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Rational Security

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Daily Beast and featuring Brookings senior fellows Tamara Cofman Wittes and Benjamin Wittes, and managing editor of the Lawfare blog Susan Hennessey.
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Rational Security
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May 24, 2017

Donald Trump tours the Middle East and insists peace is within reach. Robert Mueller is tapped as the new special counsel overseeing the Trump-Russia probe. And one very special podcast panelist spills his guts to the New York Times

May 18, 2017

President Trump lets the Russians in on a little secret. Jim Comey has been taking notes—of his meetings with the president. And what do this week’s extraordinary events tell us about where we are in this still unfolding national drama? 

May 10, 2017

Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. The gang shares their reactions. Then, we’ll dig into Rod Rosenstein’s role in Comey’s sudden departure. Finally, what does his dismissal mean for the future of the Russia investigation and the FBI? 

May 3, 2017

FBI Director James Comey says the idea he could have swayed the presidential election makes him “mildly nauseous.” President Trump is reaching out to autocrats and adversaries. Is it paying off? And the NSA reins in some of its surveillance operations. 

Apr 27, 2017

Mike Flynn is back in hot water over money he took from foreign sources. The Senate Intelligence Committee is beefing up for a long investigation of Russian meddling in the election. And FBI Director Jim Comey is back in the spotlight again this week amid questions of how he handled the Clinton and Trump investigations.

Apr 19, 2017

North Korea’s missile launch fizzles, but the ripples spread far and wide. CIA Director Mike Pompeo calls WikiLeaks a hostile intelligence service. And does the Globalist/Nationalist war in the White House really matter in the absence of a coherent foreign policy?

Apr 12, 2017

Former Trump adviser Carter Page is reportedly the target of a FISA warrant. The U.S. launches a cruise missile strike in Syria, and maybe sends a not so subtle signal to China on North Korea. And is the Trump administration’s foreign policy “unpredictable” by design, or just incoherent? 

Apr 8, 2017

At the Third Triple Entente Beer Summit, the usual Rational Security Gang joins up with Stewart Baker and Michael Vatis of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast to discuss airstrikes in Syria, the misadventures of Devin Nunes, and Steve Bannon's ouster from the National Security Council. Plus, in Object Lessons, Stewart recommends Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich and Shane does some sleuthing.

Mar 30, 2017

Devin Nunes throws a wrench into the House’s Russia investigation. Meanwhile, the Senate investigation hasn’t come off the rails. And should countries declare certain kinds of cyber attacks off limits? 

Mar 21, 2017

FBI Director James Comey makes it official: There is an investigation into Trump links to Russia. The top Democrat in the House investigating the Russian hacks makes a plea for civic virtue. And is Donald Trump his own worst enemy or his best defender? 

Mar 16, 2017

The Trump administration expands operations against ISIS and al Qaeda. The administration wants to shrink the budget for the State Department. And what do personnel moves tell us about who’s in charge of the national security apparatus?

Mar 9, 2017

Donald Trump accuses Barack Obama of tapping his phones, and all hell breaks loose. WikiLeaks releases thousands of pages of information on CIA hacking tools. And North Korea launches missiles that may or may not have been hacked by the NSA.  

Mar 2, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under fire for his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, while the Trump administration tries to deflect attention on Russia investigations. Is it time to appoint a special prosecutor to look into President Trump’s potential links to Russia? And the U.S. carries out new airstrikes in Yemen while questions linger over a recent raid against Al Qaeda.

Feb 21, 2017

President Trump selects Army general H.R. McMaster as as his national security adviser after a turbulent search. A rival to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is murdered under bizarre circumstances in a Malaysian airport. And Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But is Bibi on the way out? 

Feb 14, 2017

Michael Flynn’s phone calls and new revelations from the Steele dossier raise questions about Russian influence. An appeals court puts the brakes on Donald Trump’s immigrant and refugee ban. Plus, listener questions.  

Feb 9, 2017

This week, a very special guest joins the podcast to discuss the week’s news and the fate of the republic. Plus, in Object Lessons, taco bowls and bad omens. 

Feb 2, 2017

The Trump administration’s executive order on immigration spurs chaos and protests. Speaking of protest, does the mass signing of a State Department dissent cable signal a new rise of bureaucratic resistance to Trump? And what to make of the re-structuring of the National Security Council? Plus, Rational Security's biggest fan Phil Walter joins the podcast this week. 

Jan 25, 2017

President Trump has announced executive orders on border security and immigration policy—and maybe interrogation. Ex-military officers are taking senior posts in the National Security Council. And investigators have scrutinized National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s communications with Russian officials. 

Jan 19, 2017

President Obama issues a raft of pardons and commutations on his last days in office. The Trump transition team has barely interacted with its counterparts on the National Security Council. And John Brennan reflects on Donald Trump and his legacy at the CIA. 

Jan 11, 2017

The FBI and intelligence community have received explosive allegations that Donald Trump’s staff had contacts with Russian government officials connected to the recent hacking campaign, and that the Russian government has blackmail material on the president-elect. Intelligence chiefs brief Congress—and Trump—on what they know about who was behind the hacking. And what do new revelations—and unproven allegations—mean for the future of Trump’s Cabinet picks and his national security policy? 

Jan 5, 2017

The Obama administration sanctions the Russians it says were involved in election hacking, while President-Elect Trump continues to insist the Russians aren’t to blame. North Korea says it’s close to developing a nuclear missile that could strike U.S. targets. And the latest not-really-a-ceasefire takes hold in Syria. 

Dec 22, 2016

A leaked memo lays out Trump’s priorities for the Pentagon. The Chinese return an underwater U.S. Navy drone. And what does this week’s spate of terrorist attacks portend for 2017? 

Dec 15, 2016

The CIA concludes that Russian hackers tried to help Donald Trump get elected. Trump will nominate Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as the next secretary of state. And the Obama administration is confident that journalist Austin Tice, held hostage in Syria, is alive. And a special guest joins the gang to discuss the week's news. 

Dec 9, 2016

The president-elect takes a call from the leader of Taiwan. Bipartisan pressure is mounting in Congress to investigate the Russian hacks of the presidential election. And if you're a wonk in Washington, you may be out in the cold.

Dec 1, 2016

President-Elect Trump is zeroing in on a nominee for secretary of state. Election recounts begin amid fears of computer hacking. And in San Francisco, hackers hold the municipal railway system hostage. 

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