Every year the Political Studies Association’s American Politics Group presents two travel awards to postgraduates wishing to undertake research in the United States. We are pleased to say that our very own Dafydd Townley was the recipient of one of these awards at the APG’s colloquium last week! He’ll be using the grant money to undertake research at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta. Here’s what he had to say about his project and research visit:
“The project is an in-depth look at the politics behind the 1975 Church Committee, the Senate Select Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID). Under Church’s leadership the Committee investigated the activities of the intelligence community between 1947 and 1975 and unearthed a plethora of constitutional abuses. My research is focused not on the abuses themselves, but identifies the struggle between the administration of President Gerald Ford and Congress, through the Committee, of representing the public’s political opinion of the US electorate in a post-Watergate environment. The constitutional crisis that developed was played out before a global audience and led to institutional reform in the United States. My study will also examine the legacy of the Church Committee struggle in the administration of President Jimmy Carter; specifically how the legislation resulting from the inquiry affected the Carter administration’s foreign policy decisions towards Iran in 1978-9. My thesis will conclude with an analysis of public opinion in 1975 and after 2013, when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the intelligence community was still encroaching on the civil rights of US citizens.
“My proposed research is to visit two additional archives in late June of next year. Firstly the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. This site will allow me to collate and analyse the multitude of public pinion polls that are unavailable elsewhere. The importance of such data cannot be over-estimated: it will allow me to trace whether public opinion on the intelligence community has changed over the last forty years or has remained constant. The data will also allow me to explore the reasons behind the answer – an apathetic electorate, an imperial presidency, or a failing Congress. In addition a visit to the National Archives will also give me the opportunity to look at Donald Rumsfeld’s papers, in particular those relating to his time initially as President Ford’s Chief of Staff and then as Secretary of Defense. His papers will help understand the influence of political opinion – through whatever source – on the decisions of the Ford administration. Rumsfeld was a confidante of Ford and as such the information held within the papers will be of significance.
“The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta holds the papers relating to the foreign policy decisions of the Carter administration during the Iran crisis. Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978 as a result of the Church Committee. My research will ask whether that Act and therefore the Church Committee and public opinion, affected the foreign policy decisions of the Carter administration. The focus of my research will be on the intelligence received and decisions made during the final days of the Shah in late 1978 and early 1979.”
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