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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 Hosted on Acast. See for more 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 Hosted on Acast. See for more 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 Hosted on Acast. See for more information.






Lawfare Archive: A Deep Dive on China and the Uighurs

From July 15, 2020: We talk a lot about Chinese policy in Hong Kong, but there's another human rights crisis going on in China in the province of Xinjiang. It concerns the Turkic minority known as the Uighurs whom the Chinese government has been rounding up and putting in reeducation camps. It is an ugly story—one that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to keep from international attention, with some degree of success. To walk us through the situation in Xinjiang, Benjamin...

The Fifth Circuit is Wrong on the Internet

Our Arbiters of Truth series on the online information ecosystem has been taking a bit of a hiatus—but we’re back! On today’s episode, we’re discussing the recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in NetChoice v. Paxton, upholding a Texas law that binds large social media platforms to certain transparency requirements and significantly limits their ability to moderate content. The decision is truly a wild ride—so unhinged that it’s difficult to figure out where First...


Dan Byman on Content Moderation Tools to Stop Extremism

There's enormous debate about how much social media platforms should be doing to moderate extremist content. But that debate often lacks nuance about the many different ways that platforms can moderate and that moderation is not an all or nothing proposition. Daniel Byman is a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and Lawfare’s foreign policy editor. He recently published a paper for Lawfare’s ongoing Digital Social Contract Research Paper series in which he lays...

Foreign Agents and the Barrack Indictment

This past Monday, the criminal trial of Thomas Barrack began in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Barrack, who served as an informal advisor to the 2016 Trump campaign and then as chair of Trump's inaugural committee, is alleged to have acted as a foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates. According to the indictment, Barrack acted as a back channel for the UAE to influence U.S. foreign policy. Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Alex Iftimie, a partner at...


Geoffrey Berman on ‘Holding the Line’

Geoffrey Berman was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the Trump administration. He was appointed under peculiar circumstances, and he was fired under even more peculiar circumstances. He is now a partner at the law firm of Fried Frank, and he’s the author of the new book, “Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent U.S. Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department.” He joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the book’s shocking revelations of...


Judge Cannon’s Latest Mar-a-Lago Ruling

On September 15, Judge Aileen Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued two key rulings in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. She appointed Judge Raymond Dearie of the Eastern District of New York as the special master reviewing the documents and denied the Justice Department’s motion for a partial stay of her previous injunction barring the department from using the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in its criminal investigation. The next day, Friday,...


Chatter: CIA Paramilitary Ops in Reality and Fiction

Of all of the Central Intelligence Agency's activities, paramilitary operations might remain the least understood. This, in part, is both a cause and a consequence of inaccurate portrayals of such work in prominent movies; it's also because fewer memoirs come from the CIA's Special Activities Division than from traditional human intelligence collectors and from analysts. David Priess chatted with former CIA officer Ric Prado about the fiction and the reality of CIA paramilitary operations,...


Lawfare Archive: A Real, Live Framer of the Constitution

From March 17, 2018: In 1963, John Feerick became a witness to and a framer of our constitutional history. Within two years of graduating from law school, Feerick had written an influential law review article on presidential disability and succession, joined the ABA’s blue-ribbon commission to create a solution to those problems, and became a confidant and an adviser to the members of Congress who wrote the 25th amendment. As many in the public wonder about the current president’s fitness,...


The Legal Legacy of Ken Starr

Ken Starr, the former federal judge and independent counsel who became famous for his investigation of President Bill Clinton, died this week on September 13 at age 76. Starr was a complex and controversial figure: after running the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations, he went on to serve as president of Baylor University, only to resign over the mishandling of a sex abuse scandal involving the university’s football team, and he would later go on to defend President Trump in Trump’s first...


Dmitri Alperovitch on the Ukrainian Counteroffensive

Dmitri Alperovitch is the founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a geopolitics think tank in Washington, and the impresario of the Geopolitics Decanted podcast. He joined Benjamin Wittes to talk through the Ukrainian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast last week. They discussed whether the Ukrainian retaking of large swaths of territory is a big deal, what’s going to come next, and if this is a prelude to a larger rout of Russian forces, to a negotiated settlement, or if something else is...


Rupert Stone on the Booming Afghan Drug Trade

Amid the war and instability in Afghanistan over the last two decades, the opium industry has seen explosive growth. In fact, Afghanistan accounts for the vast majority of the world's opium supply. The Taliban vowed to crack down on the production of illicit drugs, and in March, they issued a total ban on opium cultivation, which has stripped many rural Afghans of their livelihoods. But in the meantime, drug prices have been increasing, making the production and trafficking of...


Rainer Sonntag, Vladimir Putin, and the German Far Right

Since his 1991 death, Rainer Sonntag has been remembered as a martyr by generations of neo-Nazis and other far-right activists, especially in his native Germany. Less discussed, however, is the fact that he was also a spy for the communist authorities of East Germany and their counterparts in the Soviet Union—and that a young KGB operative named Vladimir Putin played a prominent role in his rise to power. To learn more, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with Leigh Baldwin,...


Pakistan's Flood Disaster and National Security

Pakistan is experiencing one of the largest natural disasters in modern history. The massive floods there, combined with glacier melt, have led to one third of the country being submerged underwater with more than one million people displaced and tens of billions of dollars in damage. Lawfare publisher David Priess sat down with Erin Sikorsky, the director for the Center for Climate and Security, who has over a decade of experience previously in the U.S. intelligence community looking at...


Chatter: 9/11 Memorialization with Marita Sturken

From January 25, 2022: In this bonus episode of Chatter, David Priess talks with professor and author Marita Sturken about 9/11-related memorials, museums, and architecture. Her research and writings have examined everything from visual culture to the connection between memory and consumerism, with much of her recent work addressing memory of the attacks on September 11, 2001, as both the battleground and the site for negotiations of national identity. In this conversation, they talked...


Rational Security: The “Anniversary Hot Take Takedown” Edition

This week on Rational Security, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by co-host emeriti Ben Wittes and Shane Harris for a very special anniversary edition of Rational Security that pits their national security hot takes up against each other. Which of the following takes will the team find to be "too hot," which "undercooked," and which "just right"? Support this show Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


Lawfare Archive: Alissa Starzak on Cloudflare, Content Moderation and the Internet Stack

From September 3, 2020: This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alissa Starzak, the head of public policy at Cloudflare—a company that provides key components of the infrastructure that helps websites stay online. They talked about two high-profile incidents in which Cloudflare decided to pull its services from websites publishing or hosting extremist, violent content. In August 2017, after the white nationalist rally in...


Todd Huntley and Marc Garlasco on the Pentagon's New CIVCAS Action Plan

On August 25, the Defense Department released its long-awaited Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan, something that human rights advocates have called on the Pentagon to do for the past 20 years. To discuss it, former Lawfare associate editor Tia Sewell sat down with Todd Huntley, a former JAG and current director of the National Security Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center, as well as Marc Garlasco, a former targeting professional and war crimes investigator who...


Justin Sherman on the Twitter Whistleblower Complaint

On August 23, the Washington Post published a story about a whistleblower complaint filed by Peiter Zatko, the former security lead and member of Twitter's executive team responsible for information security, privacy, physical security, and information technology. In the whistleblower complaint, Zatko describes extreme problems and deficiencies with the security, privacy, and integrity of Twitter's platform. The complaint also alleges that since 2011, Twitter's senior executives have engaged...


About That Special Master Ruling

Monday afternoon, a federal judge in Florida acceded to Donald Trump's motion to appoint a special master to review privilege claims arising out of the Mar-a-Lago search. The ruling was not a particular surprise given that the judge had foreshadowed that it was coming, but it shocked observers nonetheless on a number of different bases. The decision raised questions of how it would affect the Justice Department's ongoing investigation of document retention at Mar-a-Lago. Would the department...


Christo Grozev on Socialite, Widow, Jeweller, Spy

Late last month, investigative journalists at Bellingcat and partner organizations published a story exposing the identity of a Russian spy named Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, who over the course of 10 years had charmed her way into the social circles of NATO members in Naples. Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Christo Grozev, Bellingcat's lead Russia investigator, who walked us through this stranger-than-fiction spy thriller. They discussed how Maria Adela found herself...