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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.


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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.






Finland’s NATO Bid, Interrupted

Turkish President Erdoğan has thrown a giant wrench into Sweden's NATO membership bid after a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. This, in turn, affects Finland's application to the alliance because Sweden and Finland applied to and intended to join the alliance concurrently. Lawfare publisher David Priess sat down with Minna Ålander, research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, to talk about how we got here, about what Finnish leaders have been saying...


Anna Bower on Judge McBurney's Deliberations

Judge Robert McBurney of the Superior Court of Fulton County held a hearing on Tuesday to decide whether or not to release the Fulton County Special Grand Jury's report on 2020 election interference in Georgia. Lawfare's Fulton County correspondent Anna Bower was in the room live-blogging the matter, and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes caught up with her right after the hearing to talk it through. Why did the district attorney argue that the report should continue to be sealed for...


Lynzy Billing on Afghanistan's Zero Unit Night Raids

In 2019, investigative journalist and photographer Lynzy Billing went to Afghanistan to investigate a very personal story: her own past. In the process, she discovered what she came to call a classified war, one with lines of accountability so obscured that no one had to answer publicly for operations that went wrong. Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Lynzy to talk through her four-year investigation, published last month in ProPublica. They discussed Afghanistan's shady...


When States Make Tech Policy

Tech policy reform occupies a strange place in Washington, D.C. Everyone seems to agree that the government should change how it regulates the technology industry, on issues from content moderation to privacy—and yet, reform never actually seems to happen. But while the federal government continues to stall, state governments are taking action. More and more, state-level officials are proposing and implementing changes in technology policy. Most prominently, Texas and Florida recently passed...


Chatter: A Post-Presidency Done Right with Jean Becker

For almost 25 years, until his death in November 2018, former president George H. W. Bush's chief of staff was Jean Becker. For event after event through both the best of those times and the worst—from dozens of affirming trips overseas to several parachute jumps in his latter years to many funerals—Becker was there to schedule it, plan it, manage it, and often attend it. All of this has given her a uniquely wide and deep understanding of the challenges and rewards of a long...


Lawfare Archive: The Past, Present and Future of Sovereign Immunity

From December 11, 2020: This week, the Supreme Court returned once again to the complex and sometimes controversial Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA, that protects foreign sovereigns from litigation before U.S. courts. At the same time, Congress is once again debating new exceptions to the protections provided by the FSIA on issues ranging from cybercrime to the coronavirus pandemic, an effort that may risk violating international law and exposing the United States to similar...


Biden's National Security Presidency So Far with Chris Whipple

We have just ended Biden's first two years as president, and it's a great time to reflect back on the wild national security ride we’ve had. In fact, Chris Whipple has just done that by publishing his book, “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden's White House,” a deeply reported book that contains many interviews with Biden's inner circle. Lawfare publisher David Priess spoke with Chris about the transition from Trump to Biden, Biden's decision to pull out of Afghanistan, Russia's...


Lifting the Veil on Fusion Centers

In the wake of September 11, 2001, federal law enforcement agencies were caught flatfooted when they realized that they'd had the intel to prevent the attack on the homeland, but they'd failed to connect those dots. Fusion centers were born out of an abundance of caution to share and streamline counterterrorism information between the federal level and state and local levels. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security has supported the development of a national network of 80 fusion...


Halkbank Hits the Supreme Court

In 2019, the U.S. government took a step that it had never taken before. It brought criminal charges against a foreign state-owned bank, Turkiye Halk Bankasi, or Halkbank, which is majority-owned by the country of Turkiye (until recently known as Turkey), for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran. Turkiye in turn argued that such a move was not only unprecedented but prohibited by the legal immunities it is entitled to under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA. Yesterday, those arguments...


How a Spy in Your Pocket Threatens the End of Privacy, Dignity, and Democracy

Lawfare fellow in technology policy and law Eugenia Lostri sat down with Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud to talk about their new book, “Pegasus: How a Spy in Your Pocket Threatens the End of Privacy, Dignity, and Democracy.” Laurent is the founder and executive director of Forbidden Stories, and Sandrine is its editor-in-chief. Along with Amnesty International’s Security Lab, they led the investigative effort by 17 international media organizations that in July 2021 exposed how some...


Lawfare Archive: Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace on White Lies

From August 17, 2019: Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley are the creators of the NPR podcast audio documentary White Lies, which deals with the murder of Rev. James Reeb in Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Era. The podcast is an incredible historical investigation of an episode that many people had forgotten, and resonates remarkably in contemporary discussions of domestic terrorism, white supremacist violence, and many other things we're still talking about today. Benjamin Wittes...


Rational Security: The “Sincerest Form of Flattery” Edition

This week on Rational Security, a Quinta-less Alan and Scott were joined by their Lawfare colleagues senior editor Molly Reynolds and managing editor Tyler McBrien to talk over some copycat-ing that's been taking place in the national security space, including: Support this show Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


Lawfare Archive: General Michael Lehnert on Closing GITMO

From March 21, 2015: This week, we invited Major General Michael Lehnert (Ret.), the first commander of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to chat on the show. In January 2002, General Lehnert deployed to Guantanamo Bay as Commander of Joint Task Force 160 with the mission to construct and operate the detention facilities for Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees. He is now one of the more prominent voices calling for the closure of the prison facility. In the interview, General...


Another Special Counsel and More Classified Documents

Yesterday afternoon, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he has appointed a special counsel to investigate the revelations that documents bearing classification markings had been found in President Biden's private office and residence. The appointment comes after a preliminary investigation that began on November 14, just days before a different special counsel was appointed to investigate documents found at former President Trump's residence. To go through it all, Lawfare...


Boys Be Not Proud, with Roger Parloff

It's Proud Boys Trial Day at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, DC, when five leaders of the right wing paramilitary gang go on trial in a 10-count seditious conspiracy indictment. To talk about this second major seditious conspiracy indictment, Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff, who will be there live blogging it for the site. They talked about how it compares with the Oath Keepers case, which wrapped up over the fall....


Bryan Cunningham on a Federally Funded Backstop for the Cyber Insurance Ecosystem

Various press reports have indicated that the Biden administration intends to release its cyber strategy in the coming weeks. The cyber strategy will likely cover a range of issues. One potential topic could involve the creation of a federal response or “backstop” to the financial exposure risks that insurers and reinsurers face from future catastrophic cyber incidents affecting those that they insure. To talk about the pros and cons of a federal backstop for the cyber insurance ecosystem,...


A Very Special Grand Jury Report

District Attorney of Fulton County Fani Willis has completed her special grand jury investigation of election tampering in 2020. The special purpose grand jury has completed its report and has been dissolved, and the supervising judge yesterday scheduled a hearing for January 24 to decide whether to make the report public. What will happen next? Will there be indictments? Are they going to wait until after the report comes out, or should we expect them imminently? Should we expect a Trump...


Burning Down the House with Molly Reynolds

On Friday evening, we had no idea if Kevin McCarthy was going to be elected speaker or not, so Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Brookings senior fellow and Lawfare senior editor Molly Reynolds to talk through the options. They talked about why it actually matters if you have a Speaker of the House, how long the House of Representatives can go without one before the government falls apart, and the consequences of the compromises Kevin McCarthy made. On Sunday afternoon,...


Chatter: CIA, Congress, and the Art of Listening with Abigail Spanberger

Abigail Spanberger, who represents Virginia's 7th congressional district in the House of Representatives, is one of the few members of Congress to have served as an operations officer at the Central Intelligence Agency. She also worked in law enforcement as an officer of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Not typical experiences for a thrice-elected politician—but useful for the role she finds herself in now. On this episode of Chatter, David Priess chatted with Rep. Spanberger about her...


Lawfare Archive: Insurrection at the Capitol

From January 6, 2021: Today a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally at which the president spoke. Congressional efforts to count the electoral votes were suspended, and an armed standoff, in which at least one person was killed, ensued. To discuss the matter, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Quinta Jurecic; David Priess; Georgetown's Mary McCord, who used to run the National Security Division at the Justice Department; and Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown and...