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.

Filter By:

Topic

Type

Recent Commentary

Blogs

The War In Afghanistan Is Over, Says The President. Not, Says The Justice Department

by Benjamin Wittes, Cody Poplin via Lawfare
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The United States and NATO did formally end the war in Afghanistan, amidst some ceremony, in December 2014. However, in many ways, it is hard to see that the changing of the guard was little more than the changing of a flag. And President Obama’s own Justice Department—for its part—is busily arguing in court that the war is not, in fact, over.

Blogs

An Approach To Ameliorating Press-IC Tensions Over Classified Information

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 22, 2015

I’ve been thinking about the exchange over the past couple of weeks—much of which took place on Lawfare—between the New York Times and the intelligence community over the naming of CIA undercover officers in a Times story. (A brief recap in links: here are Bob Litt’s original comments, the 20 former intelligence officers’ letter, Jack’s interview with Dean Baquet, my comments in response, Mark Mazzetti’s comments, and Jack’s comments.)

Blogs

An Interview With FBI Director Jim Comey

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ben Powell, former general counsel to the DNI, interviews Jim Comey

Blogs

The Privacy Paradox: The Privacy Benefits Of Privacy Threats

by Benjamin Wittes, Jodie Liuvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Here’s something a little outside the normal Lawfare fare but which Lawfare readers might find interesting: A new paper we have written about all the privacy benefits we receive from technologies we typically think of as privacy eroding. When confronted with technologies that give us new privacy with one hand and erode privacy with the other, we tend to pocket the gains without thinking about them while worrying endlessly about the erosions.

Blogs

Down To The Wire On The Patriot Act

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I have my anxieties about the USA Freedom Act, but let’s be clear here: Congress would be totally irresponsible to let the month go by without sending a bill to the President’s desk. I do not begrudge the Senate holdouts their reservations, but brinksmanship has no place in this debate.

Blogs

Lindsey Graham’s Iowa Drone Strike Out

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, May 18, 2015

I’ve always liked Lindsey Graham, and I like the fact that—unlike so may politicians—he says what’s on his mind, completely unfiltered by what’s politic for him to say. That said, this kind of talk is not healthy. It communicates wrongly what the rules are, and what authorities the president really has. Graham is a smart guy, but folksy homespun wisdom doesn’t always make for good law.

Syrian Refugees
Blogs

Settle Syrian Refugees In Detroit

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 15, 2015

I love this idea, floated today in  New York Times oped by David D. Laitin and Marc Jahr. It’s smart, doable, and a constructive, out-of-the-box approach to two distinct disasters.

Blogs

Russell Wheeler On The Changing Composition Of The FISC

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, May 15, 2015

My Brookings colleague Russell Wheeler last month published this article on the changing composition of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on the Brookings FixGov blog. It updates his Lawfare Research Paper from last year on the subject.

Blogs

So What’s In The New USA Freedom Act, Anyway?

by Benjamin Wittes, Jodie Liuvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 14, 2015

The House has now passed the USA Freedom Act. If you feel the need to hear Mel Gibson shouting “Freeeedom!” in response, well, don’t thank us. We live to serve...

Blogs

A Few Thoughts On The Second Circuit’s 215 Decision And Its Importance

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, May 9, 2015

From day one of the Snowden revelations, we all knew that the legal validity of the 215 program hinged ultimately on the capaciousness of a single word: “relevant.” Even those of us who generally support robust signals intelligence programs also knew immediately that the legal theory underlying this program lay right at the margins, perhaps beyond the margins, of the legally tenable
 

Pages