Jamil N. Jaffer

Founder & Executive Director, National Security Institute; Director, National Security Law & Policy Program; Assistant Professor of Law

BA, UCLA; MA, United States Naval War College; JD, University of Chicago

  • Subjects Taught: National Security, Counterterrorism, Intelligence, Surveillance, Cybersecurity

Contact Information

  • Email: Send an email
  • Phone: 703-993-5620
  • Office: Room 372, Hazel Hall, Arlington
  • Address:
    Antonin Scalia Law School
    George Mason University
    3301 Fairfax Dr.
    Arlington, VA 22201

Biographical Sketch

Jamil N. Jaffer currently serves as Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute, and as an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the National Security Law & Policy Program at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where he teaches classes on counterterrorism, intelligence, surveillance, cybersecurity, and other national security matters, as well as a summer course in Padua, Italy with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.  Professor Jaffer is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and is affiliated with Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Professor Jaffer is also currently Vice President for Strategy & Partnerships at IronNet Cybersecurity, a startup technology firm founded by former NSA Director Gen. (ret.) Keith B. Alexander.  Professor Jaffer also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and is an advisor to Beacon Global Strategies, a strategic advisory firm specializing in international policy, defense, cyber, intelligence, and homeland security; 4iQ, a technology startup focused on deep and dark web intelligence and identity theft protection; Duco, a technology platform startup that connects corporations with geopolitical and international business experts; and Amber, a digital authentication and verification startup.

In addition to these positions, Professor Jaffer currently serves on the Strategic Advisory Committee for the Global Cyber Alliance, the Advisory Board of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Cyber Economic-Enabled Warfare Project, the Center for a New American Security’s Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and National Security.  Professor Jaffer is also a Fellow at the Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Intelligence Policy, the Board of Advisors for the Concordia Summit, and the Executive Committee of the International Law and National Security Practice Group of the Federalist Society.

During a brief break in his current positions, Professor Jaffer served as a law clerk to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court.  Prior to his current positions, Professor Jaffer served on the leadership team of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, where he worked on key national security and foreign policy issues, including leading the drafting of the proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS in 2014 and 2015, the AUMF against Syria in 2013, and revisions to the 9/11 AUMF against al Qaeda.  Professor Jaffer was also the lead architect of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and two sanctions laws against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine. 

Prior to joining SFRC, Professor Jaffer served as Senior Counsel to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence where he led the committee’s oversight of NSA surveillance, NRO intelligence issues, and NGA analytic and collection matters, as well as intelligence community-wide counterterrorism issues.  Professor Jaffer was also the lead architect of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, the initial version of the cybersecurity legislation that was signed into law in 2015.

In the Bush Administration, Professor Jaffer served in the White House as an Associate Counsel to the President, handling Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community matters, and serving as one of the White House Counsel’s primary representatives to the National Security Council Deputies Committee.

Prior to the White House, Professor Jaffer served on the leadership team of the Justice Department’s National Security Division as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, where he focused on counterterrorism and intelligence matters.  At NSD, Professor Jaffer was one of the primary brief writers on In re: Directives, the first ever two-party litigated matter in the FISA Court and only the second case before the FISA Court of Review in its 30-year history.  Professor Jaffer also led NSD’s efforts on the President’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, including the drafting of NSPD-54/HSPD-23, and related classified matters.  For his work on these matters, Professor Jaffer was awarded the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Special Initiative and was among the group of lawyers awarded the Director of National Intelligence’s 2008 Legal Award (Team of the Year – Cyber Legal).

Professor Jaffer also served in other positions in the Justice Department, including in the Office of Legal Policy, where he worked on the confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Jaffer has also served as a lawyer in private practice at Kellogg Huber, a Washington, DC-based litigation boutique, as a policy advisor to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and as a staff member or senior advisor on a number of political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns and a presidential transition team.  While in law school, Professor Jaffer was a member of the University of Chicago Law Review, managing editor of the Chicago Journal of International Law, and National Symposium Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.  Following law school, Professor Jaffer served as a law clerk to Judge Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and, later in his career, as a law clerk to then-Judge Neil M. Gorsuch when he first joined the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Professor Jaffer has published multiple op-eds and academic articles on foreign policy, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, encryption, and intelligence matters, and is the co-author of a book chapter with former CIA Director Gen. Mike Hayden on ISIS, al Qaeda, and other international terrorist groups in Choosing to Lead:  American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World (2015). Professor Jaffer has also written a book chapter on surveillance in the ABA’s Law of Counterterrorism (2011), and a number of op-eds and policy papers on counterterrorism and cybersecurity matters with former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, former NSA Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander, and former National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.

Professor Jaffer has previously taught graduate-level courses in intelligence law and policy at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and the National Intelligence University, and has testified before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security matters.  Professor Jaffer has recently appeared on a range of national television and radio outlets including CNN, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Voice of America, and National Public Radio, and in various print and online publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post on a range of national security matters including counterterrorism, surveillance, encryption, cybersecurity, and foreign policy issues.

Professor Jaffer holds degrees from UCLA (BA, cum laude), the University of Chicago Law School (JD, with honors), and the United States Naval War College (MA, with distinction).