Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, National Security Affairs, Volume II, Part 1
S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Admin., 1950–54”
Memorandum for the President by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler)
- Recommendations Regarding the National Security Council
I submit my recommendations for making the National Security Council more capable of carrying out effectively its statutory functions. The principal recommendations are summarized at the end of the attached Report (Part IX).1
Since 20 January 1953, I have participated in the daily work of the Council and its Committees, studied its policy papers and various reports, and held conferences (including three eight-hour round-table discussions) with experienced advisers.
The Council, as top mechanism in Government for aiding in formulation of security policies, has a policy-planning function and a supporting staff function:
- The policy-planning function should be exercised through the Council itself, composed of the highest security advisers of the President, and through a Planning Board (now called “Senior Staff”), composed of top-flight personnel to be appointed by the President from the departments and agencies. The President should appoint on his White House staff a “Special Assistant for National Security Affairs”, who would insure that the President’s views as to policy-planning are carried out, would act as executive officer at Council Meetings, and would preside over the Planning Board. The persons referred to in (a) would be part of and change with the Administration.
- The supporting staff function should be exercised through a high-calibre, permanent Council Staff, not subject to change with political change. This permanent Staff would furnish both a necessary continuity in highly sensitive matters and also maximum staff assistance to the policy-makers. The Special Assistant to the President would supervise, but not be a member of, this permanent Staff.
I wish to retain on this permanent Staff Mr. Lay and Mr. Gleason, who are devoted, capable, and well-informed. They will provide continuity, effectively operate the staff mechanism, and greatly help in the policy planning.
My recommendations call for adding some Staff personnel to perform functions for which no Staff personnel now exist (the six NSC Staff “think” personnel being already fully occupied). For a full year, carrying out all my recommendations would increase White House and Council expense by some $65, 000.
Report by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler)
Report of Recommendations Relative to the National Security Council
[Here follows a list of the nine parts of the Report.]
part i. statutory functions of the council
- The National Security Act of 1947 establishes: (Title I) the National Security Council,* the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Resources Board; and (Title II) the National Military Establishment. The preamble to the Act declares “the intent of Congress to provide a comprehensive program for the future security of the United States; to provide for the establishment of integrated policies and procedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of the Government relating to the national security.…”
- Title I of the Act, titled “Coordination for National Security,”
states the functions of the Council:
- “to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security so as to enable the military services and the other departments and agencies of the Government to cooperate more effectively in matters involving the national security.”
- to perform “such other functions as the President may direct for the purpose of more effectively coordinating the policies and [Page 247] functions of the departments and agencies of the Government relating to the national security.”
- from time to time to “make such recommendations, and such other reports to the President as it seems appropriate or as the President may require.”
- Title I further states that “it shall, subject to the direction of
the President, be the duty of the Council:
- to assess and appraise the objectives, commitments and risks of the United States in relation to our actual and potential military power, in the interest of national security, for the purpose of making recommendations to the President in connection therewith; and
- to consider policies on matters of common interest to the departments and agencies of the Government concerned with the national security, and to make recommendations to the President in connection therewith.”
- Other parts of Title I provide that the Central Intelligence Agency is “under the direction of” the Council, and that the Atomic Energy Commission may communicate restricted data to other nations, provided that the President makes a determination based on a “written recommendation” of the Council.
- Explicit or implicit in the governing statute are these basic
- NSC deals only with issues affecting the national security;
- NSC is advisory; by advice and recommendations to the President, it aids him to resolve the executive will;
- NSC seeks to integrate domestic, foreign, and military policies so as to enable Government agencies to cooperate more effectively in national security matters;
- NSC acts, according to Presidential direction, to coordinate more effectively policies and functions of Government agencies relating to the national security;
- NSC is concerned with both our actual and our potential military power;
- NSC is not limited to areas of agency agreement; on its own initiative, NSC may seek out areas of agency conflict or omission to act, so as to present alternative or new courses of action for executive decision.
- The Council is a mechanism to aid the President in formulating national security policy. In that area, it should perform whatever functions the President thinks will help him best. It is believed that a proper appreciation and application of the foregoing concepts will make the NSC operate effectively. No revision of the statutory statement of functions is required.
part ii. the council machinery
The National Security Council now operates through the following mechanisms:
- The Council itself:
- Council Meetings
- Special Committee on Atomic Energy—
- Secretary of State, Chairman
- Secretary of Defense
- Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
- Special Committee on COMINT (Supervises USCIB)
- Secretary of State, Chairman
- Secretary of Defense
- Attorney General (on matters affecting FBI)
- Ad hoc Committees and Consultants
- The Council Staff Organization:
- The Senior Staff
- The Permanent Staff
- Advisory Committees appointed by the Council:
- Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference—
- Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chairman
- Director of Intelligence, U.S. Army
- Director of Naval Intelligence
- Director of Special Investigations, U.S. Air Force
- (NSC Representative on Internal Security—adviser)
- Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security—
- Special Assistant to the Attorney General, Chairman
- Director, Office of Controls, State Department
- Director, Continental U.S. Defense Planning Group, Department of Defense
- Chief Coordinator, Treasury Enforcement Agencies, Treasury Department
- (NSC Representative on Internal Security—adviser)
- Joint Chiefs of Staff:
- “principal military advisers” to the NSC
- The Central Intelligence Agency:
- established “under” the Council
- functions “under the direction of” the Council
- intelligence adviser to the Council
- Psychological Strategy Board:
- reports to the Council on its activities and on its evaluation of the national psychological operations, including implementation of approved objectives, policies, and programs by the departments and agencies concerned.
part iii. membership in the council
- In order to make possible a genuine exchange of ideas and foster free discussion, there should not, as a general rule, be more than eight persons who have the right formally to participate as Council members. This number includes Statutory Members and standing-request and ad hoc Participant Members; but does not include Advisers, Observers, and the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and NSC Staff Members.
- Statutory Members. An ideal statute would
provide that the Council should consist of the President, the
Vice-President, and such other Members as the President from time to
time might designate. However, in view of legislative history and
present circumstances, it may be practicable to amend the statute
only by (a) eliminating the provision requiring Senate confirmation
of persons additionally designated by the President to the Council,
(b) adding the Secretary of the Treasury, (c) transferring the
Council membership of the Chairman of the National Security
Resources Board (which Board is to be merged into ODM) to the Director of Defense
Mobilization. It will be desirable for the immediately ensuing
future that the functions of the Treasury, of Mutual Security, and
of Defense Mobilization be represented on the Council, either
through statutory Membership or standing-request Participant
Membership. Therefore, pending final decision as to statutory
change, this report does not distinguish between Statutory and
Permanent-Request Membership in stating those who regularly attend
Council Meetings as follows:
- Vice President
- Secretary of State
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of Defense
- Director for Mutual Security†
- Director of Defense Mobilization
- Participant Members. In addition to Statutory Members, the President should be free to invite such other officials of Government to attend as Participant Members, as his convenience and the agenda items at a particular Meeting make desirable. Such invitations may be either on standing-request or ad hoc basis. A standing-request Participant Member attends all Meetings until the President otherwise decides. An ad hoc Participant Member attends [Page 250] only such Meeting, or part of a Meeting, as he may be specifically invited to attend.
- Advisers, Observers, Staff. In addition to
Statutory and Participant Members, there will be in attendance at
each Council meeting the following persons who do not formally
participate as Council Members:
- Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Director, Central Intelligence Agency
- Special Assistant to the President for Cold War Planning
- Such person or persons as the President may desire to attend for the purpose of observing, but not participating—like his Military Liaison Officer. Observers are not seated at the table.
- Special Assistant to the President
- Executive Secretary
- Deputy Executive Secretary
- a. Civilians without departmental responsibilities should not be invited to sit as Participant Members.
- b. In order to bring to the Council deliberations a fresh, frequently-changing civilian point of view and to gain public understanding of national security problems through the use of civilians of stature, from time to time the President should appoint on an ad hoc basis one or more Civilian Consultants or small Civilian Committees as informal Advisers to the Council. This mechanism should be so used that no public impression arises that any persons or committees have been interposed between the President and his responsible Cabinet Ministers. Therefore, as a general rule, a Civilian Consultant should not formally participate in a Council Meeting and a Civilian Committee should appear at a Council Meeting only when its report is presented.
- c. Examples of potential usefulness of Civilian
Consultants or Civilian Committees—
- to consider and report to the Council on some specific new proposal or some long-range general project, after which its report would be reviewed by the departments and agencies concerned.
- to review for the Council some proposal developed and recommended by the Policy Planning Board.
part iv. council meetings
- A regular Council Meeting time should be established and maintained, except in emergency or when omitted; such as Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. until luncheon. Special Council Meetings [Page 251] should be called by the Special Assistant at the request of the President.
- The agenda for a Council Meeting should be determined by the President, acting through the Special Assistant. Selectivity and discretion must be used in composing the agenda.
- Each Statutory and Participant Member and each Adviser should attend every Council Meeting in person. If substitution is necessary, the identity of the substitute should be cleared with the Special Assistant before the Meeting in sufficient time for Presidential consideration.
- If the President is unable to attend a Meeting, he should designate to preside in his place (in priority): The Vice-President; the Secretary of State. The Special Assistant never presides.
- The President as Chairman should lead the discussion at Council Meetings. He should exercise that leadership by asking for views around the table so as to bring out conflicts and so as to create a sense of team participation among those present in making the policy which they must later carry out. The Presidential decision may be announced at a Meeting or upon further consideration of the recommendations made to him at such Meeting.
- Members of the Congress should not be asked to attend meetings of the National Security Council.
part v. executive officers of the council
- The Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs should be the principal executive officer of the National Security Council and should serve as Chairman of the Council’s Planning Board. He should not have status as a Statutory or Participant Member or preside at Council Meetings. He should be appointed by the President on the White House Staff and compensated at $20, 000 a year.
- There should be an Executive Secretary and a Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, appointed by the President and compensated respectively at $15, 000 and $14, 000 a year. Under the supervision of the Special Assistant, the Executive Secretary should be the head of the NSC Staff, act for the Special Assistant in his absence, and advise and aid him in the performance of his duties.
- The principal duties of the Special Assistant should include:
- Determination of agenda for, and presentation of material for discussion at, Council Meetings.
- Briefing the President during the afternoon before each Council Meeting on matters covered by the agenda, assisted by the Executive Secretary.
- Determination of agenda and scheduling of work for Planning Board meetings.
- Presiding at, and participating in, Planning Board meetings.
- Responsibility for the rate of flow of work through the Planning Board, and the manner of presentation and quality of such work.
- Appointment of ad hoc Staff groups and ad hoc Civilian or Civilian-Staff committees.
- Bringing to the attention of the President, with recommendations for appropriate action, lack of progress on the part of an agency in carrying out a particular policy which has been assigned to it; where it is not possible to expedite performance at the Planning Board level.‡
- Supervision, through the Executive Secretary, of the work of the NSC Staff (See Part VII).
part vi. planning board of the council
1. At present, the principal body for formulation and transmission of policy recommendations to the Council is called the “Senior Staff”. Composed of Members and Advisers from departments and agencies concerned with national security, it has these functions:
- To anticipate and identify problems and situations affecting the security objectives, commitments, and risks of the United States, and initiate action to provide the required analyses and draft policy statements for the consideration of the Council.
- To facilitate the formulation of policies, during the process of drafting policy recommendations, by marshaling the resources of the respective departments and agencies; by identifying the possible alternatives; by endeavoring to achieve acceptable agreements; by discussing differences; by avoiding undesirable compromises which conceal or gloss over real differences; and by reducing differences to as clearly defined and narrow an area as possible prior to reference to the Council.
2. The name, “Senior Staff”, should be changed to planning board. This Board should have the same functions, be strictly limited [Page 253] as to membership, and be composed of persons from these offices:
|Members||Special Assistant to the President(Chairman)|
|Department of State|
|Department of the Treasury|
|Department of Defense|
|Director for Mutual Security|
|Office of Defense Mobilization|
|Advisers||Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Central Intelligence Agency|
|Psychological Strategy Board|
|Deputy Executive Secretary|
|Coordinator, Board Assistants|
- Each Adviser has the full right to have included in any report sent up to the Council, in his own words, any disagreement on the part of his department or agency with any part of such report.
- Other departments and agencies may be asked by the Board’s Chairman to attend meetings of the Board on an ad hoc basis, in accordance with the agenda to be taken up at a particular meeting.
3. The effective functioning of the Council is directly related to the calibre of the Planning Board personnel and to the amount of time which each Member or Adviser devotes to his Planning Board work. To that end, a Member or Adviser should:
- be nominated by the head of the department or agency to the President;
- be appointed by the President, upon approval by the Special Assistant; with the title of “Special Assistant to the (Secretary of State) for NSC Affairs”;
- have as his principal responsibility, which overrides all other duties and with which no other duty can interfere, his work with the Board, including preparation for and attendance at meetings; yet at the same time continue to be sufficiently in the stream of activity of his department or agency so as to be capable of representing its views;
- have direct access to and the personal confidence of the head of his department or agency;
- have the authority of the head of his department or agency to utilize its resources to perform his Board function;
- have an unbreakable engagement to brief the head of his department or agency before every Council Meeting;
- have such Assistants as the size and demands of his department or agency require;
- have access to a study room at the NSC offices.
4. The Planning Board is assisted in the drafting of papers by the [Page 254] Assistants (4–g above), acting under a Coordinator selected from the NSC Staff.
5. The Special Assistant, as Chairman, should preside at Board Meetings. He should set the frame of reference and analyze the problem at the outset. He should lead the discussion in such manner as to bring out the most active participation by all present and the most expeditious dispatch of business.
6. In order for the Board properly to function, each Board Member and Adviser should be prepared promptly to state to the Board the views of his department or agency as to a report being prepared in its final form for submission to the Council.
7. Since each Board Member or Adviser must express and stand by his honest views, those views, if substantial conflicts cannot be fairly resolved, may never be suppressed or compromised, but should be reported to the Council.
8. The traffic of ideas to the Board may be either (a) from the Council downward for study and report back with recommendations, or (b) from any department or agency, or (c) from any Member or Adviser of the Board. Good ideas may germinate at any level. It is important that the Board be constantly made aware of the matters in which the Council is interested and desires to have worked upon in priority. It is also important that if an idea germinates other than in a department or agency which is concerned with the general area, such department or agency should be consulted in establishing the frame of reference.
9. Papers sent up from the Board to the Council for action, if longer than a few pages (which may well be necessary for background material) should be preceded by a summary or the specific recommendations (referring to numbered paragraphs in the longer text).
part vii. the nsc staff
1. The NSC Staff will continue to perform the following duties—
- Furnishing the secretariat for the Council, including the preparation of the agenda, record of actions and status of projects, reproducing and distributing papers for the Council, and maintaining the official Council files.
- Acting as the official channel of communication for the Council, including notifying agencies of assignments to carry out approved policies.
- Briefing the Vice-President before each Council Meeting on matters covered by the agenda, and providing him with such other staff assistance on NSC matters as he may desire.
- Matters related to personnel, pay and office facilities.
- Preparation of the Budget.
- The operations of the Reporting Unit.
2. The present NSC Staff consists of:
- (a) Executive (7)—Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary, Administrative Officer, 3 secretaries, 1 chauffeur-messenger
- (b) Internal Security (2)—Internal Security Officer, 1 secretary
- (c) Registry (8)—Assistant to Executive Secretary, Administrative Assistant, 6 secretarial-clerical
- (d) Reporting Unit (3)—Assistant Executive Secretary, 1 Assistant, 1 secretary
- (e) Staff Assistants (3)—Coordinator of Staff Assistants, Research Assistant, 1 secretary
This total personnel (23) is fully engaged in carrying on necessary staff work.
3. There has been too great a time-lag between the initiation of a project and action upon it by the Council. As of February 16, 1953 20 projects were before or on their way up to the Council, after time-lapse as follows—
|Number of Projects||Pending Final Action|
|3||over 20 months|
|3||over 10 months|
|5||over 4 months|
|1||over 2 months|
|8||less than 1 month|
This time-lag can be reduced by a strengthened Planning Board, by provision of a directing executive with ready access to the President, and by adding three Special Staff personnel.
4. The NSC Staff should be strengthened by the creation of a small Special Staff to assist in performing, among other, the following duties—
- independent analysis and review of each Planning Board report
before its submission to the Council by—
- examination of all documents (such as intelligence estimates, JCS papers, evaluations by theater commanders, etc.) referred to in the report in order to verify the reference.
- examination of the report to determine that it states the issues comprehensively and clearly; that it develops the subject logically and presents, as a standard procedure, the alternative courses of action and the factors which support and which oppose each alternative; and that the conclusions reached are meaningful as operational guidances.
- amendment of the report, in conformity with (1) and (2), before final approval and forwarding by the Planning Board. If the reviewing function cannot be completed by a deadline, the report should be forwarded marked “tentative” and later be fully reviewed before the subject is considered disposed of.
- continuous examination of the totality of national security policies with a view to determining if gaps exist which should be filled and if important issues or anticipated developments are sufficiently explored.
- continuing integrated evaluation of the capabilities of the free world versus the capabilities of the Soviet and satellites, and estimates of the situation, in order to bring such evaluations and estimates before the Council.
- providing a chairman or member of, or observer with, ad hoc civilian or civilian-staff committees, and assistance, in recruiting such committees.
- keeping currently informed on the status of all national security programs and seeing that reports and pertinent information thereon are currently available (thus incorporating the present functions of the Reporting Unit).
5. a. Members of this Special Staff should be employed (full or part-time) by the Executive Secretary, subject to the approval of the Special Assistant. The annual compensation depending upon age and experience, should be between $6, 000 and $14, 800.
b. The ideal person for the Special Staff should have intellectual breadth and acuity, general experience, capacity for work, selflessness, tact and ability to work with others, rather than any specialized knowledge in a particular field. It will be desirable that one member of the special Staff have an experienced background in scientific problems.
c. The Deputy Executive Secretary should be a member of and supervise the Special Staff, and be responsible for its assignments, work load, and functioning.
6. The Internal Security Officer should be provided with a Staff Assistant, because of his work load and responsibility.
7. The permanent Council Staff, upon carrying into effect the above recommendations, would consist of 28 persons:
- (a) Executive (6)—Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary, Administrative Officer, 1 Administrative Assistant, 1 secretary, 1 chauffeur-messenger
- (b) Internal Security (3)—Internal Security Officer, 1 Assistant, 1 secretary
- (c) Registry (8)—Assistant to the Executive Secretary, 1 Administrative Assistant, 6 secretarial-clerical
- (d) Board Assistants (3)—Coordinator of Board Assistants, Research Assistant, 1 secretary
- (e) Special Staff (8)—3 Staff members, 2 Staff Assistants, 1 Administrative Assistant, 2 secretaries
The above tabulation does not include the Special Assistant to the President and his secretary, who are members of the White House Staff.[Page 257]
8. There should be allocated in the Executive Offices Building space sufficient to accommodate the personnel described in this report, including the Special Assistant to the President and his secretary. Such space should be so located as to be capable of being made a restricted security area.
[Here follow Part VIII, “Estimated Council Budget” (1 page), and Part IX, “Summary of Principal Recommendations” (4 pages).]
- Part IX is not printed.↩
- Since the 1949 amendment, the NSC has been a part of the Executive Office of the President. [Footnote in the source text. The 1949 “amendment” under reference is P.L. 81–216 (63 Stat. 578), the National Security Act Amendments of 1949, signed by President Truman on Aug. 10.]↩
- The present title for the head of the Mutual Security function is used in this report. It is understood that this title may later be changed. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
The Council is an advisory, not an operational, body. It is not appropriate for its permanent Staff to follow-up on policy performance, beyond the valid requirements now in effect for periodic progress reports and semi-annual status of projects reports.
Once a policy is assigned among Cabinet members for performance, each such Cabinet member is responsible to the President for accomplishing his assignment. Because the President himself has not the time to undertake the various follow-ups, the Special Assistant should bring to his attention situations where progress is delayed, with recommendations for action. The Special Assistant’s function should be to inspect, not to evaluate or direct. Upon receiving the Special Assistant’s report and recommendations, the President should decide whether to put the matter on the Council agenda for an ensuing meeting, appoint an ad hoc Council Committee, appoint an ad hoc Civilian Committee, or deal otherwise directly or indirectly with the problem. [Footnote in the source text.]↩