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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 »

President Obama Is Right

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Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 5:18 PM

President Obama is right. He was right when he said, as a presidential candidate in 2007, that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” And he was right that “military action is most . . .
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North Korean Ambassador to the UN Talks at CFR

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 3:56 PM

In case you need a macabre laugh. Transcript is available here if you can’t stand watching Jang Il Hun compare human rights in his country favorably to those in South Korea.

Another Way to Support Lawfare

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Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Yesterday, I posted an appeal for reader support—one that should make you feel all warm and fuzzy about donating to Lawfare: Here’s another way to support Lawfare, one that won’t cost you a dime: AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is a program under which Amazon.com donates to non-profits whenever Amazon designates them as recipients. If you designate us, a small . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #96: James Comey on “Going Dark”

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Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I was delighted this morning to host FBI Director James Comey at a discussion at the Brookings Institution entitled, “Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy, and Public Safety on a Collision Course?” The event was structured less as a speech—though Comey began by offering some brief remarks—than as a discussion with me and, particularly, the audience. The . . .
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Support Lawfare, Feel All Warm and Fuzzy, and Get Something Back!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The other day, I listened to a fascinating episode of Freakonomics Radio featuring a lengthy discussion with a noted economist about what actually works in non-profit fundraising. I listened to this with, I suspect, more-than-average attention, as we have been working hard recently to raise money to grow Lawfare. The secret, according to University of Chicago economist John List, . . .
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CDT Event this Evening on “Databuse”

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM

This will be an interesting event this evening. The Center for Democracy and Technology is holding a discussion of a paper Wells and I recently published entitled, “Databuse and a Trusteeship Model of Consumer Protection in the Big Data Era.” CDT is describing the event as follows: Please join the Center for Democracy & Technology . . .
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Ask Wells

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 2:18 PM

The name of this New York Times feature makes me think Lawfare should have a Q&A/Advice/Ombudsman/Ask-Me-Anything type column and that it really should be written by our managing editor, Wells Bennett. We’re going to call it: “Ask Wells.” Got a pressing national security law question? Ask Wells. Got a complaint about Lawfare? Ask Wells. Need relationship or professional . . .
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Why Glenn Greenwald’s Challenge is Asking the Wrong Question

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Over at Vox an admiring article appears on a challenge that Glenn Greenwald is giving to people who think they have nothing to hide: The most common defense for the massive expansion of government surveillance programs since 2001 is that they only negatively affect people who have something to hide. In a recent TED Talk, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist . . .
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On the Latest Intercept Story

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Monday, October 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

You may not have read much about the latest big scoop in The Intercept, released Friday evening under the bylines of Peter Maass and Laura Poitras and headlined “Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany.” There have not been a lot of media organizations following the story. This might be due to the infelicitous timing of . . .
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New Yorker Profile of Laura Poitras

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Monday, October 13, 2014 at 9:24 PM

I have just read George Packer’s profile of Laura Poitras in the New Yorker, which centers around her new, long-awaited film about Edward Snowden. The film, due for release October 24 and called Citizenfour, is the next scheduled act in the Snowden drama. I’ll reserve comment on the film until I’ve seen it. The Packer article, however, . . .
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Jane Mayer Interviews Edward Snowden

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Monday, October 13, 2014 at 11:18 AM

From the New Yorker:  

Hawk v. Drone

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Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Excellent!

FBI Director James Comey to Speak at Brookings Next Week on Encryption

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Friday, October 10, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I’m excited to be hosting FBI Director James Comey this coming Thursday for a speech and conversation on encryption at the Brookings Institution. Here’s how Brookings is describing the event: Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy, and Public Safety on a Collision Course? Issues of privacy and security are at the forefront of public debate, particularly . . .
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Unilateral Executive Action to Close Guantanamo? Bah!

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Friday, October 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM

The estimable Carol E. Lee and Jess Bravin, over at the Wall Street Journal, are reporting this morning that: The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. Such a . . .
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Some Recent NSA Debates

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Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Here’s some video of some recent NSA debates. Here’s one that took place a couple of weeks ago at Georgetown on “The NSA, Privacy & the Global Internet: Perspectives on EO 12333.” Participants included law professors Nathan Sales, Laura Donohue, DNI General Counsel Bob Litt, and former State Department official John Tyre. This one, from . . .
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Is “The Death of Klinghoffer” Anti-Semitic?

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Monday, October 6, 2014 at 9:22 AM

A fight has broken out in New York over an opera: Jewish groups are protesting the Metropolitan Opera’s production of a work called The Death of Klinghoffer, which dramatizes the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking by Palestinian terrorists and the resulting murder of a wheelchair-bound Jewish vacationer named Leon Klinghoffer. The complaint against the opera? It supposedly . . .
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Readings: Daniel Byman and Jeremy Shapiro Warn Against Hyping the Threat of Returning Jihadists

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 9:28 PM

My Brookings colleagues Daniel Byman (who is, among other things, Lawfare‘s Foreign Policy Editor) and Jeremy Shapiro (who is, among other things, a demon with a barbecue and a slab of meat), have a new piece out in Foreign Affairs entitled, “Homeward Bound? Don’t Hype the Threat of Returning Jihadists.” It’s a counter-intuitive take on the threat posed by . . .
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A Standoff of Agreement Over an ISIS AUMF

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:46 AM

You know that the political system has reached a moment of special paralysis when a standoff emerges out of agreement. Yet that is what appears to be happening with respect to the politics of authorizing force against ISIS. Over the weekend, the Sunday talk shows featured interviews with both White House officials and the senior House leadership. . . .
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A Less Generous Take on Greenwald’s Latest

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Jack is very generous to Glenn Greenwald in his post earlier today, in which he notes areas where he agrees with what he terms Greenwald’s “skeptical takedown of the factual basis for the attacks on the Khorasan Group (KG) in Syria, and the American Press’s complicity, based on anonymous USG sources, in spreading war-mongering exaggerations about . . .
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Diane Webber on the ECHJ Opinion in Hassan

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 7:58 AM

Diane Webber, a British lawyer who recently did a lengthy study of detention law in a variety of countries, writes in with the following account of the European Court of Human Rights decision earlier this month in Hassan v. United Kingdom (ECHR Application No. 29750/09, Judgment of Grand Chamber, September 16, 2014): In an important decision this . . .
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