Reconsiderations: Vietnam, Watergate and Presidential Powers

Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of the Watergate tapes, April 29, 1974.

One of the most important questions about the working of the United States government is the nature and location of the authority to use the armed forces of the country against an adversary. It is not an easy matter. Doctrinaire readings of the constitutional grant of the war power to the Congress are as misleading as executive reliance on the role of the President as Commander in Chief. The formal treaties that bind the United States to allies in Europe, Asia and this Hemisphere are couched in language that quite deliberately skirts the question of who would do what, and by what process of decision, at the moment of truth. Even greater uncertainty surrounds the largely untested War Powers Resolution of 1973. And in all our complex debates on strategic deterrence we seldom ask ourselves just how one would square the possible requirements for rapid executive action with the rights of

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