The Lawfare Podcast

Tim Maurer is a senior counselor for cybersecurity to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Jennifer Daskal serves as deputy general counsel at DHS focused on cybersecurity. And Eric Goldstein serves as the executive assistant director for cybersecurity for CISA, DHS's cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency. They joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about what the Biden administration's priority is in cybersecurity domestically, how DHS is using its new authorities that it has received in the National Defense Authorization Act, how CISA has grown as an agency and what success looks like if the administration pursues its goals effectively.

Direct download: DHS_Leadership_Talk_Cybersecurity.mp3
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This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked to Sean Li, who until recently was the head of Trust and Safety at Discord. Discord is experiencing phenomenal growth and is an established player in a space that is the new hot thing: audio social media. And as the head of Trust and Safety, Sean was responsible for running the team that mitigates all the bad stuff that happens on a platform.

Evelyn and Quinta asked Sean what it’s like to have that kind of power—to be the eponymous “arbiter of truth” of a slice of the internet. They also discussed what makes content moderation of live audio content different from the kind we normally talk about—namely, text-based platforms. As almost every social media platform is trying to get into audio, what should they be prepared for?

Direct download: The_Challenges_of_Audio_Content_Moderation.mp3
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Last week for the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government, David Priess moderated a virtual event called, "Spy Writing in the Real World." The event featured three authors of espionage fiction, two with previous experience working inside the U.S. intelligence community: Brad Thor, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 21 thrillers; Karen Cleveland, a former CIA analyst and New York Times bestselling author of "Need to Know" and "Keep You Close"; and award-winning author and former NSA and CIA officer Alma Katsu, who had written five novels prior to her first new spy novel, "Red Widow." They talked about the spy thriller genre, their challenges within it, their research and their experience with prepublication classification review.

Direct download: Spy_Writing_in_the_Real_World.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, and Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levy Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, to discuss their new book, "National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press: The Pentagon Papers Fifty Years On." They discussed the holding and legacy of the Pentagon Papers case, as well as some of the many challenges of applying the Pentagon Papers regime in the modern digital era that is characterized by massive leaks and a very different press landscape than the one that prevailed in 1971.

Direct download: National_Security_Leaks_and_Freedom_of_the_Press.mp3
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In the second episode of "After Trump," the six-part limited podcast series based on the book, "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, we consider the problem of foreign interventions in American political campaigns—and what to do about it.

Direct download: after-trump-ep-2-final.mp3
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On Wednesday, President Biden announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, an announcement that comes as the U.S. and Afghan governments have been trying to reach a power sharing agreement with the Taliban. Prior to the withdrawal announcement, Bryce Klehm spoke with Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a New York Times correspondent based in the Kabul bureau and a former Marine infantryman, who walked us through the situation on the ground in Afghanistan over the last year. Following Biden's announcement, Bryce spoke with Madiha Afzal, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, who talked about the broader implications of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Direct download: Biden_Announces_a_Military_Withdrawal_from_Afghanistan.mp3
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This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jameel Jaffer and Ramya Krishnan of the Knight First Amendment Institute.

What do facial recognition software and President Trump’s erstwhile Twitter habits have in common? They both implicate the First Amendment—and hint at how old doctrines struggle to adapt to new technologies.

Evelyn and Quinta talked to Jameel and Ramya about the long-running lawsuit by the Knight Foundation over whether it violates the First Amendment for the president to block people on Twitter—a lawsuit that the Supreme Court just ended. They also asked Ramya and Jameel about the controversial facial recognition startup Clearview AI, in light of recent reporting showing just how much law enforcement uses that technology. Clearview is now confronting multiple lawsuits on the grounds that the company’s practices violate privacy laws, and its defense is that its activities are protected by the First Amendment. These cases don’t neatly fit into existing First Amendment categories, so Evelyn and Quinta asked Jameel and Ramya about the possible paths the law might take to adjust to the digital age.

Direct download: Twitter_Facial_Recognition_and_the_First_Amendment.mp3
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A lot of people are expressing anxiety about white supremacist violent terrorism, yet in a new Brookings paper entitled "Identifying and Exploiting the Weaknesses of the White Supremacist Movement," Daniel Byman, Lawfare's foreign policy editor and a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, and Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, say that while the threat is real, these movements have weaknesses that other terrorist groups do not. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Byman and Pitcavage to talk about these weaknesses, how white supremacist groups are vulnerable and how law enforcement in the United States can exploit them to reduce the threat.

Direct download: Identifying_and_Exploiting_the_Weaknesses_of_White_Supremacist_Groups.mp3
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From the countless attacks on ethnic and religious minorities that have taken place in recent months to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, acts of violence and domestic terrorism are on the rise here in the United States. And a major driver behind many of these actions is a growing hostility toward members of racial and religious minorities among white Americans and a growing willingness to turn to violence as a result.

Last week, the Lawfare team was hosted by the National Security Law Society at the Georgetown University Law Center for a live discussion of what this disturbing trend means for U.S. national security. Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson joined Elizabeth Neumann, a former senior official in the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration, and Ryan Greer, the national security director for the Anti-Defamation League, to discuss how white extremism and domestic terrorism relate to each other, what's driving radicalization among white Americans and steps the Biden administration, among others, can take to combat it.

Direct download: The_Continuing_Threat_of_White_Extremism.mp3
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On this special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, we're turning over our feed to the new podcast series, "After Trump," produced by Lawfare in collaboration with Goat Rodeo and hosted by Virginia Heffernan of Slate's "Trumpcast." "After Trump," based on the "After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency" book by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, is a six-part limited series that dives into some of the major themes of the book, outlining Bob and Jack's proposal of reform to our government in the fallout of the Trump Administration. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Virginia Heffernan to introduce the series before "After Trump, Episode 1: Follow the Money," plays in full.

Direct download: After_Trump_Episode_1.mp3
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Tensions are heating up between Russia and Ukraine, seven years after the seizure by the Russians of the Crimean Peninsula and the incursions into Eastern Ukraine. With troop movements and some saber rattling, is Vladimir Putin trying to send a message to Joe Biden, or perhaps to Ukrainian President Zelensky? Is he trying to satisfy domestic constituencies or distract them? Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alexander Vindman to talk about what Russia is doing and why, and what the Biden administration should do about it.

Direct download: Alex_Vindman_on_the_Escalation_in_Ukraine.mp3
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If you’re listening to this podcast, the odds are that you’ve heard a lot about QAnon recently—and you might even have read some alarming reporting about how belief in the conspiracy theory is on the rise. But is it really?

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joseph Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami who studies conspiracy theories. He explained why conspiracy theories in America aren’t actually at a new apex, what kinds of people are drawn to ideas like QAnon and what role—if any—social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter should have in limiting the spread of conspiracy theories.

Direct download: The_Truth_About_Conspiracy_Theories.mp3
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This past weekend, an exceptional series of events rocked the normally quiet nation of Jordan as an apparent schism between members of the country's royal family led to the detention of the country's former crown prince, Prince Hamzeh, and the arrest of several of his associates on allegations that they were undermining the country's national security—potentially in coordination with certain foreign interests. Hamzeh responded with a series of leaked videos in both Arabic and English, accusing the government led by King Abdullah II of ineffectiveness and corruption, dragging the royal family's internal tensions even further into the light of day.

To talk through this unexpected crisis, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Bessma Momani of the University of Waterloo and Ghaith al-Omari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They discussed the history of royal succession in Jordan, how this latest crisis maps onto Jordan's changing political dynamics and what it all might mean for the broader region.

Direct download: A_Royal_Crisis_in_the_Kingdom_of_Jordan.mp3
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Natan Sachs is a Brookings senior fellow and the head of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, part of the Brookings Foreign Policy program. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Natan to talk about the results of the Israeli election, which are still unclear amid a haze over the entire political system. They talked about what the dispute between the camps is about, the many different factions and what they want, and why they can't sit together easily in a government. They also talked about the fact that Israel doesn't have a budget for the second year in a row, and they discussed whether anyone will be able to prevent the fifth election in two years.

Direct download: Natan_Sachs_on_the_Israeli_Governance_Crisis.mp3
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Two years ago, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing dozens of innocent people. Last December, the government of New Zealand issued a lengthy report on the subject, which Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz and Justin Sherman of the Atlantic Council analyzed in a piece on Lawfare. The report is a particularly detailed catalog of how one user of the internet used it to radicalize, to threaten people and to celebrate racist celebrities. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jacob and Justin to talk about the report of the shooter's internet use and what it all means for content moderation and the discussions about it that we're having today.

Direct download: Jacob_Schulz_and_Justin_Sherman_on_the_New_Zealand_Report.mp3
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The Derek Chauvin trial is underway in Minnesota, and the city of Minneapolis last week settled with the family of George Floyd for $27 million. Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Rashawn Ray, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, to talk about civil settlements. Rashawn is the author of a recent Lawfare article about how to reform the civil settlement system to make it more effective in deterring police misconduct, and they discussed the series of reforms that Rashawn recommends.

Direct download: Rashawn_Ray_on_Reforming_Civil_Police_Settlements.mp3
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This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Issie Lapowsky, a senior reporter at the tech journalism publication Protocol. They discussed last week’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee with the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter—the first time the companies had been called to testify on the Hill after the Capitol riot, which focused public attention on the content moderation policies of tech platforms when it comes to domestic extremism. The hearing produced some interesting takeaways, but also a lot of moments when the CEOs were awkwardly forced to answer complicated questions with a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

They also discussed Issie’s reporting on how tech companies have struggled to figure out how to address far-right extremism in the United States as opposed to Islamist extremism. And they talked about Section 230 reform and what it’s like reporting on the tech space.

Direct download: Tech_CEOs_Head_to_the_Hill_Again.mp3
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