Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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

Don’t Try Terrorists, Lock Them Up

by Jack Goldsmithvia New York Times
Friday, October 8, 2010

The Obama administration wants to show that federal courts can handle trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees, and had therefore placed high hopes in the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa...

Don’t Try Terrorists, Lock Them Up

by Jack Goldsmithvia Advancing a Free Society
Friday, October 8, 2010

THE Obama administration wants to show that federal courts can handle trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees, and had therefore placed high hopes in the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa.

Analysis and Commentary

The Inevitability of Military Detention

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Largely overlooked in Judge Kaplan’s Ghailani Order is his statement that Ghailani’s “status as an ‘enemy combatant’ probably would permit his detention as something akin to prisoner of war until hostilities between the United States and Al Qaeda and the Taliban end even if he were found not guilty in this case"...

The Inevitability of Military Detention

by Jack Goldsmithvia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Largely overlooked in Judge Kaplan’s Ghailani Order is his statement that Ghailani’s “status as an ‘enemy combatant’ probably would permit his detention as something akin to prisoner of war

The Growing Problem of Extra-AUMF Threats

by Jack Goldsmithvia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nine years after it was enacted in response to the September 11 attacks, the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) remains the primary basis for detaining and targeting terrorists who threaten the Uni

Analysis and Commentary

The Growing Problem of Extra-AUMF Threats

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, September 30, 2010

[The Authorization to Use Military Force] authorizes force only against the “nations, organizations, or persons” connected to the 9/11 attacks...

Analysis and Commentary

Classified Information in Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

[Bob] Woodward clearly got his information [for the first chapter of his "Obama's Wars"] from participants in [Obama’s first post-election intelligence briefing] or their close aides. Was it right for these people to speak to Woodward about these matters? Was it legal...?

Analysis and Commentary

Al Aulaqi — Confounding Legal Compliance with Judicial Review

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...[I]t is not right to claim that those who support the President’s authority to make such decisions free from judicial review do not believe in legal constraints on the presidency...

Classified Information in Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”

by Jack Goldsmithvia Advancing a Free Society
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The first Chapter of Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars describes Barack Obama’s first post-election intelligence briefing from Director

Analysis and Commentary

What the Government’s Al-Aulaqi Brief Reveals [Updated]

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Sunday, September 26, 2010

The USG’s brief in Al-Aulaqi, the targeted killing case, reveals a great deal about the Obama administration’s thinking about its legal authorities...

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