Rational Security 2.0: The ‘Mar-a-Gate vs. Water-a-Lago’ Edition

By Jen Patja Howell
Wednesday, August 17, 2022, 12:01 PM

This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by their fellow Lawfare senior editor Molly Reynolds to talk through a week of big national security news stories, including:

  • “Regrets? I’ve had a few.” One year has passed since the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan, which triggered the collapse of the U.S.-backed government and the return to power of the Taliban. What have we learned from this experience? And how should it inform U.S. engagement with Afghanistan moving forward? 
  • “Half-Truths and Reconciliation.” Democrats in Congress have scored a huge climate win in the form of the somewhat strangely named Inflation Reduction Act, which passed both chambers by the slimmest of margins through a special procedure known as reconciliation that bypasses the supermajority requirement that the Senate usually operates under thanks to the filibuster. How big a deal is this? And is it a model that other policy proposals can follow? 
  • “Déclassé.” While the Justice Department weighs whether to release more documents regarding its search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump has offered a new explanation as to why he had so many classified documents in a storage unit there: he’d had a standing order to declassify whatever classified records he wanted to bring home with him. What is the latest in the investigation and where does it seem to be headed?

For object lessons, Alan endorsed another audiobook he's enjoying through Libby: Erik Larson's "The Splendid and the Vile”—a recommendation Scott doubled down on with his own endorsement of Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts.” Quinta noted her pleasant surprise that author Mary Gaitskill appears to have started a surprisingly good substack. Scott recommended a bunch of media he has been involved in on the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, including a segment on the most recent episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," a recent episode of the radio and podcast series Reveal, and of course Lawfare's own audio series on the collapse of the Afghan SIV program entitled Allies, which has been re-released on the Lawfare Presents podcast feed. And, because it was Primary Day in Alaska, Molly took the occasion to remind us all of the secret sauce behind Lisa Murkowski's historic 2010 Senate win as a write-in candidate: some carefully calculated flyers (involving pictures of cows and skis) that instructed voters how to spell her name.

Here are some of the articles we mentioned in this week's episode: