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Rational Security

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Washington Post and featuring Brookings senior fellows Susan Hennessey, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Benjamin Wittes.
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Now displaying: 2019
Jun 19, 2019

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 The acting secretary of defense has been replaced by another acting defense secretary, and much of the rest of the government is vacant as well.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.

Jun 13, 2019

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.

Jun 5, 2019

Robert Mueller speaks! What does it mean for the future of investigations and possible impeachment hearings? Bill Barr is given new authorities to declassify information about the Russia probe. And Jared Kushner says he finally has a plan for Middle East peace.

May 22, 2019

The Trump administration moves to block a Chinese telecom giant. White House counsel Don McGahn is a no-show at a congressional hearing. And the president is considering pardons for military service members convicted of murder.

May 16, 2019

Tensions with Iran escalate amid new intelligence suggesting U.S. personnel in the Middle East could be at risk. The Russia investigation is now under investigation by a federal prosecutor. And two senior Homeland Security officials tried to halt a mass deportation plan, just before they were ousted.

May 8, 2019

The White House asserts executive privilege over the Mueller report, and House Democrats move to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt. Republicans revive allegations of spying on the Trump campaign. And Israel says it attacked a building housing Hamas’ offensive cyber operations.

May 2, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller told the attorney general that he failed to convey the “context, nature, and substance” of his investigation. Rod Rosenstein steps down from the Department of Justice and bids President Trump a fond farewell. And is John Bolton’s view of foreign policy compatible with the president he serves?

Apr 25, 2019

The Special Counsel’s report has finally been released. After reading the report and thinking about the findings, we’ll discuss what impressed us most and what happens next.

Apr 17, 2019

Julian Assange is taken into British custody, and the United States wants him to stand trial here. President Trump vetoes a resolution to end U.S. military involvement in the civil war in Yemen. And Attorney General Bill Barr says there was “spying” on the Trump campaign.

Apr 10, 2019

The White House launches a purge at the Homeland Security Department. Some prosecutors in Robert Mueller’s office are frustrated by the attorney general’s portrayal of their report. And the Trump administration designates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

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Apr 3, 2019

A White House official claims more than two dozen denials for security clearances were overturned. Six months after Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, what has changed in the U.S-Saudi relationship? And oversight committees gear up for the post-Mueller era.

Mar 28, 2019

This week: What else?! The gang talks about Bill Barr's summary of the Mueller report. What did the special counsel say about a Trump campaign conspiracy with Russia? What did he say about obstruction of justice by the president? And what happens when, as expected, we all get to read the Mueller report itself (or some portion of it)?

 

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Mar 20, 2019

The killing of 50 Muslims by a white supremacist in New Zealand prompts us to reconsider the meaning of domestic terrorism. The Pentagon identifies projects it will cut to pay for President Trump’s border wall. And the Trump administration revokes visas for investigators with the International Criminal Court.

Mar 14, 2019

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is heading to prison, and facing new charges. If you thought the Arab Spring was over, think again. And a massage parlor owner with suspected links to the Chinese government was reportedly selling access to Trump’s private Florida resort.

Mar 7, 2019

Why does senior White House adviser Jared Kushner have a security clearance? President Trump comes back from a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un empty-handed. And the NSA has apparently stopped a controversial surveillance program that collected Americans’ phone records.

Feb 28, 2019

President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testifies to Congress. Adam Schiff signals he’s coming after all the Russia probe documents. And U.S. Cyber Command hits back at a Russian troll farm.

Feb 20, 2019

President Trump says his intelligence director is “not loyal” and may want to fire him. Trump administration officials pushed a plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. And hackers hit Australian political parties.

Feb 14, 2019

Is Robert Mueller nearing the end of his Russia probe? The administration moves to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei. And you too can have your own private Mossad!

Feb 6, 2019

President Trump delivers his second State of the Union address. Meanwhile, prosecutors send a subpoena to Trump’s inaugural committee. And the president is feuding with his intelligence chiefs—again.

Also, Ben wants to hear from you!

Jan 31, 2019

Roger Stone is indicted in the Mueller probe. Venezuela teeters on the brink of economic and political collapse. And American hackers help the UAE build a cyber army.

Jan 24, 2019

BuzzFeed drops a bomb that turns out to be more of a dud. Or is it? The president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could be doing more harm than good for his client. And Congress takes aim at the administration’s Russia-friendly policies.

Jan 17, 2019

Senators question attorney general-nominee Bill Barr over the Mueller probe. Two new stories shed more light on President Trump’s troubling relationship with Russia. And the president contemplated pulling out of NATO.

Jan 10, 2019

President Trump takes his pitch for border security to the American people in an Oval Office address. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are on the road doing high stakes diplomacy, but do they actually speak for the president? And the latest in L’Affaire Russe—a Russian lawyer gets indicted and Paul Manafort was sharing polling data with his “Russian brain.”

Jan 3, 2019

How will a new Cabinet, and a new Congress, face the major national security challenges of 2019? An American businessman is arrested in Russia and charged with espionage. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren is exploring a run for the White House. We’ll take a look at her foreign policy proposals.

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