National Security Council

National Security Council (NSC), federal executive council responsible for planning, coordinating, and evaluating the defense policies of the United States and also exercising direction over the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Created in 1947 by the National Security Act (amended in 1949), the council's formal members are the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense. The director of national intelligence (formerly, the director of the CIA), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's national security adviser (the assistant to the president for national security affairs, who is also the director of the NSC), and the deputy adviser usually attend as invited guests. Although President Eisenhower used the NSC as the centerpiece of his security policy apparatus, other presidents have relied more heavily on ad hoc organizations and special assistants. Prominent NSC directors have included Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The council also has a civilian staff that is headed by an executive secretary appointed by the president.

See study by D. J. Rothkopf (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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