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The White Housemarker National Security Council (NSC) in the United Statesmarker is the principal forum used by the President for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisor and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Since its inception under President Harry S. Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies. The U.S. Council has counterparts in the national security councils of many other nations.


The National Security Council was created in 1947 by the National Security Act. It was created because policymakers felt that the diplomacy of the State Department was no longer adequate to contain the USSR in light of the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. The intent was to ensure coordination and concurrence among the Navy, Army, Air Force and other instruments of national security policy (such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, also created in the National Security Act).

On May 26th, 2009, President Obama merged the White House staff supporting the Homeland Security Council (HSC) and the National Security Council into one National Security Staff (NSS). The HSC and NSC each continue to exist by statute as bodies supporting the President.

The decision process inside the structure has become less and less formal, but influence of the Council has become stronger and stronger. Detailed history of the National Security Council under each Presidential administration since its inception can be found at:


The National Security Council is chaired by the President. Its regular attendees (both statutory and non-statutory) are the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (or National Security Advisor). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the statutory military advisor to the Council, and the Director of National Intelligence is the intelligence advisor. The Chief of Staff to the President, Counsel to the President, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy are also invited to attend any NSC meeting. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget are invited to attend meetings pertaining to their responsibilities. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC when appropriate.

Structure of the United States National Security Council (Current)
Chair Barack Obama (President of the United States)
Statutory Attendees Joe Biden (Vice President of the United States)
Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State)
Robert M.

Gates (Secretary of Defense)

Military Advisor ADM Michael Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Intelligence Advisor Dennis C. Blair (Director of National Intelligence)
Regular Attendees James L. Jones (National Security Advisor)
Rahm Emanuel (Chief of Staff to the President)
Thomas E.

Donilon (Deputy National Security Advisor)

Additional Participants Tim Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury)
Eric Holder (Attorney General)
Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security)
Greg Craig (Counsel to the President)
Lawrence Summers (Assistant to the President for Economic Policy)
Susan Rice (Ambassador to the United Nations)
Peter Orzag (Director of Office of Management and Budget)



The National Security Council was established by the National Security Act of 1947 (PL 235 - 61 Stat. 496; U.S.C. 402), amended by the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.). Later in 1949, as part of the Reorganization Plan, the Council was placed in the Executive Office of the President.

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