Eli Lake and The Fifth Column Talk Syria, Surveillance, and Security as the First Bombs Fall

Susan Rice, war-authorization, and confrontation with the Russkies all get a real-time workout


Last night on The Fifth Column, the weekly podcast triumvirate of Kmele Foster, Michael C. Moynihan, and myself, we were busy talking to the newsmaking national security reporter Eli Lake, he of the Susan Rice unmasking scoop, when word came in that Donald Trump's first cruise missiles were landing on Syria. Lake, who wrote a seminal piece for Reason in 2010 about how the Sept. 14, 2001 authorization for the use of military force has been extended and bent to justify an unending stream of interventions, reacted in real time (while receiving healthy pushback) to the legality, propriety, and political reality of Trump's new war. Take a listen:

Nick Gillespie also interviewed Lake for a Reason Podcast in February.

For more Fifth Column, consult iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play,, @wethefifth, and Facebook.

NEXT: 'Bad Hombres' Aren't the Only Ones Trump's Scary New Surveillance Tool Will Catch

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  1. In Kmele’s honor, i’m drinking my coffee out of a Phantom of the Opera mug today.

    1. Since it’s in Kmele’s honor I assume your coffee is $100/lb and brewed in a $1200 machine?

      1. And with a whole lot of cream.

        1. I like my coffee like i like my women: hot, creamy, and partially digested by Asian tree-weasels.

      2. Of course.

  2. They all seemed disappointingly lucid throughout the entire episode, however I am grateful that Eli Lake didn’t freestyle.

  3. Can I get a timestamp for the Lake-Moynihan rap battle?

  4. For the love of God, can someone get Moynihan speak with a consistent level. Starting a sentence out at the volume of a drunken New Englander only to finish in the hushed tones of a thoughtful Swede only serves to anger this paying customer.

  5. For every five good Moynihan impressions, I would like to hear one terrible Welch impression. Thank you.

  6. he of the Susan Rice unmasking scoop

    Word on the street* was that dude Mike Cernovitch is the one who actually broke the story, then Lake and …some lady @ NYT [Maggie Haberman] ran their own versions, which they’d been sitting on because they didn’t want to ‘help Trump’ by substantiating claims against the Obama admin.

    (*internet street)

    disclosure: I am not some fan of this Cernovitch dude, who seems kind of concentrated-douchey, but i did actually read his claims (via instapundit) the day before anyone in the “real press” published any stories about Rice + the unmasking deal.

    1. Lake kind of addresses that during the podcast. Also, Mike Cernovich is a fucking maniac.

      1. Lake kind of addresses that

        as in, ‘explains how he didn’t really break the story’?
        (it takes me all day to actually get through a 5th-C podcast)

        i’ve seen pretty much every media outlet prominently attribute the ‘scooping’ to him…. and i’m not usually prone to read-between-the-lines, but the impression i have gotten was that everyone was doing so as a collective-bird-flipping to Cernovitch, because he’s not ‘Real Media’.

        *double disclosure: I hate having to caveat that i think the guy’s a dick as well (and that’s based on only the tiniest exposure to his steez). But being a dick doesn’t change the facts.

        1. as in, ‘explains how he didn’t really break the story’?

          I am not going to argue about journalistic firsties with you. I don’t care who broke the story; Lake has done a good job of reporting the story, and he does a fine job explaining himself in the podcast.

          Mike Cernovich.

          1. I am not going to argue about journalistic firsties with you.

            I wasn’t asking your opinion so much as to clarify what “kind of addresses” amounted to. I guess i’ll wait and find out.

            Its odd you’d feel the need to try and repeat that MC is a bad-person who says bad-things after both of us seem to have already gone to great lengths to state that in advance. As i said – his being a dick doesn’t change the facts.

            1. finally got to it = “Eli don’t follow no fake news

              he basically claims its a complete coincidence that his story came immediately afterward, and that his reporting was (by contrast) very pro, which makes it the first ‘real’ coverage.

              nothing actually said about when he learned the facts. the allegation is that he knew for a few days before writing anything, and only published the piece when it was outed by others.

              so he doesn’t really address the issue.

              *third disclosure = i’ve liked Lake ever since he first appeared on the Independents (his attire-score was always above average); and i thought ENB’s disses of the guy were silly. My comments here are just curious interest in how ‘real media’ tries to pretend that ‘fake media’ doesn’t occasionally beat them to the story.

              1. My comments here are just curious interest in how ‘real media’ tries to pretend that ‘fake media’ doesn’t occasionally beat them to the story.

                You may have a point, but people like Cernovich do themselves a disservice by either trolling, or going out of their way to be strange, which makes them easy to dismiss.

            2. Its odd you’d feel the need to try and repeat that MC is a bad-person who says bad-things

              No, I said he is a maniac, and then I posted a video which I think helps show that he is a maniac. And no, it doesn’t mean he is wrong.

            3. You may have a point

              well if your goal was to completely dismiss it and instead focus myopically on the thing i was specifically trying to avoid by adding disclosures and caveats in the first place… congratulations.

  7. Calling Hillary a broad-swath was uncalled for.

  8. re: Welch doing ‘End Zone Dance’ over skepticism in Trump’s ‘non-interventionist’-bona-fides being vindicated.

    I think even skeptical people like myself still argued that as impulsive and potentially-dangerous as a character like Trump could/would be, that he was still likely a better option than Hillary… whose attitude re: Libya/Syria was that we haven’t gotten deep *enough* involved

    shorter = between ‘kooky Trump’ and ‘psychopathic hillary’, kooky wins.

    And i also think Trump reinforced perceptions as less-interventiony when he picked Mattis +Tillerson, both people w/ gravitas, likely to focus on potential consequences of any actions beyond mere-political ones

    as raimondo noted =

    . The Cato Institute’s Christopher Preble, a staunch anti-interventionist, sees him [Mattis] as a restraining influence on our new commander-in-chief: “[W]ithin the Trump administration he could be a critical voice of caution with respect to the wisdom or folly of the use of force going forward.” ….

    According to several reports, Gen.Mattis’s favorite reprise to those who advocate some form of military intervention is “And then what?”

    What is most concerning about this recent escalation is that i don’t think anyone has yet heard any serious discussion about exactly that question.

    1. * i realized 3/4 thru the podcast that matt made those remarks before knowing that the syria attack have even happened. which may completely change what was actually intended … or not? not sure.

  9. Welch’s Newsmax cover-story…

    not actually at the link – its just a gloss on it. Sadly can’t find the original article, even @ their website

  10. i’ve never read “problem from hell” in total (but read dozens of bites), but re: Shit-talking about Susan Rice….

    ….her catastrophic role in Africa in the 1990s is worth a read

    it really does make you wonder what Obama thought she was supposed to be good at. It would seem to be = “no matter how bad the policy screw-up, she stays loyal to her boss”. Which is nice, i suppose, if you’re planning to screw lots of stuff up.

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