The Lawfare Podcast
Rational Security: The “M1 Abrams Accords” Edition
This week on Rational Security, Quinta and Scott were joined by special guest Michel Paradis to talk over the week's big national security news, including:“Don’t Tank my Chain.” Western allies of Ukraine have finally agreed to a way forward on providing the country with tanks, an issue which has proven surprisingly contentious in recent weeks. Germany will now allow its Leopard tanks to be used in the near-term while the United States will send Ukraine a series of M1 Abrams in the future, meeting the German demand for a matched U.S. contribution. Why was this so important to Germany? And what does it tell us about the broader state of the war?“Slight of the Valkyries.” The U.S. Treasury Department has slapped new sanctions on the Russian mercenary group, the Wagner Group, labeling them a Transnational Criminal Organization (“TCO”)—even as U.S. officials continue to resist calls to designate them a terrorist organization. What explains this reticence? Is it warranted?“Empire State of Mind.” For the first time, the New York City district attorney is trying someone under state criminal laws barring material support for terrorism that the state adopted following the September 11 attacks—even though the criminal suspect was never present in New York, but merely knew his actions would have repercussions there. Is this a sensible move? Or is there reason for pause?
Lawfare Archive: Brad Moss on Presidential Power and Security Clearances
From August 18, 2018: The President of the United States this week stripped the former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance in a dramatic White House statement by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The White House is threatening more adverse security clearance actions against presidential critics, and former senior security officials are outraged. Benjamin Wittes sat down Friday afternoon with Bradley Moss, who represents people in security clearance revocation processes, to discuss the president's move, how different it is from a normal security clearance action, and what we can expect if a lawsuit develops.
Gavin Wilde and Justin Sherman on Russia’s Information War and Regime Security
Russia’s use of information warfare during the 2016 U.S. presidential election period focused attention on Russia’s weaponization of information in its effort to influence a U.S. election outcome and sow discord across the American public. But to the extent that we only view Russian information warfare as an aggressive or expansionist expression of Moscow’s foreign policy, we may misunderstand some key tenants of Russian information warfare doctrine. To gain a better understanding of the history and dynamics of Russian information warfare, Lawfare senior editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Gavin Wilde, senior fellow in the Technology and International Affairs Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Justin Sherman, nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. They discussed their new paper, "No Water’s Edge: Russia’s Information War and Regime Security,” and they talked about Russian information doctrine under Vladimir Putin, the differences between how the concept of information security is understood in Russia versus the West, and some key takeaways of their research for analysts and policymakers.
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 about these new developments, and about paths forward for Finland and NATO.
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 now? What were the media organizations’ arguments, and which way was Judge McBurney leaning? Is the report going to become public? And if so, when?
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 Zero Units and their relationship with the CIA, the traumatic ripple effects caused by this lack of accountability, and why the U.S. continues to rely on a strategy of night raids, which Lynzy describes as quick, brutal operations that went wrong far more often than the U.S. has acknowledged. They also discussed why Lynzy decided to tell this story when few others would.
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 laws restricting how platforms can moderate content, which will likely be considered by the Supreme Court later this year.On this episode of Arbiters of Truth, our occasional series on the information ecosystem, Lawfare senior editor Quinta Jurecic spoke with J. Scott Babwah Brennen and Matt Perault of the Center on Technology Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill. In recent months, they’ve put together two reports on state-level tech regulation. They talked about what’s driving this trend, why and how state-level policymaking differs—and doesn’t—from policymaking at the federal level, and what opportunities and complications this could create.
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 post-presidency.For the 30th anniversary of Bush 41's departure from the White House, Lawfare publisher David Priess chatted with Becker about how she first came to work with First Lady Barbara Bush, how that led to her work as chief of staff for Bush after he'd left office, the diverse activities of a lengthy post-presidency, former presidents' interactions with intelligence and classified material, Bush 41's choice to refrain from frequent political statements, his relationships with other presidents ranging from his son to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Joe Biden, and what a chief of staff for a former president actually does.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Noam Osband and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
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 lawsuits overseas. To discuss these developments and where they may be headed, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading scholars on sovereign immunity issues: Chimène Keitner, a professor at the UC Hastings School of Law and a former counselor on international law at the U.S. State Department, and Ingrid Wuerth, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and one of the reporters for the American Law Institute's Fourth Restatement on U.S. foreign relations law.