National Security Council

From 2000

Best, Richard A., Jr. The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 28 Dec. 2011. Available at:

From "Summary": "Some argue that the NSC should be broadened to reflect an expanding role of economic, environmental, and demographic issues in national security policymaking.... In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the George W. Bush Administration established a Homeland Security Council. The Obama Administration has combined the staffs of the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council into a single National Security Staff, while retaining the two positions of National Security Adviser and Homeland Security Adviser. Although the latter has direct access to the President, the incumbent is to report organizationally to the National Security Adviser."

Brown, Cody M. The National Security Council: A Legal History of the President's Most Powerful Advisers. Washington, DC: Project on National Security Reform, Center for the Study of the Presidency, 2008. [Available at:]

DeYoung, Karen. "National Security Structure Is Set: Under Obama, Council Will Grow." Washington Post, 27 Feb. 2009, A3. []

President Obama's NSC Policy Directive 1, signed on 13 February 2009, "adds the attorney general, the secretaries of energy and homeland security, and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to the formal National Security Council." National security adviser James L. Jones will set the NSC agenda, communicate the President's decisions to the others, determine when to call White House meetings of policymaking "principals," and oversee implementation of assigned tasks. The directive mandates that White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, "shall be invited to attend every NSC meeting," along with deputy national security adviser Tom Donilon.

The President "has divided his national security orders into two categories: presidential policy directives, and presidential study directives, designed to initiate and direct policy reviews." Study Directive 1, dated 23 February 2009, "orders an interagency review of the White House homeland security and counterterrorism structure. Headed by counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan, the review will recommend whether to retain the separate the Homeland Security Council established under the Bush administration, or to incorporate some or all of its functions within the NSC."

DeYoung, Karen. "White House Tries for a Leaner National Security Council." Washington Post, 22 Jun. 2015. []

NSC Chief of Staff Suzy George said in a statement posted on a White House blog on 22 June 2015 that "[t]o ensure the NSC staff is a lean, nimble, and policy-oriented organization, we are reversing the trend of growth ... to align our staffing with our strategic priorities.... Much of the staff growth came early in Obama's first term, when Bush's homeland security council ... was merged with the NSC. A technical staff that responds to a news cycle that has accelerated with digital media and the Internet also has grown significantly."

Inderfurth, Karl F., and Loch K. Johnson, eds.

1. Decisions of the Highest Order: Perspectives on the National Security Council. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1988.

From "Preface": This is a "selection of articles, essays, and documents ... that shed light on the creation, evolution, and current practice of the nation's most important group for the making of American foreign and security policy."

2. Fateful Decisions: Inside the National Security Council. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. [pb]

Robert D. Steele,, says this work updates and improves the 1988 edition. "There is no finer book available for orienting both undergraduate and graduate students -- as well as mid-career adult students -- with respect to the vital role that the [NSC] plays in orchestrating America's foreign and national security policies."

Kimmitt, Robert M. "Give Treasury Its Proper Role on the National Security Council." New York Times, 23 Jul. 2012. []

The author, "a former deputy Treasury secretary, under secretary of state, and ambassador to Germany, served on the National Security Council staff from 1976 to 1985." Here, he argues that the Treasury secretary should be made a statutory member of the NSC, rather than an invited attendee. "The concept of national security has broadened considerably since the N.S.C.'s early decades, elevating economic and financial issues to crucial elements to our nation's security, alongside the traditional diplomatic and military issues."

Miller, Paul D. "Lessons for Intelligence Support to Policymaking during Crises." Studies in Intelligence 54, no. 2 (Jun. 2010): 49-56.

The author's thoughts are drawn from his 2 years (2007-2009) on the NSC staff as director for Afghanistan.

Perlez, Jane. "Directive Says Rice, Bush Aide, Won't Be Upstaged by Cheney." New York Times, 16 Feb. 2001. []

In National Security Presidential Directive 1, issued on 15 February 2001, President Bush gave national security adviser Condoleezza Rice "the traditional powers of her post and rejected suggestions that Vice President Cheney" head the principals' meetings. At such meetings, "[t]he secretaries of state and defense debate the most urgent foreign policy decisions..., though they are not attended by the president."

Rothkopf, David J. Running The World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. New York: PublicAffairs, 2005.

To Destler, FA 84.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2005), "[e]xtensive quotations from ... many ... important players are the strongest element of the book, illuminating how policymaking really happens.... As a comprehensive analysis of its topic, however, the book falls short." The author "provides lots of raw material ... but no clear set of conclusions or even a general idea of how everything adds up."

Sewall, Parameters, Spring 2006, finds that this work "is less a systematic assessment of the NSC as an institution than a popular history of the making of American foreign policy." The author "writes well and holds the reader despite the scope and slipperiness of his nominal subject. But his underlying goal seems to be recommending a particular flavor of foreign policy.... Rothkopf’s signal contribution lies in demonstrating the importance of personality and relationships in the formulation of American policy."

Return to General Post-WWII Table of Contents