TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Jan. 23, 2009 “The President meets with his national security and intelligence team in the SituationRoom of the White House for the first time.” (White House photo by Pete Souza)in the federal government. In practical terms, the President derives nationalsecurity power through various mechanisms:• The President controls multiple national security-oriented federaldepartments and agencies, including the Department of Defense(DoD), the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Office of the Director ofNational Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).• The executive branch controls the ability of Congress and the Judiciaryto access classified information. The executive branch can also declassifyclassified information to the public.• The White House nominates officials for top positions within thenational security system. While some are subject to Senate confirmation,many are not, allowing the President to largely pick nationalsecurity officials of his choosing.• The President is responsible for authorizing covert action.The President’s centrality in the national security decision-making systemexacerbates the usual intergovernmental friction between the legislative and32 Trials by Fire: Counterterrorism and the Law

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