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Posts by Matthew Waxman

Matthew Waxman is a law professor at Columbia Law School, where he co-chairs the Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security. He is also Adjunct Senior Fellow for Law and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. He previously served in senior policy positions at the State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council. After graduating from Yale Law School, he clerked for Judge Joel M. Flaum of the U.S. Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.

Snowden Disclosures and Norms of Cyber-Attacks

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Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Secrecy—of the sort that typically shrouds cyber-defense and cyber-attack capabilities and doctrine—complicates the development of international norms.  Secrecy makes it difficult to engage in sustained diplomacy about rules.  Officials can talk about them at high levels of generality, but can’t get very specific, and it’s therefore hard to reach agreement.  Secrecy makes it difficult to . . .
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Spinning the IMF Report on Iran Sanctions

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Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I am amused today by these two headlines about the IMF’s just-released assessment of Iran’s economy and the effects of remaining sanctions: the New York Times reports that I.M.F. Study Details Perils of Iranian Economy, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Iran’s Economy Improving Amid Nuclear Talks. Since one of the most difficult challenges . . .
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CNAS Report on War in the Robotic Age

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Friday, January 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Robert Work and Shawn Brimley of the Center for a New American Security just published 20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age.  It’s a provocative report about how many new technologies (in cyber, robotics, miniaturization, etc.) will reshape warfare.  I was particularly interested in some things it says about autonomous weapon systems – weapon . . .
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Brennan Center Report Slams Current State & Local CT Programs

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

The Brennan Center for Justice released today a new report titled “National Security and Local Police.”  They conducted surveys of more than a dozen major police departments and their affiliated state or city intelligence “fusion centers” (funded heavily by federal grants) and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (FBI-led interagency and intergovernmental coordination groups for terrorism investigations).  . . .
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David Remes Responds on Forced Repatriations from Guantanamo

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Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM

David Remes wrote in to rebut my recent post, which stated that some forced repatriations are a “virtually inevitable part of any plausible plan” toward closing Guantanamo.  I’ve pasted Remes’ entire note below. Remes is correct in theory (and some would say as a matter of principle): there are other options, including outright release of . . .
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Forced Repatriation is Part of Closing Guantanamo

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Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 7:13 PM

As the Obama administration re-energizes efforts to winnow the Guantanamo population through transfers to other countries, it will be squeezed from many sides — including from those who see the transfer arrangements as insufficiently protective of American security as well as those who see them as insufficiently protective of former captives’ rights. The New York . . .
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Syria, Threats of Force, and Constitutional War Powers

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Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM

As I’ve discussed previously, I am finishing a forthcoming paper on constitutional war powers and “The Power to Threaten War.”  In the meantime, the Yale Law Journal Online has published my essay, drawing on arguments from that paper and applying them to the Syria crisis: “Syria, Threats of Force, and Constitutional War Powers.”  The abstract . . .
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Killer Robots and the Laws of War in Monday’s Wall Street Journal

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Monday, November 4, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an op-ed piece by Matt and me on the regulation of autonomous weapon systems, “Killer Robots and the Laws of War: Autonomous Weapons Are Coming and Can Save Lives. Let’s Make Sure They’re Used Ethically and Legally.”  Although the topic has not been especially visible in the United States (at . . .
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Louise Arbour on ICC and R2P

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Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Louise Arbour, president of the International Crisis Group, delivered a very powerful critique last week of existing doctrines and frameworks for promoting international justice, humanitarian protection, and rule of law. Her tough assessment of the International Criminal Court and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine are especially noteworthy because Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court . . .
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Autonomous Weapon Systems: Why a Ban (Still) Won’t Work and How the Laws of War Can

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Friday, October 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Over at TNR’s Security States, Matt and I have a new piece about international calls to ban autonomous weapon systems.  It begins like this: What if armed drones were not just piloted remotely by humans in far-away bunkers, but they were programmed under certain circumstances to select and fire at some targets entirely on their . . .
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On Proliferating State and Local Surveillance Technologies

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Monday, October 14, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Over at Security States,  I have this piece up, about the proliferation of city- and state-operated surveillance technologies—and the need to pair collection rules for these technologies with effective use and access rules.  The piece begins: The New York Times reports today that “Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance.” The main theme is that municipal police and law . . .
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Lessons From Ohio: State Governments and Facial Recognition

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Today, I have a piece over at Security States, a joint project of Lawfare and The New Republic which just got underway this week.  Entitled “Lessons from Ohio: State Governments and Facial Recognition,” the piece begins: With all the attention these days on NSA activities, it’s easy to forget that much surveillance in the United States takes place at the state . . .
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Bethlehem and Verdirame on the Legality of Syria Intervention

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Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM

For those interested in arguments about international law and possible military intervention in Syria, I highly recommend great essays by two authors from the United Kingdom (as readers may recall, the UK government recently released a position paper justifying possible military action under a humanitarian intervention theory similar to the one articulated by the UK . . .
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The Most Puzzling Line of the President’s Speech

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM

The most puzzling line in the President’s strange speech last night was this: [E]ven though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress.  I believe our democracy is stronger when the President . . .
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Constitutional Power to Threaten War: Three Points on Syria

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:18 PM

I recently posted my new paper on The Constitutional Power to Threaten War (forthcoming, Yale Law Journal).  The basic idea is that existing debate and legal scholarship about constitutional war powers focuses overwhelmingly on the President’s and Congress’s share of power to initiate military engagements.  It ignores the allocation of legal power to threaten military . . .
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Restoring the Smeared Red Line

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Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 2:39 PM

President Obama has just declared his decision to launch military strikes against Syria, after seeking approval for Congress, in order to hold the Syrian government accountable for its recent chemical weapon atrocities.  The Obama administration and many advocates of military strikes against Syria – including some members of Congress, many security experts, the French President . . .
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Intervention to Stop Atrocities: Kosovo History as Predictive

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Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

A few years ago I wrote a Council on Foreign Relations report titled Intervention to Stop Genocide and Mass Atrocities: International Norms and U.S. Policy.  Based heavily on the Kosovo experience, I wrote that “[t]here is currently no widely accepted right or license among individual states to humanitarian intervention, as there is one to self-defense.  . . .
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The Constitutional Power to Threaten War

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

For anyone interested, I’ve posted to SSRN my draft article, forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, titled “The Constitutional Power to Threaten War.”  I’m pasting below the introduction, and I plan to post some observations relating the piece to ongoing events in Syria. Here’s the intro:             In September 2012, prodded by Israeli Prime Minister . . .
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Raha Wala (Human Rights First) Responds on Closing Guantanamo

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Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Raha Wala of Human Rights First has written in with an in-depth response, printed below in full, to my post the other day expressing disappointment in Senators Durbin and Feinstein’s op-ed on closing Guantanamo.  I had argued there that Durbin and Feinstein weren’t even acknowledging — put aside answering — some of the toughest questions . . .
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Sens. Durbin and Feinstein Don’t Address the Toughest Guantanamo Questions

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Like David Remes, but with different assumptions and for different reasons, I was disappointed with Senators Durbin and Feinstein’s op-ed purporting to offer a plan for closing Guantanamo.  As I’ve argued here recently, proposals of this sort – transferring many detainees to foreign countries and moving the rest into the United States for trial or . . .
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