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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 »

New Additions to the Lawfare Team

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 1:29 AM

I’m very excited to add three new additions to Lawfare‘s crew of contributors: David Kris requires no introduction to this audience. He served as assistant attorney general for national security earlier in the Obama administration and served in the Justice Department earlier too, both in the Criminal Division and as associate deputy attorney general. He has written a number of . . .
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The Grand Prize Winner of Our Snazzy Drawing

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Monday, January 5, 2015 at 4:55 PM

Some time back, I promised that if you donated to Lawfare before year’s end, each dollar of contribution would constitute a separate chance to win neato Lawfare prizes. The year having ended, Cody, Wells, and I sat down the other day and did a little drawing using a handy online random number generator. If you’ve won something, . . .
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A New Year’s Message: Plans for 2015

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Thursday, January 1, 2015 at 10:25 AM

First off, happy New Year to all our readers. The year 2014 was a great one for Lawfare–with continued growth in readership, and development of new content streams. I honestly did not believe we would eclipse Lawfare‘s performance in 2013 this past year. But we did. We had 1.2 million visits in 2014, up 11 . . .
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Don’t Forget Lawfare in Your Year End Charitable Giving

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Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Given that it’s December 29, it’s not much of a promise to say that this will be my last fundraising solicitation post of the year. That said, I promise. But I wanted to remind those of you who had not yet made a contribution to Lawfare in response to my earlier pleas that there is still time. . . .
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Thoughts on the SSCI Report, Part III: The Program’s Effectiveness

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Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Having started this series of posts by focusing on the aspect of the SSCI’s report on which the committee majority is strongest—the program’s brutality—I want to turn now to the aspects of the committee’s work on which, to my mind at least, its report is less persuasive. An enormous amount of the committee’s energy is devoted . . .
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NSA Swag Made in Pakistan

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Three years ago, Lawfare broke the important news that CIA branded gear at the CIA’s gift shop was being imported from, of all places, Pakistan. Now, just in time for your last-minute holiday shopping, comes news that NSA hoodies on sale at Fort Meade are also made in frenemy territory. Can’t make this stuff up. Too . . .
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Did Edward Snowden Call for Abolishing the Intelligence Community?

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Forget North Korea. Forget the Islamic State. Forget the Iranian nuclear program. I want to tell you about my exchange with Edward Snowden—and the amazing things he seems to have said in it. The exchange took place a couple of weeks ago, when I appeared as a last-minute sub-in on a panel at the Cato . . .
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On Sovereignty, Antarctica, Talmud and the Status of Jerusalem

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Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 3:28 PM

It is always fascinating to watch someone see Jerusalem for the first time. Yesterday, I took a long walk through the Old City with an archeologist and the wonderful group of scholars that Academic Exchange and the Yitzhak Rabin Center have brought to Israel for an incredibly rich week of briefings and discussions with Israelis . . .
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Thoughts on the SSCI Report, Part II: The Program’s Brutality

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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 8:48 AM

I want to begin my review of the SSCI interrogation report and the responses from the CIA and the SSCI minority by addressing the area in which, in my view, the majority report is strongest: the allegation that the treatment of detainees was far more abusive, far less controlled, and far more brutal than the CIA . . .
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A Coffee Shop on the Israeli-Al Qaeda Border

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

The last time I was on the Israeli-Syrian border looking at the ruined Syrian city of Quneitra was thirty years ago. I was fifteen and taking a summer course in Israel. And an Israeli soldier manning a border position was explaining to my class the mechanics of this tense but oddly stable border, over which . . .
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The Heroism of Effective Logistics: A Dispatch from Kerem Shalom

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 5:15 PM

We witnessed a moving scene today—if the loading and unloading of trucks amid looming concrete security barriers can ever really be moving: A major joint Palestinian-Israeli operation to route goods into the Gaza Strip. We’re not talking here about politics. The politics of the Kerem Shalom crossing are endless and complicated, with Palestinians and many . . .
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Thoughts on the SSCI Report, Part I: Introduction and Overview

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Monday, December 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I have now spent enough quality time with the SSCI interrogation report—and with minority views and the CIA response—that I am ready to begin commenting upon it. This is not to say I have finished reading it all; far from it. A plane flight to Israel and a lot of other hours have only gotten . . .
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Lawfare Podcast, Episode #103: Mieke Eoyang on FAA Exclusivity

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Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM

A few weeks ago, Mieke Eoyang wrote and post on Lawfare entitled “A Modest Proposal: FAA Exclusivity for Collection Involving U.S. Technology Companies.” Mieke is a long-time congressional staffer on national security matters, who served a stint on the House Intelligence Committee during the drafting of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) and now runs national security . . .
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The Onion’s Minotaur Video

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM

No news source in any medium captures the CIA interrogation debate more fully than this video from the Onion, which bears reposting this week:

Dianne Feinstein Responds to Director Brennan

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 9:45 PM

The text is here: Feinstein Response to CIA Director on Detention, Interrogation Program Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after CIA Director John Brennan spoke about the CIA’s detention and interrogation program: “CIA Director Brennan’s comments were not what I expected. They showed that CIA leadership is prepared to . . .
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A Few Thoughts on Yesterday’s AUMF Hearing

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 11:39 PM

Jack aptly stated earlier today many of my thoughts on yesterday’s hearing on an Islamic State AUMF—at which Secretary of State John Kerry testified. In particular, he highlighted the broad authorization the administration is seeking—one with few of the sort of accountability mechanisms Jack, Matt, Bobby and I have suggested. And he highlighted as well the . . .
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Video of Secretary of State Kerry’s Testimony on ISIL AUMF

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

Various Senators React to the SSCI Report

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9:23 PM

Kerry Outlines Administration Vision of an AUMF

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM

From Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepared testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today: Toward that end, we ask you now to work closely with us on a bipartisan basis to develop language that provides a clear signal of support for our ongoing military operations against ISIL. Our position on the text is pretty straightforward . . .
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The Forthcoming SSCI Report: Preemptive Commentary and What to Expect on Lawfare

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 8:26 AM

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s interrogation program is expected out today, but unsurprisingly, many people aren’t bothering to wait for it, the minority views, or the CIA’s response before commenting breathlessly on it. After all, actually reading it will be time consuming. Between all three documents, it’s many hundreds of pages. And since most . . .
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