A presidential transition is a unique time in America and holds the promise of opportunity, as well as a possible risk to the nation's security interests. The 2008-2009 election marks the first presidential transition in the post-9/11 era, and is of concern to many national security observers. While changes in administration during U.S. involvement in national security related activities are not unique to the 2008-2009 election, many observers suggest that the current security climate and recent acts of terrorism by individuals wishing to influence national elections and change foreign policies portend a time of increased risk to the current presidential transition period. Whether the enemies of the United States choose to undertake action that may harm the nation's security interests during the 2008-2009 election, or the new President experiences a relatively peaceful period during the transition, many foreign and domestic policy and security challenges will await the new Administration. How the new President recognises and responds to these challenges will depend heavily on the planning and learning that occurs prior to the inauguration.
Actions can be taken by the outgoing President and President-elect that may ameliorate decision making activities in the new administration. Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing Administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new President's ability to effectively safeguard U.S. interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing President. This book discusses historical national-security related presidential transition activities, provides a representative sampling of national security issues the next administration may encounter, and offers considerations and options relevant to each of the five phases of the presidential transition period. Each phase has distinct challenges and opportunities for the incoming administration, the outgoing administration, and Congress.