The Lawfare Podcast

Alvaro Marañon sat down with Erik Larson, a computer scientist, tech entrepreneur and author of the new book, "The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can't Think the Way We Do." They talked about his background and expertise with artificial intelligence, what shaped our modern perception of AI and why the next big break in AI always appears to be 10 or 20 years away. They also discussed the current limitations of artificial intelligence, whether there are any dangers to our current approach and whether AI's advancement to super intelligence is really inevitable.

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

Anti-Asian violence in the United States seems to be on the rise. On March 16, a shooter killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at several Atlanta businesses. Across the country, Asian-Americans have shared stories of attacks and harassment, some of which involved racist language in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet there is very little data available that could help journalists and policymakers make sense of this apparent trend. To understand why, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and the co-founder of AH Datalytics, who recently wrote for Lawfare on why there’s so little reliable data on anti-Asian violence—or on any other kind of hate crime. Jeff discussed the patchwork system by which the FBI currently collects data on hate crimes, what other factors might explain why the data is so unreliable and how improved data could help guide the response to anti-Asian attacks.

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

Last Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held an open hearing that reviewed U.S. Cyber Command's and Special Operation Command's Defense Authorization Requests for fiscal year 2022. The committee heard open testimony from the head of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, General Paul Nakasone; the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, General Richard Clarke; and the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Christopher Maier. The hearing covered a range of issues, from the SolarWinds cyberattack to increased violence in Afghanistan. We stripped out all of the nonsense, speechifying and repetition to bring you just the questions and answers you care about, only once.

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

Alexander Reinert is the Max Freund Professor of Litigation & Advocacy at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he teaches and conducts research in civil procedure, constitutional law and federal courts. He is the author of the recent article, "Qualified Immunity on Appeal," an empirical assessment, which provides the most comprehensive study so far of the actual way that courts of appeals have handled qualified immunity cases. He wrote about it in an article on Lawfare entitled, "Unpacking a Decade of Appellate Decisions on Qualified Immunity." He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to discuss qualified immunity, what the doctrine is and where it comes from, how courts handle qualified immunity cases in practice, whether it is as much of a shield as it seems to be for cops, if there is any prospect to reform it at the state or federal level and what the future looks like for the doctrine.

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

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sat down with Brendan Nyhan to discuss the crucial platform that often seems to slip under the radar in discussions of mis- and disinformation: YouTube.

Brendan is a professor of government at Dartmouth College, who has just co-authored a report with the Anti-Defamation League on “Exposure to Alternative and Extremist Content on YouTube.” There’s a common conception that YouTube acts as a radicalization engine, pushing viewers from mainstream content to increasingly radical material. But Brendan and his coauthors found a somewhat different story: YouTube may not funnel all viewers toward extreme content, but it does reliably recommend that content to users who are already viewing it. They discussed his findings and how we should understand the role that YouTube plays in the information ecosystem.

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

It's been a big week for the seditious conspiracy statute, which has long been on the books, quietly forbidding violent interference with the lawful functions of the United States government. But on 60 Minutes this weekend, the former chief prosecutor supervising the January 6 investigation hinted not too subtly that the seditious conspiracy statute might come out of obscurity and enter into action. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jacob Schulz, Lawfare's deputy managing editor who has written a series of articles for Lawfare on recent deployments of the seditious conspiracy statute, to talk through the law's recent enforcement history.

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

Our constitutional system involves the written document, plus two and a half centuries of judicial decisions interpreting it. But these two things only scratch the surface. It also involves our constitutional norms, the unwritten rules that govern how actors in our political system behave. For decades, commentators have observed the steady erosion of many of these norms, and in the four years of the Trump administration, the trickle of norm violations became a torrent. As a response, many in academia, the media and politics have called for Congress to pass legislation that would codify what had previously been unwritten norms of behavior, from requiring that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns to limiting the president's pardon power.

In a forthcoming article in the Georgetown Law Journal, Jonathan Gould, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzes many of these proposals and points out the potential unintended consequences of trying to commit unwritten norms to legislative language. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jonathan about the importance and erosion of constitutional norms, especially within the executive branch, and how best to repair them.

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

Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, and Alan Rozenshtein, a Lawfare senior editor and professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, to talk about the group of cases that have been filed in connection with the January 6 riot and insurrection. They talked about the database that Hughes is building and maintaining of cases, defendants and charges filed in connection with January 6; the pattern of charges; what the picture looks like so far; if it is likely to get closer to the president and his inner circle and if it will result in a series of seditious conspiracy charges.

Direct download: Seamus_Hughes_and_Alan_Rozenshtein_on_the_January_6_Charges.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith spoke with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth about her new book, "This is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race." They discussed the dark world of markets for zero-day vulnerabilities that are so vital in offensive cyber operations, the history of the markets, how they work, who the players are and why the United States doesn't control as much as it used to. They also discussed broader issues of U.S. cybersecurity policy, including the recent SolarWinds hack.

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

On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Daphne Keller, the director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center and an expert on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the statute that shields internet platforms from civil liability for third-party content on their websites. The statute has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, and both President Trump and President Biden separately called for its repeal. So what should we expect in terms of potential revision of 230 during the current Congress? What does Daphne think about the various proposals on the table? And how is it that so many proposals to reform 230 would be foiled by that pesky First Amendment?

Direct download: The_Good_the_Bad_and_the_Ugly_of_Section_230_Reform.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

David Kris sat down with David Robarge, the chief historian at the Central Intelligence Agency, to discuss covert action. All together, around 50 covert actions have been declassified over the years, and Kris and Robarge discuss several of them, involving the Middle East, Western Europe, Africa and Central America. They also talked about the legal and policy rules governing covert action, the process by which covert action is reviewed and approved and the famous "Washington Post test."

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

Dmitri Alperovitch is the executive chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, and he's the co-founder and former chief technology officer at CrowdStrike. With Ian Ward, he is the author of the recent article on Lawfare, entitled, "How Should the U.S. Respond to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange Hacks?" Benjamin Wittes sat down with him to discuss the article and the hacks. They talked about how they were similar to one another and how they were different, why the SolarWinds hack has received so much more attention than the much more damaging Microsoft Exchange hack, and whether the U.S. should come down hard on Russia for its activities or if it go easy on the Russians.

Direct download: Dmitri_Alperovitch_on_SolarWinds_and_Microsoft_Exchange.mp3
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Alex Vindman sat down with retired Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman, the authors of "2034: A Novel of the Next World War." Admiral Stavridis spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of four-star admiral and who served as the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Elliot Ackerman is the author of several novels, including "Dark at the Crossing," which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, "Waiting for Eden." They discussed the objective for writing a novel on the next world war, the lessons the novel offers national security professionals and policymakers, and key points in the backstory that precipitated the march to this fictional but highly realistic portrayal of the next world war.

Direct download: 2034_A_Novel_of_the_Next_World_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

President Joe Biden has conducted military strikes in Syria, has articulated legal theories under which the series of strikes were proper and has temporarily reined in the use of drone strikes. To talk about Biden and war powers, Benjamin Wittes sat down with John Bellinger, who served as the legal adviser at the State Department and the legal adviser for the National Security Council in the Bush administration; Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, who worked in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser, as well as in the Iraqi embassy; and Rebecca Ingber, who also worked in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser and is currently a professor at Cardozo Law School. They talked about how the Biden administration justified the strikes in Syria, the reports it has not yet given on its legal and policy framework for counterterrorism, whether this is the year that AUMF reform might finally happen and which authorizations to use military force might finally see reform.

Direct download: War_Powers_and_the_Biden_Administration.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 Genevieve Lakier, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School and First Amendment expert. It’s basically impossible to have a conversation about content moderation without someone crying, “First Amendment!” at some point. But the cultural conception of the First Amendment doesn’t always match the legal conception. Evelyn and Quinta spoke with Genevieve about what First Amendment doctrine actually says, how its history might be quite different from what you think and what the dynamism of the doctrine over time—and the current composition of the Supreme Court—might suggest about the First Amendment’s possible futures for grappling with the internet.

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

Wesley Morgan is a former military affairs reporter at Politico and the author of the new book, "The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley." Bryce Klehm sat down with Wesley to talk about the evolution of the war in Afghanistan, from the United States's early hunt for Osama bin Laden, to the increased use of drone strikes during the Obama and Trump administrations. They also discussed the current state of the war in Afghanistan, including the fight against the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate.

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

Since 2014, the civil war in Syria has involved an incredibly diverse and complex array of actors representing all manner of ideology and sectarian identity. But one group has captured the public imagination more than perhaps any other: the all-female Women's Protective Units, or YPJ, that have played a central role in the fight against the Islamic State and are continuing to fight for political communities, premised, in part, on gender equality. In her new book, "The Daughters of Kobani," journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon details the journey of several of the young Kurdish women involved in the YPJ and the role they have played thus far in the broader Syrian civil war. Scott R. Anderson sat down with her to talk about the origins of the YPJ, how they have weathered the end of the counter Islamic State campaign and what role they may play in a future Syria.

Direct download: Gayle_Tzemach_Lemmon_on_the_Daughters_of_Kobani.mp3
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Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck host the weekly National Security Law Podcast from the University of Texas Law School, a discussion of current national security law developments. In their most recent episode, Bobby and Steve discuss a range of topics that we thought would be of interest to listeners, so we are bringing you a distilled version of their conversation. Bobby and Steve talk about recent U.S. air strikes and the Biden administration's war powers report, updated reporting on Islamic State detainees in Iraq and Syria, the report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and a collection of other national security law issues.

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

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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