The Lawfare Podcast

Lawfare Podcast Episode #41: Nathan Myhrvold on Strategic Terrorism

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 4:35 PM

Back in July, we published the second paper in the Lawfare Research Paper Series, an essay entitled "Strategic Terrorism: A Call to Action" by Nathan Myhrvold. As I described it at the time:

Myhrvold, for readers who have never heard of him, is the founder and CEO of a company called Intellectual Ventures. He used to be the chief technology officer at Microsoft, and he’s legendary as a polymathic mind—his serious interests include everything from academic paleontology to writing a multi-volume treatise on “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.”

One of Myhrvold’s interests is national security. The agenda item [when we met] was a paper he had written some time earlier arguing, broadly speaking, that the United States is insufficiently focused on terrorism of a strategically-important magnitude—that is to say, nuclear and biological attacks. The paper had landed on my desk a couple of years ago, when David Kris—the former assistant attorney general for the National Security Division who is now general counsel at Intellectual Ventures—had sent it my way wondering whether as much of it rang true to me as rang true to him. It had never been published. And when I read it, that struck me as a shame—because a lot of it rings true, terrifyingly true.

It has apparently rang true to others as well. Myhrvold has been in town this week talking to various officials about the paper. Carrie Johnson of National Public Radio ran this interview with him this morning. Yesterday, he stopped by Brookings for a longer conversation about the paper.