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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Blogs

The Latest 215 Collection Renewal

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, March 2, 2015

In January 2014, President Obama directed an end to the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it then existed, and called for the establishment of a mechanism that would preserve the program’s essential capabilities without the government holding the bulk data.

Blogs

The Intellectual—But Not Political—AUMF Consensus

by Jennifer Daskal, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, March 2, 2015

A real consensus is developing on the contours of an appropriate AUMF—at least among academics and other commentators.

Hoover research fellow Amy Zegart
Blogs

New Additions To The Lawfare Team

by Benjamin Wittesmentioning Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Sunday, March 1, 2015

I’m excited to announce three new additions to Lawfare‘s roster of contributing editors—all of whom have written for the site before and will be familiar to our readers.

Law and Justice
Blogs

HASC Testimony: An Alternative To The Administration’s AUMF Draft

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thank you Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee for inviting me to present my views on the President’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Blogs

The U.S. Intelligence Community And Non-Neutral Principles

by Benjamin Wittes, Ashley Deeksvia Lawfare
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last week, Ben’s NSA Constitution Day speech emerged after a long “declassification” process.  One puzzle Ben grapples with in this speech is why reasonable, educated Americans have–and will continue to have–such a high level of discomfort with what the NSA and other intelligence agencies do.

Featured Commentary

Authorizing The President To Use Military Force Against ISIL

by Benjamin Wittesvia Brookings Institution
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thank you Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee for inviting me to present my views on the President’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. I am a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Complexities of CybersecurityFeatured Commentary

The Snowden Revelations And Cybersecurity

by Benjamin Wittesvia The Briefing
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Too often, we talk about cybersecurity as though it were a single good. We treat it, that is to say, like airline security, where our policy objective is zero civilian jetliner or general aviation vulnerabilities. 

Blogs

The Lawfare Podcast: My Constitution Day Speech At NSA

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, February 23, 2015

In mid-September, I delivered the annual Constitution Day address at the National Security Agency.

I had meant to post the speech back then, except that it being NSA and all, I wasn’t allowed to bring my own recording equipment into the building and thus had to wait until the NSA folks released the audio of my own speech to me.

Blogs

The Real Story Behind Citizenfour’s Oscar

by Benjamin Wittes, Cody Poplin via Lawfare
Monday, February 23, 2015

Like a lot of Lawfare readers, we were pretty surprised by Citizenfour‘s triumph at the Oscars last night. It wasn’t just that there was Glenn Greenwald, foe of all things mainstream, holding—of all things—that picture of establishment respectability, the Oscar.

Blogs

Some Fun New Podcasts from Spaghetti On The Wall

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, February 20, 2015

I have this little experimental podcast company I started with two friends: Shane Harris and Jennifer Howell. Most of its work is not related to Lawfare, but sometimes we do shows of potential interest to the Lawfare readership, and I try to post those when we do. One of those is the weekly show, Rational Security, the latest episode of which is now out:

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