Was the Manhattan Project Unconstitutional?
I was reading Garry Wills’ book on Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State, and he raises the following question: Was the Manhattan Project unconstitutional because its funding was not disclosed? Article I, Section 9, says “a Regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” There are no express exceptions. By contrast, Article I, Section 5 does contain an exception for recording information in the Journal of each House with respect “such parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy.” Consequently, you could say that the lack of such an exception on accounts and budgeting means that there is none. As far as I know, the Manhattan Project was the first case where military spending was concealed, though I’m not certain.
On the other hand, the Manhattan Project is seen as such a great success that it may constitute a precedent that creates an unwritten exception for public disclosure when national security is at stake. That is in fact how it’s been treated for the last seventy years. Moreover, nobody has standing to challenge secret military or intelligence spending as unconstitutional (or at least it is hard to see how somebody could obtain standing).