David S. Kris

David S. Kris

David S. Kris (born September 28, 1966) is an American lawyer. Since 2009 he has served as the United States Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the United States Department of Justice. He also served as the Associate Deputy Attorney General for national security issues at the Department of Justice from 2000 to 2003.


Early life and education

Kris grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. He received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in 1988, and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1991.

After completing law school, Kris clerked for United States Appeals Court Judge Stephen S. Trott on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1]

Professional career

For eight years, Kris served in the criminal division in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Kris became an Associate Deputy Attorney General for national security issues in 2000.[1] In 2003, Kris left the Department of Justice to become a counsel, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President at Time Warner. He remained at Time Warner until rejoining the DOJ.

In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Kris for Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's National Security Division, which was created in 2006.[1] The United States Senate confirmed Kris in a 97-0 vote on March 25, 2009.[2][3]

In 2010, Kris participated in the unusually high number of prosecutions of leaks to journalists under the Espionage Act.[citation needed] Kris was reportedly behind the prosecution of FBI employee Shamai Leibowitz,[citation needed] who was sentenced to 20 months in jail for delivering classified documents including FBI wiretaps of the Israel Embassy to blogger Richard Silverstein.[4]

In 2010, Kris joined Intellectual_Ventures as General Counsel.[citation needed]

Criticism of warrantless domestic wiretapping

Kris attracted significant public attention when he released a 23-page legal memorandum, in his personal capacity, sharply criticizing the George W. Bush administration's legal argument that it had authority to conduct warrantless domestic wiretapping due to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed by Congress on September 18, 2001. [2] [3] [4] Law professor Marty Lederman called Kris's memo "by a large measure the most thorough and careful -- and, for those reasons, the most devastating -- critique anyone has offered of the DOJ argument that Congress statutorily authorized the NSA program." [5] He also makes shorter arguments regarding the Fourth Amendment implications of the warrantless domestic spying and the administration's "unitary executive theory" of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Kris wrote the memorandum in January 2006, and released it to journalists on March 8, 2006. Kris had also exchanged a series of emails with Courtney Elwood, an associate counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, debating the legal arguments, which were released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center after obtaining them under the Freedom of Information Act. [6]

Kris had been a high-ranking DOJ lawyer in the Bush administration for several years, and had appeared before Congress to advocate for the administration's positions regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA PATRIOT Act. [7] He had furthermore previously appeared before Congress in his personal capacity, after leaving the DOJ, to continue advocating for the government to have enhanced flexibility under FISA and the PATRIOT Act. [8] This background caused his strong criticism of the administration's legal claims to be considered particularly notable. [9]


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