The homework assignment is to watch the documentary “Cheneys Law” available at:
(simply scroll down to the 31st row from the top and click on the title “Cheneys Law”, which aired on October 16, 2007).
The topic for this week is the theory of the “Unitary Executive.” As we will discuss in class, after 9/11 the Bush administration — in particular Vice President Dick Cheney — articulated the theory of the “unitary executive” as a constitutional justification for an unprecedented expansion of presidential power during their administration. There are three areas in particular to pay attention to: 1) Presidential “Signing Statements”; 2) prisoner treatment under the Geneva conventions; and 3) wiretapping of American citizens.
For your assignment, you will analyze the controversy that emerged about presidential power during the Bush administration. First, what is the theory of the unitary executive, and why was it controversial? Second, summarize the main areas of controversy within EACH of the THREE issues (see above) presented in the documentary? What evidence does the documentary cite to back up its claims of unprecedented expansion of presidential power? Why do you think the Bush administration was allowed to expand presidential power in this fashion? Do you think most Americans were aware of the extent of the expanded presidential authority that took place under President Bush? If not, what does this say about American democracy? Feel free to comment with any personal reaction to the documentary.