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

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The Snowden Cure

by Jack Goldsmithvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 21, 2016

America and its intelligence establishment have recovered from Edward Snowden’s disclosures—and are better off for them. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Next President’s Fight Against Terror

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

That is the title of a conference Ben and I are participating in next week in D.C. at New America, in conjunction with Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and the McCain Institute.

Analysis and Commentary

Thoughts On White House Pledge To Respond To DNC Hack

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yesterday Josh Earnest pledged that the United States would “will ensure that our response is proportional” to Russia’s hack of DNC emails, which the United States has concluded was “intended to interfere with the US election process.”


The DNC Hack And (The Lack Of) Deterrence

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Sunday, October 9, 2016

What Options Does the U.S. Have After Accusing Russia of Hacks?, asks the headline in the NYT story yesterday by David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth. To ask this question is to reveal once again the ineffective or non-existent U.S. cyber-deterrence policy. 

Hoover Book Soiree, Reminder: Rosa Brooks On "How Everything Became War And The Military Became Everything"

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The next in our series of book soirees at the Hoover Institution's Washington Office will take place on Wednesday, when Ben interviews Rosa Brooks about her new book: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.


Why President Obama Won't, and Shouldn't, Pardon Snowden

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, September 16, 2016

A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday, in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” case for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the President will, or should, pardon Snowden.


Why Obama Should Veto 9/11 Families Bill

by Jack Goldsmith, Steve Vladeck via CNN
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

President Obama has said he will veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bill that purports to make it easier for 9/11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia in US federal court for its alleged role in indirectly financing the attacks.


The Other Forever War Anniversary

by Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxmanvia Time
Saturday, September 10, 2016

The United States had been bombing the Islamic State sporadically throughout the summer of 2014, under the President’s Article II Commander-in-Chief power. But at about the time on September 10 when President Obama announced the United States’ ramped-up efforts “to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, he also shifted the legal basis for the effort to the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that had been the foundation for the conflict against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Associates since a few days after the 9/11 attacks. 


Quick Reactions To Obama’s UN Gambit On Nuclear Testing

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, August 5, 2016

Josh Rogin of the Washington Post reports that “President Obama has decided to seek a new United Nations Security Council resolution that would call for an end to nuclear testing, a move that leading lawmakers are calling an end run around Congress.” The piece’s title says Obama’s gambit will “bypass” Congress.

Analysis and Commentary

Yet More Thoughts On The DNC Hack: Attribution And Precedent

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

David Sanger and Eric Schmitt report this morning that American intelligence officials “now have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee.”