A new report by the AEI-Brookings Continuity of Government Commission examines vulnerabilities in the U.S. presidential succession. It has long been assumed that prospects for a smooth transfer of presidential power in the event of a terrorist attack are assured, as there is already a clear line of succession to the nation's highest office. But is this plan sufficient? While congressional continuity could be in worse danger, the report's authors point out that, as it stands, the existing presidential succession could be rendered useless by a catastrophic attack because everyone in line to succeed the president lives and works in Washington, D.C.
In an age in which terrorism has become a realistic concern, what are the best ways to limit vulnerability in American presidential succession? In this new report, the Commission looks at the flaws of the current system and offers seven specific recommendations for improving the process. Among them is a proposal to alter the line of succession to ensure that Americans will never face a scenario in which all those in line to be president are dead or incapacitated.
On the day of the report's release, the American Enterprise Institute will host an event featuring a keynote address by Frances Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, and two panel discussions to delve into the issues raised by the report. The first panel, composed of academics, will look at the legal and constitutional basis for presidential succession. The second panel, made up of practitioners, will approach the issues surrounding continuity in presidential succession from a more practical viewpoint, providing insight into how reforms to presidential succession might be put into practice.