The Lawfare Podcast: The Biden Administration and Afghanistan’s Frozen Assets

Jen Patja, Benjamin Wittes, Alex Zerden, Scott R. Anderson
Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The Biden administration on Friday notified a court of a novel proposal to dispose of $7 billion in frozen Afghanistan assets, producing some pretty confusing media and a lot of anger. To try to unpack it, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alex Zerden, the founder and principal of Capitol Peak Strategies and the former lead of the Treasury Department's office at the U.S.-Kabul embassy, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about what the Biden administration did and its executive order on Friday, how the media subtly got it wrong, what the implications are for pending litigation and for providing relief to the Afghan people, and whether the administration has successfully threaded a needle.

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Alex Zerden is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and founder of Capitol Peak Strategies. Previously he was Treasury Department financial attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2018 to 2019.
Scott R. Anderson is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School. He previously served as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and as the legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

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