2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and Options [April 21, 2008] [open pdf - 265KB]
"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. [...] How the new President recognizes 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 decisionmaking 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 report 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."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34456