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Terror Presidency - book cover

The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration

by Jack Goldsmithvia W. W. Norton & Company
Monday, April 13, 2009

Goldsmith's duty as head of the Office of Legal Counsel was to advise President Bush on what he could and could not do . . . legally. This is Goldsmith's account of the clash between the rule of law and the necessity of defending America.

Stephen Krasner

Who Gets a State and Why

by Stephen D. Krasnervia Defining Ideas
Monday, March 30, 2009

In the nineteenth century, political entities whose security was controlled by outside actors would have been called protectorates; in the twenty-first century, they can be accepted as fully recognized sovereign states.

Administrative Detention: Why Detain, and Detain Whom?

by Matthew Waxmanvia Journal of National Security Law & Policy, Vol. 3, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Especially after the recent Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush, holding that constitutional habeas corpus rights apply to detainees at Guantanamo, a debate burns over whether Congress should enact new laws authorizing preventive "administrative detention" of suspected terrorists outside the criminal justice system, perhaps overseen by a new "National Security Court". This Article argues that both sides of this debate analyze the problem and propose solutions backwards: they begin by focusing on procedural issues and institutional design (e.g. what kind of judge will decide cases; how will the suspect defend himself; etc) rather than first deciding (1) what is the strategic purpose of proposed new law, and (2) whom does it therefore aim to detain.
Ruth Wedgwood

What Do You Do with a Captured Pirate?

by Ruth Wedgwoodvia Defining Ideas
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why has the West’s response to twenty-first-century piracy on the high seas been so anemic? In part it is logistic; in part, it is a purposeful deformation of the law.

The Law Adrift

by Ruth Wedgwoodvia The American Interest
Sunday, March 1, 2009

The age-old scourge of piracy has come back to haunt us off the waters of Somalia. Our troubles in dealing decisively with the problem are largely of our own making.

In the News

Framed by water: U.S. & Global Trade, Politics and Law

by Ruth Wedgwoodvia School of Advanced International Studies (Johns Hopkins)
Monday, January 26, 2009

Water flows through the center of commerce, politics and law—in the history of the American republic and in the current debates of the international community...

Analysis and Commentary

Closing Guantanamo is way harder than you think

by Matthew Waxmanvia Foreign Policy
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today, U.S. President Barack Obama suspended military commissions at the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba...

Analysis and Commentary

‘Terror’ Is the Enemy

by Philip Bobbittvia New York Times
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Generals are not the only ones who prepare to fight the previous war...

Analysis and Commentary

Nuts and Deadbolts

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Slate
Monday, December 8, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has made clear that he will close the Guantanamo Bay detention center...

Analysis and Commentary

No New Torture Probes

by Jack Goldsmithvia Washington Post
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There has been much speculation about how the Obama administration will deal with what many view as the Bush administration's harsh, abusive and illegal interrogation program...


The Hoover Institution Jean Perkins National Security & Law Task Force is no longer active as of August 31, 2015. This page will not be updated with future posts.

The Briefing

The Briefing provides perspectives on national security under the auspices of the rule of law and US constitutional law.

Lawfare Blog

Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow

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.