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


Important First Step By HPSCI On Pre-Publication Review Reform

by Jack Goldsmith, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 26, 2016

We are happy to learn, via Secrecy News, that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has weighed in constructively on the pre-publication review issue that we first wrote about.


The New JASTA Is Still Harmful Congressional Shirking

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Steve Vladeck followed up his excellent analysis of an earlier version of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) with an excellent analysis of the different version of JASTA that passed the Senate earlier this week. The Bill that passed the Senate was indeed different than the one being considered a few weeks ago.

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Ratner, RIP

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 12, 2016

I am a perhaps-improbable admirer of Michael Ratner, whom I was sad to learn passed away yesterday. I interviewed Ratner six years ago for my book Power and Constraint and thought him such a significant figure in the story of post-9/11 accountability that I built a chapter around him (called “The GTMO Bar”).

Analysis and Commentary

Analysis Of Lawsuit Challenging War Against ISIL

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Charlie Savage reports that Captain Nathan Michael Smith, an army intelligence officer deployed in Kuwait, has brought a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s interpretive extension of the 2001 AUMF in response to 9/11 the Islamic State.

Analysis and Commentary

Drones And The “Internet Of Things-Style Surveillance Network”

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, May 2, 2016

Nextgov reports that the State Department has put out a request for information for a wireless intrustion detection system that the story describes as an “Internet of Things-style surveillance network.”


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.