of the Department of State. Some of these papers came before the NSC for information or served solely as a basis for discussion. However, others, containing policy recommendations, eventually reached the President. His signature indicated approval of the proposed policy. Also, according to the first NSC executive secretary, if implementing legislation was required for the new policy, it was prepared by the appropriate department(s) and cleared in the usual way through the Bureau of the Budget before submission to Congress. Nonetheless, a new type of presidential directive was in the making. By the time President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, approximately 100 NSC papers mandated operative policy.
With each succeeding President, national security instruments of varying denominations and character evolved from the NSC policy papers. In general, they were not required to be published in the Federal Register, were usually security classified at the highest level of protection, and were available to the public after a great many years had elapsed, usually at the official library of the President who had approved them. Many of the more recent ones remain officially secret. The national security instruments of the past several administrations are briefly profiled.
NSC Policy Papers.
The production of NSC policy papers continued under President Eisenhower. Almost any official in the NSC system, from the President on downward, could suggest topics for policy papers. In response, a preliminary staff study might be prepared within the NSC Planning Board, a new body composed of assistant secretary-level officers representing agencies having statutory or presidentially designated membership on the council. A first draft, drawn from the preliminary staff study, would be produced by the agency having primary policy interest, followed by various reviews, revisions, and, ultimately, presentation to the President. A new component of the NSC policy papers during this period was a “financial appendix” indicating the fiscal implications of proposed policy. The sequential numbering system for NSC papers that had been begun by the Truman Administration was continued by the Eisenhower Administration. About 270-300 NSC policy papers were accounted for at the end of President Eisenhower's second term. Many of them went through major revisions after their initial issuance, some undergoing three or four such overhauls. Indeed, in their preparations for their successors, Eisenhower Administration officials updated almost every operative NSC
- Ibid.; Sidney W. Souers, “Policy Formulation for National Security,” American Political Science Review, vol. 43, June 1949, pp. 539-540.
- Falk, “The National Security Council Under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy,” pp. 410-411.
- Souers, “Policy Formulation for National Security,” p. 541.
- Robert Cutler, “The Development of the National Security Council,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 34, April 1956, p. 449.
- Falk, “The National Security Council Under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy,” pp. 421-422;
Cutler, “The Development of the National Security Council,” p. 450.