Benjamin Wittes

Benjamin Wittes

Biography: 

Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and codirector of the Harvard Law School–Brookings Project on Law and Security. His most recent publication is Speaking the Law (Hoover Institution Press 2013), cowritten with Kenneth Anderson. He is the author of Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor after Guantanamo, published in November 2011 by the Brookings Institution Press, and coeditor of Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change (forthcoming). He is also the author of Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror, published in June 2008 by Penguin Press, and the editor of the 2009 Brookings book Legislating the War on Terror: An Agenda for Reform. He cofounded and cowrites the Lawfare blog (http://www.lawfareblog.com/), which is devoted to nonideological discussions of hard national security choices, and is a member of the Hoover Institution's Task Force on National Security and Law.

His previous books include Starr: A Reassessment, published in 2002 by Yale University Press, and Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times, published in 2006 by Rowman & Littlefield and the Hoover Institution.

Between 1997 and 2006, he served as an editorial writer for the Washington Post specializing in legal affairs. Before joining the editorial-page staff of the Washington Post, Wittes covered the Justice Department and federal regulatory agencies as a reporter and news editor at Legal Times. His writing has also appeared in a wide range of journals and magazines, including the AtlanticSlate, the New Republic, the Wilson Quarterly, the Weekly StandardPolicy Review, and First Things.

Benjamin Wittes was born November 5, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from Oberlin College in 1990. He has a black belt in tae kwon do.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Danish Cops And A Different Approach To Youth Radicalization

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I got behind on my podcast listening and managed not to listen to this month-old episode of Invisibilia until this morning. It's worth Lawfare reader attention—or, at least, the first half of it is. (The second half deals with online dating.)

Analysis and Commentary

A Big Guantanamo Transfer: Progress Towards The Site's Obsolescence

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Pentagon announced yesterday the transfer of 15 Guantanamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates.

What Trump's National Security Speech Was Really About

by Benjamin Wittes
Monday, August 15, 2016

Donald Trump is a very strange man. And he gave today a very strange speech on national security.

Analysis and Commentary

Twitter Wins A Round On ISIS Immunity

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Twitter won a first round yesterday on the question of whether CDA § 230 immunizes the company against civil lawsuits over its provision of service to terrorist groups.

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Analysis and Commentary

Presidential Accountability For Capture And Kill Operations Under The PPG

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, August 8, 2016

I have now read through the newly-declassified PPG on direct actions, the so-called "Playbook" for drone strikes from May 2013. I won't bother to summarize it, as Marty Lederman has already done so over at Just Security and Charlie Savage has done so at the New York Times.

Analysis and Commentary

Declassified "Procedures For Approving Direct Action" Against Terrorists

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, August 6, 2016

This document was released yesterday. I haven't read it yet, but it is entitled "Procedures for Approving Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets Located Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities" and appears to be a redacted version of the internal policy document that President Obama issued in connection with his May 23, 2013 speech on drone strikes.

Analysis and Commentary

The Justice Department Responds To Sen. Boxer On Sextortion—Sort Of

by Benjamin Wittes, Quinta Jurecicvia Lawfare
Friday, August 5, 2016

Shortly after we released our sextortion reports back in May, Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch seeking data on the scope and magnitude of the problem: "court records show that some of these cyber-criminals have blackmailed hundreds of different victims online.

Executive Power, The Two Party System, And Donald Trump

by Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Over drinks the other evening, I played a parlor game with several of my companions: I asked each to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how nervous he or she was about a Donald Trump presidency, figuring into the calculation both the likelihood of the event and the magnitude of the disaster it would pose.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Who Hacked My Ballot Box?" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

In the wake of the suspected Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee, experts warn that voting machines could be the next target. The U.S. begins airstrikes against ISIS in Libya. And we talk summer reading lists.

Analysis and Commentary

A Very Long, Very Uninteresting Guantanamo Story

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I had been looking forward to this very long story in the New Yorker, in part because the title is interesting. "Why Obama Has Failed to Close Guantanamo: Congress is blamed for preventing the President from fulfilling his pledge. But that’s not the whole story."

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