Welcome back to the National Security Law Podcast, where co-hosts Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck cross-swords with courtesy and nerdistry while reviewing the latest national security legal news (along with a healthy does of frivolity at the end…and sometimes the middle…and the beginning…)! This will be the last episode until July 17th or 18th, and it covers:
Latest in Podcasts
We don't usually do humor on the Lawfare Podcast, but this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike Chase, whom you probably know better on Twitter as @CrimeADay, the long-time anonymous Twitter feed that tweets out one fact pattern a day that violates some combination of the criminal law and the Code of Federal Regulations.
President Trump prepares to strike Iran in retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, but says he pulled back to spare Iranian lives. Former special counsel Robert Mueller is subpoenaed to testify to Congress. And the National Security Agency, yet again, says it improperly collected Americans’ phone records.
Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike O'Hanlon who writes on military affairs and foreign policy, and has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution for a long time. His latest book is "The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War Over Small Stakes." The title says it all. It's about the places in the world that are the potentially most explosive flashpoints over the least important U.S. interests. It's about the places in the world where we are treaty-bound to go to war to protect trivia.
Errol Morris is a celebrated documentarian whose films have covered an array of topics in law and national security. They include "The Fog of War," which won an Oscar for its account of Robert McNamara's role in and lessons from the Vietnam War, and "The Unknown Known," which told the story of the political career of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Morris most recently directed "American Dharma," a documentary profile of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Earlier this year, Morris sat down with Jack Goldsmith for a conversation about those three films.
Shane and Tamara and Susan are all away—so Rational Security is dominated this week by acting officials. The acting secretary of defense has been replaced by another acting defense secretary, and much of the rest of the government is vacant as well. Congress and the Trump administration are still butting heads over oversight matters and compliance with congressional information demands for information. And the New York Times reports that U.S. hackers are in the Russian power grid—and want the Russians to know that they're there.
It's getting ugly in the Persian Gulf: Iran allegedly attacks two oil tankers. It announces that it's going to violate the JCPOA, the so-called Iran nuclear agreement. There's talk of military strikes. Europe is edgy, and the Secretary of State is on Sunday talk shows being edgier still.
Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney and Scott R. Anderson to talk it all through. They talked about whether the AUMF covers Iran, why Iran is doing this stuff, whether the Trump administration brought this all on itself, and where it's all going from here.
Russian and Chinese leaders understand that they’re unlikely to win a shooting war with the United States, but they have other ways to challenge Western interests, turning our greatest strengths—open societies, dominance of technology on Earth and in space, and military innovation—into weaknesses.
Shane is off gallivanting elsewhere, so we wiped our bitter tears and did a show without him. Sophia Yan—yes, that Sophia Yan—phoned in from a Chinese airport on her way to Hong Kong to talk about ongoing protests and violence in that city. Kamala Harris urged the indictment of President Trump after he leaves office. And Pete Buttigieg gave a foreign policy speech.
More than two years after the 2016 presidential election, new information continues to seep into the public about the extent of Russia's sweeping and systematic efforts to interfere in the U.S. democratic process. With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, last week, Stanford's Cyber Policy Center published a report on securing American elections, including recommendations on how the U.S. can protect elections and election infrastructure from foreign actors.