Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow

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

Custom's Future: International Law In A Changing World

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, March 7, 2016

That is the title of a new book edited by Curtis Bradley.

Analysis and Commentary

Congress Is Responsible For The Iranian Exemptions To The New Visa Waiver Law

by Jack Goldsmith, Amira Mikhailvia Lawfare
Monday, February 29, 2016

Last Thursday’s hearing by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs made clear that the Republicans in Congress are still steaming about the Obama administration’s narrowing of Congress’s recent restrictions to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) related to Iran. 


Introducing Aegis: Security Policy In Depth

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Thursday, February 25, 2016

We are delighted to announce the launch of Lawfare's new subsidiary page, called Aegis: Security Policy in Depth. Aegis is designed to focus on work of greater length and depth than we normally run on Lawfare, exploring legal and policy issues at the intersection of technology, national security, and law.

middle east

The Impending "Humanitarian Catastrophe" In Aleppo

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

As the Russian-backed Aleppo offensive proceeds, State Department official Brett McGurk testified today that Aleppo is on the verge of “a humanitarian catastrophe.” In the face of that catastrophe, allied complaints about U.S. disengagement and cries at home for U.S. intervention grow louder. 

In the News

Invitation To The Hoover Book Soiree: Orde Kittrie On "Lawfare: Law As A Weapon Of War"

by Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The fifth in a series of book soirees at the Hoover Institution's Washington Offices will take place on February 17th, when Jack Goldsmith will interview Orde Kittrie on his new book, Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War along with Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF (Ret.).

Analysis and Commentary

New Issue Of Harvard National Security Journal

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Harvard National Security Journal's fall issue, published earlier this week, may be of interest to Lawfare readers. Ashley Deeks of UVa Law School (and Lawfare) argues that intelligence agencies restrain how foreign peer agencies conduct their work and view their legal obligations.


by Jack Goldsmith
Thursday, January 14, 2016

“I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,” said President Obama in his final State of the Union address. A few days earlier, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough seemed put down a marker about Guantanamo. 


Why Obama Hasn’t Closed Guantanamo Bay—and Probably Never Will

by Jack Goldsmithvia Time
Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It is hard to see how closing Guantanamo unilaterally will burnish President Obama’s legacy in the short run or the long run.

Analysis and Commentary

Feckless OPM

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I expected to hear from OPM after the data breach because it directed at least two of my background checks for security clearances while I was in government. Many acquaintances received notices.

Analysis and Commentary

The Scope Of The Prepublication Review Problem, And What To Do About It

by Jack Goldsmith, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The problems in the pre-publication review process that we identified in our WP op-ed and in a subsequent post are very hard to document precisely. There are a handful of high-profile public cases involving challenges to the government’s classification decisions, most of which the government wins.