Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War

March 14, 2016
4:30 pm -

The United States has demonstrated it can win wars on the battlefield. But can it achieve similar objectives without firing a shot?

In his new book, Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War (Oxford University Press, 2016), Orde Kittrie analyzes the deployment and impact of "lawfare"—the use of law as a substitute for armed force to accomplish international security objectives. He explains how and why lawfare is becoming an increasingly powerful and prevalent factor in 21st century conflicts.

Kittrie, who served for over a decade as a U.S. State Department attorney, explains how China, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority have made "lawfare" a core part of their military and diplomatic strategy. Kittrie also describes the remarkable effectiveness in waging lawfare of several non-governmental organizations and individual attorneys.

Kittrie draws a contrast with the U.S. government, which he explains has failed to systematically wage or defend against lawfare. He characterizes this as a tremendous missed opportunity and source of vulnerability. He argues that a more systematic and vigorous approach to lawfare would help the U.S. to achieve some national security objectives with less or no armed force, thus saving U.S. taxpayer dollars and some U.S. and foreign lives.

The book contains specific policy recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to consider. In praising the book, former Central Intelligence Director James Woolsey said, “U.S. and allied policymakers and lawyers should read this important book and heed its call to action.” Former Senator Evan Bayh said that “this fascinating book will be inspiring to attorneys, valuable to national security practitioners, and read with great interest across the political spectrum.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

4:30 pm

Registration will begin at 4:15 pm.

A cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception will immediately follow the discussion


Orde F. Kittrie is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is also a tenured Professor of Law at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and director of its Washington, DC Semester Program. A renowned expert on lawfare, nonproliferation, the Middle East, and international security law, he served in the U.S. Department of State for over a decade in several key legal and policy positions, including as lead attorney for nuclear affairs, lead attorney for strategic trade controls, director of the Office of International Anti-Crime Programs, and special assistant to the Under Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs. He has frequently testified before Congress, and twice served on National Academy of Sciences committees. He is the recipient of a university-wide annual award honoring outstanding teaching, and previously served as President of the Hispanic National Bar Association Southwest Region.

Alyza D. Lewin specializes in litigation and government relations. She currently practices law at Lewin & Lewin, LLP. Her work involves criminal defense and civil litigation matters. Her clients include individuals and corporations under investigation by the Department of Justice, individuals who have been denied a security clearance, and government employees who are the subject of inquiries relating to their official duties. Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War describes the leading role of Alyza and Nathan Lewin in the U.S. federal court case of Boim v. Holy Land Foundation, which held Hamas donors in the United States responsible for damages suffered by victims of Hamas terrorist acts overseas. The case helped shut down the Hamas fundraising network in the U.S., and set an important precedent that has deterred contributions to other terrorist groups.

Nathan Lewin has engaged in trial and appellate litigation in federal and state courts for 45 years. While he was an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice, he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court for the United States. Since entering private practice he has argued in the Supreme Court another 16 times. His Supreme Court cases have included the representation of banks and other commercial interests as well as criminal cases and issues of constitutional law. Mr. Lewin also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and before that as Deputy Administrator of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs at the Department of State.

Steve Perles is the senior attorney and founder of the Perles Law Firm, P.C. Perles began his private practice in 1981, after serving as chief legislative assistant and staff attorney for Sen. Ted Stevens. His litigation practice has included important cases in the field of Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act litigation, particularly cases involving claims against or the defense of foreign governments before United States federal courts and administrative agencies. Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War describes Steve Perles’ leading role in the case of Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, in which a U.S. federal court held Iran responsible for the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 U.S. Marines. The court ultimately awarded $10 billion in compensation to victim families. Thanks to a tip from the U.S. Treasury Department, the victims’ attorneys have frozen on their behalf $1.9 billion in Iranian assets.

Juan C. Zarate has played a key role in developing and implementing the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism strategy and financial pressure strategies for more than a decade. He serves as Chairman and Senior Counselor of FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF). He is the author of Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare (2013).  He served as the first ever Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes and the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism and was responsible for developing and implementing the U.S. Government’s counterterrorism strategy and policies related to transnational security threats. Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War describes Juan Zarate’s leading role in developing and implementing the U.S. government’s financial lawfare campaign against Iran and its nuclear program.

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