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Analysis and Commentary

Moral Obtuseness, Guantanamo, Boko Haram, And The Media

by Benjamin Wittes, Andy Wangvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

This morning’s BBC’s NewsHour show opened with a news judgment reflecting a genuinely odd moral calculus.

Analysis and Commentary

Reactions To NYT Story On North Korean Cyber Penetration

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, January 19, 2015

David Sanger and Martin Fackler write in the NYT that the NSA “drilled into the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world, picked through connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers and penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies,” and also placed malware in North Korean computer systems “that could track the internal workings of many of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers.” 

Analysis and Commentary

A Response To Bruce Schneier And A Cautious Defense Of Energy In The Executive

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, January 16, 2015

Bruce Schneier has responded to my earlier exchange with Edward Snowden with a challenging question: Putting aside what the Constitution currently does or does permit, wouldn’t it be better if all surveillance decisions were subject to judicial review?

Analysis and Commentary

Rational Security, Episode #2: The “I Have Marshall McLuhan Right Here” Episode

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Last week, I introduced a new podcast that Shane Harris, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and I are doing entitled, Rational Security. Episode #2 is now out, featuring a discussion with Brookings scholar Jeremy Shapiro about his new paper with Daniel Byman on returning foreign fighters, “Be Afraid. Be a Little Afraid,” which I posted a few days ago.

Analysis and Commentary

Notes on the Erosion of Norms of Armed Conflict

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I spent the last two days at a terrific conference in at Columbia Law School on asymmetric warfare and the laws of armed conflict, organized by Matthew Waxman and the great Stanford international relations scholar, Steve Krasner.

Analysis and Commentary

Byman and Shapiro on Returning Foreign Fighters

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Brookings colleagues Daniel Byman, Lawfare‘s Foreign Policy Editor, and Jeremy Shapiro have a new paper out on a very timely subject: returning foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq. Entitled, “Be Afraid. Be A Little Afraid: The Threat of Terrorism from Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq,” it was the subject of an event yesterday at Brookings—the audio of which I will post as soon as it is available. Here’s the executive summary:

Analysis and Commentary

Now Will France Stop Paying Ransom for Hostages?

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, January 12, 2015

So now that France is “at war” with radical Islam, now that 1.6 million people and forty heads of state and prime ministers have turned out in the streets of Paris, now that the costs to a society of tolerating the most extreme, violent iterations of salafism have been so vividly displayed for the French people, is it too much to ask that France finally stop paying ransoms for its kidnapped nationals in the Middle East?

Analysis and Commentary

On the Tired War v. Law Enforcement Distinction

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, January 10, 2015

I agree with much of what Wells says in response to Bryan Cunningham’s piece on War v. Crime, but thought I would add my two cents.

Analysis and Commentary

The Intercept Finds an Anonymous Source It Can Trust

by Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, January 9, 2015

For years, Glenn Greenwald has been railing against against mainstream newspapers for, as he put it just the other day, “as usualcorruptly grant[ing] anonymity to ‘senior administration officials’ to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability.”


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

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.