National Security Council or NSC was created and established by the National Security Act of 1947 (The White House 2006). Later, it incorporated the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 and placed in the Executive Office of the President as part of the Reorganization Plan in the same year. Its chairman is the President and its regular attendees are the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, th Secretary of Defense and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (The White House, Longley 2007). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is its statutory advisor, while the Director of National Intelligence is its intelligence advisor. The Chief of Staff of the President, the Counsel to the President, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Attorney General, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the heads of other executive departments and other senior officials are invited to attend the Council’s meetings when appropriate. The NSC is the President’s principal forum for matters concerning national security and foreign policy. Since its beginnings during the term of President Harry Truman, the Council has performed the function of advising and assisting the President on these issues and matters. It has also served as the President’s principal arm in coordinating such policies in the different government agencies (The White House, Longley).
The establishment of the NSC has been the response to the need of each administration to develop and perfect a reliable set of executive institutions, which would manage its national security policy (Office of the Historian 1997). Each President was guided by the deficiencies of his predecessors and wanted to set up a system, which would reflect his individual or preferred management style. The NSC has, thus, been modified to suit the needs and preferences of each administration. The National Security Act of July 26, 1947 created the NSC with the President as Chairman and the Secretaries of State and Defense as its key members. Its principal function is to coordinate foreign policy and defense policy and incorporate diplomatic and military requirements. It also provided for a Secretary of Defense, a National Military Establishment, a Central Intelligence Agency and a National Security Resources Board. Because the NSC was several times modified to adapt to the preferences of each President, it came to be viewed as subservient to him alone. And because its role is to establish collegiality among the departments, it also came to be viewed as a means to controlling and managing opposed departments (Office of the Historian).
The structure and workings of the NSC largely depend on the harmony between the President and his principal advisers and department heads (Office of the Historian 1997). But a suitable organizational structure had to be formed to enable the flow of necessary information and implementation of decisions. For 50 years, 10 Presidents have endeavored to use the NSC to integrate their foreign and defense policies in preserving the nation’s security as well as promote its interests in the world. As outlined and established in 1947 under the administration of former President Truman, it was to advise the President on the integration of domestic, foreign and military policies affecting or relating to national security as well as facilitate interagency cooperation. The President can direct the NSC to evaluate risks to national security in considering policies and require the Council to report and make recommendations on these risks. The 1947 Act did not provide for the position of a national security adviser. Its staff did not have a significant role in formulating or implementing national security policies. It, however, provided top-level coordination of the departments of Defense, Navy and Forrestal (Office of the Historian).
The 1947 Act directs the Director of Central Intelligence to prepare a comprehensive outline of national intelligence objectives applicable to foreign countries and areas to guide the NSC staff in making the selections on priority interest. The Director shall issue these selections to guide the production of national intelligence by the Central Intelligence Agency and as contribution by other concerned agencies. It will constitute the NSC Staff with the Executive Secretary and the Department representative, who will advise and assist the Executive Secretary (National Archives and Records Administration 2007).
The 1947 Act lists the duties and responsibilities of the Council for implementation by the Director of Central Intelligence (National Archives and Records Administration 2007). It authorizes and directs the Director to maintain essential coordination between the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations; to survey and inspect departmental intelligence materials of the different federal departments and agencies as well as coordinate intelligence activities in connection with this duty; to produce intelligence, called National Intelligence or NI, relating to national security without duplicating the intelligence and research activities of other departments and agencies and to disseminate the same to the President, members of the NSC, intelligence chiefs of the Intelligence Advisory Committee or IAC and other appropriate government departments or agencies; to furnish the IAC with information in impending crisis situations and to immediately convene the IAC when necessary and in response to the crisis situations; to promptly prepare and disseminate NI estimate to the FBI and other agencies he deems appropriate; to perform services of common concern with other intelligence agencies; to maintain mutual and continuing interchange of intelligence information and intelligence with intelligence organizations in each of the Departments and Agencies; to make available files in each intelligence organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, according to security regulations of the concerned Department or Agency; to provide intelligence organizations, with limitations, intelligence as required by the Director of CIA or the other Departments or Agencies; and to arrange with these Departments and Agencies to assign to the CIA experienced and qualified officers and members for advisory, operational and other purposes, subject to the necessary personnel procedure of each Department or Agency (National Archives and Records Administration 2007).
Among its accomplishments for 2006, Homeland Security responded to liquid explosive and terrorist threats in London; strengthening air cargo safety; screened thousands of port workers; raised freight rail security baseline and started baseline security evaluations for mass transit and passenger rail systems; strengthened border security; installed 880 radiation portal monitors at land and sea ports; expended container security initiative to 50 ports or more than 80% coverage of containers; processed 61 repatriation flights; increased capabilities to secure northern borders; made ports port entry the first line of defense at land borders; set record compliance in alien removals; enhanced national security by upholding public safety and immigration and customs enforcement or ICE; increased the number of fugitive operations teams to nearly three times; dismantled one of the world’s most powerful drug cartels; through the U.S. Coast Guard, opened a new high-endurance cutter in more than 35 years and implemented the National Capital Region Defense mission; through the U.S. Coast Guard, also arrested the Tijuana Cartel drug lord and set record drug arrests and seizures; through Homeland Security, launched air cargo explosives detection pilot program; conducted rail security explosives Detection Pilot Programs; began the operation of the National Bio-defense Analysis and Counter Measure Center; eliminated application backlogs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS from 3.8 million in January 2004 to less than 10,000 in September 2006; through the USCIS, set up a National Security and Records Verification Directorate to combat fraud and criminal activity; established the Federal Emergency and Management Agency or FEMA as an effective emergency response system; pre-designated disaster coordination teams and increased registrations in assisting disaster victims; through FEMA, strengthened logistics capabilities and communications and situational awareness; enhanced emergency preparedness by building a culture of preparedness; reviewed 131 state and local emergency plans; completed national infrastructure protection plan; transformed U.S. border and immigration system; deployed e-passport readers to 33 airports through U.S.-VISIT Program; protected the country from dangerous goods; established a nuclear forensic center; trained frontline officers; established a policy of protection; secured freight initiative to screen foreign ports; improved the visa waiver program; launched Always-Be-Ready Campaign; prepared for and responded to incidents of medical significance; shaped intelligence network through intelligence and analysis; enhanced information sharing with government and private partners; began the installation of a Homeland Security Data Network; and started operation of the Office of Screening Coordination to integrate the Department of Homeland Security terrorist-and-immigration-related screening efforts. (Department of Homeland Security 2006).
Longley, Robert. Direct Advisors to the President on National Security. U.S. Government Information and Resources: About, Inc., 2007. http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/agencies/a/nscoage.htm
National Archives and Records Administration. National Intelligence Objectives. National Security Council Intelligence Directive 4 of 1947, RG59. Records of the Department of State: Records of the Executive Secretariat, 2007.
Duties and Responsibilities. National Security Council Directive # 1, January 19, 1950
Office of the Historian. History of the National Security Council. U.S. Department of State, 1997. http://www.fas.org/offdocs/NSChistory.htm#Summary
US Department of Homeland Security. Select Homeland Security Accomplishments for 2006. Fact Sheet, 2006
White, House, The. National Security Council, 2006. http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc
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