Ashley Deeks

Fast Facts

  • Member, U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Law
  • Member, board of editors, American Journal of International Law
  • Senior fellow, Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare
  • Senior contributor, Lawfare blog
  • Expertise on international law and litigation, national security law, terrorism

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • American Defense and Security
  • War and Terrorism
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Law and Justice

Ashley Deeks joined the University of Virginia Law School in 2012 after two years as an academic fellow at Columbia Law School and is the E. James Kelly, Jr. - Class of 1965 Research Professor of Law. Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of international law, national security, intelligence, and the laws of war. She has written articles on the use of force, executive power, secret treaties, the intersection of national security and international law, and the laws of armed conflict. She is a member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law and serves as a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog. Deeks also serves on the boards of editors of the American Journal of International Law and the Journal of National Security Law and Policy. She is the supervising editor for AJIL Unbound, and is a senior fellow at the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare.

Before joining Columbia in 2010, Deeks served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Advisor, where she worked on issues related to the law of armed conflict, the use of force, conventional weapons, and the legal framework for the conflict with al-Qaida. She also provided advice on intelligence issues. In previous positions at the State Department, Deeks advised on international law enforcement, extradition, and diplomatic property questions. In 2005, she served as the embassy legal advisor at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, during Iraq’s constitutional negotiations. Deeks was a 2007–08 Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow and a visiting fellow in residence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Deeks received her JD with honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as comment editor on the Law Review. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Ashley Deeks News Feed

The growth of machine learning tools in military operations raises new questions about where the most critical decision points are located. Are the most important political, operational, and legal decisions made out in the field, where the tools are used, or in headquarters, at the time the tools are developed? This post argues that—perhaps ironically—the growing use of autonomy may end up centralizing key military and legal decisions.
Ashley Deeks West Point Lieber Institute
Members of Congress and other observers, however, have continued to ask questions about their possible involvement, noting the Trump administration’s hostile posture toward the Maduro government; its strong support for Guaido; and ties between Goudreau and the Trump campaign, which Goudreau openly advertised on the Silvercorp website. The answers to these questions are essential both for clarifying what happened in Venezuela and for determining whether Goudreau or any of his associates violated U.S. law—in particular, the 1794 Neutrality Act.
Ashley Deeks Lawfare
In the past week, some state prosecutors have started to charge coronavirus-related cases as terroristic threat and assault cases. But using terrorism statutes as tools to deter this behavior may prove problematic. Prosecuting these cases as terrorism—a charge that tends to carry heftier sentences than other criminal offenses—may allow the government to aggressively deter any malicious spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, however, courts and the public may view such prosecutions as improperly stretching terrorism statutes.
Ashley Deeks Lawfare
Companies working for the U.S. military invented duct tape. And Silly Putty. And undershirts. The military needed waterproof tape to seal ammunition boxes, a synthetic rubber substitute to compensate for rubber shortages, and something to protect uniforms from wear and tear. Military necessity drove these and other technological advances, which were tailored to the enemies the military was fighting and the nature of conflict at the time. The endless war against al-Qaeda and its associates has similarly fostered a range of technological inventions or advancements, driven by the nature of the foes America has been fighting for two decades.
Ashley Deeks War on the Rocks
On Friday, the Lawfare Podcast hosted a conversation on the wide-ranging policy implications of the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ leader Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy commander of Iraq’s quasi-official Popular Mobilization Forces and leader of the Iraqi militia and PMF Keta’ib Hezbollah.Today’s special edition episode leaves the policy debate behind to zero-in on the law behind the strike. Law of war and international law experts Scott R. Anderson, Bobby Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Ashley Deeks and Samuel Moyn join Benjamin Wittes to discuss the domestic and international law surrounding the strike, how the administration might legally justify it, what the president might do next and how Congress might respond.
Ashley Deeks Lawfare
Assassination is prohibited by a U.S. executive order, says Ashley Deeks, a University of Virginia law professor who focuses on the laws of war. She thinks it is unlikely this meets the definition of an assassination: "A lawful killing during an armed conflict does not constitute an assassination," Deeks says. "As a legal matter, if he were intimately involved in planning and blessing these attacks, then that doesn't seem to render it as assassination."
Ashley Deeks NPR