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.
info_outline "The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves" Edition 11/18/2020
"The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves" Edition President Trump fires the country’s top election security official because he won’t go along with his lies about a stolen election. Promising news about coronavirus vaccines raises important questions about who should get it first, and where. And President Trump prepares to draw down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
info_outline The "Peaceful(ish) Transfer of Power" Edition 11/12/2020
The "Peaceful(ish) Transfer of Power" Edition Joe Biden is elected president, but Donald Trump refuses to concede, and the transition to a new administration is rocky. Attorney General Bill Barr authorizes federal prosecutors to investigate potential voter fraud. And the gang takes questions from our live audience!
info_outline The "Still Counting" Edition 11/04/2020
The "Still Counting" Edition President Trump falsely declares victory and asserts the election was fraudulent. What havoc could he raise as states continue to count ballots? Some of the most dreaded threats of foreign interference didn’t materialize, but other danger may lie ahead. And Trump may be defeated, but Trumpism may be alive and kicking.
info_outline The “Buckle Your Seatbelts” Edition 10/28/2020
The “Buckle Your Seatbelts” Edition Americans head to the polls in the face of a virus and potential disruptions at polling places and beyond. Whoever wins next Tuesday, the period between Election Day and the inauguration is bound to be rocky. And we’ll take a big picture look at the national security challenges that the next president will face, whoever he is.
info_outline The “That’s Rudy!” Edition 10/21/2020
The “That’s Rudy!” Edition Rudy Giuliani finds himself at the center of a misbegotten effort to interfere in the 2020 election. American diplomats and intelligence officers complain they’re being left in the cold after mysterious attacks. And the Trump administration sends an unusual envoy to Syria to discuss U.S. hostages.
info_outline The "Unmasked at Last" Edition 10/14/2020
The "Unmasked at Last" Edition A Justice Department investigation into whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals from intelligence reports ends with a whimper. An investigation into the shooting of a protestor in Portland raises questions about the federal government’s use of force. And CyberCommand takes down a Russian botnet.
info_outline The “Don’t Let it Dominate You” Edition 10/07/2020
The “Don’t Let it Dominate You” Edition President Trump tests positive for the coronavirus and the White House becomes a hot zone. Justice Department officials were “a driving force” behind an immigration policy that separated families at the border with Mexico. And two ISIS militants are charged in the murder of American hostages.
info_outline The "Sh*t Show" Edition 09/30/2020
The "Sh*t Show" Edition Trump tells a white nationalist group to “stand by” as he further tries to erode confidence in the November elections, this time from the presidential debate stage. Election officials are bracing for a wave of litigation and shenanigans when Americans head for the polls. And new information about Trump’s taxes reveal he’s massively in debt, adding to long-standing fears that his finances make him vulnerable to manipulation.
info_outline The “Could Have Done More” Edition 09/23/2020
The “Could Have Done More” Edition A top member of the Mueller team says the special counsel “could have done more” to hold Trump accountable. A career government official accuses the White House of improperly trying to stop John Bolton from publishing his memoir. And the CIA is clamping down on intelligence about Russia, according to a new report.
info_outline The "Trump Trolls" Edition 09/17/2020
The "Trump Trolls" Edition A Trump-aligned political organization is accused of running a troll farm. The No. 2 on the team investigating the origins of the Russia probe quits, reportedly over concerns that the investigation is being politicized. And Israel signs an historic accord with two Arab states, as a fight over weapons sales to the UAE looms.
info_outline The "Summer is Definitely Over" Edition 09/09/2020
The "Summer is Definitely Over" Edition Multiple news organizations report that Trump has disparaged combat veterans, calling them “losers” and “suckers.” A senior Homeland Security official says he was told to stand down on the threat of Russian election interference. And the legal battle continues over whether a former White House counsel must testify before Congress.
info_outline The "Cruel Summer" Edition 09/02/2020
The "Cruel Summer" Edition Shootings in Kenosha and Portland raise new concerns about violent protests in the U.S. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not yet free of the justice system. And a prominent Russian opposition leader has been poisoned with a nerve agent.
info_outline The "Near Abroad" Edition 08/19/2020
The "Near Abroad" Edition The Senate Intelligence Committee issues its long-awaited—and very long—report on Russian electoral interference in 2016 and the counterintelligence risks in the Trump campaign. The GAO determines that the leadership is serving illegally. And Belarussians have taken to the streets in protest against another stolen election by long-time strongman Alexander Lukashenko.
info_outline The "Russia and Running Mates" Edition 08/12/2020
The "Russia and Running Mates" Edition Russia wants to “denigrate” Joe Biden and China would prefer Trump lose in November, viewing him as “unpredictable,” the nation’s top election security official says. An investigation by The New York Times raises questions about whether intelligence officials are softening their views on Russia to avoid upsetting Trump. And Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running mate. We look at her national security positions and how those issues will or won’t influence the 2020 campaign.
info_outline The "Dangerous Tweets" Edition 08/05/2020
The "Dangerous Tweets" Edition The Homeland Security Department compiles “intelligence reports” on protestors and journalists—including the tweets of our own Ben Wittes. Massive explosions in Beirut compound that country’s political and economic crises. And officials are increasingly warning about foreign interference in November’s election.
info_outline The "Barr, Portland, Pompeo, Camera, TV" Edition 07/29/2020
The "Barr, Portland, Pompeo, Camera, TV" Edition Attorney General Bill Barr testifies before Congress—about a lot. State and federal officials negotiate how to remove federal forces from Portland amid continuing protests. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faces his own day on the Hill after a blistering report on State Department dysfunction.
info_outline The "Not-So-Secret Police" Edition 07/22/2020
The "Not-So-Secret Police" Edition Federal officers descend on protestors in Portland, over the objections of state and local officials. Why did Trump choose this city, and what does he hope to gain from this expanding campaign of federal authority? And the U.S. hits back at Chinese spies, indicting two hackers and shuttering a consulate in Houston.
info_outline The "Tick Tock for TikTok" Edition 07/16/2020
The "Tick Tock for TikTok" Edition Chinese tech giants once again find themselves in the crosshairs of Western governments. The CIA has expanded its operations in cyberspace. And intelligence veterans warn that repairing the U.S. relationship with Russia is a fool’s errand.
info_outline The "Blob Bloblob" Edition 07/08/2020
The "Blob Bloblob" Edition The Trump administration issues new restrictions on immigration in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A major witness in the impeachment hearings retires amid concerns the White House might try to block his military promotion. And progressives mount an effort to shape the future of national security—sometimes to the dismay of the Biden campaign.
info_outline The "Bounty Hunters" Edition 07/01/2020
The "Bounty Hunters" Edition Trump’s aides say they never briefed him about a Russian plot to kill U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Former aides say the president has been “delusional” in his dealing with foreign leaders. And as the coronavirus continues spreading, some federal workers are being furloughed.
info_outline The "Very Low Barr" Edition 06/24/2020
The "Very Low Barr" Edition Bill Barr's Justice Department is accused of politicizing law enforcement across an astonishing array of subject matters. A federal appeals court orders the judge in the Michael Flynn case to dismiss charges against the former national security advisor—at Barr’s request. And Israel is getting ready to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
info_outline "The Stache Strikes Back" Edition 06/18/2020
"The Stache Strikes Back" Edition John Bolton is finally publishing his tell-all book, and the White House is fighting back. A CIA investigation blames “woefully lax” computer security for the biggest leak in the agency’s history. And experts weigh in on how to change U.S. national security to prepare for the next pandemic.
info_outline The "Day Late and a Dollar Short" Edition 06/10/2020
The "Day Late and a Dollar Short" Edition Who ordered what and when as police cleared peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park? Those protests and others in every state have sparked a national debate about policing. And former Trump administration officials speak out against the president, after possibly holding their tongues too long.
info_outline The "America is Hurting" Edition 06/04/2020
The "America is Hurting" Edition Americans have taken to the streets in dozens of cities to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality, and systemic racism. Trump has focused his attention on looting and violence, which he calls “domestic terror” and insisted governors “dominate” the protestors. The gang talks about the role of the military and the Insurrection Act, the role of Barr and the Justice Department, and Trump’s use of other federal forces as America heads into another day of public demonstration.
info_outline The "Blue Exclamation Point" Edition 05/27/2020
The "Blue Exclamation Point" Edition Twitter starts fact-checking President Trump as social media companies face calls to ramp up their election security efforts. China again encroaches on Hong Kong, this time using the pandemic as cover. And the judge in Michael Flynn’s case is told to explain his delay in granting a motion to dismiss.
info_outline The "Pompeo in the Dog House" Edition 05/21/2020
The "Pompeo in the Dog House" Edition Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in hot water over the firing of an inspector general. A newly declassified email shows that Barack Obama wanted the Russia investigation handled “by the book.” And around the world people are slowly emerging from lockdowns and quarantines.
info_outline The "Ask Us Anything—Live!" Edition 05/14/2020
The "Ask Us Anything—Live!" Edition This week, the Rational Security gang is joined by listeners from around the world for a special live show. Unmasking, China, life after Trump/under Biden—we took listeners' questions and shared stories about how we're spending our time during the pandemic.
info_outline The "You Too Can be the DNI" Edition 05/07/2020
The "You Too Can be the DNI" Edition Congressman John Ratcliffe faces questions from the Senate in his quest to become the next director of national intelligence. Americans are detained in an apparent botched invasion of Venezuela. And former national security adviser Michael Flynn claims he was set up by corrupt FBI agents.
info_outline The "Blame it on Beijing" Edition 04/30/2020
The "Blame it on Beijing" Edition Democrats and Republicans finally have something to agree on: China deserves more scrutiny for how it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim Jong Un is alive, maybe. And the courts take up the argument on whether Congress can sue the executive branch.
info_outline The “A Little Government is a Dangerous Thing” Edition 04/23/2020
The “A Little Government is a Dangerous Thing” Edition Protests break out against states’ stay-at-home orders. China is linked to a disinformation campaign about the coronavirus. And Israel forms a unity government.