Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow

Jack Goldsmith is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel; from 2002 to 2003 he served as the special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. Goldsmith also taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1997 to 2002 and at the University of Virginia Law School from 1994 to 1997.

In his academic work, Goldsmith has written widely on issues related to national security law, presidential power, international law, and Internet regulation. His books include Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11 (2012), The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment inside the Bush Administration (2009), Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World (with Tim Wu) (2006), and The Limits of International Law (with Eric Posner) (2005). He blogs on national security matters at the Lawfare blog,and on issues of labor law and policy at the On Labor blog.

Goldsmith is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a BA and an MA from Oxford University, and a BA from Washington & Lee University. He clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Court of Appeals judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, and Judge George Aldrich on the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.

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Recent Commentary


Does The Iran Deal Require The USG To Seek Preemption Of (Some) State Sanctions?

by Jack Goldsmith, Amira Mikhailvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The U.S. government has sent a letter to all 50 states asking them to align state and local laws with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the United States and other nations negotiated with Iran. 


Don't Let Americans Sue Saudi Arabia

by Curtis A. Bradley, Jack Goldsmithvia The New York Times
Friday, April 22, 2016

There has been much debate about whether a bill advancing through Congress that aims to expose Saudi Arabia to lawsuits in American courts for its alleged connection to the 9/11 attacks would unduly harm diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries.

Analysis and Commentary

Vulnerability Isn't Always Failure

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Next Tuesday I’ll have a conversation with Juliette Kayyem at the Hoover Institution in Washington about her terrific new book Security Mom. (Please join us!) One of the book’s central themes is the importance of resiliency to any effective counterterrorism strategy.

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“Easier to Make the Speeches”

by Jack Goldsmithvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 18, 2016

Barack Obama so wanted to end “Bush’s wars” and close Guantánamo. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Analysis and Commentary

President’s Commission On Enhancing National Cybersecurity

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Today President Obama announced a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity that is “charged with making recommendations to the nation for actions that can be taken over the next decade to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sector.”

Analysis and Commentary

More On Obama V. Bush On Preemption: Response To Lederman

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marty Lederman says in response to my posts that the big difference between the Bush and Obama preemption doctrines was that the Bush Administration “argued that international law permits the United States to engage in a ‘first use’ strike, in a nonconsenting state, against a state or nonstate actor that has not already engaged in an armed attack against the United States, before any threat of attack is ‘fully formed’ — indeed, even where the probability of any such future attack is ‘relatively low.’”

Analysis and Commentary

Sometimes A Name Is Only A Name

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, April 8, 2016

Daniel Bethlehem says that my claim that the Obama administration has embraced the Bush doctrine of preemption for anticipatory self-defense “misses an essential element.” 

Obama's Embrace of Bush's Preemption Doctrine

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Following up on Ashley’s piece on Brian Egan’s good speech at the ASIL meeting last week, I have a piece at Time explaining that that Egan adopts the Bush administration’s controversial preemption doctrine in all but name.


Obama Has Officially Adopted Bush’s Iraq Doctrine

by Jack Goldsmithvia Time Magazine
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It’s the culmination of a process that began when he took office.