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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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Now displaying: Page 4
Nov 11, 2015

Two weeks after a Russian airliner fell from the sky in Egypt, will we ever know how the plane crashed? GOP presidential candidates are all over the map with their foreign policy plans. Plus, a modest proposal for closing Guantanamo.

Nov 4, 2015

President Obama is sending 50 Special Forces members into Syria. A new book marks the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. And a new Twitter war erupts over drone strikes, and it doesn’t involve Ben! 

Oct 24, 2015

The European Court of Justice may have just knocked the surveillance state back on its heels. Is Russia a resurgent power in the Middle East? And one think tank fellow/podcaster has a bone to pick with Vladimir Putin. 

Oct 16, 2015

Quinta Jurecic joins Shane and Ben for the podcast. This week: A new leak shows us more about the inner workings of drones strikes. FBI Director Jim Comey concedes defeat in the encryption wars. And Obama’s moral muse.  

Oct 7, 2015

Has the Obama administration outplayed China on cyber spying? The Taliban is on the march in Afghanistan. What does this mean for the future of U.S. troops in that country? And the new movie Sicario is one of the sharpest criticisms yet of the war on drugs.

Plus, in Object Lessons—GODZILLA!

Oct 1, 2015

Russia launches airstrikes in Syria, changing the political calculus in the Middle East. U.S.-backed rebels in Syria are also coming under attack. Is the U.S. abandoning them? And Edward Snowden is tweeting and Edward Scissorhands is trending. 

Sep 23, 2015

Russia is about to intervene in Syria. Good luck with that. The U.S. and China are contemplating a “cyber arms treaty.” And the New York Times editorial board has a plan for closing Guantanamo. Plus, in Object Lessons, Edward Snowden has a new look.

Sep 17, 2015

Is the Obama administration's hand-wringing over Chinese cyber spying making the U.S. look like chumps? Two new books chart the meteoric rise of ISIS. And a former U.S. ambassador highlights the importance of international partnerships to U.S. counterterrorism.  

Plus, in Object Lessons, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wants you to chill out! 

Sep 12, 2015

Donald Trump reveals that he doesn’t know the names of the heads of the world’s biggest terrorist organizations. Does that disqualify him to be commander-in-chief? Turns out killing Anwar Al-Alawki was an “easy” decision for President Obama. And can the House sue the president over the Iran deal?  

Plus, in Object Lessons, how our lives would be different had 9/11 never happened.

Sep 2, 2015

Gen. David Petraeus has a new plan for fighting ISIS. Is it smart or utterly nuts? A new article takes us deep inside the mind and menace of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared “caliph” of the Islamic State.  And a new book takes us deep inside the operation to kill an American Al Qaeda fighter. Plus, in Object Lessons, ancient art and modern icons.

Aug 26, 2015

This week on the podcast: How could China's economic free fall affect U.S. national security? What does international law have to say about Russia's invasion of Ukraine? And the Secret Service gets upset when a drone flies near President Obama while he's playing golf. 

Plus, in Object Lessons, countering violent extremism...with BBQ.  

Aug 20, 2015

The top ISIS fighter in U.S. custody is being transferred to Iraq. What’s it mean for the U.S. justice system and the future of detainee policy in the war with ISIS? Two years after the first Snowden leaks, are we over the idea of the idealistic whistleblower? And a photo essay on strategic Jerusalem. Plus, in Object Lessons, drones, shades, and summer reading

Aug 6, 2015

Shane goes on vacation, abandoning the gang to its fate. Brookings scholar Dan Byman steps in and brings a National Counterterrorism Center Calendar, which sparks a discussion of how to categorize terrorist acts that take place within warfare. Ben talks about a recent U.S. court decision that found the war in Afghanistan isn't really over—no matter what the president says. And Tamara talks about the president's Iran speech. In our Object Lessons segment, Dan shows off a large Yemeni dagger. Tamara brings a picture of Egypt's General Sisi sailing down the new Suez canal. And Ben brings an online course we all should sign up to take.

Jul 29, 2015

Is notorious Taliban leader Mullah Omar dead—again? And then, Tamara and her very important friends at the Aspen Security Forum were discussing the threat of ISIS and the real truth about encryption. Plus in Object Lessons, Shane is heading off to paradise, and Tamara brought back some primo swag. 

Jul 25, 2015

This week, Ben and Shane are joined by special guests Wells Bennett of Lawfare and Quinta Jurecic, national security intern at Brookings. On the agenda: Obama has a plan to close Guantanamo, and it may be dead or alive. An Iraqi businessman wants to mount a private Sunni army to fight ISIS. And someone near and dear to us has a new plan to fix the encryption problem. Plus, in our Object Lessons, Ben is going to cut someone, and we’ll explain the title of this week’s show.  

Jul 16, 2015

The Iran deal is finally here. This week on the podcast, Shane, Tamara, and special guest Wells Bennett look at what’s in the deal, what it does, and what it doesn’t do. Also, a closer look at which sanctions are being relieved and whom that will help. Plus, do we need an AUMF for...Russia?  And in our Object Lesson, sideburns and Peanut Brigaders. 

Jul 9, 2015

This week on the podcast: FBI Director James Comey goes to the Hill to talk about "going dark." Former officials are expressing concern about the Iran deal. And the Office of Personnel Management put people who had no experience in computer security in charge of...computer security! Plus, in Object Lessons, Ben and Tamara survive a shipwreck. 

Jul 1, 2015

This week on the show: Senators call for hearings on domestic terrorism in the wake of the Charleston shootings. Do we need a new National Commission on the War on Terrorism? And a cat fight between the FISA court and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Plus, in Object Lessons, are you “e-QIPped?” The Chinese are. 

Jun 26, 2015

This week on the podcast, Kori Schake joins the gang to discuss the week’s big stories. Was the shooting of nine people in Charleston, SC, an act of terrorism? Chinese spies now know the secret sex lives of U.S. government employees. And the U.N. has a new report on Gaza. Plus, in our object lessons, bitter memoirs and piggy banks.

Jun 16, 2015

This week on the show, Shane exposes the Iranian propagandists who tried to recruit him. Plus, the gang looks at how the military pays for war and at a new "manual" that lays out the rules for fighting them. Then, in Object Lessons: Are hackers trying to take over your spin cycle? 

Jun 12, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a major speech at the Herzliya Conference on national security, but he spends a lot of time talking about the economy. The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its ruling on passports and Israel. How important is it to Middle East policy? And is it a big win for John Yoo and David Addington? And just when you thought the fight over government surveillance was over, along comes Patriot Act 2.0 Plus, in our object lesson, how many lemons can a samurai robot slice if a samurai robot sliced lemons? 

Jun 5, 2015

This week on the show, special guest Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast joins Ben and Shane to discuss the Senate's passage of the USA Freedom Act. Also, why do Americans hate government surveillance but tolerate big corporate data aggregators? And there's anthrax in the Pentagon! Later, in our Object Lesson, we mourn the passing a screen icon (of sorts) and celebrate a new day in national security publishing. 

May 29, 2015

This week on the show, Ben and Shane are flying solo (duo?) while Tamara is away. They ask, is everything we think we know about privacy wrong? And the guys discuss a novel proposal for easing the tensions between the press and the government when journalists disclose sensitive national security information. Plus, in our Object Lesson, very tiny robots. They’re here. Buzzing in your ear. 

May 21, 2015

This week on the show: The FBI is interrogating the wife of a senior ISIS official about Western hostages. The Justice Department hands down indictments against Chinese nationals for spying on the U.S. And the Tunisian president comes to Washington. Plus, in our object lesson, we’re going back to the movies again, sort of.  

May 14, 2015

This week on the show: The FBI rules out terrorism in the awful train crash in Pennsylvania. But why are we so quick these days to ask whether every accident was caused by terrorists? Congress is poised to pass new legislation on surveillance. And what does a new report on Iranian hackers tell us about the standards of intelligence in the age of cyber war? Plus in our object lesson, we go to the movies with an Ethan Hawke film on drones, and in North Korea, death by very, very big firing squad. 

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