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

If Rod Rosenstein Recuses: What Happens Next?

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, June 16, 2017

ABC News is reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from” his role as Acting Attorney General for the Department’s Russia Investigation. (Recall that Rosenstein assumed that role when Attorney General Sessions recused himself earlier.)

Analysis and Commentary

Updating The 2001 AUMF At Long Last? On The Flake-Kaine Bill

by Robert Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxman, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It is past time for Congress to update the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), explicitly authorizing the armed conflict with the Islamic State while also adding further important reforms to that foundational instrument. The bill that Senators Flake (R-AZ) and Kaine (D-VA) introduced this week would serve that purpose well.

Featured

Another Bomb Drops: Initial Thoughts On Trump Asking Comey To Kill The Flynn Investigation

by Helen Klein Murillo, Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Paul Rosenzweig, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 

Analysis and Commentary

Bombshell: Initial Thoughts On The Washington Post’s Game-Changing Story

by Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes, Elishe Julian Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, May 15, 2017

The Washington Post this afternoon published a stunning story reporting that President Trump disclosed highly-classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their visit to the Oval Office last week.

Analysis and Commentary

Partisan Political Figures Cannot Run The FBI

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, May 15, 2017

Rumors are flying that Donald Trump will soon nominate a replacement for James Comey as FBI Director—perhaps even before he leaves on his foreign trip at the end of this week. It’s hard to imagine the universe of people who would both accept the nomination in the current environment and in whom the public could repose confidence in holding the job. But some of the names Trump is reportedly considering should be unacceptable per se.

Privacy & Power: A Transatlantic Dialogue In The Shadow Of The NSA-Affair
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Security by the Book - Privacy & Power: A Transatlantic Dialogue In The Shadow Of The NSA-Affair

by Benjamin Wittes, Russell Miller, Ralf Poschervia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Hoover Institution's National Security, Technology and Law Working Group, along with Hoover's Washington, DC office discussed Privacy and Power:  A Transatlantic Dialogue in the Shadow of the NSA-Affair.  Benjamin Wittes (Hoover working group member and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Russell Miller (professor of law at Washington & Lee University School of Law) and Prof. Ralf Poscher (professor of law at  University of Freiberg) discussed fundamental differences in the way that Americans and Europeans approach the issues of privacy and intelligence-gathering.

Featured

The “Grand Bargain” At Risk: What’s At Stake When The President Alleges Politics In Intelligence

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The U.S. intelligence community is on the verge of a crisis of confidence and legitimacy it has not experienced since the 1970s. Back then, the crisis was one of the community’s own behavior. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s the intelligence community used its secret powers of surveillance and other forms of government coercion—often but not always at the behest of its political superiors—to spy on and engage in operations against Americans for political ends. 

In the News

Event Video: "Cybersecurity In The Trump Administration: What Should We Expect?"

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, March 3, 2017

The Hoover Institution has made available video of the event we did at Hoover's DC office with the folks at Intel Security. It was a terrific event, of which we'll be featuring excerpts on this week's Lawfare Podcast.

Cybersecurity In The Trump Administration: What Should We Expect?

by Benjamin Wittes
Monday, February 13, 2017

In partnership with Hoover Institution in Washington and Intel Security, Lawfare is holding on February 22 a conference on what we can expect in cybersecurity in the new administration. Here's the event announcement. RSVPs are required, so please sign up.

How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft by Edward Epstein
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How America Lost Its Secrets

by Benjamin Wittes, Edward Epsteinvia Lawfare
Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Hoover Institution hosts a discussion on "How America Lost its Secrets" with author Edward Epstein on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 from 5:00pm - 7:0pm EST. 

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