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

Obama Is Right On Chelsea Manning

by Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennesseyvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By the time you read this, a firestorm may—or may not—be breaking out over President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’re not sure what the reaction is likely to be, to be honest. Predictably many of Manning’s supporters are jubilant. 

Analysis and Commentary

Six Thoughts In Defense Of James Comey

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Let me start with a disclosure: FBI Director James Comey is a personal friend. So feel free to dismiss, if you like, what follows as the rantings of a guy who doesn’t like to see friends put through the ringer. That said, the emerging bipartisan groupthink on Comey needs a big splash of ice cold water.

Analysis and Commentary

Empirical Data On The Privacy Paradox

by Benjamin Wittes, Emma Kohsevia Lawfare
Friday, January 13, 2017

The contemporary debate about the effects of new technology on individual privacy centers on the idea that privacy is an eroding value. The erosion is ongoing and takes place because of the government and big corporations that collect data on us all: In the consumer space, technology and the companies that create it erode privacy, as consumers trade away their solitude either unknowingly or in exchange for convenience and efficiency.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Are The Trump Allegations Hanging Around When They Haven’t Been Substantiated?

by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, January 12, 2017

What is one to make of the apparent inability of press and government alike to verify the allegations in the Trump dossier combined with the cache of documents’ apparent staying power?

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Golden Bombshell" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, January 12, 2017

The FBI and intelligence community have received explosive allegations that Donald Trump’s staff had contacts with Russian government officials connected to the recent hacking campaign, and that the Russian government has blackmail material on the president-elect.

Analysis and Commentary

Obama Should Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This morning, NBC News reported that Chelsea Manning is on the short list for a possible commutation from President Obama. Back in September—with much attention focused on a Pardon Snowden campaign—we advocated he consider commuting Manning’s sentence.

Analysis and Commentary

About That Explosive Trump Story: Take A Deep Breath

by Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecicvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This afternoon, CNN reported that President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump had been briefed by the intelligence community on the existence of a cache of memos alleging communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and the possession by the Russian government of highly compromising material against Trump.

Analysis and Commentary

Another Day, Another Material Support Suit Against A Social Media Company

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another group of terrorism victims has filed suit against a social media company for allegedly giving material support to a terrorist group, in this case ISIS. These cases have been proliferating of late.

Analysis and Commentary

The Privacy Paradox II: An Event At Brookings On Friday

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On Friday morning, I will be releasing a new Brookings paper that readers may find interesting. Stewart Baker of Steptoe & Johnson and Amie Stepanovich of Access Now will be discussants on the paper, which I wrote with Emma Kohse.

Analysis and Commentary

What Yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee Portends

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, January 6, 2017

There actually wasn’t that much new information conveyed at yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Russian election hacking and other foreign cybersecurity threats. 

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