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

Analysis and Commentary

Can Congress Invent New Offenses Against The Law Of Nations?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lawfare’s Alex Loomis has an excellent paper on SSRN that might interest Lawfare readers: The Power to Define Offences against the Law of Nations

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“Pre-emption” Comes in from the Cold

by Jack Goldsmithvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

The Obama administration has quietly embraced a once-controversial doctrine about getting in the first punch.


Jack Goldsmith: Comey’s Announcement Signals Max FBI Independence

by Jack Goldsmithvia Time Magazine
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It was the least bad choice he could make.


The Obama Administration’s Contributions To International Law

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In April I was honored to give the Sherrill lecture at Yale Law School. My lecture was entitled, The Contributions of the Obama Administration to the Practice and Theory of International Law. The Harvard International Law Journal has now kindly published a slightly edited and lightly footnoted version of the lecture.


Disappointing DOD Inspector General Report On Pre-Publication Review

by Jack Goldsmith, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Earlier this year, we wrote about the US Government’s broken pre-publication review process.


The Obama Administration’s Views On The Legality Of Intervention In Syria Without Congressional Or U.N. Security Council Support

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

As the Obama administration approaches its end, it is interesting to watch former Obama administration officials debate and disagree about its legal legacy. The most recent episode came in response to the State Department dissenters’ proposals for intervention in Syria to remove Assad.


U.S. Attribution Of China’s Cyber-Theft Aids Xi’s Centralization And Anti-Corruption Efforts

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Since I have been a skeptic of the US-China agreement last fall on state-sponsored commercial cyber theft to benefit local firms, I should acknowledge the new report by Fireye that concludes that China’s cyberoperations against U.S. firms have dropped significantly since 2014.

Invitation To The Hoover Book Soiree: Fred Kaplan On "Dark Territory: The Secret History Of Cyber War"

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes
Monday, June 6, 2016

The next in our series of book soirees at the Hoover Institution's Washington Office will take place on June 15, when Ben interviews Fred Kaplan about his new book, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War.


Three Years Later: How Snowden Helped The U.S. Intelligence Community

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, June 6, 2016

Three years ago today, The Guardian published the first story based on the huge archive of documents that that Edward Snowden stole from the National Security Agency while working as an NSA contractor.

Analysis and Commentary

How To Limit Jasta's Adverse Impact

by Curtis A. Bradley, Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, June 3, 2016

We have previously written about why we think JASTA—the bill approved by the Senate last month that would strip foreign sovereign immunity for certain terrorism-related torts inside the United States—is a bad idea.  We argued that the law would be widely perceived around the world as a violation of international law and that it would undermine the U.S. ability to claim immunity in other nation’s courts, and that these costs to the nation would likely outweigh any benefits to the potential plaintiffs.