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

Rational Security: The "Cyber Bombs" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, April 28, 2016

The U.S. is ramping up cyber operations against ISIS. Another standoff over the FBI’s access to a locked iPhone ends, but are more fights around the corner? And the mystery of the curious zombie habeas cases popping up at Guantanamo. Plus, Susan is feeling nostalgic over surveillance. And Tamara is planning her next book project.

Analysis and Commentary

Action At Guantanamo?

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Don't look now, but something's happening in the Guantanamo litigation.

Analysis and Commentary

Encryption As Living Will: Think Before You Drink The Kool-Aid

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A grieving father in Italy has written to Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, to beg him to unblock his dead son’s iPhone so he can retrieve the photographs stored on it.

Analysis and Commentary

e-Residency In Estonia, Part IV: Wherein I Imagine How The Estonian Digital ID Card Could Be Useful

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, April 25, 2016

I have a confession to make: Since I used my Estonian digital ID card to swap letters with President Toomas Ilves, I have barely touched it. I keep it in my wallet, prepared to prove my identity at a moment’s notice to anyone online who demands proof that I really am Benjamin Wittes.

Analysis and Commentary

The Lawfare Podcast: Cliff Kupchan On Russia In Syria

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, April 23, 2016

This week on the podcast, Benjamin Wittes and Cliff Kupchan talk about the future of U.S-Russia relations and to delve into the Russian intervention in Syria. Kupchan is the Chairman and Practice Head for Eurasia at the Eurasia Group, where he covers Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as its energy sector.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The “How Many Saudis Would You Sue If You Could Sue Saudis?” Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lawmakers want to give families of the 9/11 victims the power to sue Saudi government officials, but the Obama administration says that’s a terrible idea. Syrian peace talks are in jeopardy of falling apart, but a ceasefire seems to be offering some reprieve.

Analysis and Commentary

Quick Question For Apple HR

by Robert Chesney, Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, April 15, 2016

In the “going dark” discussion, it is a kind of orthodoxy that back doors are inherently insecure. Build in a means of someone other than the user accessing his data and you create unacceptable risk that someone will exploit that means; you also make the code unacceptably complicated and increase the attack surface for hackers to play with.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "There's Classified And Then There's Classified Classified" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Navy officer is accused of spying, possibly for Taiwan and China. President Obama wades into the debate over how much government information should be classified. And a family in Kansas is trapped in a special kind of Internet hell.

In the News

Reminder: Lunch Event Thursday On "Using Data To Secure Networks: Optimizing Individual Privacy While Achieving Strong Security"

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, April 11, 2016

Along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Intel Security, and the Hoover Institution in Washington, Lawfare is pleased to invite you to join us for a lively debate on "Using Data to Secure Networks: Optimizing Individual Privacy While Achieving Strong Security."

Analysis and Commentary

The Lawfare Podcast: Eric Schwartz, Refugee Policy,And The Syrian Civil War

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, April 9, 2016

This week on the podcast, we welcome Eric Schwartz, the Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Schwartz previously served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

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