Lawfare: Administrative

An Announcement: James Baker

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, May 7, 2018, 11:04 AM

News broke over the weekend that the FBI’s former general counsel, James Baker, was leaving the bureau and coming to Brookings and Lawfare. Here is the Brookings Institution statement on the subject:

Washington, D.C.—James Baker has joined the Brookings Institution as a Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies, the Institution announced today. Baker will contribute to Brookings’s scholarship on issues related to artificial intelligence, cyber security, and national security. In addition to his role at Brookings, Baker will hold an affiliated appointment with the Lawfare Institute.

Baker comes to Brookings and Lawfare from the FBI. Throughout his distinguished career, including four years as the agency’s General Counsel, Baker has worked on numerous national security matters, including in particular, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Baker is a recipient of the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the CIA’s highest award for counterterrorism achievement, NSA’s Intelligence Under Law Award, the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal, and the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Justice Department’s highest award.

“We are honored that Mr. Baker will bring to Brookings his years of law enforcement experience and his unparalleled expertise on matters of national security, particularly in an era of heightened concern over cyber security threats from bad actors inside and outside of the United States,” said Darrell West, vice president of Brookings’s Governance Studies program.

Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow in Governance Studies and editor in chief of Lawfare, added, “I can think of no one more qualified than Jim Baker to contribute to Brookings’s ongoing efforts to analyze applications of artificial intelligence in law enforcement and national security and to inform smart cyber security policy.”

During his tenure at Brookings and the Lawfare Institute, Baker will produce research on topics at the intersection of technology, privacy, and security. He will also contribute to Lawfare, the web’s leading authority on matters of national security law, which is published in cooperation between Brookings and the Lawfare Institute.

Baker holds a juris doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

I have a few personal words to add.

I have known Jim Baker a long time—since his days as counsel for intelligence policy and review at the Justice Department in the years that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He is one of a small number of national security lawyers in the United States with the richest and most granular experience and operational knowledge. He is one of the very best of the very best. As David Kris tweeted this weekend:

Jim has also played another role, mostly invisible to the public but deeply important to Lawfare, which makes a point of trying to develop and cultivate the next generation of national security lawyers: He has been a mentor, both in his capacity as a law professor and other walks of life, to a large number of young attorneys and would-be attorneys interested in the field.

Jim’s work at Brookings and Lawfare will include writing about artificial intelligence and its application to law enforcement and national security. Jim has been central to many of the most critical and visible  national security legal debates of the past few years. He played important roles in FISA 702 reauthorization and those who have been involved in the encryption debate know that he has also played a huge role in the bureau’s interface with the private sector on matters of cybersecurity and “Going Dark.”

It is an honor and pleasure for him to join us.