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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.






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...


Robert Fatton on the Assassination in Haiti and Its Aftermath

Last week, the country of Haiti was rocked by the assassination of its controversial president, Jovenel Moïse, who was killed in a bizarre plot, the details of which are still being uncovered. Moïse's death is yet another shock for a Haitian political system that was already in a state of crisis and has some calling for foreign intervention, a controversial proposal with which Haiti has a long and difficult history. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Professor...


Anne Neuberger on Cybersecurity Strategy

Dmitri Alperovitch sat down with Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, to discuss the Biden administration's cybersecurity strategy. The conversation was originally recorded at a Silverado Policy Accelerator event on June 29, 2021. They discussed the latest executive order that the president signed on cybersecurity, the administration's strategy to combat ransomware and the division of responsibilities between Neuberger's office at the National...


Lawfare Archive: Harold Holzer on 'The Presidents vs. the Press'

From August 25, 2020: Jack Goldsmith spoke with Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, about his new book, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media from the Founding Fathers to Fake News." They discussed the long and interesting history of the contentious relationship between presidents and the press, and how President Trump's relationship with journalists has many precedents and is not the low...


Lawfare Archive: Bruce Riedel on ‘Lessons from America’s Secret War in Afghanistan’

From July 11, 2014: As the election crisis in Afghanistan comes to a head, all eyes are once again on the future of Afghan democracy. But, America’s history in the region extends back much further than its nation-building efforts since September 2001. On Tuesday, at a Brookings launch of his newest book entitled, “What We Won: America’s Secret War in Afghanistan, 1979-1989,” Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow and Director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, discussed lessons...


Joshua Geltzer on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism

For many Americans, the events of the past several years—from the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to the January 6 assault on the Capitol building—have driven home a disturbing conclusion: that the problems of extremism, violence and terrorism are not just overseas phenomena, but have taken root here in the United States. One of President Biden's first actions upon assuming the presidency was to direct his staff to produce a strategy for addressing this challenge....


Can America Save the News?

The news business in America is in crisis. Between 2008 and 2019, newspapers in the U.S. lost half of their newsroom employees. Journalism jobs cut during the pandemic number in the tens of thousands. Local news is suffering the most, with cutbacks across the country and many communities left without a reliable source of information for what’s going on in their area. Why is this a crisis not just for journalists, but also for democracy? In today’s episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on...


Carol Leonnig on the United States Secret Service and What to Do About It

The United States Secret Service has many important missions, the most public of which is protecting the president of the United States. And in this mission, its motto is "Zero Fail." There is no window for them to let their guard down when it comes to protecting the commander-in-chief. And yet, the past several decades of the Secret Service's protection have seen gaps, mistakes and exposures of some fundamental problems within the Secret Service itself. Carol Leonnig is a Pulitzer...


Matt Tait Ransom"wears" All the Things

Probably best known as the Twitter handle @pwnallthethings, Matt Tait is the chief operating officer of Corellium. Previously, he was a hacker for GCHQ, the British version of the National Security Agency, he was the CEO of Capital Alpha Security, and he worked at Google Project Zero, among other things. Most of this podcast was recorded before the news of the Kaseya ransomware attack broke over the weekend (Matt wrote a piece on Lawfare entitled, "The Kaseya Ransomware Attack is a Really...


Lawfare Archive: Countering Chinese Espionage

From December 14, 2019: Recently, former CIA officer Jerry Lee was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to share classified information with the Chinese government. During the time in which Lee was in touch with Chinese intelligence agents, dozens of CIA sources in China were arrested or killed—a catastrophe for CIA operations in the country. What's the connection between this disaster and the Lee case? And what do both mean for Chinese counterintelligence work overall? David...


Lawfare Archive: Al-Shabaab Under the AUMF

From December 3, 2016: Earlier this week, the New York Times published a story by Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti informing us that the Obama administration had changed its interpretation of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to more broadly cover the use of force against al-Shabaab, expanding its previous reading of the AUMF as only authorizing force against members of al-Shabaab individually linked to al-Qaeda. Bobby noted the story on Lawfare and provided...