Last week, Slate published an analysis of Elizabeth Cheney’s senior thesis from Colorado College, which author Zac Frank discovered in a bin of discarded books at the college’s library. Frank found Cheney’s 125-page treatise on presidential war powers to be eerily similar to the philosophy of the unitary executive that her father would expound years later as vice president.
At the time this thesis was written, Dick Cheney was Wyoming’s lone member in the House of Representatives. After graduating college, working in the State Department, and getting her law degree, Elizabeth Cheney would eventually become one of the top U.S. diplomats to the Middle East.
Below are five excerpts from Cheney’s thesis. In the introduction, she argues that, during wartime, Americans desire a policy “clearly set forth by one voice.” In the next excerpt, she defends Lincoln’s decision to suspend habeas corpus during the Civil War as “an assertion of the power of the people.” She is less sympathetic, in the third section, toward Franklin Roosevelt, whose approval of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II flunks Cheney’s standards because there were no efforts to determine the loyalties of those who were relocated. In the next excerpt, she is disdainful of legislators who attempted to curb Nixon’s authority to deploy the military in Cambodia. She concludes, in the final section, that “the President must be given the latitude of occasional supremacy in foreign and military affairs.”