After viewing the program, but before engaging in the Discussion Questions below, have students go to the "Join the Discussion" page on the Cheney's Law Web site to post their comments using the following guide:
- Review several of the comments already submitted.
- Select two or three that express a wide range of views on the subject and program.
- Write an entry to "Join the Discussion" by going to the Web page and clicking the "Share your Thoughts" link.
- Briefly comment on whether you agree or disagree with the views you selected and state your own view of the subject and program.
- Identify the section of the program you thought was most important and explain why.
Students should also hand in a copy of their letter to the teacher. Assess this activity in the same way you would assess a student's Letter to the Editor, checking for coverage of required areas and quality of writing.
After viewing Cheney's Law, discuss the following questions with students:
- What events during the Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations shaped Dick Cheney's views of executive branch powers?
- David Addington and Dick Cheney have worked together for two decades and share similar views on executive power. Explain these views.
- What did Vice President Cheney hope to accomplish by expanding presidential power after the Sept. 11 attacks?
- What role did the Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft play in deterring the Bush administration's policies on interrogation and intelligence gathering?
- What is a signing statement? How does a signing statement affect a congressional law? What effect does a signing statement have on the checks and balances between Congress and the executive branch?
- In which areas discussed in the program (torture, domestic wiretapping, redefining presidential authority and the use of signing statements) do you feel the president and vice president are justified in their actions? Why or why not?