Drag shows are not typically the first thought that comes to mind when asked about national security. However, they have become a significantly contested issue in the security realm. On March 29, against a backdrop of anti-LGBTQ+ state laws passed throughout the United States, drag was raised as an issue during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee on the Pentagon’s 2024 budget. During the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Under Secretary of Defense Michael J. McCord, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) inquired into drag performances held on military bases.
Words have meaning, and that meaning translates into reality. The more influence an individual or organization has, the more their language could become dangerous and incite violent action. As a participant in Professor Annie Morgan’sEmerging Threats in National Securityprogram, I have learned of the vitalrole that language plays in the study of national security threats and government policy.
For many years, the United States Congress has exercised its powers to investigate controversial topics, including foreign policy, presidential power and federal spending. Often, Congress has used its legal authority to compel other authorities to provide information, as members carry out their necessary and proper power to make and execute federal laws. However, the U.S. Supreme Court continues to grapple with challenging questions on the limits of Congressional authority to compel information. The Court recently decided to dismiss a case that would have addressed a pressing question regarding Congress’ authority to demand information from an executive agency. This case represents a hallmark of separation of powers, and the Federalist debate.