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 "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.
info_outline The "Contact Tracing" Edition 04/15/2020
The "Contact Tracing" Edition State officials say tracing the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus will help keep it from spreading. The Trump administration withdraws funding from the World Health Organization. And Russia takes advantage of confused U.S. policy on Libya.
info_outline The “Ready, Aim, Fire Everyone!” Edition 04/09/2020
The “Ready, Aim, Fire Everyone!” Edition President Trump removes two independent inspectors general, including the one at the center of his impeachment. The acting Navy Secretary is out after he removed the captain of an aircraft carrier who complained that his sailors were at risk from the coronavirus. And despite health concerns, Wisconsin goes ahead with elections, offering a test case for November.
info_outline The “Don’t Be a Maskhole” Edition 04/02/2020
The “Don’t Be a Maskhole” Edition State and local governments are on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus. But there’s a lot the federal government can, and arguably should, be doing. What is the pandemic showing us about the strengths of a democracy versus an autocracy? And a new report finds significant problems with applications for FISA surveillance.
info_outline The "Flatten the Curve" Edition 03/26/2020
The "Flatten the Curve" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Social Distancing" Edition 03/18/2020
The "Social Distancing" Edition 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.
info_outline The "My Corona" Edition 03/11/2020
The "My Corona" Edition 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.
info_outline "The Second Time’s a Charm" Edition 03/05/2020
"The Second Time’s a Charm" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Just Quarantine Everything" Edition 02/27/2020
The "Just Quarantine Everything" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Should He Stay or Should He Go" Edition 02/20/2020
The "Should He Stay or Should He Go" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Lessons Learned" Edition 02/12/2020
The "Lessons Learned" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Impeached Forever" Edition 02/06/2020
The "Impeached Forever" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Pettifogging" Edition 01/22/2020
The "Pettifogging" Edition 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.”
info_outline The “Quite Common Under American Law” Edition 01/16/2020
The “Quite Common Under American Law” Edition 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.
info_outline The "Back from the Brink" Edition 01/09/2020
The "Back from the Brink" Edition 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.
info_outline The "2020 Vision" Edition 01/03/2020
The "2020 Vision" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Sad, Somber, and Solemn" Edition 12/19/2019
The "Sad, Somber, and Solemn" Edition 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.
info_outline The "Beast of Burden" Edition 12/11/2019
The "Beast of Burden" Edition 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.
info_outline The “Wait, Did I say NO Quid Pro Quo?” Edition 11/06/2019
The “Wait, Did I say NO Quid Pro Quo?” Edition 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.
info_outline The “There’s No Whimpering in Podcasting” Edition 10/30/2019
The “There’s No Whimpering in Podcasting” Edition 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.
info_outline The “Quid, Meet Quo” Edition 10/24/2019
The “Quid, Meet Quo” Edition 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.
info_outline The "Hand Grenades and Drug Deals" Edition 10/16/2019
The "Hand Grenades and Drug Deals" Edition 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.