The Lawfare Podcast: Uncovering a Secret U.S. Airstrike in Syria

Jen Patja, Natalie K. Orpett, Dave Philipps, Luke Hartig
Friday, December 10, 2021, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

On March 18, 2019, the U.S. conducted an airstrike in Baghuz, Syria, as part of its battle against the Islamic State. Two bombs were dropped killing dozens of people, as many as 80 according to U.S. Central Command, the majority of whom seem to have been civilians. But the American public had never heard of the strike until last month when a New York Times investigation revealed not only the fact of the strike, but also the troubling government response that led to its being concealed from public view for more than two years.

Natalie Orpett sat down with Dave Philipps, co-author of the Times article and a veteran national security reporter, and Luke Hartig, a fellow in New America's International Security Program and executive editor at Just Security. They talked about what we know and don't know about the incident itself, the legal and policy framework around airstrikes, allegations of war crimes, and what's been happening within the U.S. government in the years since the strike.

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.
Natalie Orpett is the executive editor of Lawfare and deputy general counsel of the Lawfare Institute. She was previously an attorney at the law firm Jenner & Block, where she focused on investigations and government controversies, and also maintained an active pro bono practice. She served as civilian counsel to a defendant in the Guantanamo Military Commissions for more than eight years. She also served as counsel to the National Security and Foreign Policy Legal Team of the Biden-Harris Transition Team.
Dave Philipps is a national correspondent for The New York Times covering the military. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice, most recently in 2022.
Luke Hartig is a fellow in New America's International Security Program and executive editor at Just Security.

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