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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 See for privacy and opt-out information.

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 See for privacy and opt-out information.


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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 See for privacy and opt-out information.






A TikTok Tick Tock

TikTok has rapidly become one of the most popular apps for teenagers across the world for dancing, lip-syncing and sharing details about their lives. But if you cast your mind back to last year—specifically, August 2020—you may recall that the app’s future in the United States suddenly fell into doubt. The Trump administration began arguing that the app’s ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance raised problems of national security for the United States. ByteDance was ordered to divest...


Rep. Seth Moulton and Matt Zeller on Securing Visas for U.S. Partners in Afghanistan

The United States is quickly approaching its September deadline for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the U.S. completes its withdrawal, many Afghans who partnered with the U.S., serving as translators and interpreters, face the danger of severe retribution from the Taliban. Those who partner with the U.S. military can obtain a special immigrant visa, or SIV, through the U.S. State Department, but many lawmakers and veterans' groups are concerned that the U.S. is running out...


The Justice Department, Congress and the Press

A spree of stories has emerged over the last week or so that the Justice Department under the prior administration obtained phone and email records of several journalists, several members of Congress and staffers, and even family members. It has provoked a mini scandal, calls for investigation, howls of rage and serious questions. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, former FBI agent Pete Strzok, Lawfare senior...


Jonathan Rauch on the Constitution of Knowledge

Public discourse is in bad shape these days. We all yell at and cancel each other on social media and college campuses, and politicians—especially those on the Trumpist right—lie so much that the very notion of truth threatens to lose any meaning. But, Jonathan Rauch is optimistic that this can change for the better. Jonathan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of, most recently, "The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with...


Daniel Richman and Sarah Seo on Law Enforcement Federalism

Daniel Richman and Sarah Seo are professors at Columbia Law School, and they are co-authors of a recent article on Lawfare entitled, "Toward a New Era for Federal and State Oversight of Local Police." Benjamin Wittes sat down with them to discuss the article, the history of the federal-state relationship in law enforcement, how the feds came to play an oversight role with respect to police departments, the limits of that role inherent in the cooperative relationship that law enforcement...


The Empire (Facebook) Strikes Back (at the Oversight Board’s Trump Decision)

If you’ve listened to this show, you've probably read a fair number of news stories—and maybe even listened to some podcast episodes—about the Facebook Oversight Board’s recent ruling on the platform’s decision to ban President Trump’s account. The board temporarily allowed Facebook to keep Trump off the platform, but criticized the slapdash way Facebook made that call and provided a long list of recommendations for Facebook to respond to. Well, now Facebook has responded—announcing that it...


Michel Paradis on Sexual Assault and Reforming the Military Justice System

For years, Congress and the Defense Department have debated how best to handle the pernicious problem of sexual assault in the military. Now, a bipartisan majority in the Senate appears to have settled on a set of reforms that would make unprecedented changes to the military justice system. But do these changes actually get at the root cause of the military sexual assault problem? Or do they simply put at risk the command structure that is often seen as a pillar of military effectiveness? To...


Alicia Wanless on What's Wrong with the Discussion of Influence Operations

Alicia Wanless is the director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and she has a beef with the current debate over influence operations. Put simply, we don't really know what works in countering them, and the studies of the subject all seem to be case studies using different methodologies and examining different things. Benjamin Wittes spoke with her about how we might improve our knowledge base on this subject, what kind...


A Digital Contact Tracing Retrospective

It's been more than a year since the first contact tracing and exposure notification apps for the novel coronavirus have appeared, and the apps have not at all lived up to the hype. In fact, they've almost invariably stumbled or not really worked at all. Jacob Schulz sat down with Alan Rozenshtein, associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota School of Law and a senior editor at Lawfare, and Susan Landau, a computer science professor at Tufts and a senior contributor for...


Ryan Hass on the U.S.-China Relationship

Bryce Klehm sat down with Ryan Hass, a senior fellow and the Michael H. Armacost Chair in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Ryan is the author of the new book, "Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence." The book is informed by Hass's experience as a foreign service officer in China and by his time in the Obama administration, where he served as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the National Security Council....


India v. Platforms

Tensions between major social media platforms and the Indian government have reached a new high. In recent months, India has demanded that Twitter remove a range of content critical of the government and has even sent police to Twitter’s offices in New Delhi in what Twitter has called “intimidation tactics”. The government recently instituted new rules that exert strong control over how companies operating in India govern their platforms—rules that have already prompted a legal challenge...


Natan Sachs on the Possibility of a Post-Bibi Israel

After two years of political tumult and no fewer than four national elections, Israel may finally be on the verge of forming a new government—one that notably excludes current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and would bring an end to the more than 12 consecutive years that he has spent as the country's leader. To discuss these late-breaking developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Middle East Policy....


An Investigations Roundup

It's been a crazy time for Trump investigations. There is a new one in the Eastern District of New York, a grand jury in Manhattan and ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York. There's also a big throwback to the Mueller investigation—a smackdown between the current Justice Department and Judge Amy Berman Jackson over whether the Justice Department has to release documents from when Bill Barr was thinking about what to do with the Mueller report. To talk it all over,...


Rashawn Ray on a Year of Police Reform

It's been a year since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and there have been a lot of police reform efforts since then. A lot of them have come to nothing, but some of them have been very productive—at the state level, in certain cities and even, to a certain extent, at the federal level. To discuss the police reform successes and failures of the last year, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Rashawn Ray, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the David M. Rubenstein...


The Arrival of International Human Rights Law in Content Moderation

Way back at the beginning of the Arbiters of Truth podcast series on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic invited David Kaye to talk about international human rights law (IHRL) and content moderation. David is a clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and when he was first on the show, he was also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. It’s been a year and a half since then, and in the intervening time, David’s...


The Endless Frontier Act and the Whims of Congress

The Endless Frontier Act—a piece of legislation that you may have never heard of but is nonetheless very important—is going through Congress, and it is changing as it goes through. It's a complicated piece of legislation intended to boost U.S. research and development and help bolster U.S. competition with China, and what happened to it in Congress is not at all straightforward. To talk through exactly what the Endless Frontier Act is, how it made its way through Congress and what this all...


A State-Sponsored Skyjacking

Over the weekend, an airplane from an Irish airline flying from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced down in Belarus so that Belarusian authorities could arrest a dissident. The pretext for the grounding of the plane was a bomb threat from, of all things, Hamas. The incident has produced a major international standoff between the European Union and Belarus, with Russia lurking in the background. What does it all mean? Can this be defended as a matter of international law? Was this...


Chesney and Herr on the Biden Executive Order

President Biden has issued an executive order on cybersecurity. Bobby Chesney, one of the founders of Lawfare and a professor at the University of Texas Law School, and Trey Herr of the Atlantic Council, analyzed the significant document in depth for Lawfare, and they joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to discuss the order and take questions from a live audience. They talked about what the executive order covers, what it doesn't cover, what it can be expected to do beyond the realm of...


Noreen Malone on Slow Burn and the Road to War in Iraq

Eighteen years have passed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq deposed the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein and ushered in a bloody new chapter in that country's history—one that, in many ways, Iraq and the United States are still working their way through today. For its fifth season, the Slate-produced podcast Slow Burn is revisiting the lead-up to that fateful decision to invade. Scott R. Anderson sat down with host Noreen Malone to discuss the season thus far and what lessons that era...


The Christchurch Call, Two Years On

In March 2019, a shooter carried out two mass killings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, livestreaming the first shooting on Facebook. Two months later, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron convened the Christchurch Call—a commitment joined by both governments and technology companies “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.” It’s now been two years since the Christchurch Call. To discuss those years and what comes next,...