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 "Who Wants To Be A Secretary Of State" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 1, 2016

President-Elect Trump is zeroing in on a nominee for secretary of state. Election recounts begin amid fears of computer hacking. And in San Francisco, hackers hold the municipal railway system hostage. Plus, Shane is catching up to a great book. And Tamara has found herself a new partner in outrage against a menace to life in Washington DC.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Emoluments" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Donald Trump announces his picks for some key national security positions. Meanwhile, Trump grapples with multiple conflicts between his businesses and his coming presidency. The knives are out for NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.

Analysis and Commentary

Reflections On Service In A Trump Administration

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Since Donald Trump’s election as president, I have had more than my share of inquiries from current and aspiring Justice Department attorneys about the ethics of service under the new President-elect. 

Analysis and Commentary

We’re Worried About The Baltics: What Does Trump’s Election Portend For These Tiny U.S. Allies?

by Ashley Deeks, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Many U.S. allies have spent the last week pondering what Donald Trump’s election means for their foreign policy and national security. The tiny Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are surely among the most worried.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Welcome To The New Not Normal" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Trump administration transition has begun—right? The president-elect sits down with “60 Minutes” and leaves the fate of FBI Director James Comey uncertain. And foreign governments react to Trump’s election.

Analysis and Commentary

What’s The Matter With Visiting Kansas? Part II

by Nora Ellingsen, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Several weeks ago, we suggested President Obama take a trip to Kansas to visit a small town reeling from an attempted violent attack on a Muslim immigrant community there. At that time, three men had recently been arrested after compiling explosive to incite a “bloodbath” in the small Midwestern city.

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Security by the Book - Soldiers on the Homefront: The Domestic Role of the American Military

by Benjamin Wittes, William C. Banksvia Lawfare
Monday, November 14, 2016

The Hoover Institution hosted "Soldiers on the Homefront: The Domestic Role of the American Military" on Monday, November 14, 2016 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. 

Analysis and Commentary

For The Sake Of The Nation, Obama Should Pardon Clinton

by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, November 12, 2016

Since Donald Trump’s surprise victory on Tuesday, a question has hung over the fate of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Will—and should—President Barack Obama pardon her on his way out the door?

Analysis and Commentary

We Need Comey At The FBI Now More Than Ever

by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Donald Trump is the President Elect of the United States. And over the next few weeks, personnel questions will move to the forefront of transition coverage. Who will Trump select or retain in key Cabinet and federal positions?

Analysis and Commentary

The Burden On Donald Trump

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump, whether he understands it or not, has won the presidency with a unique burden: Most serious national security experts regard him not merely as weak and unprepared for the roles of Commander in Chief and the country’s leader in foreign policy, but as an affiirmative national security threat.

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