Nuclear weapons and the Constitutioni
SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Sat Mar 18 13:19:35 PST 2006
>From Dan Froomkin's column in yesterday's Wasington Post:
: The Federation of American Scientists <http://www.fas.org/main/content.jsp?formAction=297&contentId=534> notes: "The new National Security Strategy published yesterday by the White House strengthens the role of nuclear weapons in preemptive military strikes against terrorists and hostile states armed with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. In stronger language than used in the previous strategy from 2002, the new strategy speaks more directly about the importance of nuclear weapons and lumps them together with other military action in a preemption scenario."
For instance, in the section on preemption <http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2006/print/sectionV.html> , the strategy states: "Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)."
So the question is this: Should the "commander-in-chief" have unilateral authority to use nuclear weapons, or should Congress be required to specify such authority or, indeed, to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons in the absence of such authority unless we have been subjected to attack by another state (i.e., not a group of terrorists)? Would it be unconstitutional for Congress to attempt to limit the commander-in-chief's authority in that manner? If so, is that not another argument against the present Constitution? Or is everyone happy with unilateral decisionmaking by one individual encaged within the bubble of the White House?
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