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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 »

A Thought on Dean Baquet’s Comments to Jack

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 11:47 AM

This morning, Jack published an interview he conducted yesterday with New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet about the paper’s decision the other day to publish the names of three covert CIA officers. Earlier this week, DNI General Counsel Robert Litt blasted this decision, and—among other things—Baquet in the interview defends it. Baquet offers a . . .
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This Week’s “Rational Security” Episode

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Monday, April 27, 2015 at 2:28 PM

I wasn’t there. A certain Lawfare managing editor filled in for me. Here ya go!

Sen. McConnell Moves for a “Clean” 215 Reauthorization

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Monday, April 27, 2015 at 2:25 PM

This actually happened last week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced and fast-tracked a bill (S. 1035) to extend through the year 2019 three USA Patriot Act provisions set to expire at the end of May. The so-called “clean” extension of the provisions, which include Sec. 215, includes none of the reforms in . . .
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Tiny Robots Pull Huge Loads

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Monday, April 27, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Here’s an interesting demonstration of how much more powerful robots are becoming. A group at Stanford has produced tiny robots that can lift, while climbing up walls, more than 100 times their own weight—and one that can drag a weight 2,000 times heavier than itself. As one of the engineers involved put it, that’s “the . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #120: A Lecture on “The Future of Violence”

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 1:55 PM

I was privileged to speak this week at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas on Gabriella Blum and my new book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones——Confronting A New Age of Threat. The audio quality isn’t wonderful, but it’s one of the better speeches I . . .
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Reminder: The Triple Entente Beer Summit is Fast Approaching

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

They’re the hottest item in the national security world. And they’re going fast. Get your tickets now for the Triple Entente Beer Summit, May 7 at the Washington Firehouse. Have a beer with Lawfare, with the folks from the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, and with the gang from Rational Security. See a live taping of all three shows. Ask . . .
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New York Times Gets Stellarwind IG Report Under FOIA

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 10:40 AM

It’s big (750 pages) and we haven’t read it yet, but here it is. And here’s the New York Times story on the report: WASHINGTON — The secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program hampered its effectiveness, and many members of the intelligence community later struggled to identify . . .
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Omar Khadr Granted Bail in Canada

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 10:22 AM

The American press has largely ignored the decision, but CBC News has the story: Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr, the Canadian transferred to an Alberta facility after serving time at Guantanamo Bay, has been granted bail. Shortly after the decision was announced, the federal government said it would appeal the decision made by an Alberta judge. . . .
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Another Response on Harold Koh

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Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 8:19 PM

Yesterday, I published this correspondence from a government lawyer who thought I had been unfair to Harold Koh in describing his role at the State Department as being “obstructionist” with respect to the drone program. Here’s another response I received, this one from someone else who observed the process and who agrees with my characterization—though . . .
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Drone with Radioactive Material Lands on Japanese Prime Minister’s Office

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 8:10 PM

So reports the Guardian: Japanese authorities have launched an investigation after a small drone reportedly containing traces of radiation was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office, sparking concerns about drones and their possible use for terrorist attacks. No injuries or damage was reported from the incident on Wednesday. The prime minister, Shinzo . . .
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A Response on Harold Koh

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 1:26 PM

I received the following email from a government lawyer who was involved in the drone strike discussions about my post yesterday about Harold Koh’s role in those discussions: I think your characterization of Harold as “obstructionist” is unfair. I often disagreed with him, but I have no doubt that he was endeavoring to put on . . .
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The Strange Case of Harold Koh at NYU

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 1:16 AM

I would normally lay off writing about the flap that has erupted at NYU over Harold Koh’s presence there. Academic politics don’t interest me much. Student protests interest me even less. And student protests based on false facts that, in turn, lead to academics piously leaping to the defense of one another’s virtues and students . . .
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Latest Episode of “Rational Security”

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:51 PM

“Rational Security” was delayed last week, but the special “Crusader Airstrikes Edition” is now out. You can subscribe to Rational Security using our RSS feed, on iTunes, or on Stitcher. Enjoy!

Wall Street Journal Essay Adapted from “The Future of Violence”

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:44 PM

The Wall Street Journal over the weekend ran this essay adapted from our new book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones——Confronting A New Age of Threat. It opens, You walk into your shower and see a spider. You don’t know whether it is venomous—or whether it is even a real spider. It . . .
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In Case You Needed Another Reason to Look Askance at WikiLeaks

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 10:27 PM

Here is one. The organization today posted online what it describes as “an analysis and search system for The Sony Archives: 30,287 documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and 173,132 emails, to and from more than 2,200 SPE email addresses.” That’s right. North Korea hacks Sony and steals lots of innocent people’s communications, and WikiLeaks . . .
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Reminder: Get Yer Tickets for the Triple Entente Beer Summit!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 10:00 AM

They’re the hottest item in the national security world. And they’re going fast. Get your tickets now for the Triple Entente Beer Summit, May 7 at the Washington Firehouse. Have a beer with Lawfare, with the folks from the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, and with the gang from Rational Security. See a live taping of all three shows. Ask . . .
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The AUMF is Dead. Long Live the AUMF.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 8:12 AM

The Hill is reporting this morning that Republican congressional leaders have declared the President’s AUMF proposal dead: President Obama’s proposal for the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is dead in the House, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared on Monday. The California Republican said Obama’s draft authorization for . . .
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The New York Times’s Latest Kill List Story

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Monday, April 13, 2015 at 8:35 AM

The New York Times this morning has a story on the internal debate within the administration over whether to capture or kill a U.S. citizen terrorism suspect now facing charges in federal court in New York: A Texas-born man suspected of being an operative for Al Qaeda stood before a federal judge in Brooklyn this month. Two years . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #118: Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai on One Syrian’s Story and One Country’s Tragedy

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Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 1:55 PM

When Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai was just shy of 19 years old, she fled her hometown of Damascus, Syria with her family; her parents were facing death threats from the Bashar Assad regime. She came to Washington in 2005, and since then, as she has gone to college and started a career in Washington Mideast policy work, . . .
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The Latest Episode of Rational Security Is Now Out. . .

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Friday, April 10, 2015 at 3:23 PM

… with special guest Jonathan Rauch. We talk Iran deal, congressional inaction on AUMF and 215 matters, and cybersecurity. We also tell off-color jokes. And we announce a giveaway of one ticket to the Triple Entente Beer Summit to the person who most effectively flacks the event on Twitter. You can subscribe to Rational Security—which you . . .
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