28. Memorandum From the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Taylor) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Comments on National Security Decision Memorandum 1, 2, 3, 4 and 72

I was very much interested in studying the text of the reference NSDMs and in analyzing the national security procedures set forth in them. They seem to me to describe quite clearly the procedures to be followed in security policy formulation and, if carried out in accordance with the intent of these memoranda, they should assure that the National Security Council receives well staffed documents to serve as the basis for Presidential decisions.

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What I do not see is an assignment of responsibility for the functions which must be carried out after Presidential approval of a policy paper. The functions which I have in mind include:

The assignment of tasks to subordinate departments and agencies to carry out a Presidential decision.
The preparation of departmental and agency programs to discharge the assigned tasks.
The coordination of these programs to assure a properly aggregated interdepartmental effort.
The manner of approval of these programs prior to implementation, and
The evaluation of performance during and following implementation.

The only reference which I find to these functions is in the assignment to the Secretary of State of responsibility “in accordance with approved policy, for the execution of foreign policy” and “for the overall direction, coordination and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the United States Government overseas.”3 Without further clarification, I would interpret these references as giving the Secretary of State full authority to assure the proper execution of approved departmental programs in the field of national security, using either the National Security Council machinery or the resources of the Department of State to assist him.

If this reading is correct, this is a formidable responsibility and I question the ability of the Secretary of State to discharge it without a further clarification of what is expected of him. To discharge such a task, he will need a more specific statement from the President setting forth his authority over the other departments involved in national security and the way in which he is expected to use this authority. He will also need an accepted procedure by which he can obtain adequate staff support for his executive and supervisory functions. One might look to the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee for such machinery to assist him but, in this case, the duties of the Under Secretaries Committee would have to be broadened substantially beyond the text of NSDM 2.

Since the implementation of national security decisions and the verification of performance of implementation have always been weak [Page 67] points in past procedures, I would suggest strongly the need for a very clear statement at the start of this Administration, setting forth the functions which must be performed in the course of implementation and the responsibility for the execution of each of these functions. I would think that the vehicle for such a clarification would be an additional NSDM added to the series which has just been issued.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–300, NSC System, IFG (Institutional File General) 1969 through 1974. Confidential.
  2. Documents 10, 11, 12, and 13. For NSDM 7, see footnote 4, Document 12.
  3. I am not entirely confident of the accuracy of this interpretation because, as I have learned to use the term, “foreign policy” includes all “interdepartmental activities of the United States Government overseas” and something more, i.e., the limited amount of interdepartmental overseas business, whereas the language of the NSDM seems to suggest that “foreign policy” and “interdepartmental activities of the United States Government overseas” are two separate categories of activities to which the Secretary of State stands in two differing and separate relationships.” [Footnote in the source text.]