120. Memorandum From the Director of the Planning Group, National Security Council (Kennedy) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Senior Review Group

In a recent report2 a task force studying the workings of the Department of State (under the direction of Mr. Macomber) the following recommendation was included:

The Task Force recommends that the Under Secretaries Committee (USC) be empowered to consider policy issues of a broad functional nature and/or involving more than one region that are beyond the scope of a regional or functional IG and do not need to go directly to [Page 264] the NSC. Also it would act as the next court of appeal for issues that could not be resolved [at a lower echelon. This recommendation will involve] modification of the USC Charter as set forth in NSDM 2.

If this recommendation is pressed, it will tend to preempt the role you earlier visualized for the Senior Review Group (at the Under Secretaries level).

It would tend to put an increasing share of the policy review function in the Under Secretaries Committee chaired by the Under Secretary of State. The role of the Review Groups (as presently constituted) chaired by you would be further diminished.

If you want to go ahead with the Senior Review Group, the possibility that a recommendation from the Secretary of State for an enhanced role for the Under Secretaries Committee in the policy review area may be forthcoming I believe argues for an early issuance of an NSDM. Otherwise, the Senior Review Group NSDM might be seen as a negative reply to a recommendation from the Secretary.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–219, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDM 85. Confidential. Copies were sent to Kennedy and Rush.
  2. See the attachment to Document 119.
  3. Kissinger wrote on the memorandum: “OK—Establish Senior group. HK.” The date “Sep 12 1970” is stamped just below. NSDM 85 was issued September 14 (Document 121).