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


  • Weekly National Security Report

Starting this week, I propose to give you each Saturday, as part of your weekend reading, a highly concise Weekly National Security Report. I think of it as a highly compressed statement, containing the following elements: some candid thoughts on the major trends or issues of the week (1. Opinions); capsulated summaries of some salient facts which may not have been brought to your attention in the course of the week (2. Facts); brief signals of things to think about or to look out for (3. Alerts); summary expressions of concern or of criticism (4. Concerns); and brief indications of foreign reactions to your policies and initiatives (5. Reactions). The NSC Staff and I will be glad to elaborate on any of the above, and I hope that this format will be useful to you. Perhaps after a few weeks you can let me know whether this is helpful or whether it is merely a redundant reading item.

[Omitted here are the following sections relating to foreign policy: Opinions, Facts, Alerts, Concerns, and Reactions.]

  1. 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)