THE NATIONAL SECURITY CONsTrruTION: SHARING POWER AFTER THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR. By Harold Hongju Koh.t New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990. Pp. x, 340. $35 (hardbound), $14.95 (paper).
In The National Security Constitution, Professor Harold Hongju Koh uses the Iran-Contra affair as a vehicle for examining the adequacy of the constitutional framework for making national security policy. He first argues that the various investigators of the affair failed to identify the appropriate historical antecedent for their work. The more appropriate precedent, in his view, was the Vietnam War in that, in both instances, the executive branch arrogated constitutional power at the expense of the Congress in pursuit of an illegitimate foreign policy. Koh particularly faults the Iran-Contra congressional investigation for its prosecutorial focus, modeled after the Watergate hearings. According to Koh, the problem in the Iran-Contra affair was not that misguided officials violated the law, as the Tower Commission and congressional committees concluded, but rather that the basic institutional structure of government failed. He finds particularly alarming the tendency of executive branch representatives, such as Colonel Oliver North, to clain unbounded constitutional power, a claim he sees as frustrating the proper role of Congress. To meet this assault on the "National Security Constitution," Koh recommends new legislation designed to force a more active participation in foreign-policy making by Congress and the courts.
Phillip R. Trimble,
The Acquiescent Congress and Foreign Affairs,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol15/iss2/6