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 "At Least You're Not Mullah Mansour" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 27, 2016

President Obama makes one last pivot to Asia in an official visit to Vietnam and Japan. The United States kills the Taliban’s leader. And a State Department inspector general report scolds Hillary Clinton and others for their use of private email. Plus, Susan reads cybersecurity advice for members of Congress—from other members of Congress. And the gang is all together—in a cool new photo!

Analysis and Commentary

Trump And The Powers Of The American Presidency (Part I)

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

John Adams's famous aspiration is not our reality: We live in a government of men, as well as laws. One of those men, the most powerful of them all, may soon be Donald Trump.

Analysis and Commentary

Donald Trump And A Tale Of Two Washingtons

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, May 23, 2016

CNN reported yesterday that Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—after many months of principled opposition to Donald Trump—has decided to become a Trump enabler after all: Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump's fiercest critics, is now calling on Republicans to support their presumptive nominee.

Analysis and Commentary

The D.C. Circuit Hands Down Opinion In Khadr

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 20, 2016

Here it is. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's opinion for himself, Judge Thomas Griffith, and Senior Judge A. Raymond Randolph opens as follows: Omar Ahmed Khadr was a member of al Qaeda. On July 27, 2002, at the age of 15, 2 Khadr took part in a firefight in Afghanistan against U.S. forces. During the battle, Khadr killed a U.S. Army soldier, Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "When the Cat's Away" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 20, 2016

Tamara and Susan are both away, so Shane and I were on our own for this week's episode. The result? Scotch at noon, of course. An EgyptAir jet crashes en route from Paris to Cairo, immediately sparking fears of terrorism.

Analysis and Commentary

Legislative Response On Sextortion

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In the week since the release of our sextortion reports, there have been a number of encouraging signs of legislative interest in the problem. The day Brookings released the reports, Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts announced that "I find the prevalence of this heinous practice alarming. 

Analysis and Commentary

Sextortion And The Going Dark Debate

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 13, 2016

One interesting feature of the sextortion research we released this week—a feature we did not discuss in the papers themselves—is the interaction between this issue and the “going dark” debate.

Analysis and Commentary

Sextortion As Cybersecurity: Defining Cyber Risk Too Narrowly

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 12, 2016

When we think of cybersecurity, we don't think of sexual violence. Sexual assault, rape, and child molestation are problems of intimate contact between individuals in close proximity to one another. By contrast, we tend think of cybersecurity as a problem of remote attacks that affect governments, major corporations, and—at an individual level—people with credit card numbers or identities to steal.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "Creeps And Liars Edition"

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 12, 2016

On this weeks's episode, we discuss Brookings's new study on “sextortion.” Also, is a profile of presidential adviser Ben Rhodes a puff piece or a clever hit job? And president Obama faces a lawsuit over war powers from an unlikely source.

Analysis and Commentary

Sextortion: The Problem And Solutions

by Benjamin Wittes, Cody Poplin , Quinta Jurecic, Clara Speravia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Prosecutors colloquially call it “sextortion.” Legally speaking, there’s no such thing. The word is a kind a prosecutorial slang for a class of cases that do not correspond neatly with any known criminal offense.

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