Lawfare Turns Ten

Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 11:34 AM

A decade of hard national security choices.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

A decade ago this week—on September 1, 2010, to be precise—I posted the first article on Lawfare announcing what Jack Goldsmith, Bobby Chesney and I believed would be a personal blog for our shorter, news-driven national security writing. “For those readers familiar with our prior writings, our subject will come as no surprise: We mean to devote this blog to that nebulous zone in which actions taken or contemplated to protect the nation interact with the nation's laws and legal institutions,” I wrote.

We had no idea when we launched the site the role it would come to play in the American debate over the law and policy of national security, the scope of its growth, the different voices who would come to speak through it, or the manner in which it would help cultivate a new generation of national security legal writers.

We also never imagined the degree to which it would become an institution, one with employees and technological infrastructure that requires development and maintenance—and one with supporters that range from large foundations to individual readers.

There is a great deal about Lawfare’s development over its first decade of which I am proud: that we contribute depth and substance on a consistent basis to conversations of importance and complexity, that we have assembled an unrivaled brain-trust on a series of issues on which policymakers and academics and journalists and members of the public require guidance, that our podcasts are reaching 1.4 million people per month, and that the site itself has seen 6.2 million visits so far this year, to name a few.

But I am also proud of the degree to which user support helps fund the site. More than 400 people are regular monthly donors to Lawfare. Many thousands more are occasional donors. Individual donations now account for an impressive percentage of our annual budget. This support is evidence that real people actually value what we do in a fashion they are willing to put their own money behind.

If you are one of the many people who supports Lawfare, my heartfelt thanks. If you are not yet a supporter but are using the site regularly, please use the occasion of our tenth birthday to consider becoming one. Having a wide donor base increases our budget stability in difficult times. It gives us a latitude to think and act agilely. And wide user support helps ensure our independence.

So send Lawfare a birthday present. And thanks to all for our first ten years.


Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.

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