172. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to All Assistant Secretaries1


  • Regular NSC Meetings; Request for Suggested Agenda Items

The President has instructed the White House staff to schedule NSC meetings every other Thursday, starting Thursday, June 9 at 1:00 p.m. The meetings are scheduled to last 45 minutes, and every effort will be made to hold them on a regular schedule.

According to the White House staff the NSC meetings will be as they have been in the past, for “the presentation of recommendations on major problems like Vietnam and NATO”, but they will not be the occasions when the President will be asked to make major foreign policy decisions. Emphasis will be placed on the presentation of and exchange of views on issues which may shortly thereafter be coming to the President for decision. The NSC members will be expected to exchange views against the background of papers defining the elements of the problem and discussing available options for the USG and their implications. It is envisaged that the end product of most of these meetings, aside from a common look of the problem, would be Presidential instructions as to the next steps in policy formulation, rather than “final decisions”.

Meetings will also be used for briefings on important intelligence matters not adequately covered in the normal flow of current information, such as “significant, new technical developments.”

In order to make the NSC meetings useful to the President and to the participants, the White House will need the papers to be considered 4 or 5 days in advance of the meeting whenever possible, but never less than 48 hours ahead of time, so that the President and the Council members will have an opportunity to study the submissions in advance.

The White House has requested the Department (and each NSC member) to submit a list of appropriate subjects for early NSC consideration. If there are any such issues in your area please let me have your suggestions by c.o.b. Wednesday, June 1, for review by the Acting Secretary and forwarding to the White House.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 318, Notebook on NSC Meetings, 1966. Confidential. Lot 72 D 318 contains three notebooks with State Department briefings and other backup material for NSC meetings from June 9, 1966 through November 25, 1968.