this week when the House impeachment managers and Trump's new defense team spar on the Senate floor under the gavel of Senator Patrick Leahy. What should we expect from this second round of impeachment trial? For a preview, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Molly Reynolds, Lawfare's congressional guru and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Lawfare's managing editor Quinta Jurecic; and Lawfare's chief operating officer David Priess. They talked about what rules are going to apply this time and whether they will be different from the last time around, whether there will be witnesses, what will be different with Senator Leahy presiding, how the president is likely to present his defense and how he might scuttle his lawyers' efforts.

Direct download: An_Impeachment_Trial_Preview.mp3
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Some countries don't just abuse their citizens within their own borders; increasingly, they target individuals after they have gone abroad. A range of nefarious acts play a role here, and together they make up a phenomenon called transnational repression.

Nate Schenkkan, the director of research strategy at Freedom House, and Isabel Linzer, Freedom House's research analyst for technology and democracy, are the two authors of "Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach: Understanding Transnational Repression," a new report detailing the practice and Freedom House's research on the topic. David Priess sat down with them to discuss the variety of forms transnational repression can take, whom is targeted and why, examples from the governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Rwanda and even Equatorial Guinea, and recommendations to buck this growing trend

Direct download: Transnational_Repression.mp3
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On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Quinta Jurecic sat down with Lawfare’s deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz, and Jordan Schneider, host of the ChinaTalk podcast, to talk about Substack. The newsletter service is the new cool thing in the journalism world—and, like any newly popular online service, it is already running into questions around content moderation.

Jacob wrote about Substack’s content moderation policy earlier this month, and Jordan uses Substack to send out his ChinaTalk newsletter, so he filled us in on the platform’s nuts and bolts. Why is Substack so popular right now, anyway? Does it help writers step outside the unhealthy dynamics that help spread disinformation and discontent on social media, or does it just play into those dynamics further? And what might the platform’s content moderation policies leave to be desired?

Direct download: Lawfare_Enters_the_Substack_Discourse.mp3
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There is an impeachment trial next week, and the two sides—the impeachment managers for the House of Representatives and the lawyers for the former president of the United States—filed their briefs before the Senate. The briefs could not be more different. One is long, legally dense and factually rich; the other is short—a mere 14 pages—and contains some interesting oddities and errors. To chew over the briefs, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare's managing editor Quinta Jurecic and chief operating officer David Priess. They talked about what the two sides are arguing, what it says about the cases they mean to present to the Senate and whether there are going to be witnesses next week when the two sides have to present their cases before the senators themselves.

Direct download: Impeachment_Briefing.mp3
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It was the second weekend of major protests in Russia, as Russians across the country took to the streets to protest the detention of Alexei Navalny. In a major show of force, the police rounded up a very large number of people and there were a number of beatings. To bring us up to speed on the situation in Russia, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alina Polyakova, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis. They talked about whether the protests are dwindling or gathering strength, and whether that's really about the Russian security services or the 30-degree-below-0 weather. They talked about Putin's game plan, Navalny's game plan and where this is all heading over the next few months and years.

Direct download: Alina_Polyakova_on_the_Protests_in_Russia.mp3
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On January 27, the Department of Homeland Security issued an unusual National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin—unusual because it addressed solely the heightened threat environment of violence from domestic violent extremists, with no mention of foreign terrorist organizations or even the word terrorism. It's a striking document both for what it describes and for what it leaves unsaid.

To discuss the bulletin, its context and what comes next, David Priess sat down with Carrie Cordero, former counsel to the National Security Division at the Department of Justice and senior associate general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI; Elizabeth Neumann, former deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of Homeland Security and assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at DHS; and Nick Rasmussen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Direct download: DHS_Warning_Domestic_Violent_Extremists.mp3
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Yesterday was a big day—the day that the Facebook Oversight Board released its first decisions. The independent board, an experiment in platform governance set up by Facebook, handed down five rulings weighing in on the company’s decision to remove various posts for violating Facebook’s community guidelines. It may not be Marbury v. Madison, but it’s still a big moment for online speech regulation.

To mark the occasion, Lawfare is setting up a new page collecting and tracking the board’s decisions.

For this episode of the podcast, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, and Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz. They discussed everything you need to know about the Oversight Board, including those most basic but crucial of questions: What exactly is it, anyway? What’s in the decisions? And why should we care?

Direct download: The_Least_Dangerous_Branch_of_Facebook.mp3
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For this episode of Arbiters of Truth, Lawfare’s miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joan Donovan, the research director at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her work focuses on networked social movements, disinformation and media manipulation—so she’s the perfect person to help untangle the continued fallout not only from the January 6 Capitol riot, but from the last four years more broadly. They talked about Joan’s route from researching Occupy Wall Street to studying far-right disinformation, the importance of understanding networks of communication and coordination in studying social media, and the responses of big social platforms to the violence in the Capitol.

Direct download: Joan_Donovan_on_Disinformation_and_Social_Movements.mp3
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David Kris sat down with David Hatch, the senior historian at the U.S. National Security Agency. They discussed Project VENONA, an incredibly significant intelligence program involving encrypted Soviet messages that began during World War II and went on for many years thereafter. It's a story full of unusual events and interesting lessons about intelligence and counterintelligence and spy vs. spy. There's also a little review of encryption—specifically, the risks of reusing one-time encryption pads—and a discussion of the declassification process of Project VENONA and why we can talk about the project at all.

Direct download: Project_VENONA.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Michael McConnell, the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of the new book, "The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power Under the Constitution." They discussed McConnell's textual historical approach to interpreting presidential power under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the many novel elements of executive power embodied in Article II and the proper understanding of Article II's Vesting Clause. They also talked about contemporary implications of his reading of Article II for war powers, the unitary executive and late impeachments.

Direct download: The_President_Who_Would_Not_Be_King.mp3
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The day before last week's inauguration of President Joe Biden, four of the Biden administration's core national security nominees appeared before various Senate committees for their confirmation hearings. Avril Haines, Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Alejandro Mayorkas, the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, appeared before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; retired general Lloyd Austin, Biden's nominee to head the Defense Department, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for Secretary of State, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The hearings included a whole lot of performative partisan flattery and outrage, but they also provided a snapshot of the Biden administration's national security priorities. We cut out all of the nonsense, all of the unnecessary information and the duplicative questions to leave you only the most interesting questions and answers.

Direct download: Confirmation_Hearing_Blitz_with_No_Bull.mp3
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It was supposed to be the big sequel to the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally-turned-riot. It was supposed to be the largest armed protest in the history of the United States, taking place in all 50 state capitals. And yet, Inauguration Day turned out to be peaceful. Protesters were few; acts of violence were even fewer. It's a major counterterrorism success, and like many major counterterrorism successes, it has largely been unremarked upon. How did we go without the sequel to the bloody events of January 6? To what extent should we credit law enforcement action or the deplatforming of the president and his followers, or is the explanation something entirely different? To talk it through, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Dan Byman, Lawfare's foreign policy editor and counterterrorism expert, who has identified six major factors that likely contributed to this week's success.

Direct download: Dan_Byman_on_the_Sequel_that_Never_Came_to_Be.mp3
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During his inaugural address yesterday, President Biden spoke about the subject of this podcast: disinformation. “There is truth and there are lies,” Biden said, “lies told for power and for profit.” And he asked Americans to unify rather than “turn inward” against those “who don't get their news from the same sources you do.”

But in an era of QAnon and pandemic disinformation, how will that unification be possible? The day before the inauguration, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Kate Starbird, an associate professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, for this first episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries under the Biden administration. Kate last came on the podcast in March 2020 to discuss disinformation and misinformation around the coronavirus, and she has had a long year since then researching online ecosystems around the pandemic and supposed voter fraud. And the Capitol riot on January 6 threw all this into sharp relief, as the things that Kate studies every day boiled over into mainstream consciousness with a vengeance. They spoke with Kate about what led up to the riot, what the disinformation landscape looks like now and what kind of work will be required to move forward.

Direct download: Information_Disorder_During_and_After_the_Trump_Presidency.mp3
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Private entities—in particular, technology giants like internet service providers, email services and social networks—play a vital role in helping law enforcement fight child pornography online. But the involvement of private entities does not eliminate the Fourth Amendment issues that come with electronic surveillance. In fact, the more the private entities cooperate with the government, the more likely it is that courts will consider them government agents, and the evidence they collect will be subject to the same Fourth Amendment restrictions as apply to law enforcement agencies. Jeff Kosseff is an assistant professor at the United States Naval Academy's Cyber Science Department. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, he published a paper entitled, "Online Service Providers and the Fight Against Child Exploitation: The Fourth Amendment Agency Dilemma." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jeff about how the government and internet companies can thread the needle on fighting digital child exploitation without running afoul of the Constitution.

Direct download: Jeff_Kosseff_on_the_Fight_Against_Online_Child_Pornography.mp3
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In the wake of the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol, some have called for the invocation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 disqualifies anyone who has engaged in rebellion or insurrection against United States from public office. In particular, critics of President Trump have seized on this as a potential way of preventing him from running in 2024. Alan Rozenshtein spoke about Section 3 with professors Daniel Hemel of the University of Chicago Law School and Gerard Magliocca of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Direct download: Section_3_of_the_14th_Amendment.mp3
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The NSA this week released a long-awaited update to its signals intelligence policy, which had not been updated since 1988. David Kris, former assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, shortly thereafter produced an even longer paper analyzing the dense and technical policy document. David joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the significance of this new policy document, what it does and how it is different from the document it replaces. They also talked about David's paper, how he came to write it, why it is so much longer than the policy document itself and what the implications of the new NSA policies are for signals intelligence collection and civil liberties.

Direct download: David_Kris_on_the_NSA_Annex.mp3
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Yesterday, January 13, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump a second time for encouraging the violent riot in the Capitol Building on January 6. And yet, the impeachment is probably less of a crushing blow to the president than something else that’s happened in recent days: the loss of his Twitter account.

After a few very eventful weeks, Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation is back. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jonathan Zittrain, the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School, about the decision by Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other platforms to ban the president in the wake of the Capitol riot. Jonathan, Evelyn and Quinta take a step back and situate what’s happening within the broader story of internet governance. They talked about how to understand the bans in the context of the internet’s now not-so-brief history, how platforms make these decisions and, of course, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Listeners might also be interested in Zittrain's February 2020 Tanner Lecture, "Between Suffocation and Abdication: Three Eras of Governing Digital Platforms," which touches on some of the same ideas discussed in the podcast.

Direct download: Jonathan_Zittrain_on_the_Great_Deplatforming.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, to talk about an important issue in the news this week: late impeachments. In the current context, the issue of a late impeachment would arise if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump before he leaves office but the Senate does not hold the trial for Trump, with possible conviction and disqualification from further office, until after he leaves office. They discussed how the Constitution and its historical background and structure inform this question, as well as what the practice of impeachments over 230 years teaches us. They also talked about how former President Trump might challenge any trial, conviction or disqualification that takes place after he leaves office.

Direct download: Late_Impeachments.mp3
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Donald Trump is headed for a second impeachment, a whole lot of people have been charged in federal and local courts in Washington, and an even larger number are probably about to be. What's more, the president's social media accounts have vanished; in fact, one of the very networks on which the president's supporters organized has itself disappeared. To talk through it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare's Alan Rozenshtein, Bryce Klehm, David Priess, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey. They talked about whether impeachment is inevitable now, if the article of impeachment Congress is considering is well-crafted, who has been charged and who is going to be charged, and what we should make of the actions of the tech companies against the president and his allies.

Direct download: The_Incredible_Vanishing_President.mp3
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Jamie Gorelick was the deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In that capacity, she hired as her top aide and adjutant one Merrick Garland. This was before Garland became a D.C. Circuit judge, but it was a fateful period for the department, a period in which Garland supervised some high-profile cases, including the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gorelick to talk about Garland's history at the department, his selection as attorney general and the team that will surround him.

Direct download: Jamie_Gorelick_on_Merrick_Garland.mp3
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The storming of the Capitol on Wednesday was a catastrophic failure of protective law enforcement, as rioters overran Capitol Police barricades and gained access to a building that a lot of police were supposed to be protecting. How did it happen? Who screwed up? And what can be done about it? Benjamin Wittes sat down with Fred Burton, the executive director of the Center for Protective Intelligence at Ontic and a former protective officer; Garrett Graff, a journalist who covers federal law enforcement and who wrote a book about continuity in government; and Lawfare's executive editor Susan Hennessey. They talked about how bad the failure was on the part of the Capitol Police, who is responsible for it, what can be done now to bring the perpetrators to justice and how we should think about changing security protocols on Capitol Hill going forward.

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

Today a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally at which the president spoke. Congressional efforts to count the electoral votes were suspended, and an armed standoff, in which at least one person was killed, ensued. To discuss the matter, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic; Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess; Georgetown's Mary McCord, who used to run the National Security Division at the Justice Department; and Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown and Lawfare's foreign policy editor.

Direct download: Insurrection_at_the_Capitol.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17pm EST

It is electoral count voting day, and members of Congress in a joint session will open and count the electoral votes and declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners of the election. It will not be without controversy, however, as members from both houses plan to object, forcing debate, and as the Proud Boys descend on Washington. In anticipation of turmoil inside and outside of the Capitol, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, Brookings and Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, and law professor and election law specialist Ned Foley of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. They talked about what the rules are for counting electoral votes, how much latitude they have, what could really happen today and what role, if any, Mike Pence could play in the disposition of the final stage of the presidential election.

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

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Margaret Love, the United States Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department from 1990 to 1997. They discussed Donald Trump's very controversial pattern of pardons and commutations, Trump's circumvention of the traditional pardon attorney process and the historical operation of that process prior to Trump. They also discussed various potential reforms of the process for determining pardons and commutations.

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

Alexander Vindman sat down with Dr. Geoffrey Gresh to discuss his new book, "To Rule Eurasia's Waves: The New Great Power Competition at Sea." Dr. Gresh is a professor of International Security Studies at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., with a primary research focus on maritime affairs. He has also served as the chair of the Department of International Security Studies and as CSIA's director for the South and Central Asia Security Studies program. They discussed Russia's, China's and India's interests in their near-seas competition cooperation and the implications of great power competition for U.S. policy.

The views expressed by Dr. Gresh in this episode do not represent the U.S. government, the Department of Defense or National Defense University.

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

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