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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 5
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. 

May 9, 2015

The Triple Entente Beer Summit was a great success, with an audience that filled the Washington Firehouse loft and a cast that mashed up Lawfare, Rational Security, and the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.  We attribute the podcast’s freewheeling interchange to the engaged audience, our profound respect for each other, and, mostly, the beer. After a discussion of between the combined panels, we throw the event over to the audience, which demonstrates that we could have produced almost as good a program by randomly selecting audience members to appear on the panel with us.

 

Apr 30, 2015

This week on the show: The New York Times names the senior CIA officials who have run the agency’s drone program. Were they right or wrong to do it? Speaking of drones, it turns out the CIA’s program in Pakistan was given an unusually long leash. And Bashar al-Assad may be losing in Syria. Plus, in our Object Lesson, spy fashion. You, too, can dress like a spook.

Apr 24, 2015

Special guest Wells Bennett joins Shane and Tamara to talk about the U.S. strategy in Yemen. What is it? And just how big a nightmare? Also, Washington takes the cyber wars West, to Silicon Valley. Plus, spy gardens and swashbuckling pilots.

Apr 18, 2015

This week on the podcast, the gang discusses Congress weighing in on the Iran nuclear deal. Sunni, Shia, let’s call the whole thing off. And a key Al Qaeda leader who was once held in Guantanamo is killed in a U.S. drone strike. Plus, Ben joins the surveillance state, and Shane solves a mystery from last week's episode. 

Apr 9, 2015

This week on the show, the gang welcomes special guest Jonathan Rauch, Brookings fellow, journalist, and longtime friend. On the agenda: Cyber attacks are way more damaging than we previously thought. Saudi Arabia’s Shiites fear a backlash in the Yemen war. And Congress is up to...absolutely nothing on surveillance reform and the new AUMF. Plus, in our Object Lesson segment, you too can take down a mugger while wearing high-heeled shoes. 

Apr 3, 2015

The talks over Iran's nuclear program are hurtling towards some vague, yet-to-be-defined conclusion. President Obama opens a new front in the cyber wars. And Rashomon comes to Egypt. Plus, "Wild Tales," and birthday cakes. 

Mar 26, 2015

The gang unravels the Israeli election results and the unpleasant White House-Israel tensions they have sparked. Tamara talks about Yemen's ongoing disintegration. And Shane discusses China's admission, at long last, that it really does offensive cyber operations.

Mar 17, 2015

This week, Ben handicaps the Israeli election. Special guest Merritt Baer considers how our increasingly "interoperable" world may put security at risk (or enhance it). And Shane looks at how the FBI is using surveillance tools to catch child predators. Plus, in our Object Lessons segment, an only-in-Washington tchotchke, and an appeal to our audience to help find Shane's grandfather's war buddies.

 

 

Mar 11, 2015

This week, the gang dissects David Petraeus' plea deal for giving highly classified information to his mistress. CIA Director John Brennan proposes big changes in the way the spy agency runs. And a new census of ISIS’ social media campaign. Plus, in our Object Lessons segment, gargoyles and the Rational Security chainsaw massacre. 

Mar 4, 2015

This week on the show: National Security Adviser Susan Rice speaks to AIPAC and makes the administration's case for negotiating with Iran on nukes. A Guantanamo detainee raises questions about whether the war in Afghanistan is really, officially over. And Hillary Clinton used her own "homebrew" email system while she was Secretary of State, possibly running afoul of federal record-keeping rules and making her more vulnerable to hackers. Plus, Shane shows us the business card of a Russian spy.

Feb 26, 2015

This week on the podcast, Shane and Ben welcome back Jen Daskal to talk terrorism and technology. Police phone surveillance becomes a thorny legal issue in a Florida case. The Justice Department says it will prosecute people who proliferate ISIS social media. And Ben offers a peek of his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on a new authorization to use military force against ISIS.

Feb 19, 2015

This week, Ben and Shane are joined by special guest Jen Daskal. The gang debates Eric Holder's recent remarks on press leaks, asks whether ISIS is morphing into a true global terrorist movement, and hears some frank tweets on Russia from the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Plus, Jen shares a treasured memory from Cameroon, and Shane declares war on icy sidewalks—and the scofflaws who don't clean them. 

Feb 13, 2015

This week, the gang discusses Kayla Mueller, the last American hostage held by ISIS, who was confirmed this week to have died. Plus, President Obama asks Congress for a new authorization to use military force against ISIS. And why is the venerable Aspen Security Forum—so far—booking only men as its featured speakers? 

Feb 5, 2015

This week, Shane, Ben, and Tamara and the gang discuss the latest ISIS video showing the death of a Jordanian pilot, and what it means for the future of the U.S.-led coalition to destroy ISIS, as well as public opinion in Jordan and the United States. Plus, a deeper look at post-Snowden surveillance reforms, and whether they're meaningful or mostly for show. 

Jan 29, 2015

The gang talks about a ring of Russian spies broken up in New York City, plus drones falling on the White House lawn and a new report on the links between democracy and terrorism. Plus, Ben has an update on the speech so sensitive the NSA won't let him see it, even though he wrote it, and Tamara throws down a challenge to "House of Cards" president Frank Underwood. 

Jan 22, 2015

The gang ignores the State of the Union and speculates about how Ali Saleh Al-Marri got sprung from federal prison. Shane takes on FBI Director Jim Comey with a new encrypted phone and a defense of granting anonymity to AQAP sources. Tamara talks about why moderate Arab states are unreliable partners in a war on radical Islam and talks about the great exception to this rule, the United Arab Emirates. And Ben shows up with a virus and an Anonymous mask.  

Jan 15, 2015

Shane, Tamara, and Ben talk condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo attack and how much outrage is enough, our fear over foreign fighters, and the expanding vocabulary of cyber "attacks." Plus, Ben investigates the Pakistani incursion into the NSA's gift shop, Tamara wonders whether Iran is like a Pandora's Box, and Shane shares a personal story about a long-sought stash of Army records. Bonus feature: The gang welcomes special guest (our first!) Jeremy Shapiro. 

Jan 7, 2015

Shane Harris introduces the show and introduces Benjamin and Tamara Wittes. The gang talks Egypt and Tunisia, torture and sanctions. Ben talks about the medal he got from NSA, which hasn't yet declassified his speech. And Shane pines after a strange cybersecurity machine. Welcome to Rational Security.  

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