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POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security

Unit 2: The Roles of the President and the Executive Branch in US National Security   Article II, section 2 of the US Constitution designates the president as commander-in-chief. In contemporary times, Congress and the courts have given great deference to the president and executive branch in areas concerning defense, foreign policy, and national security. The president’s powers in these areas are not absolute nor have they always been as strong as they have been in recent years.

The president’s exercise of power in matters related to US national security has evolved greatly since the time of our founding fathers. The system of checks and balances within the federal government was designed to naturally pit the ambitions of actors within each branch against the ambitions of actors in the other branches. One of the most pressing concerns of the Constitution’s framers was the capacity to wage war; they sought to prevent the ability of the president to rush into war and to generally make the entry into any war more difficult by the division of military powers between the executive and legislative branches.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 15.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 8 hours

    ☐    Reading: 6.5 hours

    ☐    Lecture: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 3 hours

☐   Unit 2 Activity: 1 hour

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- evaluate the exercise of power by the presidency in national security decision making throughout American history;
  - describe the legal and political sources of presidential power in foreign affairs and national security as well as limitations on such powers;
  - assess risks to democracy inherent in national security operations as well as risks to national security inherent in a democracy;
  - explain how leadership style and public perceptions of a president affect national security policy options and outcomes;
  - identify key actors in the national security establishment;
  - assess the powers of the president in foreign affairs and national security, as delineated in the US Constitution;
  - evaluate the role of the president and executive branch in national security policymaking;
  - analyze the effectiveness of legislative and executive branches as co-equal branches with checks and balances on one another’s powers;
  - identify Congressional committees with legislative oversight over national security policy and operations; and
  - delineate the risks, benefits, and effectiveness of the War Powers Resolution Act of 1973.

2.1 The President’s Constitutional and Political Role in National Security Policy Formulation and Implementation   - Reading: Strategic Studies Institute: Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr.’s (ed.) US Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy, 2nd edition: “Chapters 20 and 21” Link: Strategic Studies Institute: Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr.’s (ed.) US Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy, 2nd edition: “Chapters 20 and 21” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Chapter 20 and Chapter 21 of this text on pages 263 - 302 for an overview of various theories that govern the national security policy planning process and challenges that policymakers face in the United States.
 
Reading these chapters should take approximately 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Brookings Institution: Michael E. O’Hanlon’s “Defense Budgets and American Power” Link: Brookings Institution: Michael E. O’Hanlon’s “Defense Budgets and American Power” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Select the “Download Full Paper (PDF)” link, and then read Dr. O’Hanlon’s article to learn about economic changes that affect military power and national security.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Yale Alumni Magazine: Kathrin Lassila’s “A Brief History of Groupthink: Why Two, Three, or Many Heads Aren’t Always Better than One” Link: Yale Alumni Magazine: Kathrin Lassila’s “A Brief History of Groupthink: Why Two, Three, or Many Heads Aren't Always Better than One” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article to learn about various perspectives on groupthink.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Yale Law Journal: Bruce Ackerman’s “The Emergency Constitution” Link: The Yale Law Journal: Bruce Ackerman’s “The Emergency Constitution” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read Ackerman’s article on considering new constitutional concepts in response to civil liberties and national security threats.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 3 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: YouTube: UCTV: Garry Willis’s “The Modern Presidency and the National Security State” Link: YouTube: UCTV: Garry Willis’s “The Modern Presidency and the National Security State” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    Mp3 audio
    Mp4 video
     
    Instructions: Watch Garry Willis’s video lecture on the presidency and national security.

    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

2.2 Limitations on Presidential Power in National Security Related Matters   - Reading: Findlaw: US Supreme Court: *United States v. Nixon* Link: Findlaw: US Supreme Court: United States v. Nixon (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the case of United States v. Nixon, decided by the US Supreme Court in 1974. In this case, the Supreme Court limited the use of executive privilege by presidents to avoid congressional oversight and/or criminal investigation of themselves and their aides.
 
Studying this case should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Findlaw: US Supreme Court: *Hamdan v. Rumsfeld* Link: Findlaw: US Supreme Court: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, stopping at Justice Stevens’s opinion of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2006. In this case, the Supreme Court limited the powers of the president in detaining, trying, and punishing enemy combatants.
     
    Studying this case should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Daily Paul: Major Craig T. Trebilcock’s “The Myth of Posse Comitatus” Link: The Daily Paul: Major Craig T. Trebilcock’s “The Myth of Posse Comitatus” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article for an overview of the history and application of the Posse Comitatus Act.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: The Federalist Society: John C. Yoo and Alberto R. Coll’s “Resolved: That the President’s War Powers Are (Nearly) Absolute” Link: The Federalist Society: John C. Yoo and Alberto R. Coll’s “Resolved: That the President’s War Powers Are (Nearly) Absolute” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video in which John Yoo and Alberto R. Coll debate the limitations of presidential war powers in the aftermath of 9/11.
     
    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 2 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3 National Security and Secrecy   - Reading: Cyberspace & Information Operations Study Center: LTC Michael G. Miller’s “Attaining and Maintaining National Security Advantage: Information Operations and Secrecy” Link: Cyberspace & Information Operations Study Center: LTC Michael G. Miller’s “Attaining and Maintaining National Security Advantage: Information Operations and Secrecy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage, and under the heading “Articles,” click on the link for “Attaining and Maintaining National Security Advantage: Information Operations and Secrecy.” Read this article to learn about operations and secrecy that provide a national security advantage.
 
Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Boston University: Gabriel Schoenfeld’s “National Security Secrecy” Link: Boston University: Gabriel Schoenfeld’s “National Security Secrecy” (RealPlayer)
     
    Also available in:
    RealPlayer Audio
     
    Instructions: Click on the “Modem” or “Broadband” hyperlink to watch the video of Gabriel Schoenfeld’s lecture on national security secrecy.

    Watching this video lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: YouTube: Harvard University: Bill Keller’s “Secrets, National Security, and the Press: Does Wikileaks Change Anything?” Link: YouTube: Harvard University: Bill Keller’s “Secrets, National Security, and the Press” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    iTunes U
     
    Instructions: Watch Bill Keller’s lecture on the release of sensitive material by Wikileaks.
     
    Watching this video lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 2 Activity   - Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “POLSC313 Course Discussion Board” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “POLSC313 Course Discussion Board”
 
Instructions: After you have studied the material in this unit, consider the following question. Post your response to this question on the course discussion board, and review as well as respond to other students’ posts.
 
1. What are the pros and cons of a strengthened presidential or executive power versus strengthened congressional and judicial powers in matters of war?
 
Completing this activity should take approximately 1 hour.