74. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • New Executive Order for the Intelligence Community

The new Executive Order codifies and implements the major relationships between the Secretary of Defense and the DCI set forth in PD–17 (Tab A).2 The original draft of the Executive Order was produced jointly by Harold and Stan, they participated actively in the NSC review of successive drafts and seem to have a common understanding about their respective roles in the future.

Under the new Executive Order, the DCI will:

—Develop and approve a consolidated budget composed of the national intelligence programs of all departments and agencies (80% [Page 356] in DOD) for submission through OMB to you, present this budget to Congress, monitor its implementation and be responsible for any reprogramming actions. The interagency National Foreign Intelligence Board, which includes all of the program managers, advises the DCI on his budgetary responsibilities, and the relevant department heads are given an explicit right of appeal directly to you.

—Task all national intelligence collection systems (most of which are under DOD line management) through the new National Intelligence Tasking Center (NITC) which will be jointly manned by civilian and military personnel. Normally the DCI will control the NITC but there is a provision for you to turn over full control to the Secretary of Defense during periods of crisis or during war. The NITC will translate requirements validated by the PRC (which includes the Secretary of Defense and Chairman, JCS) into specific collection targets and assign these to appropriate intelligence collection organizations.

—Produce finished national intelligence products (estimates, memoranda and other reports) in consultation with departmental analytical centers like the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Under the new Executive Order, the Secretary of Defense will:

—Continue to have responsibility for day-to-day operation (including authority to hire and fire) of NSA, DIA, NRO and the intelligence elements of the military services.

—Act as executive agent for USG for all signals intelligence and communications security activities.

—Provide for timely transmission of “critical” intelligence as defined by the DCI.

—Have full tasking, budget and production responsibilities for all tactical military intelligence activities.

In short, the new Executive Order centralizes under the DCI collection tasking (during peacetime and with the direction of the PRC), budget control of all national intelligence activities and analysis for NSC-level users. The Secretary of Defense retains daily operational responsibility for all DOD intelligence programs including collection of signals intelligence, responds to national intelligence collection tasking by DCI, and has his own analytical support (DIA).

The relationship between the DCI and the Secretary of Defense is complex but both know what is expected of them. This will not, of course, guarantee success but should work satisfactorily if both work at it in a constructive manner.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 12, PD 17 [8]. Unclassified. Sent for information. Carter wrote at the top of the page, “Zbig—OK—Let someone who is qualified double check EO for wording, legal technicalities. JC.” The NSC provenance profile indicates that the date of the memorandum was January 11, 1978. (Ibid.)
  2. Not found attached. For the text of PD–17, see Document 59.