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War PowersThe Politics of Constitutional Authority$
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Mariah Zeisberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157221

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157221.001.0001

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Legislative Investigations as War Power

Legislative Investigations as War Power

The Senate Munitions Investigation and Iran-Contra

(p.184) Chapter 5 Legislative Investigations as War Power
War Powers

Mariah Zeisberg

Princeton University Press

This chapter returns to Congress to scrutinize another legislative discretionary power, that of investigations. While the investigatory power is normally conceived as a retrospective power of judgment, it construes investigations as both a war power and as a forward-looking tool for developing legislative war authority. The chapter compares the Munitions Investigation of 1934–36 with the Iran-Contra Investigation of 1989, arguing that the former developed far more constitutional authority for the legislature and war-making system than did the latter. The reasons may be surprising: counterintuitively, it is argued that Congress' insufficiently developed partisanship undermined the authority of its Iran-Contra Investigation as a challenge to presidential power.

Keywords:   legislative investigation, Congress, investigatory power, Munitions Investigation, Iran-Contra Investigation, constitutional authority, partisanship

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