Jamil Jaffer

Visiting Fellow

Jamil N. Jaffer is currently Vice President for Strategy & Business Development at IronNet Cybersecurity, a startup technology firm founded by former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander (ret.) and former National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Director Matt Olsen. Jamil also currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law and Director of the Homeland and National Security Law Program at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where he teaches classes on counterterrorism, intelligence, surveillance, cybersecurity, and other national security matters. Jamil is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution (2016-17), serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Intelligence Policy and the Board of Advisors for the Concordia Summit, is a Fellow of the Academy for Judaic, Christian and Islamic Studies, and is affiliated with Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).

Jamil most recently served as the Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), where he worked on key national security and foreign policy issues, including leading the drafting of the proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS in 2014 and 2015, the AUMF against Syria in 2013, and revisions to the 9/11 AUMF against al Qaeda. Jamil was also the lead architect of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) and two sanctions laws against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine.

Prior to joining SFRC, Jamil served as Senior Counsel to the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) where he led the committee’s oversight of NSA surveillance, NRO, and NGA matters, as well as intelligence community-wide counterterrorism matters. Jamil was also the lead architect of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the initial version of the cybersecurity legislation recently signed into law.

In the Bush Administration, Jamil served in the White House as an Associate Counsel to the President, handling Defense Department, State Department, and Intelligence Community matters. In that capacity, Jamil also served as one of the White House Counsel’s primary representatives to the National Security Council Deputies Committee.

Prior to the White House, Jamil served in the Justice Department as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, where he focused on counterterrorism and intelligence matters. At the National Security Division, Jamil was one of the primary brief writers on In re: Directives, the first ever two-party litigated matter in the FISA Court and only the second case before the FISA Court of Review in its 30-year history. Jamil also led the National Security Division’s efforts on the President’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), including the drafting of NSPD-54/HSPD-23, and related classified matters. For his work on these matters, Jamil was awarded the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Special Initiative and was among the group of lawyers awarded the Director of National Intelligence’s 2008 Legal Award (Team of the Year – Cyber Legal).

Jamil also served in other positions in the Justice Department, including in the Office of Legal Policy, where he worked on the confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to the United States Supreme Court. Jamil also served as a lawyer in private practice at Kellogg Huber, a Washington, DC-based litigation boutique, as a law clerk to Judges Edith H. Jones and Neil M. Gorsuch of the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Tenth Circuits, respectively, as a policy advisor to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and as a staff member or senior advisor on a number of political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns and a presidential transition team. While in law school, Jamil was a member of the University of Chicago Law Review, managing editor of the Chicago Journal of International Law, and National Symposium Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

Jamil has published multiple op-eds and academic articles on foreign policy, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, encryption, and intelligence matters, and is the co-author of a recent book chapter with former CIA Director Gen. Mike Hayden on ISIS, al Qaeda, and other international terrorist groups in CHOOSING TO LEAD: AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY FOR A DISORDERED WORLD (2015), a book chapter on surveillance in the ABA’s LAW OF COUNTERTERRORISM (2011), and two recent op-eds on counterterrorism matters in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post with former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

Jamil has previously taught graduate-level courses in intelligence law and policy at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and at the National Intelligence University. Jamil has also testified before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security matters and has recently appeared on national television, National Public Radio, and in various print and online publications on a range of national security matters including counterterrorism, surveillance, encryption, cybersecurity, and foreign policy issues.

Jamil holds degrees from UCLA (B.A., cum laude), the University of Chicago Law School (J.D., with honors), and the United States Naval War College (M.A., with distinction).

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Recent Commentary


Jamil Jaffer: What US Charges Against Julian Assange Mean For Journalists

interview with Jamil Jaffervia PBS
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Hoover Institution fellow Jamil Jaffer discusses the arrest and specific computer fraud charge Julian Assange faces.

Jamil Jaffer: An NSI Conversation On Yemen, Saudi Arabia, And US Policy

interview with Jamil Jaffervia The Lawfare Podcast
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jamil Jaffer discusses Yemen and the US-Saudi alliance.

In the News

Nielsen's Departure Raises Questions About Cyber Plans

quoting Jamil Jaffervia The Hill
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Kirstjen Nielsen’s departure as head of Homeland Security is creating uncertainty about the agency’s cyber efforts.

In the News

What Is It That Made Western Civilization Great?

quoting Jamil Jaffervia The New York Times
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Swept up by authorities after the Sept. 11 attacks, Adham Hassoun, a Palestinian computer programmer who lived in Florida, served 15 years in prison for sending support to Islamist militants abroad.


Legislation Isn't Right Answer To Controlling Social Media Content, Jamil Jaffer Says

interview with Jamil Jaffervia Bloomberg
Friday, March 15, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jamil Jaffer discusses the struggles of social media platforms to control content and prevent violence from being livestreamed.

In the News

Cyberattack Fears On The Rise After Shutdown, Intel Testimony

quoting Jamil Jaffervia The Hill
Friday, February 1, 2019

Lawmakers fear that increased threats from foreign actors, combined with lingering effects from the government shutdown, are making the U.S. more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Analysis and Commentary

Security Vetting In An Age Of Terror

by Jamil Jaffervia Real Clear Defense
Monday, July 23, 2018

We live in an age of terror. While the attacks of September 11, 2001, are a faint memory for many and sometimes not even that, children born after the attacks becoming adults this year after a decade and a half has passed. And yet the reality remains that those killed over 3,000 Americans on our soil in less than two hours would strike us again if the opportunity presented itself. 

Analysis and Commentary

Modern Privacy Advocacy: An Approach At War With Privacy Itself?

by Jamil Jaffer, Justin Hurwitzvia Regulatory Transparency Project
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Privacy is one of the defining policy issues of our time. In the digital era, privacy concerns are omnipresent.  From advertisers and online platforms seemingly tracking our every move online, to ongoing discussions about law enforcement’s need for access to encrypted communications to protect us against terrorists and other violent criminals, to the geopolitics of countries spying on one another’s citizens, concerns about individual privacy arise constantly in the public and private spheres, both domestically and abroad.

Correcting The Record On The Federalist’s House Intelligence Committee Article

by Darren Dick, Jamil Jaffer
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Recently, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway took on a New York Times piece about Devin Nunes being a “hatchet job…riddled with errors.” The problem is, Hemingway’s piece, too, contains repeated misstatements about former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) that bear correcting.

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Analysis and Commentary

To Promote Nonproliferation, Kill The Iran Deal Now

by Jamil Jaffervia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Europeans won’t do business with Tehran if that means losing access to American banks.