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 “It Was 29 Pages All Along” Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A terrorist in Nice, France, kills more than 80 people celebrating Bastille Day. Turkey’s president hangs onto power following an attempted coup.

Analysis and Commentary

House Legislation On Sextortion Introduced

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Yesterday, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) introduced this bill, which they have dubbed the "Interstate Sextortion Prevention Act." The bill keeps the promise Rep. Clark made the day our Brookings sextortion studies came out to introduce legislation to combat the problem. 

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Killer Robots Have Arrived" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Police officers in Dallas use a robot-bomb to kill the man who murdered five police officers. A tribunal rules that China is violating international law over its territorial claims in the South China Sea. And the GOP platform committee eliminates language that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Analysis and Commentary

Facebook, Hamas, And Why A New Material Support Suit May Have Legs

by Benjamin Wittes, Zoe Bedellvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The last few months have seen a spree of lawsuits filed against social media companies for allegedly providing material support to terrorists groups, particularly ISIS, by effectively allowing those groups to use their systems.

Analysis and Commentary

The Lawfare Podcast: Comey Versus The Committee With No Bull

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, July 9, 2016

The confrontation this week between FBI Director James Comey and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would have been a riveting drama-filled showdown over the Clinton email investigation. Except for one fact: Five. Endless. Hours.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Servers And SEALs" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, July 9, 2016

Guess what we talked about on Rational Security this week. That's right: Hillary Clinton will not be prosecuted over her use of a private email server. The death toll of a bombing in Baghdad approaches 300.

Analysis and Commentary

Comey's Testimony As Precedent

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, July 8, 2016

Let me start by saying that I do not dissent from FBI Director James Comey's decision to give the remarkably fulsome account we saw this week of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, both in his lengthy statement Tuesday and, particularly, in his marathon testimony yesterday.

Analysis and Commentary

A Moment Of Zen: The New York Times Editorial Page Cites Lawfare As An Authority

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

No, I'm not making that up. I awoke this morning to a lot of traffic on Lawfare, much it routed to the site by this New York Times editorial on James Comey's announcement yesterday on the Clinton email mess.

Analysis and Commentary

Jim Comey's Statement On The Clinton Emails: A Quick And Dirty Analysis

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The first notable thing in FBI Director Jim Comey's statement on the Clinton email flap is that he issued it at all. Normally, the FBI does not issue reports on its investigative findings separate from Justice Department decisions regarding what to do with those findings.

Analysis and Commentary

The Lawfare Podcast: John Carlin Uses All The Tools

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, July 2, 2016

John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, has a new law review article out in the Harvard National Security Journal, entitled: "Detect, Disrupt, Deter: A Whole-of-Government Approach to National Security Cyber Threats."

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