By Alan W. Dowd
An unsung hero in America’s long struggle to promote freedom overseas is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which was born during the Cold War in an effort to deliver information behind the Iron Curtain. Today, RFE/RL and its sister stations broadcast in dozens of countries— from Europe and the former Soviet Union to the Middle East and Asia.
Broadcasting in Persian for an Iranian audience, Radio Farda informed average Iranians about Iran’s fraudulent elections and consequent political power struggle, as Jeff Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, recently detailed on foreignaffairs.com.
In Afghanistan, Radio Azadi counters the Taliban’s sophisticated and effective information war. “Radio Azadi remains the most popular station in the country,” according to Gedmin. In fact, Taliban bombers have contacted Radio Azadi to defect.
By the Numbers
82 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the U.S. military
67 percent of Americans expressing confidence in small business
59 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the police
51 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the presidency
39 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the Supreme Court
36 percent of Americans expressing confidence in the medical system
25 percent of Americans expressing confidence in newspapers
23 percent of Americans expressing confidence in television news
22 percent of Americans expressing confidence in banks
17 percent of Americans expressing confidence in Congress
Source: Gallup Poll 2009, http://www.gallup.com/
In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, the American Enterprise Institute’s John Fortier recently warned that the U.S. government remains ill-prepared for ensuring the continuity of Congress after a catastrophic attack.
Noting that the Senate could reconstitute itself thanks to gubernatorial-appointive powers, Fortier urges Congress to set in place a way to fill House vacancies in the event of attack. As it stands now, “The Constitution provides only one way for House vacancies to be filled: special elections. When a House vacancy occurs, the seat remains vacant, typically for several months, as the state conducts a special election to fill the vacancy….In the case of a catastrophic attack with hundreds of members killed, the House itself would not be able to reconstitute itself for months.” In addition, Fortier notes, “There would also be a serious question whether the House could conduct any business because it would be short of its constitutional quorum requirement of a majority of the body.”
This could force some future president to “act unilaterally without the check of the Congress,” undermining the legitimacy of presidential decisions in a time of crisis.
The solution, according to Fortier and other members of a commission that explored the issue is “a constitutional amendment that would apply to extraordinary circumstances when there were large numbers of members dead or incapacitated. This constitutional amendment would allow for temporary appointments to be made to fill vacant seats until special elections could be held.”
He notes that governors could make the appointments and could even do so from a list of successors supplied by each member of Congress.
Find out more at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Fortier090723.pdf or continuityofgovernment.org.
As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.