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Posts by Jack Goldsmith

Jack Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, where he teaches and writes about national security law, presidential power, cybersecurity, international law, internet law, foreign relations law, and conflict of laws. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003–2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002–2003. Professor Goldsmith is a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. Follow him on Twitter @JackLGoldsmith. Full bio »

How the Supreme Court Should Resolve Zivotofsky

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Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Zivotofsky is an important case because it appears to require the Supreme Court to address the scope of the President’s exclusive foreign relations power vis a vis Congress.  This is a very hard question, rarely addressed by the Court, about which the relevant sources (text, original meaning, historical practice) are, in my view, unclear.  And . . .
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Susan Rice Did Not Consult DOD When She Urged Repeal of 2002 AUMF That DOD (Correctly) Thought Was “Still Needed”

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Monday, October 27, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Michael Hirsh has a piece at Politico on the disorganized, uncoordinated crafting and implementation of the administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State.  Of particular interest to Lawfare readers is the news that National Security Advisor Susan Rice failed to consult with DOD when she wrote a letter to Congress last summer asking for the . . .
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A Bit More On the Debate About the Extraterritorial Scope of the Torture Convention’s Provisions on Cruelty

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Monday, October 27, 2014 at 7:45 AM

In his piece on Nobel Peace Prize Laureates pressuring the President to disclose information about torture, Charlie Savage explains why some officials in the administration oppose the broad extraterritorial expansion of Article 16 of the CAT: The officials opposed to accepting the cruelty provision as applying abroad insist they do not want to resume abusive . . .
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The Debate About the Extraterritorial Scope of the Torture Convention’s Provisions on Cruelty is (Almost Certainly) Not About USG Interrogation Policy

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Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

A week ago Charlie Savage reported that the Obama administration “is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the [Convention Against Torture(CAT)] imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders.”  The provision of the Torture Convention in question is Article 16, which provides: “Each State Party shall undertake to . . .
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Some Implications of President Obama’s Plans to Sidestep Congress on Iranian Sanctions

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

David Sanger recently reported that the Executive branch thinks it can suspend “the vast majority” of congressional sanctions unilaterally if it reaches a deal with Iran to forestall that nation’s nuclear weapons program.  “President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on” the matter, Sanger tells us.  “We wouldn’t seek . . .
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Susan Landau on NSA Efforts to Secure Private Sector Telecommunications Infrastructure

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Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Susan Landau has a new paper – entitled Under the Radar: NSA’s Efforts to Secure Private-Sector Telecommunications Infrastructure – up at the Journal of National Security Law and Policy.  From the abstract: Landau explains the National Security Agency’s little-known function of providing communications security (COMSEC) to private companies, which has involved an improvement of security . . .
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Obama Administration Explains Why It Thinks Islamic State Strikes Comply With War Powers Resolution

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Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Last week I explained that a likely major reason for the Obama administration’s switch from an Article II rationale for air strikes against the Islamic State to an AUMF rationale (2001 and 2002) was compliance with the War Power s Resolution (WPR).  Section 5(b) of the WPR requires the President to “terminate any use of . . .
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Obama’s Surprising War Powers Legacy

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

We have an essay in The New Republic titled Obama, Not Bush, Is the Master of Unilateral War.  It argues that President Obama, ironically in light of his own lofty rhetoric about lodging war decisions with “the people’s representatives” in Congress, has through his practices created new precedents that push outward the boundaries of unilateral . . .
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End of “Forever War” Watch, Columbus Day Weekend Edition

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Monday, October 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Last year President Obama called for the end of the 2001 AUMF conflict and wagged his finger at people who thought continued statutory authority was needed to meet the continuing and morphing Islamic terrorist threats.  You know the lines.  “I will not sign laws designed to expand this [2001 AUMF] mandate further,” and “this war, . . .
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What Will U.S. Troops in Baghdad Do When Islamic State Militants Arrive?

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Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM

There are several stories today about how Islamic State militants are threatening Baghdad.  Some of the stories suggest that “an all-out assault on Baghdad” may be in the cards, while others say that the militants will instead simply “wreak havoc” on the city from its western edge.  Whichever is right, Islamic State forces are threatening . . .
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On Ryan Goodman’s Hopeful Take on Ending the Forever War (Or: Why Legal Debates About the 2001 AUMF Don’t Affect National Security Reality)

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Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 3:14 PM

A few responses to Ryan Goodman’s reality-defying take on my claim that the Obama administration’s idea of ending the “Forever War” is dead: *       Legal rationales debated by law professors will have zero influence on the duration of the “Forever War.”  The actions of the Islamist terrorists, and our success in defeating . . .
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More on the War Powers Resolution and the Use of Force Against the Islamic State

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 12:56 PM

This morning I argued that the Obama administration had violated the War Powers Resolution unless its is correct in its contention that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs together authorize the use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  Three follow-ups: First, I speculated this morning that “the administration was pushed by the looming . . .
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The Administration Has Violated the War Powers Resolution Unless It is Right About the Applicability of the AUMFs to the Islamic State

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7:50 AM

On Monday, Senator Cruz maintained that the War Powers Resolution (WPR) clock had expired because 60 days had passed since the first air strikes against the Islamic State, which the President notified Congress about in a letter to Congress on August 8.  “Given that 60 days has expired,” the Senator argued, “the president should come . . .
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History Suggests That Congress Will Only Authorize Force Against the Islamic State If the President Proposes and Pushes For an Authorization (or Screws Up Unilateral Force Badly)

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8:30 AM

President Obama says he would “welcome congressional support” but does not need authorization from Congress in order to use force against the Islamic State.  The President appears to have taken no steps to propose actual language to Congress or to move the idea of an authorization along.  And Congress appears to have done nothing significant . . .
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Judge Kessler’s Videotape Order and the Costs of Crying Wolf

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Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 9:57 AM

The First Amendment question in Judge Kessler’s opinion in support of her Order directing the videotapes of Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s forced feedings to be unsealed (see Jane’s summary) is whether the public’s presumptive right of access is outweighed by the government’s well-specified “compelling interest” in keeping the classified tapes sealed.  The Government claims there are five . . .
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The Significance of Harold Koh’s Legal Defense of the Administration’s Interpretation of the 2001 AUMF

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Harold’s Koh’s grudging defense of the domestic legal basis for President’s Obama’s use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is important.  It adds little new to other defenses of the President’s position – a legal position, I have argued in past posts, is politically stupid and constitutionally imprudent but nonetheless legally . . .
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Why it Might Matter Whether the Islamic State Was AUMF-able Last Year

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:46 AM

In February, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller wrote a story in the WP about how Al-Qaeda’s then-recent expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, now Islamic State, or IS) raised questions about whether the AUMF “still applies” to ISIS.  “According to some administration lawyers and intelligence officials,” they reported, “the expulsion of ISIS . . .
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On Glenn Greenwald’s Skepticism on Threat Claims About the Khorasan Group

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Glenn Greenwald has a 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 KG’s imminent threat to the American public.  Greenwald concludes: So after spending weeks promoting ISIS as Worse Than Al Qaeda™, they unveiled . . .
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Islamic State Reconciling with Jabhat al-Nusra, and Strengthening President’s 2001 AUMF Argument

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Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The Guardian reports that USG bombing of Jabhat al-Nusra, the al Qaeda group (or AQ-affiliated group) in Syria that has been at odds with the Islamic State for a year or so: Air strikes continued to target Islamic State (Isis) positions near the Kurdish town of Kobani and hubs across north-east Syria on Sunday, as . . .
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The Obama Administration’s Legal Justification for Strikes Against the Islamic State In Syria

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Based on comments from senior Obama administration officials who spoke on “the condition of anonymity,” Charlie Savage reports the Obama administration’s legal theory for the use of force against the Islamic State. Savage says that the domestic legal justification is both the 2001 and the 2002 AUMFs: Administration officials have said that as a matter . . .
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