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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: Page 2
Mar 26, 2020

It took weeks for administration officials to persuade Donald Trump that the coronavirus posed a significant threat to the United States. Did those delays hinder the fight against the virus? The coronavirus may pose a threat to democratic values, as governments deploy aggressive surveillance to combat the pandemic. And there are shakeups in the senior ranks of U.S. counterterrorism.

Mar 18, 2020

Much of normal life has ground to a halt. We’ll reflect on the state of the pandemic and how it’s affecting us. What exactly happened to a White House office set up to respond to pandemics? And Congress kicks the can on an all-important surveillance law until the end of May.

Mar 11, 2020

As the coronavirus spreads, U.S. officials face a public health crisis and the threat of economic recession. The World Health Organization has officially declared coronavirus a pandemic. How are other countries responding, and what can the U.S. learn from them? And there’s tumult in Saudi Arabia amid another power grab by the crown prince and an oil war with Russia.

Mar 5, 2020

President Trump picks Congressman John Ratcliffe—again—to be the new director of national intelligence. The United States signs a peace deal with the Taliban. And an appeals court rules that former White House Counsel Don McGahn does not have to testify to Congress.

Feb 27, 2020

Coronavirus is spreading, and the administration’s message has been a jumble. Intelligence reports suggest that Russia has developed a preference for Trump in the election and is trying to help Sanders. And world leaders call for action to halt a humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Feb 20, 2020

Bill Barr says that Trump’s tweets make his job more difficult, and he has considered resigning over them. But Trump is still tweeting and Barr is still the attorney general, so…? Also, the U.S. charges Chinese telecom giant Huawei with conspiracy and racketeering. And European leaders are bracing for a second Trump term, and a redefined relationship with America.

Feb 12, 2020

Four prosecutors step down from the Roger Stone case after the Justice Department contradicts their sentencing recommendation. The White House purges officials who testified in Trump’s impeachment trial. And the Justice Department is taking a look at Rudy Giuliani’s investigation into the Bidens.

Feb 6, 2020

The Senate prepares to acquit Donald Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress. We’ll take a look back at the impeachment trial and discuss what comes next. Also, governments around the world scramble to deal with the threat of coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2020

John Bolton has a story to tell about that Ukraine “drug deal.” The White House unveils its much anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. And Joe Biden envisions foreign policy after Trump.

Jan 22, 2020

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins in earnest, with a marathon session hammering out the rules and procedures. U.N. investigators say there is credible evidence that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone. And you may have heard—Ben and Susan have published a book! We’ll talk about “Unmaking the Presidency.”

Jan 16, 2020

The impeachment trial is about to begin in earnest. We’ll recap the latest. The Trump administration deals with the fallout from the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani. And in the final debate before voting starts, Democratic candidates for president have little to say about foreign policy.

Jan 9, 2020

President Trump says Iran is backing down after a missile strike on U.S. bases in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Suleimani. The crisis has calmed, but what did we learn from the administration’s tense and at times bungled handling of it? And the latest on the still pending impeachment trial.

Jan 3, 2020

Protesters attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad following an American airstrike. U.S. Cyber Command contemplates information warfare to deter Russian election interference. And we’ll talk about the themes we think will loom large in 2020.

Dec 19, 2019

The House impeaches President Trump. What will a Senate trial look like? Former U.S. officials helped the United Arab Emirates build a domestic surveillance system. And a federal judge rebukes the FBI for its surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.

Dec 11, 2019

The Justice Department Inspector General delivers a detailed report on the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. House lawmakers unveil articles of impeachment against Trump. And The Washington Post reveals that senior officials knew the U.S. wasn’t making progress in Afghanistan, contrary to their public claims.

Dec 4, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee submits its impeachment report, and the Judiciary Committee takes up the baton. Also, friend of the podcast Sophia Yan gives us an on-the-ground report from China.

Nov 22, 2019

The House conducts marathon impeachment hearings with key witnesses. And Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted.

Nov 15, 2019

The first witnesses testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry. A jury deliberates Roger Stone’s fate. And Turkey’s president Erdogan visits Washington.

Nov 6, 2019

A key witness in the impeachment investigation changes his testimony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under fire for his leadership of U.S. diplomacy. And the House lays out the rules for the public phase of the impeachment process.

Oct 30, 2019

A senior National Security Council official testifies about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine. The U.S. military kills the leader of ISIS. And an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe takes a turn.

Oct 24, 2019

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine delivers devastating testimony about a quid pro quo. The White House chief of staff says that quid pro quo was real—then says it wasn’t. Plus the latest breaking news on the impeachment inquiry, and what to watch for next.

Oct 16, 2019

Testimony on Capitol Hill this week reveals that Rudy Giuliani was running a shadow foreign policy on Ukraine. The White House vows not to cooperate with the impeachment investigation. And Turkish forces move into Syria, sparking a new national security crisis.

Oct 9, 2019

Congress releases a series of revealing text messages that show the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine. Trump blocks a key participant in that effort from giving a deposition to Congress. And Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw U.S. troops from Syria inspires a rare Republican rebellion.

Oct 2, 2019

Secretary of State Pompeo says he was on the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraininian officials and the State Department are under scrutiny. And Attorney General Bill Barr has asked foreign officials to help investigate the Russia investigation.

Sep 25, 2019

This week, the gang talks about the explosive revelations of a whistleblower regarding a phone call that Trump had with the president of Ukraine. What's the political and legal significance? What does it mean for U.S. national security? And how is an impeachment inquiry likely to proceed?

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