Lawfare: Administrative

Wells Bennett

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, October 19, 2015, 7:00 AM

Back when I worked at the Washington Post editorial page, we reserved headlines composed of only a person's name for obituaries. So let me start by reassuring you all that Wells Bennett has not died. He is alive and well, but as of today, I'm afraid he is starting a new job—which is to say he has moved on from his longtime post as managing editor of this site. More than a few words of appreciation for his service here are in order here, but I will keep this very brief.

Wells came to Lawfare a few years back, about 18 months after we started it. There was, at the time, no organization, just a blog. There were no real editorial policies, just what we happened to write. All we knew was that we had this site. A lot of people were reading it and found it useful. And we needed someone to help us grow it, both editorially and organizationally.

Everything Lawfare is today bears Wells's stamp. Wells is a modest guy, more apt to absurdly apologize for not doing more than to take credit for what he's done. So the stamp is not always visible to the naked eye. But Wells's impact on Lawfare has been huge. The visible part is the hundreds of pieces he has written, on subjects from military commissions—where he really pioneered a new kind of trial coverage—to war powers to just about everything else this site thinks about. I'll let those pieces speak for themselves.

The invisible part, invisible to reader that is, is the hundreds of outside contributions he edited and dramatically improved. It's the young student writers he has coached and edited and worked with to produce mature copy the readership can treat as authoritative. It's the organizational development he did in helping me create a non-profit organization around Lawfare.

I would be remiss if I did not add that Wells has also been key in developing the more light-hearted side of Lawfare. We cover serious stuff on this site, but we try never to forget that if you can't laugh, you tend to cry. And Wells is the kind of guy who can make up a Snowden revelation for April Fools Day, produce a fake OLC memo on the interaction between the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Editor in Chief Power (Wells has not, in fact, publicly acknowledged that he wrote this memo, but his authorship is, shall we say, widely suspected), and—of course—dress up in a bunny suit to officiate at the Brookings Fight Club.

To put it simply, anyone who reads this site regularly and finds it useful owes Wells a debt of gratitude—as, most emphatically, do Bobby, Jack and I. We will miss him a great deal and wish him the best in all future endeavors.