National Security Challenges Talk


Security challenges facing the Obama administration was the subject of a lecture by Professor Matthew Waxman, who joined the Columbia Law School faculty two years ago with a wealth of professional experience in national security issues. Just two years out of law school, he was a newly hired special assistant to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice when terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001.  After the scandal over the military’s widely condemned abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, Waxman was recruited to serve as the deputy assistant secretary of defense to help manage the reform of Pentagon detention policies and practices. As he worked with the intelligence agencies in helping to reform the Pentagon's interrogation policies, he found himself deeply at odds with top administration officials when he pushed for full compliance with Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions at all military detention sites. Soon afterwards he left the Pentagon for the State Department, where he served as the principal deputy director of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, an elite pod of big thinkers created after World War II by Secretary of State George Marshall.  

Waxman, an expert in the domestic and international legal aspects of fighting terrorism, holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. He clerked for Associate Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and Judge Joel M. Flaum of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and served in senior positions at the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense and National Security Council. Professor Waxman was a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, where he studied international relations. He authored several books on the use of military force as an instrument of American foreign policy.