The Lawfare Podcast: Why Did DHS Compile an Intelligence Report about Lawfare’s Editor in Chief?

Jen Patja Howell, Natalie K. Orpett, Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

In the summer of 2020, Lawfare’s editor in chief Benjamin Wittes found out that he had been the subject of intelligence reports compiled by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. It was a bizarre but troubling revelation, and it raised a lot of questions, not only about the propriety of those reports but also about the practice in general. Who else was I&A compiling intelligence reports about and on what basis? So, Ben filed a FOIA request and subsequently a lawsuit in hopes of getting some answers. He's written about this matter for Lawfare a number of times, including in an update published yesterday.

Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Ben to talk through it all. They discussed the background of the case, why so-called open source intelligence reports can be so dangerous, and what we've learned about DHS over the course of the litigation.

Jen Patja Howell 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.
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.

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