Task Forces and Working Groups
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Jean Perkins Task Force on National Security and Law

Significant gifts for the support of this task force are acknowledged from

  • James J. Carroll III
  • Jean Perkins Foundation

The National Security and Law Task Force examines the rule of law, the laws of war, and American constitutional law with a view to making proposals that strike an optimal balance between individual freedom and the vigorous defense of the nation against terrorists both abroad and at home. The task force’s focus is the rule of law and its role in Western civilization, as well as the roles of international law and organizations, the laws of war, and U.S. criminal law. Those goals will be accomplished by systematically studying the constellation of issues—social, economic, and political—on which striking a balance depends.

Peter Berkowitz serves as chair of the National Security and Law Task Force.

Law and Ethics for Autonomous Weapon Systems:
Why a Ban Won’t Work and How the Laws of War Can

by Matthew Waxman and Kenneth Anderson

Public debate is heating up over the future development of autonomous weapon systems and the merit and risks associated with their use in war. Grounded in a realistic assessment of technology, this essay outlines a practical alternative with which to evaluate the use of autonomous weaponry that incorporates codes of conduct based on traditional legal and ethical principles governing weapons and warfare.

A Statutory Framework for Next-Generation Terrorist Threats
by Robert Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxman, and Benjamin Wittes

Since September 18, 2001, a joint resolution of Congress known as the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) has served as the primary legal foundation for the "war on terror." In this essay we explain why the AUMF is increasingly obsolete, why the nation will probably need a new legal foundation for next-generation terrorist threats, what the options are for this new legal foundation, and which option we think is best.

Featured Commentary and News

April 18, 2014 | Lawfare

On Edward Snowden’s Propaganda Stunt for Putin

April 16, 2014 | Lawfare

Metadata, Cellphone Geolocation Tracking, and Innocence

April 15, 2014 | Lawfare

The Washington Post and Guardian Pulitzers: I Dissent

April 8, 2014 | Lawfare

Thoughts on USG Candor to China on Cyber

April 7, 2014 | The Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post)

Al-Aulaqi ‘Bivens’ Damages Suit in Drone Strikes Dismissed

April 1, 2014 | Lawfare

Geoffrey Stone on How Review Group Service Changed His View of NSA

Very interesting post over at Huffington Post from Geoffrey Stone about his Review Group service, his changed view of NSA, and trust of the spy agency. Quite moving, actually. Writes Stone: From the outset, I approached my responsibilities as a member of
March 31, 2014 | Lawfare

More Convergence on Metadata

On Thursday, I posted this item noting a possible convergence of civil liberties interests and NSA's operational needs in the President's metadata proposal. The basic idea was that the president's proposed system to end bulk metadata collection actually ha
March 27, 2014 | Lawfare

President Obama’s Metadata Proposal: A Win for Everyone?

March 21, 2014 | Lawfare

Snowden v. Ledgett at TED

Edward Snowden gave a TED talk at TED2014: After it, TED folks offered NSA a chance to respond---and Rick Ledgett, deputy director of the agency, showed up by video conference to answer questions:
March 20, 2014 | Lawfare

Snowden Disclosures and Norms of Cyber-Attacks

Secrecy---of the sort that typically shrouds cyber-defense and cyber-attack capabilities and doctrine---complicates the development of international norms.  Secrecy makes it difficult to engage in sustained diplomacy about rules.  Officials can talk about