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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 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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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #93: Hardcore Dan Carlin

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Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 1:55 PM

A few weeks ago, I began listening to a podcast called Hardcore History, which is the brainchild of a fellow named Dan Carlin. Carlin was doing a series of episodes on World War I, and Hardcore History is—let’s just say—a different sort of podcast. The episodes are very long, very involved, and to me at . . .
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Drone Dance

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Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Austrian drone-swarm dance with lights. Very cool.

Heritage Event on “The Legal Basis for Military Action against ISIS”

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Friday, September 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Featuring Cully Stimson, Bobby Chesney, Steve Vladeck, and Steve Bradbury. Here’s the video:

Who Should Replace Eric Holder? David Kris

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Friday, September 26, 2014 at 10:45 AM

The biggest surprise I’ve had in this job is how much time the national-security issues take. Those are the primary things that I have to deal with in a post-9/11 world. From an eight-thirty meeting every morning, to the threat screen for the last twenty-four hours, to meetings during the course of the day. And . . .
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Speaking the Law: Chapters 4 and 5

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 7:41 AM

The Hoover Institution has released Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of our serialized book: Speaking the Law: The Obama Administration’s Addresses on National Security Law. Here are the Introduction and Chapter 1, Chapter 2,  and Chapter 3. Chapter 4 looks at the Obama administration’s speeches on national security—and the framework they lay out—in relation to other branches of government . . .
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A New Readership Demographic?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 7:24 AM

Wells, always on the lookout for new readers, does some market research in Massachusetts. At least they didn’t answer, “Just Security“!

The Financial Costs of Guantanamo

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Jessica Schulberg, writing at the New Republic, has a good piece about the financial costs of Congress’s insistence on maintaining the detention facility at Guantanamo: In 1995, the U.S. military built a small temporary food preparation station on the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base to feed an influx of Haitian and Cuban refugees. Within a year, . . .
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Are We Facing an ISIS Detention Mess?

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Monday, September 22, 2014 at 11:17 PM

Over at Newsweek, Jeff Stein wonders: “What Will U.S. Forces Do With ISIS Prisoners?” Among the many unresolved issues in the campaign to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as it’s generally known, is what to do with prisoners in Iraq or Syria, should American special operators or U.S.-backed forces be lucky enough to capture any. How deeply . . .
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Jason Leopold on the Samir Khan Case

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Monday, September 22, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Over at VICE News, reporter Jason Leopold has this very interesting story about the FBI investigation of Samir Khan, the AQAP propagandist and editor of Inspire magazine, who was killed in the strike against Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Khan, like Al-Aulaqi, was a U.S. citizen, though the government maintains that he was not the target of the strike that . . .
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Julian Sanchez on the NSA Controversies and Surveillance Reform

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Monday, September 22, 2014 at 9:23 PM

Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez has this lengthy interview with a podcast called Free Thoughts from libertarianism.org on the NSA controversies. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I look forward to doing so.

Lawfare Podcast Twitter Feed

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Monday, September 22, 2014 at 7:56 AM

The Lawfare Podcast now has its own Twitter feed. Click here to follow it for announcements of new episodes when they go up on the podcast server (sometimes a day or two before we announce them on the site on Saturday mornings), upcoming episodes, and other fun stuff. Follow @lawfarepodcast

Breaking News: Government Agency Bulk Collecting Twitter Data

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Friday, September 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM

I was at the National Security Agency yesterday giving a Constitution Day speech and I learned details of a shocking collection program: The government is bulk collecting all traffic on Twitter. Under a program menacingly called “Bulk Data in Social Media” and abbreviated—appropriately enough—as BDSM, Twitter has been providing all public traffic since 2010 for a . . .
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Honorable Mention: Sen. Tim Kaine

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Friday, September 19, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I have spent a lot of time over the past several years—as have many Americans—marveling at the horribleness of the United States Congress. And like many people of a romantically historical bent, I have often wondered how political institutions created and once occupied by such intellectual giants as were ours came to be dominated by . . .
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Drones and Democracy: A Response to Firmin DeBrabander

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

The New York Times has an oped this morning by a philosophy professor named Firmin DeBrabander worrying that drone warfare heralds the end of democracy in America. No, I am not making that up or even exaggerating. Here’s its conclusion: Most American citizens are quick to let someone or something else bear the brunt of our . . .
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Lawfare Podcast, Episode #91: ISIS, ISIL, IS, AUMF

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Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM

This week’s episode: A roundtable discussion of the politics and law of congressional authorization and the military campaign against ISIS. Bobby, Wells, Foreign Policy magazine’s Shane Harris and I held an impromptu conference call yesterday afternoon to discuss the administration’s legal theory for the impending action, the prospects of a congressional vote on authorization, the War Powers . . .
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Not Asking the Girl to Dance

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Here’s President Obama coyly not asking Congress to dance—that is, as I put it in my post earlier today, “signal[ing] that [he] would like to dance with Congress—saying [he] will consult with her, that [he] invites her support—but [stopping] short of anything like a formal request, and he insist[ing] that he’s happy to dance alone.” In his speech tonight, Obama said: My Administration has also secured . . .
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President Obama Addresses the Nation on ISIS

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Watch it here live: Here’s the text of the speech: