Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow

Jack Goldsmith is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel; from 2002 to 2003 he served as the special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. Goldsmith also taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1997 to 2002 and at the University of Virginia Law School from 1994 to 1997.

In his academic work, Goldsmith has written widely on issues related to national security law, presidential power, international law, and Internet regulation. His books include Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11 (2012), The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment inside the Bush Administration (2009), Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World (with Tim Wu) (2006), and The Limits of International Law (with Eric Posner) (2005). He blogs on national security matters at the Lawfare blog,and on issues of labor law and policy at the On Labor blog.

Goldsmith is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academy of Sciences. He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a BA and an MA from Oxford University, and a BA from Washington & Lee University. He clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Court of Appeals judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, and Judge George Aldrich on the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.

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Recent Commentary


Why Indictments Won’t Stop China’s Cybersnooping

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Chinese government and its proxies have recently ratcheted up harassment of U.S. IT firms doing business in China.  In the last week, China has deployed its antitrust laws against Qualcomm and Microsoft.  This comes on the heels of recent attacks in China on Apple and Cisco and IBM.  China has also increased its harassment of non-IT U.S. firms.

White House at night

Schlesinger v. Cillizza

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chris Cillizza has a piece in the WP that argues that the world is too splintered and partisan and complex, and communication and persuasion too difficult, for the president of the United States to succeed.  This is an old claim.


Bahlul: A Longer View

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This strikes me as an unduly pessimistic account.  There was always going to be uncertainty and litigation after this ruling, as well as the possibility of Supreme Court review. 

Law and Justice

Civilian Trial is the Only Option for Abu Khattala

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Many have criticized the Obama administration’s plans to try the alleged leader of the Benghazi, Ahmed Abu Khattala, in civilian court. 

American Flags

Two Legal Takeaways from Yesterday’s HASC Hearing

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yesterday’s HASC Committee Hearing (video here) on the Bergdahl swap was pretty eventful.  At least two important legal issues were discussed: the legality of not notifying Congress about the swap, and the legal consequences of the end of the Afghan conflict. 


Why Kinsley is Wrong About the Connection Between Democracy and the Publication of National Security Secrets

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Michael Kinsley, in his review of Glenn Greenwald’s book, made the following claims about leaks of national security secrets:

The White House

More on the Administration’s AUMF Strategy

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 22, 2014

A friend who is familiar with Obama administration thinking responds to my post on yesterday’s AUMF hearing:

Privacy, Security, and the National Security Agency (NSA)

The U.S. Corporate Theft Principle

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

David Sanger’s piece in this morning’s NYT explores the USG’s attempts to justify cracking down on cyber-theft of intellectual property of U.S. firms while at the same time continuing to spy on non-U.S. firms for different purposes. 

CIA Headquarters

Questions About CIA v. DOD Drone Strikes

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 13, 2014