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The Lawfare Podcast

The Lawfare Podcast

The Lawfare Podcast features discussions with experts, policymakers, and opinion leaders at the nexus of national security, law, and policy. On issues from foreign policy, homeland security, intelligence, and cybersecurity to governance and law, we have doubled down on seriousness at a time when others are running away from it. Visit us at www.lawfareblog.com.

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Stephan Haggard on What?s Going on in North Korea

It's been an eventful several weeks on the Korean Peninsula, with a spree of missile tests, the sudden display of a daughter of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and the articulation of a remarkably aggressive nuclear doctrine. To go over it all, Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Stephan Haggard, the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego. They talked about how all of this relates to prior diplomacy between North Korea and the Trump administration, what message the North Koreans are trying to send with the combination of this testing and the articulation of this new doctrine, and whether there is any prospect of denuclearization at any time in the foreseeable future.

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2022-11-28
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Rational Security 2.0: The ?Get Off My Lawn? Edition

This week on Rational Security 2.0, a Quinta-less Alan and Scott welcomed Lawfare's dynamic associate editor duo, Katherine Pompilio and Hyemin Han, on to the show to talk through the week's big national security news stories, including:

?Going Full Cleve.? Last week, former President Donald Trump announced his intention to once again run for president?in spite of the Republicans? weak showing in the midterm elections and his own impending legal troubles. What does Trump?s announcement mean for 2024 and after? ?A Mueller Mulligan?? Trump?s announcement that he was once again running for president in turn led Attorney General Merrick Garland to make his own announcement last Friday: that he was appointing another Special Counsel to take over the investigations into Trump?s interference in the 2020 election results and mishandling of classified records. Was this the right move? How will the Special Counsel?s appointment impact the investigations?and Trump?s political future??Pyongyanking Our Chain.? North Korea has launched a new ICBM that it claims can deliver nuclear weapons anywhere in the United States. Should this threat be taken seriously or is it a bluff? And is the Biden administration doing enough to respond?

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2022-11-27
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Lawfare Archive: Why is Government Hate Crimes Data So Terrible?

From March 30, 2021: 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.

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2022-11-26
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Lawfare Archive: Law, Policy and Empire with Daniel Immerwahr

From May 2, 2020: Most of us don?t think of United States history as an imperial history, but the facts are there. The law and policy surrounding westward expansion, off-continent acquisitions, and a worldwide network of hundreds of bases reveal much about how and why the United States grew as it did.

Last month, David Priess spoke with Daniel Immerwahr, associate professor of history at Northwestern University and author of ?How to Hide an Empire.? They talked about everything from what the Constitution says about lands west of the thirteen colonies, to the critical role of the Guano Islands in U.S. history, to the famous Insular Cases, to how military access agreements and long-term leases help the United States avoid a truly territorial empire.

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2022-11-25
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Lawfare Archive: The Past, Present and Future of Sovereign Immunity

From December 11, 2020: This week, the Supreme Court returned once again to the complex and sometimes controversial Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA, that protects foreign sovereigns from litigation before U.S. courts. At the same time, Congress is once again debating new exceptions to the protections provided by the FSIA on issues ranging from cybercrime to the coronavirus pandemic, an effort that may risk violating international law and exposing the United States to similar lawsuits overseas. To discuss these developments and where they may be headed, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading scholars on sovereign immunity issues: Chimène Keitner, a professor at the UC Hastings School of Law and a former counselor on international law at the U.S. State Department, and Ingrid Wuerth, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and one of the reporters for the American Law Institute's Fourth Restatement on U.S. foreign relations law.

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2022-11-24
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Roger Parloff with Oath Keeper Closing Arguments

For the last 29 days, Roger Parloff, Lawfare senior editor, has been sitting in on the Oath Keeper trial in Washington. The trial is now done, the jury has the case, and Roger joined Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes to talk about it. Which charges are likely to stick, and which ones seem weak? How did the various defendants do when they took the stand to defend themselves? And what kind of verdict do we expect when the jury eventually comes back?

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2022-11-23
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Alex de Waal on the Conflict in Ethiopia and Tigray

Earlier this month, officials from the government of Ethiopia and representatives from the Tigray People's Liberation Front agreed to halt the two-year conflict that has been rife with accusations of ethnic cleansing, sexual violence, and famine as a weapon of war. To discuss the current state of the conflict and the prospect of peace, Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. A longtime expert on the Horn of Africa, de Waal co-edited the book, ?Accountability for Mass Starvation: Testing the Limits of the Law,? which was published in August. They discussed the terms of the recent truce agreements, the irony of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Nobel Peace Prize, and the options for accountability for forced starvation and other crimes committed by both sides. 

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2022-11-22
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Karen Sokol and Chris Callahan on Climate Justice: The Interplay of Science, Law, and Policy

Over the weekend, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 27, went into overtime as nations came to an historic agreement to establish a loss and damage fund. This fund is meant to give resources to countries who have experienced the worst effects of climate change. Some like to think of it as climate reparations. 

There are a lot of factors that might have created the momentum for this historic agreement to go through after many years. An interesting one is that it's becoming more and more difficult for big emitters like the United States to deny their role in contributing to climate change, particularly as new scientific studies have been pivotal in creating a pretty unimpeachable basis for climate responsibility. But, just because science can verify certain realities does not mean that it's a straight path forward for climate justice. 

To get a sense of what factors are coming together to achieve climate justice, Lawfare associate editor Hyemin Han merges the legal and policy perspective with the science perspective in a conversation with Karen Sokol, a professor at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and a fellow at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, and Chris Callahan, a PhD candidate at Dartmouth College who co-produced a scientific study that informed negotiations on loss and damage at COP 27.

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2022-11-21
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Chatter: Satellites, Space Debris, and Hollywood with Aaron Bateman

Satellites have held a special place in military planning and in spy fiction alike for more than half a century. Both domains ended up devoting much attention to satellite-based weapons and anti-satellite weaponry; both have also dealt with the problem of space debris related to the latter.

In this chat, David Priess and George Washington University historian Aaron Bateman talk about Bateman's early interest in satellites, early satellite technology and attempts at anti-satellite activity, the Outer Space Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, actions by presidents from Eisenhower through Biden related to the testing of satellite and/or anti-satellite weapons, the Strategic Defense Initiative (commonly called the "Star Wars program"), the problem of space debris, the Kessler Syndrome, other countries' satellite and anti-satellite activities, the Space Force, and on-screen portrayals of satellite warfare and space debris from the James Bond movies to Gravity.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

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2022-11-20
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Lawfare Archive: Stephan Haggard on North Korea and the Tactical Divide

From September 23, 2017: The escalating tension between North Korea and the United States has risen to an unprecedented level. Earlier this month, Stephan Haggard, Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, gave a lecture at a private function on the complicated strategic and political risks that North Korea?s missile and nuclear capabilities present. He talked about the complex relationship among North Korea?s allies and adversaries, the impact of sanctions against Pyongyang, and the past and future role of the United States in addressing North Korean aggression.

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2022-11-19
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Emergency Edition: Another Special Counsel Investigation of Donald Trump

Earlier today, in a surprise announcement, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to lead two ongoing federal investigations of former president and now official 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump. The special counsel, Jack Smith, is a longtime DOJ prosecutor and currently the chief Kosovo war crimes prosecutor in The Hague. He will take over the investigation into the retention of classified and government documents at Mar-a-lago, as well as the investigation into attempts to interfere with the lawful transfer of power after the 2020 election.

To make sense of the special counsel appointment and what it means for the federal investigations into Donald Trump, Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Lawfare editor-in-chief Ben Wittes, Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic, and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into foreign election interference in the 2016 election.

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2022-11-19
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Rebecca Herman on ?Cooperating with the Colossus?

Today, the U.S. military maintains around 800 bases in installations around the world with around 75 of those in Latin America, including perhaps its most notorious in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But it wasn't always this way.

To learn more about this fraught and understudied history, Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Dr. Rebecca Herman, assistant professor of history at UC Berkeley, to discuss her new book, ?Cooperating with the Colossus: A Social and Political History of US Military Bases in World War II Latin America.? They discussed how the U.S. went from its good neighbor policy of the 1930s to nearly 200 military bases on sovereign Latin American soil by the end of the war, and the thorny questions of legal jurisdiction, labor rights, and gender relations that arose from those new sites. They also got into how, in Prof. Herman's words, although national sovereignty and international cooperation are compatible concepts in principle, they're difficult to reconcile in practice. 

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2022-11-18
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Jed Purdy on Democratic Renewal

American democracy might look healthier in light of last week's midterms, but there's still a lot of skepticism across the political spectrum about how it's doing. From the right, would-be authoritarians cast doubt on elections and on the very idea of liberal democracy. But even those who reject this authoritarian impulse are frequently uncomfortable with the messiness of democratic politics, instead preferring an anti-politics of technocratic decision-making. 

Jedediah Purdy, a law professor at Duke Law School, wants to defend democracy from its critics and its skeptics. In his new book, ?Two Cheers for Politics: Why Democracy Is Flawed, Frightening?and Our Best Hope,? he argues that democratic renewal is both desirable and, most importantly, possible. Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Jed to talk about the book, get his thoughts about the state of American democracy, and chart the path toward a healthier democratic future.

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2022-11-17
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Matt Tait on Cybersecurity in Ukraine

Matt Tait is a cybersecurity expert who has worked both in the private sector and for the British government at GCHQ, the UK's intelligence, security, and cyber agency. He's also a Lawfare contributor. Like a lot of us, Tait has spent the last several months thinking about Ukraine, and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes had cybersecurity questions for him. They talked about why the Ukrainian internet is still functioning and why the Russians have been so ineffective in the cyber arena. They also talked about whether U.S. support for Ukraine is threatened with Republicans in control of the House and what the Biden administration is going to do about Section 702, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.

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2022-11-16
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Sophia Yan Explains How to Become a Dictator

Sophia Yan, pianist for the Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security, is also The Telegraph?s Beijing correspondent?or at least, she was until the other day. She?s produced a new podcast entitled, ?How to become a dictator,? about the rise and rule of Xi Jinping and her own struggles as a reporter in Xi?s China. Now Sophia?s in Taiwan after a hasty exit from the country, and she joined Lawfare?s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes to discuss the new podcast and her departure from China. Who is Xi Jinping really? How is Xi different from other recent Chinese leaders? Why did Sophia leave China? And did she take her piano with her?

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2022-11-15
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Georgii Dubynskyi on Ukraine?s Cybersecurity

Georgii Dubynskyi is the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. It is a ministry set up to modernize government services for Ukrainians that has taken a lead role in keeping Ukraine functioning online during the war. On Thursday morning, he joined Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes before a live audience at the Hewlett Foundation's cybersecurity grantee convening conference in Los Angeles.

It was a wide-ranging conversation that started with what the ministry was meant to do and what role it has taken on during the war. How has Ukraine remained so resilient amidst Russian kinetic and cyber attacks? Why have the Russian cyberattacks been less effective than we expected them to be? And why is the Ukrainian internet still up when so much of the power is down.

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2022-11-14
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Rational Security 2.0: The ?Needle is BACK? Edition

This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by Brookings Institution Middle East expert Natan Sachs to talk over the week's big (non-U.S. election) national security news, including:

?Bibi Got Back.? Last week, an unprecedented fifth national election in the last four years returned controversial former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power, at the head of a coalition including several far-right nationalist parties. What does his return to office mean for the future of Israel and the region? And its relations with the United States??COP Out.? The United Nations? 27th annual Convention of Parties (also known as ?COP27?) is playing host to world leaders in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt, this week, where some are hoping to find new consensus on how to combat climate change. Are countries taking these challenges seriously? What are these efforts likely to look like moving forward??Everybody Toots.? Elon Musk?s purchase and dramatic reorientation of Twitter is begging to drive users to other social media platforms, including the decentralized Mastodon network. What will Musk?s changes mean for the future of disinformation and content moderation, both within Twitter and outside of it?

For object lessons, Alan endorsed hunting the world's most dangerous game: man (with paintballs). Quinta passed along a useful reference on the state of crime in the United States and the way it is being used in the midterm elections. Scott recommended everyone try a sip of his long neglected workplace colleague. And Natan celebrated the pandemic perseverance of his office jade plants as a sign of hope in dark times.

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2022-11-13
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Lawfare Archive: Portland, DHS, and the Rule of Law

From September 23, 2020: Bobby Chesney sat down with former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Texas Congressman Chip Roy as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. They discussed Portland, DHS, domestic violence, and even the shortage of civil discourse in our society.

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2022-11-12
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Lawfare Archive: Nate Persily Asks Whether Democracy Can Survive the Internet

Due to the Veterans Day holiday, our team is taking a break and bringing you a Lawfare Archive episode that we think you?ll find timely given some events from the last few weeks.

From April 2, 2020: On this episode of the Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nate Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. Persily is also a member of the Kofi Annan Commission on Democracy and Elections in the Digital Age, which recently released a report on election integrity and the internet for which Nate provided a framing paper. Alongside his work on internet governance, Nate is also an expert on election law and administration. They spoke about the commission report and the challenges the internet may pose for democracy, to what extent the pandemic has flipped that on its head, and, of course, the 2020 presidential election.

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2022-11-11
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The Midterms . . . So Far

On Tuesday, November 8, Americans finished casting their ballots in the midterm elections. Given that the president?s party typically performs poorly in the midterms, Democrats were poised for major losses and Republicans were ready to celebrate a ?red wave? handing them control of both the House and Senate. But instead, Democrats saw a striking overperformance?and as of Wednesday afternoon, control of both the House and Senate remains up for grabs. 

Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic sat down with fellow senior editors Scott Anderson and Molly Reynolds to talk through what they know and don?t know about the results. Was this a stay of execution for American democracy? If the GOP does take the House by a narrow margin, how hard is it going to be for the messy Republican caucus to stick together? And what do questions over control of Congress mean for the Jan. 6 investigation and key foreign policy issues, like aid to Ukraine?

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2022-11-10
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Why Did DHS Compile an Intelligence Report about Lawfare?s Editor in Chief?

In the summer of 2020, Lawfare?s editor in chief Benjamin Wittes found out that he had been the subject of intelligence reports compiled by the Department of Homeland Security?s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. It was a bizarre but troubling revelation, and it raised a lot of questions, not only about the propriety of those reports but also about the practice in general. Who else was I&A compiling intelligence reports about and on what basis? So, Ben filed a FOIA request and subsequently a lawsuit in hopes of getting some answers. He's written about this matter for Lawfare a number of times, including in an update published yesterday.

Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Ben to talk through it all. They discussed the background of the case, why so-called open source intelligence reports can be so dangerous, and what we've learned about DHS over the course of the litigation.

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2022-11-09
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Decentralized Social Media and the Great Twitter Exodus

It?s Election Day in the United States?so while you wait for the results to come in, why not listen to a podcast about the other biggest story obsessing the political commentariat right now? We?re talking, of course, about Elon Musk?s purchase of Twitter and the billionaire?s dramatic and erratic changes to the platform. In response to Musk?s takeover, a great number of Twitter users have made the leap to Mastodon, a decentralized platform that offers a very different vision of what social media could look like. 

What exactly is decentralized social media, and how does it work? Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein has a paper on just that, and he sat down with Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic on the podcast to discuss for an episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on the online information ecosystem. They were also joined by Kate Klonick, associate professor of law at St. John?s University, to hash out the many, many questions about content moderation and the future of the internet sparked by Musk?s reign and the new popularity of Mastodon.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

?Welcome to hell, Elon. You break it, you buy it,? by Nilay Patel on The Verge?Hey Elon: Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve,? by Mike Masnick on Techdirt

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2022-11-08
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The Government Rests; Roger Parloff Does Not

The government has rested its case in chief in the criminal seditious conspiracy trial of Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and several other members of the Oath Keepers. The trial has been going on for the last several weeks, and Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff has been in court every day keeping us up to date.

Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Roger to talk through it all. Who has the government put on the stand? What parts of the government's case has it proved, and what parts are a little bit dodgy? What can we expect as the defense presents its case, which began on Thursday? And what do we make of the government?s silence on the question of the Insurrection Act?

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2022-11-07
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Chatter: Cryptography in History and in the Movies with Vince Houghton

Although codemaking and codebreaking often receive less attention in the public imagination than swashbuckling HUMINT operations and ingenious spy gadgets, they have changed history. The under-appreciation of cryptography might stem from a combination of the complexity of encryption, the classified nature of much of its technology, and the difficulty of conveying codebreaking effectively in pop culture.

David Priess spoke with Vince Houghton about the realities and fictional representations of cryptography, as well as the challenges and rewards of making a compelling museum experience out of U.S. codemaking and codebreaking efforts. Houghton is director of the National Cryptologic Museum, the open-to-the-public museum of the National Security Agency. They talked while walking through the newly redesigned museum in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, highlighting various artifacts including early American codebreaking computers, German Enigma machines, the oldest known book of cryptography (from the 16th century), and code generators for U.S. nuclear weapons. They discussed the provenance of highly unusual items and the value of having so many of them on display. And they traded views on movies incorporating ciphers or codes, from The Da Vinci Code to Sneakers to The Empire Strikes Back to The Imitation Game.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

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2022-11-06
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Lawfare Archive: The Truth About Conspiracy Theories

From April 8, 2021: 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.

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2022-11-05
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Tchau, Bolsonaro? What to Make of Brazil's Election Results with Brian Winter

On October 30, Brazilians elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as their next president. Within minutes, world leaders, including President Biden and Secretary Blinken, offered official congratulations. For Lulu supporters, the atmosphere was celebratory but tense, as many wondered if Lulu's opponent, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro?who once said the election would end either in his death, arrest, or victory?would accept the legitimate results of the election. 

To talk through that election and its aftermath, Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Brian Winter, editor in chief of Americas Quarterly and a journalist with over a decade living and reporting across Latin America. They discussed whether warnings of an election crisis were alarmist or not, what's next for Bolsonaro and his movement, and what to watch for during Lulu's first 100 days.

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2022-11-04
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Israeli Election Results with Natan Sachs

?The Israeli election results are in?sort of?and the early count looks very favorable for former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and the far-right coalition that he would bring to power. The results are not a hundred percent clear yet, but they're clear enough for Benjamin Wittes to sit down on Twitter Spaces with Natan Sachs, the director of the Center for Middle East Policy and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings, to talk through it all. 

How did Netanyahu win while getting no more votes than the other side? How did he impose a unity on his side, and how did the other side fail to do so in a fashion that facilitated this? Who is Itamar Ben-Gvir, and why is he the new power source in Israeli politics? And what can we say about the government that is going out?a government that ranged from the hard right to an Islamist party?

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2022-11-03
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Should the Donetsk and Luhansk People?s Militias Be Designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations?

Last week, Lawfare published a piece by Lawfare?s legal fellow Saraphin Dhanani called, ?The Case for Designating the Donetsk and Luhansk People?s Militias as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.? The article considered whether the Russian-backed militias operating in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk can be properly designated as FTOs, and whether they should be.

Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Saraphin and with Lawfare?s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, who has also been giving this topic a lot of thought. They discussed the legal requirements for FTO designation, how such a designation would interact with the existing sanctions regime the United States has imposed in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, and what impact FTO designations might have on the conflict.

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2022-11-02
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The Biden Administration's Grand Strategy in Three Documents, with Richard Fontaine

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has released a trio of long-awaited strategy documents, including the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Nuclear Posture Review. But how should we read these documents, and what do they actually tell us about how the Biden administration intends to approach the world?

To answer these questions, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with Richard Fontaine, chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security, who is himself also a former National Security Council official and senior congressional adviser. They discussed the role these strategy documents play in U.S. foreign policy, what we can learn from them, and what they say about the state of the world and the United States? role in it.

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2022-11-01
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Danielle Citron on Intimate Privacy and How to Preserve It in a Digital Age

The effect of the digital revolution on privacy has been mixed, to say the least, and for intimate privacy?information about our health, sexual activities, and relationships?it's been a downright disaster. Corporations and governments surveil us, former sexual partners post revenge pornography online, and our virtual reality future threatens to take privacy intrusions to a whole new level. 

Danielle Citron is a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, a MacArthur Fellow, and the leading law reformer on digital privacy. She's just released a new book, ?The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age.? Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Danielle to talk about her research and advocacy, the dangers that technology and the market pose to intimate privacy, and what we can do to fight back. 

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2022-10-31
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Rational Security 2.0: The ?Ku Ku Kachoo? Edition

This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by China expert and law professor Julian Ku to talk through some of the week's big national security news, including:

?Xi Loves Me, Xi Loves Me Not.? At the Chinese Communist Party?s 20th National Congress this past weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping was able to not only secure his leadership over the party and country for a third consecutive five-year term but successfully staff the party apparatus with his hand-picked loyalists. What does the Congress tell us about where China is headed under Xi?s rule??Huawei or the Highway.? Less than 24 hours after the close of the CCP Congress in Beijing, Attorney General Merrick Garland and his most senior deputies unveiled a series of indictments against Chinese nationals alleged to have engaged in covert campaigns to interfere with the investigation into Huawei, penetrate U.S. research institutions, and curb protests by Chinese nationals in the United States. Is the timing a message or just a coincidence? How should the Biden administration be responding??4th and Elon(g).? Despite his best efforts, Elon Musk?s purchase of Twitter is set to go through this Friday. But in the last few days, there have been mutterings that the purchase might be subjected to a national security review by the federal government. Are these rumors just Elon?s Hail Mary attempt at killing the deal? Or might they have some merit? And what will either outcome mean for Twitter?

For object lessons, Alan recommended the new film "Argentina, 1985." Quinta endorsed the novel "Grey Bees" by Andrey Kurkov for those wanting to sample some modern Ukrainian literature. Scott urged listeners who share his space obsessions to check out "For All Mankind," one of the best shows he's seen on television. And Julian recommended the BBC documentary series "Rome: Empire Without Limit" by Mary Beard for those wanting to reflect a bit on the rise and decline of great powers.

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2022-10-30
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Lawfare Archive: The State of the U.S.-China Relationship

From August 24, 2020: In recent months, relations between the United States and China seem to have reached a new low as disagreements over trade, tech, human rights and the coronavirus have led the two sides to exchange increasingly harsh rhetoric. Just weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to suggest that the decades-long experiment of U.S. engagement with China had been a mistake. But is this heightened tension just a bump in the road, or is it a new direction for one of the United States's most important bilateral relationships? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with an all-star panel of China watchers, including Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Elsa Kania of the Center for a New American Security, and Rob Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.

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2022-10-29
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Why the First Amendment Doesn?t Protect Trump?s Jan. 6 Speech

There's been a lot of discussion about whether Donald Trump should be indicted. Lately, that discussion has focused on the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-lago or the Jan. 6 committee's revelations about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But what about his speech on the ellipse on Jan. 6 when he told a crowd of thousands to ?fight like hell,? and they went on to attack the Capitol? Isn't that incitement? 

Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Alan Rozenshtein, a senior editor at Lawfare and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law School. Alan and Jed explained the complicated First Amendment jurisprudence protecting political speech, even when it leads to violence, and why they believe that given everything we know now, Trump may in fact be criminally liable. They also reference Alan and Jed?s law review article in Constitutional Commentary, ?January 6, Ambiguously Inciting Speech, and the Overt-Acts Solution? (forthcoming 2023).

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2022-10-28
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Claudia Swain on Cybersecurity and Trains

Claudia Swain is Lawfare?s digital strategist?but before coming to Lawfare, she worked at the Federal Railroad Administration, deep in the bureaucracy. She recently wrote an article for Lawfare called, ?The Emerging Cyber Threat to the American Rail Industry,? which is a bit of a chilling read about the threat that the American rail industry faces as a result of, of all things, new computerized safety systems. 

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Claudia for a fascinating conversation about Positive Train Control, this new computerized system, and the potential cybersecurity threats it poses. 

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2022-10-27
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Catching Up on the Chinese Communist Party?s 20th National Congress

This past weekend, the Chinese Communist Party held its 20th National Congress, an event held every five years at which it appoints its senior leadership who in turn holds the reins of China's government. This year, the event focused on one man, Xi Jinping, the current president of China, who secured an unprecedented, third consecutive five-year term as the party?s senior-most official and was able to staff the party apparatus with hand-chosen loyalists, even at the expense of his predecessors and other factions in the party.

To discuss these events, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with Sophia Yan, China correspondent for The Telegraph, and Julian Ku, Professor of Law at Hofstra University. They discussed what went down at the National Congress, where it says China is headed in the next five years, and what it might mean for its relationship with the United States.

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2022-10-26
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Why Poll Worker Policies are Crucial for Functioning Elections

In two weeks, millions of Americans will head to the polls for the 2022 midterm election. During that time, an estimated one million poll workers will help administer the election and ensure the process runs safely and smoothly.

Ahead of the midterms, Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Rachel Orey, associate director of the Bipartisan Policy Center Elections Project, and Grace Gordon, a policy analyst on the project, to talk through their latest report, ?Fortifying Election Security Through Poll Worker Policy.? They discussed how elections are fundamentally a human enterprise, why poll workers are so important, and how states can better safeguard against efforts to use poll workers to undermine election credibility.

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2022-10-25
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The Violent Extremist Threat to Critical Infrastructure in the United States

Last month, the George Washington University Program on Extremism published a report called, ?Mayhem, Murder, and Misdirection: Violent Extremist Attack Plots Against Critical Infrastructure in the United States.? To talk through that report and a recent Lawfare article on the topic, Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Ilana Krill, a research fellow at the Program on Extremism, and Seamus Hughes, the program's deputy director. They discussed the white supremacists and Salafi-jihadists who make up these movements, the encrypted channels through which propaganda and plans are spread, and what's to be done to protect critical infrastructure in the United States.

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2022-10-24
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Chatter: How To Support a Vice President with Olivia Troye

Olivia Troye has worked in the Republican National Committee, the Pentagon, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Department of Homeland Security. But it was her role on the small team directly supporting Vice President Mike Pence that brought her the most challenging experiences of her career while making her all too aware of the surprisingly thin staffing for the next in line to the presidency.

Lawfare publisher David Priess spoke to Troye about her path from El Paso to Philadelphia to Washington, her experience on Capitol Hill on 9/11, serving in Baghdad after the U.S. invasion, working at the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security, differences between core National Security Council staff and the support staff for the vice president, the many different tasks that support to a vice president entails, Mike Pence as a customer of the President's Daily Brief, the value of civil service professionals, the ups and downs of working with Pence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the inappropriate handling of classified material she saw during her final years on the job, the ethical reasons spurring her to leave government service, the importance of reasonable gun control, and more.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

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2022-10-23
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Lawfare Archive: Transnational Repression: Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach

From February 5, 2021: 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.

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2022-10-22
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The Biden Administration?s New Policy on Drone Strikes

Recently, Charlie Savage of the New York Times reported that the Biden administration had finalized a new policy governing drone strikes used in counterterrorism operations outside war zones. The policy tightens up rules established under the Trump administration?which themselves replaced an earlier guidance set out by President Obama. President Biden?s policy is the latest effort to calibrate America?s use of force in a 21st-century conflict outside the traditional battlefield.

To talk through Charlie?s reporting, Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic sat down with him and Lawfare cofounder Bobby Chesney, who has closely observed this area of U.S. law and policy. They discussed how U.S. counterterrorism operations have changed in recent years, how Biden?s approach compares to the Obama and Trump policies before it, and the significance of these changes for U.S. counterterrorism going forward. 

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2022-10-21
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Lawfare Podcast Shorts: Oath Keepers Trial Update III

Senior Editor Roger Parloff joins Managing Editor Tyler McBrien for another quick update on the prosecution?s case in the Oath Keepers? seditious conspiracy trial.

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2022-10-21
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Kellen Dwyer on the Fallout From the Conviction of Uber's Former Chief Security Officer

Joe Sullivan, Uber's former chief security officer and a former federal prosecutor, was found guilty of obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony. These charges arose from what the Department of Justice characterized as Sullivan's attempted coverup of a 2016 hack of Uber. The Sullivan case has created some consternation in the cybersecurity community. Kellen Dwyer, partner at the law firm of Alston & Bird, argues in a recent Lawfare piece that the Sullivan prosecution threatens to undermine the positive working relationship between DOJ and the tech sector. 

Lawfare senior editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Kellen to talk about the Sullivan case. They discussed the specific charges for which Sullivan was convicted, how those charges blur the lines between covering up a data incident and merely declining to report it, and how in order to facilitate timely reporting of serious cybersecurity incidents to the FBI, the DOJ should clarify certain aspects of its charging policy to address concerns raised by the Sullivan case.

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2022-10-20
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The Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenaed Trump. What Now?

On October 13, the Jan. 6 committee closed what may be its final public hearing with a dramatic vote: unanimously, the committee members agreed to subpoena former president Donald Trump. So ? what happens now? Will Trump actually testify? What happens if he defies the committee?would the Justice Department prosecute him for contempt of Congress? 

To talk things through, Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic sat down with fellow senior editors Molly Reynolds and Jonathan Shaub and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes. They discussed the historical precedent for current and former presidents testifying before Congress and debated the likelihood that Trump will take the plunge and show up before the committee. 

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2022-10-19
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Anna Bower Explains It All For You

Fulton County DA Fani Willis is closing in on Donald Trump's 2020 election meddling. She could begin issuing indictments as soon as December, CNN reports. In the meantime, she's gotten testimony from a long list of the former president's allies, and she's sought testimony from even more who are still resisting. All of this has America wondering: what the heck is a special purpose grand jury? Why can't it indict people? And what does it mean for Rudy Giuliani to be a target of a grand jury if it can't even issue any indictments? 

To talk it over, Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare?s Fulton County court reporter Anna Bower, who wrote a Q&A piece entitled, ?Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Georgia Special Purpose Grand Juries But Were Afraid to Ask.? 

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2022-10-18
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Presidential Transitions with David Marchick

Presidential transitions are the most delicate and hazardous periods in the entire political cycle. Even at the best of times, incoming administrations face a huge task. Each new president must make more than 4,000 political appointments in a short period of time, as well as get up to speed on ongoing policy issues.

To discuss the history and the current framework of presidential transitions, Lawfare publisher David Priess sat down with David Marchick, the dean of American University's Kogod School of Business and previously served as the director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service. He also is the author of, ?The Peaceful Transfer of Power: An Oral History of America?s Presidential Transitions,? and the host of the Transition Lab podcast. They discussed examples of effective and ineffective recent transitions, the role of everyone from outgoing presidents to the GSA to agency teams, and what else might be done to nail down best practices for presidential transitions.

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2022-10-17
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Rational Security: The ?Wahoowa? Edition

This week on Rational Security, Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic, and Scott R. Anderson were joined by beloved Lawfare contributor and UVA Law professor Ashley Deeks, fresh from her latest stint at the White House. They hashed through some of the week's big national security news, including:

?The Bridge and Pummel Crowd.? Ukraine?s destruction of a symbolic bridge linking Russia to Crimea has observers worried about a new round of escalation, as Russia responded with missile strikes on a range of civilian targets across the country, including a German consulate in Kyiv, with promises of more to come. Are we entering a new, brutal phase of the conflict? What can be done to stop its civilian toll?or to keep the escalatory spiral from spinning out of control??Finally, Some Decency and Moderation on the Supreme Court.? Last week, the Supreme Court took up not one but two?albeit, two closely related?cases that center on how to apply Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that provides internet companies with immunity for liability arising from user-generated content they host and protects their ability to moderate content. What might this judicial scrutiny mean for the future of content moderation on the internet??1,001 Arabian Slights.? Saudi Arabia?s decision to cut oil production?a move expected to drive up oil prices and slow the global economy, to the benefit of Russia and other producers?has some members of Congress up in arms. This is especially true as it came on the end of a summer visit by President Biden that controversially seemed to signal a willingness to thaw relations with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which have grown icy since his involvement in the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What do these steps mean for the future of the U.S.-Saudi relationship?

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2022-10-16
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Lawfare Archive: Jacob Schulz on Seditious Conspiracy

From March 24, 2022: 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.

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2022-10-15
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Lawfare Podcast Shorts: Oath Keepers Trial Update II

Senior Editor Roger Parloff joins Ben Wittes for another quick update on the prosecution?s case in the Oath Keepers? seditious conspiracy trial.

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2022-10-15
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A Jan. 6 Hearing Debrief

Thursday was the final day of hearings for the Jan. 6 select committee, and it turned out to be a bit of a barn burner, with a lot of new information about Donald Trump's state of mind, about the secret service, and about people with weapons threatening violence.

To chew it all over, Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down on Twitter Spaces with Lawfare senior editors Quinta Jurecic, Alan Rozenshtein, and Molly Reynolds. They talked through what we learned on Thursday, what the subpoena of Donald Trump is going to mean, what the effects on the midterm elections are likely to be, and how the committee has done given the constraints it faced.

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2022-10-14
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The Supreme Court Takes On 230

The Supreme Court has granted cert in two cases exploring the interactions between anti-terrorism laws and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. To discuss the cases, Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down on Arbiters of Truth, our occasional series on the online information ecosystem, with Lawfare senior editors and Rational Security co-hosts Quinta Jurecic, Alan Rozenshtein, and Scott R. Anderson. They discussed the state of 230 law, what the Supreme Court has taken on, what the lower court did, and if there is a right answer here and what it might look like.

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2022-10-13
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