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Posts by Benjamin Wittes

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 and a member of the Hoover Institution's Task Force on National Security and Law. For speaking information and for a larger collection of his work, see his Full bio »

Lawfare Podcast, Episode #101: Jameel Jaffer, Bob Litt, and William Banks Debate FISA

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Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Earlier this month, the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security held its “24th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law CLE Conference.” As part of the conference, the group held a particularly strong panel discussion on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—featuring Bob Litt, general counsel to the DNI, Jameel Jaffer of . . .
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Judges Brett Kavanaugh and John D. Bates on Blogs and Judges in National Security Cases

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Friday, November 21, 2014 at 8:56 AM

At a recent panel on which I spoke at the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security’s annual conference, D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh and U.S. District Judge—and former FISA presiding judge—John D. Bates had some interesting comments on the role of blogs in the judiciary’s handling of national security cases. The attached audio is . . .
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A Reader Survey on Live Lawfare Events and Webcasts

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Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:57 PM

We are currently planning to launch, in the new year, a series of live events, webcasts, and other forms of programming. Readers have been asking for more of this sort of thing from Lawfare for quite some time. Because doing it will be resource intensive, we will need to charge for participation in these events with some sort . . .
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If You Haven’t Yet Contributed to Lawfare

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Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Editor’s Note: If you have already contributed to Lawfare in response to my appeals, please ignore this post. For those who have not yet done so, and you know who you are, I am reposting the appeal, and will occasionally do so again between now and the end of the year. Please considering making a donation of any . . .
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The Senate Kills Surveillance Reform and Glenn Greenwald Shrugs

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 10:47 AM

The Senate yesterday buried—at least for now—surveillance reform, when Republican senators refused to allow the current draft of the measure to proceed to a vote. Glenn Greenwald has an interesting reaction to the legislative death of the grandiosely-named USA Freedom Act: It doesn’t matter. He writes, “it has been clear from the start that U.S. legislation is . . .
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Audio of ABA’s “24th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law CLE Conference”

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 3:38 PM

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security has released audio files of sessions from its recent annual conference. Here they all are: November 6 – November 7, 2014 | The Capital Hilton Opening Remarks and Panel I - Executive Branch Updates on Developments in National Security Law (Panel I begins at ~6:57) Opening Remarks: . . .
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Bruce Riedel on the Origins of the Islamic State

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 8:39 AM

A brief history of the Islamic State in the form of an animated video from my Brookings colleague Bruce Riedel. Bruce is the director of The Intelligence Project at Brookings, and he spent 30 years at the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Executive Power and Immigration Reform

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Monday, November 17, 2014 at 11:33 PM

The current flap about President Obama’s plan to proceed without Congress on immigration matters isn’t really about national security law. But it is about the law of presidential power and thus of inherent interest to readers of this site. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck in reading the many news stories about the brewing . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #100: Shane Harris @War

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Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Shane Harris, national security writer for the Daily Beast, was the first ever guest on the Lawfare Podcast, back when it was the most experimental of features. Now, just in time for our 100th episode, he has put out a new book, @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex. You should definitely buy the book, which is a fascinating . . .
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Why Does the AUMF Debate Even Matter?

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Friday, November 14, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Midday yesterday, I ran into a prominent national security reporter on the street near Brookings. The conversation quickly turned, as conversations tend to turn in our circles in Washington these days, to proposals for a new AUMF. We talked briefly about the one that Jack, Bobby, Matt, and I had drafted and about its areas of common ground . . .
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Pew Study Says Exactly What You’d Expect on Privacy

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Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 9:09 AM

The Pew Research Internet Project has released a new public opinion study that shows exactly what you would expect the public believes about privacy, surveillance, and related matters. The study seems to have involved a major effort, and I read it yesterday expecting to find some new insight into public opinion about privacy. Nope. Nothing. . . .
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A Response to Steve Vladeck on the AUMF Principles

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 1:51 PM

I am a little perplexed by Steve’s response to my critique of the AUMF principles he helped write. Steve accuses me of “hiding the ball.” But he seems to me, rather, to be moving the goalposts. He may have moved them into a position that, as he suggests, gives rise to less disagreement on my part . . .
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Why Three of the Six Just Security AUMF Principles are Flawed

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 9:25 AM

By coincidence, the same day that Jack, Bobby, Matt and I released our draft AUMF text, a group associated with Just Security released a document entitled “Principles to Guide Congressional Authorization of the Continued Use of Force Against ISIL.” There’s a lot of common ground between this set of principles and our text, but in my view . . .
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Your Weekly Reminder to Contribute to Lawfare

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Monday, November 10, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Editor’s Note: For those of you who have already contributed to Lawfare in response to my appeals, many thanks from all of us. For those who have not yet done so, I am reposting the appeal, and will occasionally do so again between now and the end of the year. Please considering making a donation of any size. . . .
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A Draft AUMF to Get the Discussion Going

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Monday, November 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

President Obama said last week that he wants an AUMF for the ISIL conflict, and he further stated that he wants to “right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights.” So we thought we would draft a notional AUMF along those lines to get a discussion going. What . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #99: Jack Goldsmith on “Obama’s War Powers Legacy”

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Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Last month, Jack gave a talk at the Hoover Institution on President Obama’s war powers legacy. It’s a remarkable address: hard-hitting, clear, and sure to discomfort Obama’s defenders on war powers issues. In essence, Jack argues that Obama has gone way beyond President Bush in the aggressiveness of his approach vis a vis Congress to . . .
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Happy Guy Fawkes Day

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5:59 PM

The only holiday devoted to celebrating the failure of non-state actors to destroy the symbols and institutions of state power.

So What Does the New Republican Majority Mean for National Security Issues In Congress?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:17 PM

The result is no surprise: Republicans now control both houses of Congress—or, at least, they will come January. I’ll leave it to others to dissect how we should understand last night’s electoral results in political terms, what it means for President Obama, the 2016 election, or the future of American politics. Here I want to focus . . .
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On Ryan Goodman’s “Interrogation” of the “Parity Principle”

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Monday, November 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Over at Just Security, Ryan Goodman analyzes UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s claim that states owe the same privacy protections to non-nationals abroad as to their own citizens at home in conducting broad surveillance programs. Emmerson had written, “The Special Rapporteur thus considers that States are legally obliged to afford the same privacy protection for nationals and . . .
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Please Remember to Contribute to Lawfare

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Monday, November 3, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Editor’s Note: For those of you who have already contributed to Lawfare in response to my appeal the other day, many thanks from all of us. For those who have not yet done so, I am reposting the appeal, and will occasionally do so again between now and the end of the year.  The other day, I . . .
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