It’s Spaghetti on the Wall Productions, “a podcast production company featuring high-substance, high-charisma individuals with interesting things to say.” We launched in January and now have four shows—with more on the way. I’ll put the Twitter feeds of the two shows I’m directly involved with on the site, but I encourage you to check them all out. […]
New Book! The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting A New Age of Threat
““A book that manages to meld Hobbes, James Bond, science fiction, and Supreme Court decisions”
Testimony Before the House Committee on Armed Services Thank you Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee for inviting me to present my views on the President’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. I am a senior fellow in Governance Studies […]
Do we care so much about whether and how the government accesses our data perhaps because the line between ourselves and the machines that generate the data is getting fuzzier? Perhaps the NSA disclosures have struck such a chord with so many people because on a visceral level we know what our law has not yet begun to recognize: that we are already juvenile cyborgs, and fast becoming adolescent cyborgs; we fear that as adult cyborgs, we will get from the state nothing more than the rights of the machine with respect to those areas of our lives that are bound up with the capabilities of the machine.
Coauthored with Wells C. Bennett How much does the relationship between individuals and the companies in which they entrust their data depend on the concept of “privacy?” And how much does the idea of privacy really tell us about what the government does, or ought to do, in seeking to shield consumers from Big Data […]
Coauthored with Daniel Byman, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2014 The long-running debate over the tradeoffs the United States should make between national security and civil liberties flared up spectacularly last summer, when Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, handed journalists a huge trove of heavily classified documents that exposed, in excruciating detail, electronic surveillance programs […]
Testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream Thank you, Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Sherman, and members of the subcommittee for inviting me to present my views on the future of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and intelligence collection under Section 702 […]
Testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Thank you, Chairman Feinstein, Vice Chairman Chambliss, and members of the committee for inviting me to present my views on reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I am a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. I co-founded and am Editor in Chief of Lawfare, a website […]
I wrote this poem as part of the “Ode Off,” a friendly ode-writing competition with my friend Hannah Neprash. Each of us assigned the other a news story on which we had to write an ode within 48 hours. Hannah assigned me this New York Times story about the potentially salutary effects of video games […]
Coauthored with Daniel Byman By its very name, the Hellfire missile promises to visit Biblical wrath upon those on its receiving end. On September 30, 2011, it delivered just that to Anwar Awlaki, the U.S.-born preacher and an operational leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who had plotted repeated attacks from his […]
Coauthored with Robert Chesney Testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary, “Protecting U.S. Citizens’ Constitutional Rights During the War on Terror.” Thank you, Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and members of the committee for this opportunity to give our views on the subject of military detention under the laws of war of terrorist suspects arrested within the […]
I don’t normally write poetry, but many years ago, in reading Keats, I noticed a quirk in the title of one of his sonnets. For 20 years or so, I have meant to write a sonnet about it. I finally got around to it recently.
Coauthored with Stephanie Leutert A large, powerful organization with enormous influence over public debate is stifling discussion of an important national security issue. It has censored emerging ideas by prominent intellectuals and practitioners in the field. It makes irrational, outdated choices about what sources constitute acceptable reading for the public’s delicate eyes. Its conservatism about […]
Speech before the Oxford Union in support of the resolution: “This House Believes Drone Warfare is Ethical and Effective.”
Coauthored with Kenneth Anderson OVERVIEW Over the course of President Obama’s first term in office, the president and senior officials of his administration have given a series of major speeches on the legal framework for confronting terrorists overseas. The speeches collectively represent the fullest statement the administration has given of the law of drones, targeted […]
Testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary, “Drones and the War on Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?” Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for inviting me to testify on the question of when the United States may lawfully target alleged American terrorists overseas. I am a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the […]
Coauthored with Robert Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, and Matthew Waxman Since September 18, 2001, a joint resolution of Congress known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has served as the primary legal foundation for the “war on terror.” In this essay we explain why the AUMF is increasingly obsolete, why the nation will […]
Brookings Institution, January 25, 2013 Summary: After nearly ten years of diligent CIA intelligence work, U.S. Navy SEALs tracked 9-11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden to his compound in Pakistan and killed him. It was an attack that resonated around the world and is now portrayed in the movie, Zero-Dark-Thirty. Senior Fellow Benjamin Wittes discusses the facts and […]
Coauthored with Daniel Byman, The Atlantic, January 3, 2013 Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out […]
Published in Megatrends in Global Interaction, Bertelsmann Foundation, October 2012. In 1914, in the wake of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a foreign affairs writer named F. Cunliffe-Owen looked for the bright side. “While it is only natural that one should be stricken with horror at the brutal and shocking assassination,” he wrote in […]
As part of the Brookings Campaign 2012 Project, which I directed, I conducted a series of interview with Brookings scholars who wrote chapters for the Campaign 2012 book. Here they are:
Coauthored with Ritika Singh, Published in What So Proudly We Hailed: Essays on the Contemporary Meaning of the War of 1812, October 31, 2012. In November of 1814, the White House lay in ashes, burned to the ground by British troops. President James Madison was living in temporary quarters at the so-called Octagon House, having […]
Washington D.C., November 7, 2012 A wrap-up of Campaign 2012 with Brookings colleagues Thomas Mann, Isabel Sawhill, Jonathan Rauch, and Bob Kagan.
Brookings Institution, August 13, 2012 The economy is shaping up to be the focal point of the 2012 election. Federal government efforts to jumpstart the economy started at the end of the Bush administration, and many of the same policies continued in the Obama administration, which also added a multi-billion dollar package of tax cuts […]
Coauthored with Ritika Singh, Commonweal Magazine, September 14, 2012 Political parties in the United States, like a spatting couple in a bad marriage, have been fighting over the law of counterterrorism for more than a decade. And like the spatting couple, they have developed an almost rote script for their fight. The script has a […]
Brookings Institution, August 20, 2012 Despite negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program, the diplomatic approach has continued to result in stalemate. Senior Fellow Suzanne Maloney and Campaign 2012 director Benjamin Wittes discuss how the next president should handle a defiant Iran.
Brookings Institution, August 6, 2012 A soft economy has cemented the focus of the 2012 presidential election on economic issues, with little attention paid to foreign policy, a topic often considered a Republican strength. But with Osama bin Laden dead and no new terror attacks during his term, President Barack Obama isn’t seen as weak […]
Brookings Institution, July 16, 2012 The federal budget crisis is a key issue in the upcoming presidential election, with both parties unable to compromise thus far on government spending and tax reform. Ron Haskins and Campaign 2012 Project Director Benjamin Wittes discuss what the next president must do to address the nation’s budget crisis during […]
Brookings Institution, June 28, 2012 It was always easier to count to five for an opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act than for one striking it down. In order to strike it down, all five of the high court’s conservatives would have to be rock-solid, they would have to stand together on everything. If one […]
Brookings Institution, June 25, 2012 With its continuing weak economy and the growing power of China and other countries, America’s role as the pre-eminent power in the world has changed in the past few years. Senior Fellow Bruce Jones, a director of the Managing Global Order Project, and Campaign 2012 Project Director Benjamin Wittes discuss […]
Brookings Institution, June 4, 2012 The role of both state and federal government is crucial to building economic growth in the coming years. Bruce Katz, vice president of the Metropolitan Policy Program and Campaign 2012 Project Director Benjamin Wittes discuss what the next president must do to galvanize the talents and energies of America’s cities, […]
Brookings Institution, May 23, 2012 Expert Q&A with Benjamin Wittes and Jonathan D. Pollack | Jonathan Pollack: There’s no denying that China will eventually have the world’s biggest economy so, it’s imperative that the next President find a way to build a more fulsome and cooperative relationship with China.
Ready or not, the quadrennial run for the White House is upon us. American voters face a very different landscape than they did four years ago, when the presidential race was relatively wide open and neither the sitting president nor vice president was seeking the nation’s highest office. Osama bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi are […]
The Washington Post, May 3, 2012 When Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others are arraigned Saturday in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay on charges of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it will be the public’s first glimpse in several years of the 9/11 mastermind. The event holds the promise of long-delayed justice and […]
Brookings Institution, April 20, 2012 Ted Gayer and Campaign 2012 Project Director Benjamin Wittes discuss what the next president will need to do to address climate policy during his term.
Coauthored with John Villasenor. The Washington Post, April 20, 2012. In February, President Obama signed into law a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that requires the agency — on a fairly rapid schedule — to write rules opening U.S. airspace to unmanned aerial vehicles. This puts the FAA at the center of a […]
Jones Day LLP, April 12, 2012 This panel, featured during the 2012 National Security Symposium, will analyze, from myriad perspectives, U.S. policy and practice on these issues as we enter the second decade of the armed conflict.
Brookings Institution, March 20, 2012 Presidential candidates are sparring over the Affordable Care Act, and the Supreme Court is set to review its constitutionality. But Alice Rivlin argues the next president should focus on structural reform of Medicare, a driver of deficit spending.
Brookings Institution, March 16, 2012 What do the Constitutional Convention, the Talmud, and Wikipedia have in common? That’s the question behind a new project Brookings has launched in partnership with the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier. The project, about which I am deeply excited, is at one level an attempt to bring […]
Brookings Institution, March 13, 2012 William A. Galston: The president has been intensely frustrated by how many of his nominations have been stalled in the partisan cross-fire. Partisan polarization today is at highest level it is reached in 100 years.
American Enterprise Institute, February 22, 2012 Some slightly off-color remarks at AEI about Michael Greve’s excellent and challenging new book on federalism, The Upside-Down Constitution.
Brookings Institution, February 21, 2012 Michael O’Hanlon: I don’t think we can go as far as to treat Pakistan as a hostile state. If we do, we’ve already lost the game in Afghanistan. We must recalibrate our policy to push Pakistan in the right direction.
American Enterprise Institute, February 2, 2012 Comments at AEI about military commissions in our mythical debate, and their very different reality.
Brookings Institution, January 13, 2012 Summary: After years of legal battles over whether to engage in non-criminal detentions, the prisoners now come under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. However, U.S. law restricts transfers from Guantanamo Bay, so, the facility won’t close any time soon.
The Washington Post, January 11, 2012 In a decade of policy experimentation at Guantanamo, some efforts have succeeded, some have failed tragically and some are still in process. But far more interesting than the past 10 years is what the next 10 will look like. And that subject seems oddly absent from the current conversation.
Coauthored with Ritika Singh, Cato Unbound, January 11, 2012 David Cortright crafts his essay as a series of cautionary warnings about the rise of drone warfare, but his core argument goes far deeper than drones: Cortright objects to drones, which promise unprecedented levels of humanitarian protection of civilians, chiefly because they facilitate the effective use […]
Technological changes are posing stark challenges to America’s core values. Basic constitutional principles find themselves under stress from stunning advances that were unimaginable even a few decades ago, much less during the Founders’ era. Policymakers and scholars must begin thinking about how constitutional principles are being tested by technological change and how to ensure that […]
Brookings Institution, December 15, 2011 On December 13, the Governance Studies program at Brookings hosted a Judicial Issues Forum examining the scenarios posed in Constitution 3.0 and the challenge of adapting our constitutional values to the technology of the near future. Jeffrey Rosen and I gave an overview of the book and were joined by […]