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Cully Stimson on Heritage’s New National Security Law Program

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Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Over at the Heritage Foundation, Senior Legal Fellow Cully Stimson held this event the other day, at which Kenneth Wainstein spoke:

Watch live streaming video from thflehrman at livestream.com

The event was notable for another reason: Cully announced Heritage’s formation of a new National Security Law Program, which he described as follows—including with gracious remarks about Bobby and my work on Lawfare:

As I was finishing up my one year stint as Heritage’s Chief of Staff a few months ago, and I was asked what I wanted to do next by Ed Feulner and Senator DeMint, I didn’t have to think long about my answer.  A fully-resourced, dedicated program on national security law.  A program that would, over time, cover all aspects of national security law, from the FISA, the PATRIOT Act, to intelligence law and policy, to interrogation law and policy, to military commissions and federal terrorism trials, terrorist detention, the War Powers Act, the law of armed conflict, remotely piloted aerial vehicles, the proper bounds of self defense in international and non-international armed conflict, and other pressing and difficult topics.

This program, the first of its kind in a DC think tank, is the natural next step from the work I have done here since 2007.  Working with former Attorney General Ed Meese and others both inside and outside of Heritage, we have written, testified, debated, and participated in the national dialogue.  I have also been inspired, supported and encouraged by others who have played a key role in thinking about the myriad of topics in this area.  Most particularly, Ben Wittes at The Brookings Institution, Bobby Chesney at the University of Texas, and others.  Their invaluable website called Lawfare blog is the go-to website for the most intelligent presentation of views, from all sides, on all things national security law.  As an infrequent contributor but everyday reader of the site, I tip my hat to them for the great work they have done and look forward to working with them, and others, in the future.

Our program aims to highlight the best and brightest national security law experts, and bring them to Heritage to present lectures, debate each other, and write timely papers across the most pressing topics of the day.  We are a non-partisan think tank, and I intend to bring folks from both sides of the isle here to debate the most difficult topics in a thoughtful, non-partisan way.  That is why, for example, I was thrilled to invite my friend Jeh Johnson—President Obama’s DOD General Counsel in his first term—here a couple years back to talk about critical issues of the day.

As I have told Cully privately, I’m very excited that he is doing this. Over the next few years, there is going to be a big fight within conservatism over national security legal issues. What will the GOP as an opposition party develop as its core positions in this area? Will it represent the idea that we must detain people in military custody, try everyone in military commissions, and prevent law enforcement from reading people Miranda warnings? Will it follow Rand Paul over the cliff into an alliance with the Left in opposition to targeting law? Will it incoherently do both simultaneously? Or will it renew a commitment to the strong center of robust national security tools that developed between the late Bush administration and the Obama administration? This question is very much in play, and there’s a huge market hole for a D.C. think tank to be the center of that debate—and to guide it in constructive directions. Here’s wishing Cully all the best in building this program.

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