Ashley S. Deeks

Visiting Associate Professor of Law

John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organization

Spring 2017

Griswold 208

617-496-4535

Assistant: Carol Bateson / 617-495-2917

Biography

Ashley Deeks joined the University of Virginia School of Law in 2012 as an associate professor of law after two years as an academic fellow at Columbia Law School. Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of international law, national security, intelligence, and the laws of war. She has written a number of articles on the use of force, the intersection of national security and international law, and the laws of war. She is a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law and serves as a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog.

Before joining Columbia in 2010, she served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser, 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 adviser 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 J.D. 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.

Areas of Interest

Ashley Deeks, Checks and Balances From Abroad, 83 U. Chi. L. Rev. 65 (2016).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
National Security Law
,
Foreign Law
Type: Article
Abstract
Judicial and scholarly discussions about checks and balances almost always focus on actions and reactions by domestic actors. At least in the intelligence area, however, foreign actors can have direct and indirect influences on US checks and balances. New national-security challenges require increased cooperation with foreign intelligence partners. Leaks and voluntary transparency mean that far more information is publicly available about intelligence missions. And robust legal rules now bind the United States and other Western intelligence services. These changes create opportunities for foreign leaders, citizens, corporations, and peer intelligence services to affect the quantum of power within the executive or the allocation of power among the three branches of the US government. First, some of these foreign influences can trigger the traditional operation of checks and balances in the US system. Second, these foreign actions simulate some of the ef-fects produced by US checks and balances, even if they do not stimulate the US system to act endogenously. Whether one views these foreign constraints as positive or detrimental, understanding them is critical to an informed conversation about the extent to which the executive is truly unfettered in the national-security arena.
Ashley Deeks, Confronting and Adapting: Intelligence Agencies and International Law, 102 Va. L. Rev. 599 (2016).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
National Security Law
,
International Law
,
Foreign Relations
,
Human Rights Law
Type: Article
Abstract
Intelligence activity is — or, more accurately, was — the last bastion of foreign relations unconstrained by international law. States could steal diplomatic secrets, covertly assess rivals’ military capabilities, and disseminate propaganda inside other states without fear of international legal sanction. This absence of regulation made sense as long as a state’s intelligence activities were primarily directed at foreign states and their officials. However, intelligence activity now implicates private actors as never before, as states engage in bulk data collection, steal secrets from corporations, and expand their focus on non-state actors such as terrorist groups. As a result, some states and advocates now are pressing for a formalist approach to international law, claiming that states should interpret various bodies of existing international law as applicable to state intelligence activities. Others contend that intelligence activities will and should remain untouched by international legal constraint. Both approaches are flawed: the realpolitik view of the (non-existent) relationship between intelligence and international legal constraints is unsustainable and creates troubling legal black holes. The formalist view fails to acknowledge important reasons why state-on-state intelligence activities are distinct from diplomatic and military actions that states view as constrained by international law. This Article identifies a better way to mediate the relationship between intelligence and international law. Rather than rejecting international law altogether or, alternatively, imposing a rigid legal framework on intelligence activity, it argues that states should differentiate between international laws that protect individuals against tangible harm (such as international humanitarian law and human rights treaties) and those that protect states against harms that are often dignitary (such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity). The Article proposes a sliding interpretive scale whereby states engaged in intelligence activity have less freedom to interpret and apply individually-focused international rules and more freedom to interpret state-protective rules. It also illustrates how several states have begun to pursue this approach in practice. Ultimately, this Article argues that states and human rights advocates both must adapt — in different ways — their expectations about the proper role of international law in the world of intelligence operations.

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Griswold 208

617-496-4535

Assistant: Carol Bateson / 617-495-2917