Secrecy News

National Security and the Presidential Transition

“The 2008-2009 election marks the first presidential transition in the post-9/11 era, and is of concern to many national security observers,” a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service says.

“While changes in administration during U.S. involvement in national security related activities are not unique to the 2008-2009 election, many observers suggest that the current security climate and recent acts of terrorism by individuals wishing to influence national elections and change foreign policies portend a time of increased risk to the current presidential transition period.”

“This report discusses historical national-security related presidential transition activities, provides a representative sampling of national security issues the next administration may encounter, and offers considerations and options relevant to each of the five phases of the presidential transition period.”

See “2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and Options,” April 21, 2008.

Meanwhile, “A growing community of interest, including Members of Congress, senior officials in the executive branch, and think-tank analysts, is calling for a reexamination of how well the U.S. government, including both the executive branch and Congress, is organized to apply all instruments of national power to national security activities,” according to another new CRS report (pdf).

“The organizations and procedures used today to formulate strategy, support presidential decision-making, plan and execute missions, and budget for those activities are based on a framework established just after World War II.”

“The ‘outdated bureaucratic superstructure’ of the 20th century is an inadequate basis for protecting the nation from 21st century security challenges, critics contend, and the system itself, or alternatively, some of its key components, requires revision.”

The new CRS report is intended “to help frame the emerging debates by taking note of the leading advocates for change, highlighting identified shortcomings in key elements of the current system, and describing categories of emerging proposals for change.”

See “Organizing the U.S. Government for National Security: Overview of the Interagency Reform Debates,” April 18, 2008.

The Congressional Research Service, acting at the direction of Congress, does not make its publications directly available to the public.

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