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Analysis and Commentary

Presidential Accountability For Capture And Kill Operations Under The PPG

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, August 8, 2016

I have now read through the newly-declassified PPG on direct actions, the so-called "Playbook" for drone strikes from May 2013. I won't bother to summarize it, as Marty Lederman has already done so over at Just Security and Charlie Savage has done so at the New York Times.

Analysis and Commentary

Declassified "Procedures For Approving Direct Action" Against Terrorists

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Saturday, August 6, 2016

This document was released yesterday. I haven't read it yet, but it is entitled "Procedures for Approving Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets Located Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities" and appears to be a redacted version of the internal policy document that President Obama issued in connection with his May 23, 2013 speech on drone strikes.

Analysis and Commentary

The Justice Department Responds To Sen. Boxer On Sextortion—Sort Of

by Benjamin Wittes, Quinta Jurecicvia Lawfare
Friday, August 5, 2016

Shortly after we released our sextortion reports back in May, Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch seeking data on the scope and magnitude of the problem: "court records show that some of these cyber-criminals have blackmailed hundreds of different victims online.


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.

Executive Power, The Two Party System, And Donald Trump

by Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Over drinks the other evening, I played a parlor game with several of my companions: I asked each to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how nervous he or she was about a Donald Trump presidency, figuring into the calculation both the likelihood of the event and the magnitude of the disaster it would pose.

Analysis and Commentary

A Very Long, Very Uninteresting Guantanamo Story

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I had been looking forward to this very long story in the New Yorker, in part because the title is interesting. "Why Obama Has Failed to Close Guantanamo: Congress is blamed for preventing the President from fulfilling his pledge. But that’s not the whole story."

Trump Calls For More Espionage Against The Country He Wants To Lead

by Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You can't make this stuff up. The GOP candidate for President of the United has apparently just called on Russian intelligence services to conduct illegal espionage against his opponent.

Is Trump A Russian Agent? A Legal Analysis

by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An amazing debate is taking place among serious analysts and journalists in the United States regarding the relationship between the Republican nominee for President and the Russian state.

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security: The "How Cosy Is Your Bear?" Edition

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How fancy is your bear? You can't make this stuff up. The Russian government hacks the Democratic National Committee. Is Moscow trying to swing the election for Donald Trump? Will it work or backfire?

Analysis and Commentary

Obama's Legal Legacy Of Light Footprint Warfare

by Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxmanvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We have a new piece in The Washington Quarterly, titled “The Legal Legacy of Light-Footprint Warfare.”  President Obama’s approach to military intervention has generally emphasized stealthy and often long-distance warfare as an alternative to his predecessor’s heavy “boots on the ground” approach. 


Aegis on Lawfare

Aegis explores legal and policy issues at the intersection of technology and national security.  Published in partnership with Lawfare, it features long-form essays of the working group, examines major new books in the field, and carries podcasts and videos or the working group’s events in Washington and Stanford.

Security by the Book Podcasts

The Security by the Book podcast series features monthly interviews with authors of important, new national security-oriented books and publications.

The Working Group on National Security, Technology, and Law brings together national and international specialists with broad interdisciplinary expertise to analyze how technology affects national security and national security law and how governments can use that technology to defend themselves, consistent with constitutional values and the rule of law.

The group will focus on a broad range of interests, from surveillance to counterterrorism to the dramatic impact that rapid technological change—digitalization, computerization, miniaturization, and automaticity—are having on national security and national security law. Topics include cybersecurity, the rise of drones and autonomous weapons systems, and the need for and dangers of state surveillance. The group’s output will also be published on the Lawfare blog, which covers the merits of the underlying legal and policy debates of actions taken or contemplated to protect the nation and the nation’s laws and legal institutions.

Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes are the cochairs of the National Security, Technology, and Law Working Group.