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.
We begin by reviving “This Week in NSA,” as the Second Circuit contributes a timely 97-page opinion declaring that NSA’s metadata program cannot be squared with the language of section 215. We wonder why the court bothered, given that its opinion rests on a statute that will either be revised, reauthorized, or repealed in less than three weeks – all outcomes that moot the opinion. The opinion itself comes in for faint praise, though Ben proposes a variant of Godwin’s Law: Judges who treat NSA’s highly regulated 215 program as the equivalent of the law-free domestic surveillance of the 1970s end up looking like poseurs if they don’t follow up by enjoining the program.
Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell’s book is out, and it attributes the rise of ISIS in part to Edward Snowden’s leaks. We chew over this claim as well as Morell’s take on Benghazi and the Agency’s politically convenient naivete about the impact of the Arab Spring on Islamic terrorism.
We introduce another recurring feature, “This Week in French and German Hypocrisy.” Ben opens for the prosecution, and the rest of us pile on, pointing out that post-Snowden posturing seems to have been more about restraining US capabilities than about protecting privacy.
After these topics, 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.