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Rational Security

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal and featuring Brookings senior fellows Tamara Cofman Wittes and Benjamin Wittes, and managing editor of the Lawfare blog Susan Hennessey.
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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. 

Nov 23, 2016

Donald Trump announces his picks for some key national security positions. Meanwhile, Trump grapples with multiple conflicts between his businesses and his coming presidency. The knives are out for NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers. Plus, a special Thanksgiving Object Lesson.

Nov 17, 2016

The Trump administration transition has begun—right? The president-elect sits down with "60 Minutes" and leaves the fate of FBI Director James Comey uncertain. And foreign governments react to Trump’s election.  

Nov 10, 2016

This week, the gang reflects on the unexpected election of Donald Trump for president. What national security themes drove his voters? What challenges does Trump face forming a government? And how will America's allies react to his election? 

Nov 2, 2016

FBI Director James Comey is under fire for his actions in the home stretch of the presidential election. A journalist suggests private communications between Donald Trump and a Russian bank—but is there any there there? And investigators issue a puzzling finding about the death of one of Vladimir Putin’s closest aides in a Washington, DC, hotel room.

Oct 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enter the home stretch of the presidential campaign. Hackers take down a key component of the Internet in an unprecedented attack. And WikiLeaks makes some unexpected alliances. 

Oct 20, 2016

Iraqi and U.S. forces begin the campaign to reclaim the city of Mosul, ISIS’s de facto capital in Iraq. Retired Gen. James Cartwright pleads guilty to lying to federal leak investigators. And three Kansas men are accused of plotting attacks on Muslims. 

Oct 14, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square off in their second debate. And the intelligence community officially pins the blames on Russia for hacking U.S. political organizations. 

Oct 6, 2016

The Vice Presidential candidates face off in their first and only debate before Election Day. Senators have buyers remorse over a law that lets families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. And can the NSA keep its own secrets?  

Sep 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate. What did they have to say on ISIS, hackers, and other important national security issues? And a Trump adviser heads off to Moscow and meets with senior Russian government officials. 

Sep 21, 2016

Bombings in New York and New Jersey have fixed us again on the threat of lone wolf terrorists. Have back-to-back summits on refugees brought us any closer to solving a humanitarian crisis? And The Washington Post comes out against a pardon for Edward Snowden.    

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