Benjamin Wittes

I cannot decide if I am more annoyed at the Washington Post or more annoyed at the Obama administration for the way this latest cache of Snowden-leaked NSA documents is playing. I have now gone through the documents with some care, and I find both the Post‘s formulation of the story and the administration’s response to the leak mind-boggling.

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A Tale of Two NSA Leaks

One is unsurprising, and damaging. The other is worth debating.

One is unsurprising, and damaging. The other is worth debating.

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The attacks on the Justice Department lawyers who had represented Guantanamo detainees angered me for several distinct reasons. They typified a growing culture of incivility in the politics of national security and law that I have always loathed and have spoken against repeatedly. They sought to delegitimize the legal defense of politically unpopular clients and to impose a kind of ideological litmus test on Justice Department service. They were also, at least in part, about friends and professional acquaintances.

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Benjamin Wittes is a Fellow and Research Director in Public Law at The Brookings Institution and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. America has grown complacent, and how could it have done otherwise? For years, we have not felt the war our government insists remains a reality. We keenly feel two related wars, the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the war on terror has certainly persisted as a legal reality, and in some sense also as a civic reality. But it has long since ceased to be a practical and emotional reality.

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Also on TNR.com today: E.J. Graff suggests that Democrats who fear the political fallout of the gay marriage ruling are wrong-headed--from both an ethical and an electoral standpoint.    "Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as president," the Obama campaign stated oh-so-carefully in response to this week's California Supreme Court decision striking down the state's ban on gay marriage.

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Overheated

"It would be hard," The New York Times declared, "to overstate the importance of [the April 2] ruling by the Supreme Court that the federal government has the authority to regulate the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by motor vehicles." Not that the Times wasn't going to give it the old college try.

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Second Thoughts

Benjamin Wittes: Do the gun nuts have a point?

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