The Lawfare Podcast

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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 Capitol—and how FBI Director Christopher Wray’s explanations don’t hold water.

So why does Quinta think Wray has been misleading in his answers to Congress on why the FBI didn’t review those posts from soon-to-be-rioters? What about the First Amendment issues raised by the U.S. government refreshing your Twitter feed? What role is social media playing in the Jan. 6 prosecutions—and what does that say about how tech companies should preserve online evidence of wrongdoing, rather than just taking it down?

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9/21/2021

Milley, Trump and Civil-Military Relations with Peter Feaver, Kori Schake and Alexander Vindman

A new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa contains reporting about several controversial actions by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in late 2000 and early 2021, regarding conversations with his Chinese counterparts, his discussion with senior military officers about following standard nuclear procedures (if need be), and reaching out to others like the CIA and NSA directors to remind them to watch everything closely. Were each of these reported actions proper for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and why? And what about all of this coming out in books?To talk through it all, David Priess sat down with an A-team on civil-military relations. Peter Feaver is a civil-military relations expert at Duke University and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. He served in National Security Council staff positions in both the Bill Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations. Kori Schake is the director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute who has worked in the Joint Staff J5, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the National Security Council’s staff, as well as the State Department's policy planning staff during Bush 43’s administration. She has also researched and written extensively on civil-military relations. And Alex Vindman is Lawfare’s Pritzker Military Fellow and a visiting fellow at Perry World House. His government experience includes multiple U.S. Army assignments, time inside the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in the National Security Council staff.
9/20/2021

Seth Stoughton on the Shooting of Ashli Babbitt

On January 6, a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the Electoral College vote. As lawmakers were being evacuated by Capitol police, Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, tried to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd shot Babbitt as she was climbing through the window and Babbitt died later that day. In the polarized debate over January 6, the death of Ashli Babbitt has become a focal point and one of unusual political valence. Many on the right view her as a martyred hero and the police officer that shot her as an example of excessive force. Those on the left, who have traditionally been outspoken about police killings, have largely stayed quiet. To the extent they've commented, it's been to emphasize the unique circumstances of the Capitol insurrection as justification for the use of lethal force. The Department of Justice, having reviewed the incident, determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Officer Byrd with violating Babbitt's civil rights, although DOJ did not conclude one way or the other, whether the shooting was justified under the Fourth Amendment.To work through the legal issues around the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Seth Stoughton, associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina and the coauthor of a recent Lawfare post on the shooting. Stoughton is a nationally recognized expert on police use of force. A former police officer himself, he was a key witness for the murder prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd. Alan spoke with Stoughton about the murky factual records surrounding the Babbitt shooting, the complex constitutional and statutory issues that it raises and what its political effects say about the broader prospects for police reform.