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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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An Islamic State Jailbreak

Late last week and early this week saw fighting between Islamic State fighters and Syrian democratic forces after the Islamic State attempted a jailbreak of a Kurdish prison containing significant numbers of alleged Islamic State fighters. The makeshift jail housed Syrians, Iraqis, and also alleged fighters from Western Europe and North Africa. It's the most significant jailbreak since ISIS?s territorial defeat?and a major national security story that's gone under the radar.

To talk it all through and to think about the scale of the damage and all of the things that led to this point, Jacob Schulz talked with Leah West, assistant professor of international affairs at Carleton University, and Louisa Loveluck, the Baghdad bureau chief at the Washington Post. They broke down what's happened so far and what to make of it all. 

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2022-01-28
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Defunding the Insurrectionists

As we?ve discussed on the show, online advertisements are the shifting, unstable sand on which the contemporary internet is built. And one of the many, many ways in which the online ad ecosystem is confusing and opaque involves how advertisers can find their ads popping up alongside content they?d rather not be associated with?and, all too often, not having any idea how that happened.

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin of the Check My Ads Institute. Their goal is to serve as a watchdog for the ad industry, and they?ve just started a campaign to let companies know?and call them out?when their ads are showing up next to content published by far-right figures like Steve Bannon who supported the Jan. 6 insurrection. So what is it about the ads industry that makes things so opaque, even for the companies paying to have their ads appear online? What techniques do Claire and Nandini use to trace ad distribution? And how do advertisers usually respond when Check My Ads alerts them that they?re funding ?brand unsafe? content?

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2022-01-27
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Oona Hathaway and Secrecy?s End

What if we declared an end to the costly system of how we classify national security information in the United States? Oona Hathaway, the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, poses this question in her article ?Secrecy?s End.? Stephanie Pell talked with Oona about some of our classification system?s most corrosive effects on our democratic system of governance and some proposals she has for reforming it. 

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2022-01-26
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The Capitol Police and the Enduring Effects of Jan. 6

Over the last year, our national dialogue about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has become ever more focused on politics, congressional investigations and criminal prosecutions. But what about the people who were actually on the front lines on Jan. 6?

Natalie Orpett sat down with Susan Dominus and Luke Broadwater, who recently published an article in The New York Times Magazine called, ?The Capitol Police and the Scars of Jan. 6.? The article tells the stories of some of the law enforcement officers who were there that day, many of whom continue to experience the impact of Jan. 6 in profoundly personal ways. They talked about what they learned through their reporting and what it means for ongoing efforts to respond to the attack.

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2022-01-25
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Ned Foley on Electoral Count Act Reform

As the prospect of broader election reform has grown more remote, bipartisan discussions have increasingly come to center on one long standing law: the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Designed to regulate the process through which Congress counts electoral votes, ambiguities in this antiquated law have been a frequent source of anxiety, most recently in the wake of the 2020 election, when many feared outgoing President Trump would successfully capitalize on them to prevent the certification of his loss. To discuss the Electoral Count Act and its potential reform, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Ned Foley, a professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a leading expert in election law. They discussed the ordinance of the act, a recent congressional report outlining possible reforms and what limits the Constitution may put on what reform can accomplish. 

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2022-01-24
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Lawfare Archive: Who is Vladimir Putin?

From April 4, 2015: With a tenuous ceasefire holding in Ukraine, we asked Fiona Hill onto the show to discuss the man behind the unrest: Vladimir Putin. Hill is the co-author of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. On the Lawfare Podcast, she tackles the hard questions about Putin. Who exactly is he? What does he want? Is he an unhinged madman obsessed with personal appearances or a shrewd realist with a nuanced understanding of the geopolitical challenges his country faces? And how should the West respond to Russian aggression based on what we know about its leader?

It's an important look at an often caricatured but rarely understood man.

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2022-01-23
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Lawfare Archive: Mark Rozell on 'Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability'

From August 6, 2019: Over the years, presidents have used different language to describe the withholding of information from Congress. To discuss the concept of "executive privilege," Margaret Taylor sat down with Mark Rozell, the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and the author of "Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability," which chronicles the history of executive privilege in its many forms since the founding of the United States. They talked about what executive privilege is, what is new in the Trump administration's handling of congressional demands for information, and what it all means for the separation of powers in our constitutional democracy.

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2022-01-22
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Trump?s Documents, the Jan. 6 Committee and the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Trump v. Thompson, denying Donald Trump's motion to block the National Archives from producing his documents to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. To drill down, Natalie Orpett talked with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson and Professor Jonathan Shaub of the University of Kentucky College of Law. They discussed the dispute between Trump and the committee, the central issue of executive privilege and what it all means for the committee?s investigation.

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2022-01-21
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Why the Online Advertising Market is Broken

In December 2020, ten state attorneys general sued Google, alleging that the tech giant had created an illegal monopoly over online advertising. The lawsuit is ongoing, and just this January, new allegations in the states? complaint were freshly unsealed: the states have accused Google of tinkering with its ad auctions to mislead publishers and advertisers and expand its own power in the marketplace. (Google told the Wall Street Journal that the complaint was ?full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit.?)

The complaint touches on a crucial debate about the online advertising industry: does it, well, work? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Tim Hwang, Substack?s general counsel and the author of the book ?Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet.? Tim argues that online advertising, which underpins the structure of the internet as we know it today, is a house of cards?that advertisers aren?t nearly as good as they claim at monetizing our attention, even as they keep marketing it anyway. So how worried should we be about this structure collapsing? If ads can?t convince us to buy things, what does that mean about our understanding of the internet? And what other possibilities are there for designing a better online space?

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2022-01-20
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Hal Brands on Lessons from the Cold War

Bryce Klehm sat down with Hal Brands, the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Professor Brands is the author of the new book, ?The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today.? He is also the author of a new article in Foreign Affairs, ?The Overstretched Superpower,? which argues that the United States might have more rivals than it can handle. They covered a range of topics, including the origins of containment, the rise of Sovietology in academia and what the Biden administration could learn from the Cold War.

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2022-01-19
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What Happens When Congress Investigates Itself?

A crucial component of the story of Jan. 6 involves what members of Congress were doing on that day. What kinds of conversations did Republican lawmakers have with President Trump? To what extent did any members of Congress play a role in engineering the riot itself? These are some of the questions that the House committee on Jan. 6 is investigating?and it?s seeking information directly from members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. So far, McCarthy and the other lawmakers who have received requests from the committee have vowed not to cooperate.

So will the committee subpoena fellow members of the House? What obstacles might it run into if it did? And what does it say that the committee is taking this step? Quinta Jurecic spoke with Mike Stern, a former senior counsel to the House of Representatives, and Lawfare senior editor and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds about the questions of law and norms raised by the latest turns in the Jan. 6 committee?s investigation. 

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2022-01-18
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Lawfare Archive: Paul Lewis on Not Closing Guantanamo

From February 25, 2017: Under the oversight of Paul Lewis, the Department of Defense?s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure under the Obama administration, the detainee population at Guantanamo Bay went from 164 to 41. But Guantanamo remains open, and the Trump administration has promised not only to halt any further transfers or releases of detainees, but also to possibly bring in more detainees in the future. And that's aside from the fact that recent news reports indicate that a former Guantanamo detainee was responsible for an ISIS suicide bombing in Mosul.

With this in mind, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Paul to discuss his time as special envoy, President Obama's failure to close the detention center, and what?s next for Gitmo under President Trump.

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2022-01-17
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Lawfare Archive: Adam Jentleson and Molly Reynolds on Getting Rid of the Senate Filibuster

From August 14, 2020: On July 30, former President Barack Obama, speaking at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, threw his weight behind ending the Senate filibuster if necessary to pursue a voting rights agenda. His comments brought to the forefront a debate that has been simmering for years within the Democratic party. Margaret Taylor spoke with Adam Jentleson, who served as deputy chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid during the Obama administration, and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds, about the history of the filibuster, how it actually works and what the consequences could be if a Democratic-controlled Senate actually got rid of it.

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2022-01-16
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Lawfare Archive: Chesney, Monaco, McCord, and Rasmussen on Domestic Terrorism

From October 15, 2019: A couple of weeks ago, Lawfare and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law sponsored a series of panels at the Texas Tribune Festival. For this episode, we bring you the audio of our Tribfest event on domestic terrorism?what it is, how we define it, how we outlaw it, and what more we can do about it.

David Priess sat down with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and former U.S. government officials Lisa Monaco, Mary McCord, and Nick Rasmussen.

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2022-01-15
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Trouble in Ukraine and Kazakhstan

There's a lot going on in Russia's near-abroad, the countries on the periphery of the Russian Federation. There?s a war brewing in Ukraine, with talks in Geneva between Russia and the West seeming to fail this week. There are also Russian troops in Kazakhstan, there at the invitation of the autocratic Kazakh government in response to protests over fuel prices.

To check in on the situation, Benjamin Wittes sat down on Lawfare Live with Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis; Alex Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare; Ambassador William Courtney, who served as ambassador to Kazakhstan; and Dmitri Alperovitch, the founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator. They talked about what's going on in Kazakhstan, the failure of the diplomatic process in Geneva, and the war that seems to be coming in Ukraine.

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2022-01-14
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Podcasts Are the Laboratories of Misinformation

Valerie Wirtschafter and Chris Meserole, our friends at the Brookings Institution, recently published an analysis of how popular podcasters on the American right used their shows to spread the ?big lie? that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. These are the same issues that led tech platforms to crack down on misinformation in the runup to the election?and yet, the question of whether podcast apps have a responsibility to moderate audio content on their platforms has largely flown under the radar. 

Why is that? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked through this puzzle with Valerie and Chris. They discussed their findings about podcasts and the ?big lie,? why it?s so hard to detect misinformation in podcasting, and what we should expect when it comes to content moderation in podcasts going forward. 

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2022-01-13
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Benjamin Wittes and Alan Rozenshtein on Trump v. Thompson, Presidential Immunity and the First Amendment

On Monday, January 10, a federal district court in DC heard oral argument in Trump v. Thompson. The case considers civil claims against Donald Trump and others for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. It raises a number of complicated legal issues, including whether Trump is immune from these kinds of claims, whether it's possible to establish a conspiracy among the perpetrators of the attack and how the First Amendment factors into all of this.

Natalie Orpett sat down with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein to discuss the state of the law, the main challenges for each side and what we can garner from Monday?s five-hour proceedings. 

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2022-01-12
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Dr. Charles Lieber and the China Initiative

On December 21, Harvard University chemist Dr. Charles Lieber was convicted of making false statements and other tax offenses in connection with his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents program. Lieber?s case got a lot of attention, both because of his profile as a well known researcher at Harvard University, and because of the case?s connection with the U.S. government's occasionally controversial three-year-old program called the China Initiative. The program was unveiled in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and has been used by the Justice Department to investigate and charge a variety of wrongdoings connected with the Chinese government, economic espionage, research security, and other issues.

To talk through the Lieber case and the China Initiative generally, Jacob Schulz sat down with Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Georgetown?s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall Law School. Emily and Margaret have written extensively about the China Initiative and provide thoughts on the Lieber case, as well as what to make of the initiative as a whole.

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2022-01-11
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The January 6 Insurrection One Year Later

Last week marked one year since the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill, in which a mob of Trump supporters attacked Congress in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election as president of the United States. On Thursday, the anniversary itself, Lawfare editors appeared in a Brookings event titled, ?The January 6 insurrection: One year later.? Lawfare?s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes moderated a panel that included Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff, Seamus Hughes of the George Washington University's Program on Extremism, and Katie Benner, a New York Times reporter who covers the Department of Justice. On today's episode of The Lawfare Podcast, we?re bringing you a lightly edited audio recording of that event, which features discussion of the role of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, Attorney General Garland's recent remarks about the Jan. 6 prosecutions, and what happened with the Capitol Police. 

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2022-01-10
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Lawfare Archive: The Soleimani Strike and Its Fallout

From January 3, 2020: The American drone strike last night that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, is a seismic event in U.S.-Iranian relations?and for the broader Middle East. We put together an emergency podcast, drawing on the resources of both Lawfare and the Brookings Institution and reflecting the depth of the remarkable collaboration between the two. Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney, terrorism and Middle East scholar Daniel Byman, Middle East scholar and former State Department official Tamara Cofman Wittes and former State Department lawyer and Baghdad embassy official Scott Anderson?who is also a Lawfare senior editor?came together the morning after the strike for a diverse discussion of the reasons for the operation, the vast repercussions of it, the legality of the strike and the role Soleimani played in the Iranian regime.

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2022-01-09
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The Aftermath, Episode 1: Day Zero, Ground Zero

We're bringing you the first episode of Lawfare?s new narrative series, The Aftermath, which we released this past Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Hosted by Lawfare?s executive editor, Natalie Orpett, and produced in partnership with Goat Rodeo, The Aftermath is a multipart series that focuses on what our democracy has been doing over the last year to confront, respond to, and deliver accountability for Jan. 6. The series explores the many questions that have arisen in the aftermath of the insurrection and how our democratic institutions are trying to answer those questions.

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2022-01-08
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Roger Parloff on the Conspirators

Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff has a piece out on Lawfare, entitled ?The Conspirators: The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on Jan. 6.? It is an examination of the major conspiracy indictments flowing from the January 6 investigation. Both sets of indictments focus on far right militia organizations that participated in the attack?one set on the group called the Oath Keepers; the other on a group called the Proud Boys. In the article, Parloff argues that the Proud Boys in particular played a pivotal role in the insurrection of January 6, being the first to commit violence, the first to actually breach the Capitol barricades, and the first to destroy property. He sat down with Benjamin Wittes to talk about the indictments, why these cases are significant, what they suggest about the dynamics of January 6, and why there are so few people charged with conspiracy among the hundreds who are charged in connection with the day's events.

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2022-01-07
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Content Moderation After January 6

One year ago, a violent mob broke into the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the electoral vote, aiming to overturn Joe Biden?s victory and keep Donald Trump in power as the president of the United States. The internet played a central role in the insurrection: Trump used Twitter to broadcast his falsehoods about the integrity of the election and gin up excitement over January 6, and rioters coordinated ahead of time on social media and posted pictures afterwards of the violence. In the wake of the riot, a crackdown by major social media platforms ended with Trump suspended or banned from Facebook, Twitter and other outlets.

So how have platforms been dealing with content moderation issues in the shadow of the insurrection? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sat down for a discussion with Lawfare managing editor Jacob Schulz. To frame their conversation, they looked to the recent Twitter ban and Facebook suspension of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene?which took place almost exactly a year after Trump?s ban.

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2022-01-06
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The Soleimani Strike Two Years Later

Two years ago this week, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an American strike. At the time, we convened a group of Brookings and Lawfare experts to talk about the potential benefits and risks of the strike, and two years later, we got the gang back together. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney, the head of Foreign Policy program at Brookings and an Iran specialist; Dan Byman, terrorism expert, Middle East scholar and Lawfare?s foreign policy editor; and Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare senior editor and Brookings fellow, to talk about what two years has wrought. They discussed whether the threat of terrorism and escalation in response to the strike was overstated, if U.S. interests were harmed in Iraq as a result of the strike, and what may have kept the Iranian regime from taking stronger action than it eventually took.

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2022-01-05
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Christina Koningisor on Secrecy Creep

Government secrecy is pervasive when it comes to national security and foreign affairs, and it?s becoming more and more common for state and even local governments to invoke government secrecy rationales that in the past, only the president of the United States and the national intelligence community were able to claim. While some of the secrecy is no doubt necessary to ensure that police investigations aren't compromised and state and local officials are getting candid advice from their staff, government secrecy directly threatens government transparency and thus democratic accountability. Alan Rozenshtein spoke about these issues with Christina Koningisor, a law professor at the University of Utah and the author of ?Secrecy Creep? a recently published article in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, along with the Lawfare post summarizing her work.

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2022-01-04
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The Annual ?Ask Us Anything? Episode

As is our annual tradition, we're bringing you the Lawfare ?Ask Us Anything? episode. You, the listeners, sent over your questions, and we, the Lawfare staff and Lawfare contributors, have got answers. Julian Ku, Alan Rozenshtein, Benjamin Wittes, Natalie Orpett, Scott R. Anderson and David Priess tackle questions about the South China Sea, Jan. 6, and an interesting collection of questions about elected officials, the executive branch and constitutional issues.

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2022-01-03
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Lawfare Archive: Afshon Ostovar on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

From February 11, 2020: Afshon Ostovar is the associate chair for research and an assistant professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is also the author of "Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards." The IRGC has been in the news of late because of the killing of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Ostovar about the fallout from the Soleimani killing, how it is all playing in Iran, and why things are so quiet. They talked about whether people made a mountain out of a molehill at the time the killing happened, or whether the blowback just hasn't happened yet.

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2022-01-02
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Lawfare Archive: A Speech on Sextortion by Mona Sedky

From April 22, 2017: Over the past year, Lawfare has expended a great deal of ink on the problem of sextortion, a form of online sexual assault in which perpetrators obtain explicit images or video of their victims and use those images to extort further explicit content. We even brought Mona Sedky, a Justice Department prosecutor who focuses on sextortion cases, onto the podcast to discuss her work. Now, we?re pleased to feature Mona on the podcast once again with audio of her talk at the George Washington University Law School on prosecuting sextortion.

If you?re interested in reading our Brookings Institution reports on sextortion, you can find them here and here.

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2022-01-01
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Lawfare Archive: Missy Cummings on Drones, Drones, Drones

From March 3, 2012: Missy Cummings, Director of the Humans and Automation Laboratory and a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, sat down with Ritika Singh for the fifth episode of the Lawfare Podcast to talk about robots on our battlefields.

Cummings is a bit of a force of nature. In addition to designing unmanned weapons systems, she was one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots?an experience she chronicles in her book ?Hornet's Nest.? 

There are currently around 20,000 robots deployed in U.S. theaters of operation. These robots, which are getting cheaper and easier to make, are characterized by increasing capability and increasing miniaturization. Missy and Ritika discussed the many issues to which these developments give rise, as well as where the science and engineering in weapons systems is likely to go in the future.

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2021-12-31
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Rational Security 2.0: The ?Choosy Spies Choose JIF? Edition

The Lawfare Podcast isn't Lawfare?s only podcast offering. Each week, Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, Alan Rozenshtein and a special guest sit down on the podcast Rational Security to have a more casual and freewheeling conversation about national security stories in the news. Today, we thought we'd share one of our favorite Rational Security episodes from the past year, originally released on October 13. This episode features Washington Post reporter Shane Harris, himself a former co-host of the earlier iteration of Rational Security and current cohost of Lawfare?s newest podcast offering: the long-form interview show Chatter. They talked about spies, peanut butter, what spies do with peanut butter, and how the Queen feels about nicking bent coppers.

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2021-12-30
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Chatter, with Rolling Stone's Noah Shachtman

We're giving you something a bit different for today's Lawfare Podcast. It's an episode of Lawfare?s new podcast, Chatter, in which Shane Harris or David Priess, or occasionally both of them, have extended, one-on-one conversations with fascinating people working at the creative edges of national security.

In this episode, Shane talks with Noah Shachtman, the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone, who got there in part from his work as a national security journalist.

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2021-12-29
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?The Lazarus Heist? with Jean Lee and Geoff White

Despite being isolated from much of the rest of the international community, North Korea has emerged as an unexpected powerhouse in the realm of cybercrime, with affiliated hackers pulling off some of the most daring heists in cyberattacks of the past decade.

Scott R. Anderson sat down with journalists Jean Lee and Geoff White, who have put together a podcast series entitled ?The Lazarus Heist? for the BBC that explores how North Korea came to play this role. Through the lens of the podcast, they discussed the origins of North Korea's interest in both conventional and cybercrime, what they tell us about North Korea's role in the world, and the ways in which they have been used as part of North Korea's broader international agenda.

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2021-12-28
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The Fall of the Soviet Union, with Vladislav Zubok

This past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. To discuss the collapse and its implications, Bryce Klehm sat down with Vladislav Zubok, professor of international history at the London School of Economics and author of the new book, ?Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union.? They covered a range of topics, including Mikhail Gorbachev?s economic and political reforms, Professor Zubok?s experience reading Solzhenitsyn for the first time, and the Russian military?s recent buildup along Ukraine's borders.

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2021-12-27
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Lawfare Archive: Surveillance Reform After Snowden

From October 17, 2015: Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted Ben, along with Laura Donohue of Georgetown Law School, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, and Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society, to discuss the future of surveillance reform in a post-Snowden world. What have we learned about NSA surveillance activities and its oversight mechanisms since June 2013? In what way should U.S. intelligence operations be informed by their potential impact on U.S. on economic interests? What privacy interests do non-Americans have in U.S. surveillance? And domestically, has the third-party doctrine outlived its applicability? Tom Karako of CSIS moderated the panel.

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2021-12-26
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Lawfare Archive: Jonna Mendez on 'The Moscow Rules'

From July 28, 2019: In the 1950s and 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency had a major problem. The streets of Moscow were a virtually impossible operating environment due to heavy KGB surveillance and other operational difficulties. Through a series of trial and error, and a whole lot of ingenuity, along came the "Moscow rules," a series of technical advancements in the area of disguise and communications technology, and some different operating tradecraft that allowed CIA case officers to get the information they needed from Soviet sources to help the Cold War stay cold.

Jonna Mendez is a former CIA Chief of Disguise, who is also a specialist in clandestine photography. Her 27-year career, for which she earned the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal, included operational disguise responsibilities in the most hostile theaters of the Cold War, including Moscow, and also took her into the Oval Office. She is the co-author, with her late husband Tony Mendez, of "The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics that Helped America Win the Cold War." David Priess spoke with Jonna about the experiences that she and her husband had at CIA, evolving the Moscow Rules, and applying these new disguises and technologies in the service of national security.

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2021-12-25
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Lawfare Archive: Russia Breaking Bad and the Future of the International Order

From August 23, 2014: News broke yesterday that the Russian military has moved artillery units inside of Ukraine and that Russian troops are actively using them against Ukranian forces---a move with dramatic escalatory potential. At the same time, Ukraine appears to be closing in on the last Russian-backed rebel strongholds. As the crisis unfolds and the United States seeks to isolate Russia using a network of sanctions, important questions have arisen about Russia's future role in the region and its relationship with the West. What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal? Why, after so much effort to integrate into the global economy, is Putin choosing another path? Is Russia actually attempting to free itself of the Western dominated world order?

Earlier this week, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on the future of Russia?s place in the international order in the light of recent more aggressive turns in its foreign policy. Thomas Wright, fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy (IOS), moderated the conversation with Brookings President Strobe Talbott, Senior Fellow Clifford Gaddy of Brookings?s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) and Susan Glasser, editor at Politico Magazine. They describe Putin's worldview and subsequent strategy, and lay out the potential consequences of continued tensions for the global economy, coordinated counter-terrorism efforts, and the increasingly stressed non-proliferation regime.

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2021-12-24
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Working Toward Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation

 In 2018, a group of academics and free expression advocates convened in Santa Clara, California, for a workshop. They emerged with the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation?a high level list of procedural steps that social media companies should take when making decisions about the content on their services. The principles quickly became influential, earning the endorsement of a number of major technology companies like Facebook.

Three years later, a second, more detailed edition of the principles has just been released?the product of a broader consultation process. So what?s changed? This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with David Greene, senior staff attorney and civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At EFF, he?s been centrally involved in the creation of version 2.0 of the principles. They talked about what motivated the effort to put together a new edition and what role he sees the principles playing in the conversation around content moderation. And they discussed amicus briefs that EFF has filed in the ongoing litigation over social media regulation laws passed by Texas and Florida.

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2021-12-23
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The JFK Assassination Documents, with Gerald Posner and Mark Zaid

President Biden recently authorized the release of almost 1,500 documents related to the JFK assassination. But ten times that number still have had their release deferred. What might be in them? What's holding them back from release? And how did we get here? 

David Priess spoke with journalist and bestselling author Gerald Posner, who wrote the Pulitzer finalist ?Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy,? and attorney Mark Zaid, who apart from representing government whistleblowers and representing current and former U.S. government officials trying to publish their stories or remediate illegal employment actions, has also been very active in the JFK assassination documents area for some 30 years. They talked about the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, the work of the review board that the legislation set up, what is in these new documents and what comes next. 

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2021-12-22
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Merrick Garland, Ed Levi and the Power of Speech

Merrick Garland has been getting a lot of criticism these days, and a lot of it is less than entirely fair, or at least it's premature. But Andrew Kent, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes argue in a Lawfare piece published today that there is at least one matter on which Garland's decision-making is ripe for criticism: He is not speaking enough.

Garland has modeled himself after Attorney General Ed Levi, the first post-Watergate attorney general, and in their article entitled, ?Merrick Garland Needs To Speak Up,? Kent, Jurecic and Wittes argue that Levi actually used public speaking as a big part of his strategy to rejuvenate confidence in the Justice Department. Garland, by contrast, has been very quiet. Kent, Jurecic and Wittes hold the two up against one another and argue that Garland should make more of a case for what he's doing than he has so far. This episode is a reading of that article.

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2021-12-21
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The Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History, with Aki Peritz

In 2006, al-Qaeda-trained operatives planned and nearly executed an operation to destroy passenger aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean. Because it was discovered and stopped, it did not accomplish its purpose: killing thousands of people in the air and possibly hundreds or thousands on the ground.

Aki Peritz is a former CIA intelligence officer and current adjunct professor at American University who has researched and written all about this transatlantic airliner plot. He has recently published a new book about it all called, ?Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History.? David Priess sat down with Aki to talk about the conspiracy and the heroic efforts by the intelligence services of the United States, Great Britain and even Pakistan to uncover and crush it.

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2021-12-20
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Lawfare Archive: Jefferson Powell on ?Targeting Americans: The Constitutionality of U.S. Drone War?

From May 21, 2016: Four years ago, Anwar al Awlaki?an American citizen?was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen, marking the first targeted killing of a U.S. citizen by the U.S. government. While the attack occurred almost four years ago, the legality, morality and prudential nature of the strike, and others like it that occur nearly daily in a scattershot of countries around the world, remain a subject of much debate.

Last week, Jefferson Powell joined Lawfare?s Jack Goldsmith at the May Hoover Book Soiree for a discussion of Targeting Americans: The Constitutionality of U.S. Drone War, a new book that takes a deep look into the constitutionality of the program. Powell is a Professor of Law at Duke University, and over the hour, he argues that the killing of Anwar al Awlaki under the 2001 AUMF was constitutional, but that the Obama administration?s broader claims of authority are not. He also asserts that American citizens acting as combatants in al Qaeda are not entitled to due process protections. Yet constitutional claims should not be confused with what is moral, or indeed, what is legal under international norms. Those answers, Powell suggests, must be examined through means other than constitutional law.

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2021-12-19
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Lawfare Archive: Bruce Schneier on 'Click Here to Kill Everybody'

From September 18, 2018: Security technologist Bruce Schneier's latest book, "Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World," argues that it won't be long before everything modern society relies on will be computerized and on the internet. This drastic expansion of the so-called 'internet of things,' Schneier contends, vastly increases the risk of cyberattack. To help figure out just how concerned you should be, last Thursday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Schneier. They talked about what it would mean to live in a world where everything, including Ben's shirt, was a computer, and how Schneier's latest work adds to his decades of advocacy for principled government regulation and oversight of 'smart devices.'

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2021-12-18
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Peng Shuai

On November 2, the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused on social media a former vice-premier of China of sexual assault. Chinese authorities responded by taking down her posts and engaging in a mass campaign of censorship on Chinese social media. Later on, Peng disappeared from public view, prompting many tennis stars, athletes and others to demand answers about where she was. It's a long saga that ended with the Women's Tennis Association suspending all tournaments in China in a major move that cut against the trend of Western companies ignoring abuses committed at the hands of the Chinese government. Jacob Schulz sat down with Julian Ku, the Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law at Hofstra University, and Katrina Northrop, a reporter at The Wire China, to talk through what's happened to Peng Shuai and what to make of it. 

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2021-12-17
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Free the Data!

On this show, we?ve discussed no end of proposals for how to regulate online platforms. But there?s something many of those proposals are missing: data about how the platforms actually work. Now, there?s legislation in Congress that aims to change that. The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, sponsored by Senators Chris Coons, Rob Portman and Amy Klobuchar, would create a process through which academic researchers could gain access to information about the operation of these platforms?peering under the hood to see what?s actually happening in our online ecosystems, and perhaps how they could be improved. 

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with the man who drafted the original version of this legislation?Nate Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He?s been hard at work on the draft bill, which he finally published this October. And he collaborated with Coons, Portman and Klobuchar to work his ideas into the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act. They talked about how Nate?s proposal would work, why researcher access to data is so important and what the prospects are for lasting reforms like this out of Congress.

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2021-12-16
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The D.C. Circuit Rejects Trump

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week issued a surprisingly under-discussed opinion in the case of Trump v. Thompson, which involves the production of the executive branch and White House records to the January 6 committee. The opinion of a three-judge panel is a decisive rejection of Trump's assertions of executive privilege after leaving office. It also has potential implications for the witnesses who are refusing to testify before the committee. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, Lawfare contributor and University of Kentucky College of Law professor Jonathan Shaub, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about the opinion itself, what it holds and what it means, what it means for the witnesses who were holding out, whether it will stand, and how the committee is doing in general.

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2021-12-15
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Caroline Rose on Syria?s Role in the Captagon Trade

Syria?s decade-long civil war has left the state and economy shells of their former selves. But a new industry is stepping in to fill the void: the manufacture and export of illicit drugs, specifically Captagon, a type of amphetamine that has a growing global market. To better understand Syria?s emerging role in the global Captagon trade, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Caroline Rose of the Newlines Institute, who has been tracking this industry's development for several years and is preparing to release a major report on the topic. They discussed the origins of Captagon, how it came to Syria, and how it is being used by the Assad regime, its allies and their proxies across the region.

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2021-12-14
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Bart Gellman on Trump's Next Coup

Barton Gellman is a long-time national security reporter for the Washington Post, for The Atlantic and elsewhere. His latest article and Atlantic cover story is entitled, ?Trump's Next Coup has Already Begun.? He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about the article; about what the Republican party is doing to position itself to overturn, if necessary, the results of an adverse election in 2024; about why Trump is oddly better positioned to do this now than in 2020 when he held the powers of the presidency; and about what, if anything, can be done to stop it.

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2021-12-13
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Lawfare Archive: Amanda Tyler on ?Habeas Corpus in Wartime?

From May 15, 2018: In her new book, "Habeas Corpus in Wartime: From the Tower of London to Guantanamo Bay," Amanda Tyler presents a comprehensive account of the legal and political history of habeas corpus in wartime in the Anglo-American legal tradition. On Monday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Tyler at the Hoover Book Soiree for a wide-ranging discussion of the history of habeas corpus, where its origins really lie in English law, and how it has changed over the years in the United States, from the Founding to modern cases of counterterrorism.

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2021-12-12
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Lawfare Archive: Matt Olsen on the Future of Section 702

From June 3, 2017: With the impending sunset of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in December 2017, debate is heating up over how the crucial intelligence-gathering provision will be reauthorized by Congress?and even if it will be reauthorized at all. At the Hoover Institution, Benjamin Wittes sat down with former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen to talk about the intelligence community's perspective on 702 and what lies ahead for it in these turbulent times.

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2021-12-11
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Uncovering a Secret U.S. Airstrike in Syria

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. conducted an airstrike in Baghuz, Syria, as part of its battle against the Islamic State. Two bombs were dropped killing dozens of people, as many as 80 according to U.S. Central Command, the majority of whom seem to have been civilians. But the American public had never heard of the strike until last month when a New York Times investigation revealed not only the fact of the strike, but also the troubling government response that led to its being concealed from public view for more than two years.

Natalie Orpett sat down with Dave Philipps, co-author of the Times article and a veteran national security reporter, and Luke Hartig, a fellow in New America's International Security Program and executive editor at Just Security. They talked about what we know and don't know about the incident itself, the legal and policy framework around airstrikes, allegations of war crimes, and what's been happening within the U.S. government in the years since the strike. 

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2021-12-10
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