By Jeff Schechtman
November 13, 2015
(Continued From Part One of Jeff Schechtman's interview with Prof. Michael Glennon)
It was the liberal Democrats who were behind (the build up of the huge national security apparatus).
It didn't take long for this apparatus to begin to take on a life of it's own.
The Hoover Commission in 1949 talked about the Joint Chiefs of Staff being virtually unaccountable.
According to Professor Glennon, Truman recognized exactly what he had created.
As Clark Clifford, his aide and later to become Defense Secretary said, Truman was profoundly distrustful of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover.
But he thought this was the best way of both ensuring the security of the American people and protecting civil liberties.
Nonetheless, at the end of his presidency after Eisenhower was elected, before Eisenhower was sworn in, Truman recognized what had happened.
He said Eisenhower, the great architect of the invasion of Normandy, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, Eisenhower's going to be so surprised.
He's going to say: "Do this, 'do that' and nothing will happen. He'll be so disappointed."
That was Truman's experience, and of course, that's the experience of presidents today.
Somebody asked the second President Bush what most surprised him about being President and he said at the end of his term, "how little authority I actually have."
Most Americans have an image of the presidency that is anachronistic.
They have a Jeffersonian image of the presidency.
They think of the President as sitting at the top of the pyramid giving orders that trickle down.
Jefferson, when he was President of the United States in 1802 presided over an Executive Branch that included a staff of 132 non-military people.
The whole Executive Branch outside of the military in 1802 consisted of 132 federal employees and the White House staff consisted of one person beyond Jefferson.
So we still have this image of the President giving orders, and those orders being picked up and carried out immediately.
The presidency today is vastly more complicated than that.
The President of course now presides over an Executive Branch of millions of people, but out of those millions of people, there are only 3,000 to 4,000 presidential appointees.
And in the realm of national security that number is down to roughly 600 individuals, people who run the military intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies in the United States, and instead rely very, very heavily on their subordinates, who of course continue in the same positions from one administration to the next.
That more than anything else is what accounts for the strange continuity in American national security policy.
Look at the number of drone strikes, offensive cyber weapons, whistle-blower prosecutions, the non-prosecution of torturers, CIA covert operations, NSA intelligence, claiming the State Secret's privilege, and on and on.
Virtually nothing has changed from the Bush administration to the Obama administration,
It is the result of the structure of double government and the reliance of necessarily the presidency itself on the bureaucracy that has come to gargantuan proportions over the past fifty years.
END OF PART TWO