Don’t miss out: register now for Duke’s 25th Annual National Security Law Conference!

This conference will sell out fast!  On February 28-29, the 25th Annual National Security Law Conference of Duke’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security will take place and you’ll definitely want to be there. Register now to secure your seat!   More info about the conference (including the pre-conference event!) as well as the registration link is found here.

Why You Want to Be There

You’ll hear top-notch experts in the field of national security address issues such as offensive cyberwar, domestic drones, the legal issues of humanitarian operations, “Grey Zone” war, the weaponization of social media, developments with China, whistleblowers and national security, security assistance and the rule of law, terrorism and technological innovation, as well as DoD senior leader perspectives on ethics and professional conduct, and much, much more.  You’ll head home full of knowledge and insight about current (and future!) national security issues.

Who You’ll Hear

Mike Schmitt

Prof Mike Schmitt will keynote our Friday session speaking about “Offensive Cyber Operations.”  Mike was the general editor of the highly-influential Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations, and is considered by many scholars to be the world’s top expert in this discipline.

We’ll then have the first of two “Shortburst” sessions where you’ll hear quick updates from the experts on a variety of key topics.

Col.(ret.)  Dawn Zoldi, USAF (ret.) will talk about the latest in domestic drones, Prof Laurie R. Blank, will speak about an important space law project, and  Lt Col Leah Sprecher will describe the legal challenges of humanitarian operations, and  Prof Mike Newtonwill give us an update on issues related to the International Criminal Court– all moderated by Col. (ret.) Adam Oler. 

At lunch we’ll be treated with the return of a LENS Conference favorite, Mr. Dean Cheng.  He’ll bring us up-to-date with his remarks on “The Challenge of China: Lawfare, Technology, and more.” 

Following his presentation, we’ll have a very special event:

Our afternoon sessions will proceed with our second “Shortburst” set of presentations with Dr Aurel Sari speaking about the phenomena of “Grey Zone” war where the adversary seeks to exploit ambiguities and uncertainties in the law.

He’ll be followed by UNC Law’s Academic Dean, Mary-Rose Papandrea, who will discuss a topic much in the news today:  “Whistleblowers and National Security”.

Then an all-star panel will grapple with a topic on everybody’s mind: “Social Media and National Security”. Moderated by our own Shane Stansbury, the discussion will include David Hoffman, Jennifer Daskal, Yvette Bourcicot and Matt Perault.

Be sure to include the conference dinner in your registration as the evening will be filled with fellowship, networking, and a really interesting speaker!

Our Saturday morning keynote speaker is LTG Charles Hooper who heads the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.  LTG Hooper’s biography is eye-watering: he began his career as an infantry officer (he has a Ranger tab and the Expert Infantryman Badge), but is now the senior U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer having served in a wide variety of assignments including as a defense attaché in China (he speaks fluent Mandarin!). This West Point and Harvard (MPA) grad will speak to us about “Security Cooperation and the Rule of Law.”

Interested in what climate change might mean for the armed forces?  You’ll want to hear Prof Mark Nevitt’s eye-opening presentation on “Climate Change and National Security.”

Image from Shutterstock

Shane Stansbury will explore “Law, Technology, and the Future of Surveillance” with Ms. Erin Wirtanen, Chief Counsel for the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI) for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)m and Duke Law grad Mr. Ben Kastan, Assistant. General Counsel for Cyber at the National Security Agency (NSA).

Our ethics presentation is very special as we will have Prof. Adam Oler discussing two of the Pentagon’s top authorities who will discuss “LENS 25 – Senior Leader Perspectives on Ethics and Professional Conduct” with two of the Pentagon’s best: Michele Pearce and Scott Thompson.

Authors are joining us!

We will have discussions of two terrific books: on Friday we’ll hear from retired Army Major General Dana Pittard and retired Air Force Master Sergeant Wes Bryant who are the co-authors of the stunning new book “Hunting the Caliphate: America’s War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell

Wes Bryant

These two men were on-the-ground executing combat operations against ISIS: MG Pittard at the senior leadership level; MSgt Bryant at the tactical level.

Dana Pittard

This is an unprecedented opportunity to hear the inside story from authentic warfighters; people who have “been there and done it.”  I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how much you learn about how airstrikes and other combat operations are actually conducted in a complex coalition and political environment –  and the role of law (and lawyers!).

On Saturday morning Dr. Audrey Kurth Cronin will also be interviewed about her new book: “Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists”   The premise of this must-read volume is described this way:

“Never have so many possessed the means to be so lethal. The diffusion of modern technology (robotics, cyber weapons, 3-D printing, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence) to ordinary people has given them access to weapons of mass violence previously monopolized by the state. In recent years, states have attempted to stem the flow of such weapons to individuals and non-state groups, but their efforts are failing.”

Audrey is one of the nation’s top experts on terrorism, and her analysis of the impact of emerging technologies on it is second to none.  You’ll want to meet her and learn more about this critical topic!

What the Conference Includes (other than incredible speakers and topical information to get you in-the-know!)

Registration includes continental breakfasts both days, and a box lunch on Friday. The registration cost is modest, and special rates exist for full-time students and active duty military personnel (including activated Guard and reserve troops). Friday evening’s networking reception and conference dinner featuring a keynote speaker, has a separate charge, also with reduced rates for active duty military and full time students.

CLE Credit Opportunity

Pennsylvania has already approved the conference for 11 hours of CLE (including one hour of ethics), and we’ve applied for credit with the North Carolina Bar.  Often attendees can take these approvals and get credit in their jurisdictions.

Opportunities to network! How to Make Sure You Don’t Miss Out

Again, the info about the conference and registration link is found here.  Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

Update: The Conference is fully booked.  However, there is still availability for the Keynote Dinner.  You can register for “Dinner Only” on registration website found here

We may have cancellations for the Conference itself.  If you would like to be placed on our Wait List, please send an email to  Please include your name, your affiliation, and whether you would like to go to the conference only, or the conference and keynote dinner.  We will be in touch with you directly if a spot opens up.  Thank you!





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