During the Watergate scandal, Nixon was criticized for keeping his motives for escalating military action against Vietnam without Congressional approval secret. This all came out when the Pentagon Papers were publicized. Articles of impeachment were drawn up against him for attempting to covertly spy on his Democratic opponents in the Watergate building and then conspiring further to cover this up.
Since Nixon, numerous presidents, including Reagan (Iran-Contra, Panama) and George W Bush (Iraq), have been criticized for taking military action and carrying out their foreign policy covertly, that is, out of public view. Their presidencies all took place after the founding of the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, which holds as one of its missions the ability to carry out covert action abroad. These presidents have claimed that their ability to carry out covert action is in the national interests of the United States.
Think back to our Discussion Media readings and quizzes on Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Recall that Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution because they felt it gave too much power to the federal government, and particularly to the office of the president. Federalists supported the Constitution and felt the Articles of Confederation were too weak.
The text of Federalist 51 assured states that under the Constitution, checks and balances were being put into place which would prevent any part of the Federal Government from becoming too powerful.
Refer to Federalist 51 and the Discussion Media item on Nixon and Watergate as your main sources of evidence. You may also consult the video lectures, the provided Dream of America textbook, or my lecture. Using these sources as evidence, assess the validity of the following statement:
The Anti-Federalists were correct to question the ability of the Constitution to control the power of the federal government. The Constitution is ineffective in stopping those intent on circumventing it.
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