Learn about the beta

NSC and the Interagency Process


1. Memorandum From Matt Schaffer and Tony Lake to Jack Watson

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 113, [Organization], 8/76. No classification marking. Matt Schaffer and Anthony Lake served as foreign policy advisers to Carter during Carter’s candidacy. Lake headed the transition office in the Department of State and became Director of the Policy Planning Staff after Carter’s inauguration. Jack Watson served as director of Carter’s transition team.


2. Paper Prepared by L.E. Lynn, Jr.

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 113, National Security Council System, 9/15/76–1/77. No classification marking. L.E. Lynn, Jr. is presumed to be Laurence E. Lynn, Jr., who was a Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Lynn served in several government agencies prior to 1974 when he returned to academe, including the Department of the Interior; Department of Health, Education and Welfare; National Security Council; and Department of Defense.


3. Memorandum From David Aaron and Rick Inderfurth to President-Elect Carter and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs-Designate (Brzezinski)

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 15, [NSC: 1/77–10/80]. Confidential. Brzezinski made notations in the margins of this memorandum, many of which are indecipherable.


4. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs-Designate (Brzezinski) to President-Elect Carter

Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 165, NSC Organization I. Confidential. Sent to Carter under cover of a December 23 memorandum from Brzezinski, who wrote: “In keeping with your telephone instructions of December 19, I have made a preliminary review of needed changes in the NSC organization and staffing, and I include my initial recommendations.”


5. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs-Designate (Brzezinski) to President-Elect Carter

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 66, Transition Messages: Governor To #1–30, 11/76–1/11/77. Confidential. Brzezinski did not initial the memorandum. Secretary Vance described the reorganization of the NSC in his memoir: “Carter did not accept Brzezinski’s proposal. He found it overly elaborate and too similar to the preceding structure. He ordered that a simpler system be devised in keeping with his desire to streamline government and to emphasize the authority of the department heads.” (Vance, Hard Choices, p. 36) Brzezinski outlined his redesigned NSC in his memoir: “I suggested that the work of the NSC, in deference to the President’s desire for simplicity, be organized into only two committees. One was to be the Policy Review Committee, to deal with the first three of the above categories [foreign policy issues, defense policy issues, and international economic issues] and to be chaired by the appropriate Secretary,” and “the second NSC committee was to be called the Special Coordination Committee, and I recommended to the President that its very title required a chairman who was not a departmental head. It was to be charged with decisions regarding sensitive intelligence and covert activity, with the development of U.S. policy on arms control (and especially SALT), as well as with crisis management.” (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p. 59)


6. National Security Council Organization and Functions Chart

Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 165, NSC Organization I. No classification marking. The original is attached to an undated and unsigned brief overview of the National Security Council.


7. Presidential Directive/NSC–2

Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 165, NSC Organization I. Confidential. Carter initialed at the bottom of each page.


8. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 41, Weekly Reports [to the President]: 1–15: [2/77–6/77]. Top Secret; Codeword. Carter wrote at the top of the page, “I like it—J.” In his memoir, Brzezinski described the importance of the weekly national security report that he submitted to the President: “To maintain the dialogue with the President, particularly on larger issues, I also initiated, approximately a month after his inaugural, the practice of sending him a weekly NSC report. It was meant to be a highly personal and private document, for the President alone. It contained usually some additional intelligence information or reports on policy implementation, as well as an occasional summary of more incisive papers written by NSC staffers, and frequently the report was opened by a brief one-page-long editorial piece by me, entitled ‛Opinion.’ In it I commented in a freewheeling fashion on the Administration’s performance, alerted him to possible problems, conveyed occasionally some criticism, and attempted to impart a global perspective. . . . The reports also provided useful clues to the President’s thinking. If his interest was engaged, even if he did not entirely agree, he would make copious marginal comments. On the other hand, if he was simply irritated by my report, as he sometimes was, it would come back with just the initial ‛C’ on the upper right-hand margin.” Brzezinski added, “the four-year total amounted to 159 reports. All of that made for a continuing dialogue, which kept me informed of the President’s thinking and also perhaps influenced it.” (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, pp. 65–66)


9. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 18, Weekly Reports [to the President]: 1–15: [2/77–6/77]. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum. All but the Alerts section of this memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 26.


10. Memorandum From Samuel Huntington of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 11, NSC, 4–12/77. No classification marking. Aaron wrote at the top of the memorandum, “Hold for my meeting next week.”


11. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Director of Central Intelligence Turner

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 2, Central Intelligence Agency, 1–8/77. Confidential.


12. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 41, Weekly Reports [to the President]: 31–41: [10/77–1/78]. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.


13. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 41, Weekly Reports [to the President]: 42–52: [1/78–3/78]. Secret. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.


14. Memorandum From Madeleine Albright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 84, Subject Chron, Congress, 1–6/78. Administratively Confidential. Brzezinski wrote at the top of the memorandum, “Good memo. ZB.”


15. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 9, NSC Weekly Reports 6–12/78. Secret. Carter wrote at the top of the memorandum, “Zbig—More on non-testing of depressed trajectory flights of SLBMs—J.”


16. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 9, NSC Weekly Reports, 6–12/78. Secret. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.


17. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Official Working Papers of S/P, 1977–1981, Box 1, Misc. re: Issue and Priorities, 1978. Secret; Nodis. Printed from an unsigned copy. At the top of the first page is a notation in an unknown hand, “12/28/78 orig to Secy Vance.” Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 107, from a copy with Carter’s handwritten comments.


18. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 42, Weekly Reports [to the President]: 82–90: [12/78–3/79]. Secret; Eyes Only. Carter wrote at the top of the page, “Zbig Interesting J.” The full text of this memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 110.


19. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 42, Weekly Reports [to the President], 82–90: [12/78–3/79]. Secret. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 113.


20. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 42, Weekly Reports [to the President], 82–90: [12/78–3/79]. Confidential. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum.


22. Letter From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 18, State, 1–4/80. No classification marking. The letter was handwritten by Vance.


23. Letter From President Carter to Secretary of State Vance

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 18, State, 1–4/80. No classification marking. The letter was handwritten by Carter. Both Vance’s (see Document 22) and Carter’s letters are also printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1980–81, Book I, pp. 781–782.


24. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 23, Meetings, Muskie-Brown-Brzezinski, 5/80–6/80. Secret; Personally Sensitive.


25. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 57, Chron 5/1–11/80. Top Secret.


26. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter

Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 127, Weekly National Security Reports: 5–7/80. Secret. A handwritten “C” indicates that Carter saw the memorandum. In his memoir, Brzezinski discussed Carter’s organization of his administration: “Ultimately every decision-making system is a creature of the President, and each President has his own distinctive style. Carter’s was perhaps formally the most centralized of all in the postwar era, even though that did not prevent some internal and even public disputes. Nonetheless, it was a system and a process that actively involved the President and his Cabinet-level advisers in day-to-day deliberations and intensive participation in foreign policy decision making. Further, it enabled President Carter toward the end of his term (October 9, 1980) to state quite accurately and with obvious pride: ‛There have been Presidents in the past, maybe not too distant past, that let their Secretaries of State make foreign policy. I don’t.’” (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p. 74)