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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 Support this show 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 Support this show 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 Support this show See for privacy and opt-out information.






Sue Gordon and John McLaughlin on Intelligence, Biden and Trump

The president's interactions with intelligence and public comments about intelligence are dramatically different in the first six months of the Biden administration than they were during the last presidency. To talk about those differences and why they matter for intelligence and national security, David Priess sat down with Sue Gordon and John McLaughlin. Sue Gordon, for two years during the Trump administration, was the principal deputy director of national intelligence, after decades of...


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...


Lawfare Archive: Bryan Fogel on 'Icarus' and Russia

From August 12, 2017: The new Netflix documentary Icarus may seem at first glance off the beaten path for Lawfare. It's a film about doping in international sports, not national security law or policy. But as Benjamin Wittes explained when he reviewed it here, it's really about much more than that: IcarusL’Affaire Russe L’Affaire RusseIcarusIcarusThis week, Wittes asked Fogel to come on the podcast and talk about the film and its relationship to the broader concerns about Russia that have...


Sarah Yerkes on Tunisia's Democracy in Crisis

For the past decade, Tunisia's democracy has stood out as one of the few remaining bright spots of the Arab Spring. But earlier this week, it entered its own crisis as President Kais Saied declared a state of emergency, suspended parliament and stated his intent to move forward with widespread prosecutions as part of a long-promised anti-corruption effort. Some argue that Saied's strong-arm tactics are exactly what's needed to break the stagnation that's been plaguing Tunisia's economic and...


The FBI, Social Media and Jan. 6

The attempted insurrection on January 6 is back in the headlines. This week, the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot began its work with its very first hearing. So for our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information environment, Evelyn Douek interviewed Quinta Jurecic about social media’s role in warning of the riot. Specifically, they talked about an essay Quinta wrote in Lawfare on the FBI’s failure to examine social media posts announcing plans to storm the...


Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds on the First Jan. 6 Hearings

Yesterday saw the first hearing of the special House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riots and insurrection. Four law enforcement officers testified before the committee, which consisted of the Democrats along with two renegade Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Quinta Jurecic, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. They talked...


Jonathan Schroden on the State of the Afghanistan Withdrawal

The United States is just over a month out from completing its full military withdrawal from Afghanistan, but as U.S. troops have moved on, the situation on the ground has only gotten more challenging, with the Taliban claiming control of a growing portion of the country. In recent days, the United States even reentered the arena with airstrikes on the Taliban intended to reinforce U.S. support for Afghan security forces and dissuade a major Taliban offensive on Kandahar, Afghanistan's...


Trump’s Final Year with Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker

There are some stunning revelations coming out of the new blockbuster book by Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.” If you thought you knew how bad some things during that final year of the Trump presidency were, this book will surprise you with what it tells us about the things that even those of us who watched the presidency closely did not know. David Priess sat down with Leonnig, a national investigative reporter at the...


Lawfare Archive: Amanda Sloat on Boris Johnson and Brexit

From August 10, 2019: The United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister. It also has a looming cliff it is careening toward and about to leap off of on Halloween of this year. This week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with his Brookings colleague Amanda Sloat to talk about all things Brexit. They talked about the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his views on Brexit, the deadlock between Britain and the European Union, and the way the Brexit debate plays out in American politics. Support this...


Lawfare Archive: John Carlin on 'Dawn of the Code War'

From November 24, 2018: John Carlin served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division from April 2014 to October 2016. In his new book with Garrett Graff, called “Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat," Carlin explains the cyber conflicts the U.S. faces and how the government fights back. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Carlin last week to talk about the book. They talked about about the FBI...


A Guantanamo Update with Latif Nasser and Steve Vladeck

It's been a busy couple of weeks at Guantanamo Bay, a place that has not had a busy couple of weeks in a while. There was a transfer, there was a resumption of military commissions, and the chief prosecutor of military commissions resigned abruptly. To go over these events, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Steve Vladeck, a Lawfare contributing editor and a professor at the University of Texas, and Latif Nasser, a co-host of the show Radiolab from New York Public Radio, where he did an extended...


Facebook v. the White House: Renee DiResta and Brendan Nyhan Weigh In

This week we're bringing you the breakdown of the heavyweight bout of the century—a battle over vaccine misinformation. In the left corner we have the White House. Known for its impressive arsenal and bully pulpit, this week it asked for the fight and came out swinging with claims that Facebook is a killer—and not in a good way. In the right corner we have Facebook, known for its ability to just keep taking punches while continuing to grace our screens and rake in the cash. The company has...


Yemen on the Brink of Hope with Elisabeth Kendall and Alexandra Stark

Yemen remains a mess. Many years of warfare have left it politically fractured, economically shattered and with a true humanitarian crisis of multiple dimensions. And yet there are some small signs of hope, with the Biden administration increasing its engagement to achieve progress and the United Nations resetting its efforts with a new special envoy to the country. To talk through it, David Priess sat down with Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow at Pembroke College of Oxford...


Dmitri Alperovitch and Matt Tait on the Latest in Cybersecurity

It was quite a week in cybersecurity. The Israeli firm NSO Group was outed by a consortium of newspapers and media entities for its snooping software Pegasus, which seems to have gathered data from the phones of a shockingly large number of people. Then, starting Sunday evening and into Monday morning, the Biden administration announced a multi-lateral response to China's Microsoft Exchange Server hack. There were indictments, there was a toughly worded statement, but there were no...


Scott Anderson on Withdrawals, Then and Now

U.S. troops are pulling out of Afghanistan, the withdrawal is almost done and U.S. forces turned over the Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces the other day. Scott Anderson knows something about withdrawals. He served at U.S. Embassy Baghdad shortly after the United States withdrew from Iraq. He joined Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to talk about the Afghan withdrawal, his memories of the Iraq withdrawal and why these things sometimes go better and sometimes go worse. What has the Biden...


Lawfare Archive: Afghan Parliamentarian and Female Presidential Candidate Fawzia Koofi on Afghan Security and the Condition of Women and Girls

From February 16, 2013: Fawzia Koofi (website, Twitter) is an Afghan Member of Parliament and Vice President of the Afghan National Assembly. She is also running for President of Afghanistan in the planned April 2014 elections, and would be the first female president in Afghan history. She has a remarkable backstory: Born as the nineteenth of her father's twenty-three children, Koofi was left to die from exposure as a baby girl. She survived and witnessed during her childhood father's and...


Lawfare Archive: Eric Schwartz, Refugee Policy and the Syrian Civil War

From April 9, 2016: This week on the podcast, we welcome Eric Schwartz, the Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Schwartz previously served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. In his conversation with Benjamin Wittes, he sketches the key aspects of U.S. refugee policy, explaining how it both protects the security of the United States and at times undermines its ability to accept refugees. Schwartz,...


Africa and U.S. Foreign Policy Opportunities with Judd Devermont

National security attention rarely focuses for long on Sub-Saharan Africa, and when it does, it's largely on the most populous countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Former intelligence community and National Security Council official Judd Devermont, now director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wants to change that. Along with Nicole Wilett, who used to cover Africa for the State Department, the National...


Florida Man Regulates Social Media

On May 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill designed to limit how social media platforms can moderate content. Technology companies, predictably, sued—and on June 30, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida granted a preliminary injunction against the law. The legislation, which purported to end “censorship” online by “big tech,” received a lot of commentary and a great deal of mockery from academics and journalists. Among...


When Red Lines Fade Away

Jack Goldsmith is feeling a little bit grouchy. In a piece on Lawfare entitled, "Empty Threats and Warnings on Cyber," he blasts the Biden administration and its predecessors for "publicly pledging to impose 'consequences' on Russia for its cyber actions for at least five years—usually, as here, following a hand-wringing government deliberation in the face of a devastating cyber incident." Goldsmith catalogs the recent history of administrations promising big action against Russia, yet...