The National Security Council was instituted under the aegis of the 1947 National Security Act (Public Law 235 – 61 Stat. 496; U.S.C. 402 n.d.). It was subsequently modified by the 1949 National Security Act Amendments, which made it a component of the US President’s Executive Office (63 Stat. 579; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq n.d.). Its primary task is to advice the President in respect of issues affecting domestic, foreign and military policies (National Security Council 2007).
The chairman of the National Security Council is the President of the US. Its deliberations are customarily attended by the Vice President, the Secretaries to the departments of Defense, State and the Treasury and the National Security Affairs Assistant to the President. The Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are the respective intelligence and military advisors to the National Security Council. In addition, the President’s Counsel, the Presidential Assistant for Economic Policy and the President’s Chief of Staff are invitees to every National Security Council meeting. Moreover, the US Attorney General’s and other senior officials’ presence is solicited in the National Security Council meetings, wherever deemed appropriate (National Security Council. The White House n.d.).
The primary Presidential framework for scrutinizing matters that affect national security and foreign policy is the National Security Council. In conjunction with cabinet officials and senior advisors the President resolves such issues. Moreover, the National Security Council is the President’s cardinal agency for this purpose (National Security Council. The White House n.d.).
The National Security Council’s primary members are the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. Its staff members are headed by the national security advisor and it constitutes a foreign policy formulating instrument, which is not governed by the State Department (National Security Council. In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 2006).
This council has a number of advisors and the chief amongst them are the CIA director and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its purpose has been enhanced to provide information and advice regarding foreign policy, intelligence and the military. This expansion transpired in the 1970s and prior to that its function was limited to policymaking and coordinating the efforts of the different agencies involved. Consequent to this growth, the National Security Council commenced to supervise the CIA and to indulge in clandestine intelligence operations. Its endeavors in this area, especially in the Iran – Contra Affair earned it severe opprobrium and a call for it to refrain from such overt operations (National Security Council. In The Great American History Fact-Finder 2004).
The national security advisor provides crucial advice to the President regarding foreign affairs. Some of the better known incumbents were Walt Rostow, Henry Kissinger of Shuttle Diplomacy fame, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Admiral John Poindexter and Lt-Gen Colin Powell. Kissinger was so influential with Nixon that he contrived to override the Secretary of State on several occasions (national security adviser. In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas 2005). National Security Council. (2004). In The Great American History Fact-Finder. Retrieved November 06, 2007, from DISPLAYURL “National Security Council.” The Great American History Fact-Finder. 2004. CredoReference. 06 November 2007 <DISPLAYURL>. The Great American History Fact-Finder, 2004, s.v. “National Security Council,” DISPLAYURL (accessed November 06, 2007). http://www.credoreference.com/entry/6601167
Thus, the National Security Council supervises the CIA, and contrives, synchronizes and appraises the defense policies of the US. It was accorded enormous importance by President Eisenhower, in the context of his security policy.
“63 Stat. 579; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.”
national security adviser. In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas . 2005. http://www.credoreference.com/entry/6450391 (accessed November 06, 2007).
“National Security Council .” Microsoft® Student 2008 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2007, 2007.
National Security Council. In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia . 2006. http://www.credoreference.com/entry/6710540 (accessed November 06, 2007).
National Security Council. In The Great American History Fact-Finder . 2004. http://www.credoreference.com/entry/6601167 (accessed November 6, 2007).
National Security Council. The White House. http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/ (accessed November 6, 2007).
“Public Law 235 – 61 Stat. 496; U.S.C. 402.”