National security directive
National security directives are presidential directives issued for the National Security Council (NSC). Starting with Harry Truman, every president since the founding of the National Security Council in 1947 has issued national security directives in one form or another, which have involved foreign, military and domestic policies. National security directives are generally highly classified and are available to the public only after "a great many years" have elapsed. Unlike executive orders, national security directives are usually directed only to the National Security Council and the most senior executive branch officials, and embody foreign and military policy-making guidance rather than specific instructions.
Presidents have issued such directives under various names.
|Initials||Full Title||Time Frame||Presidential Administration(s)|
|NSCID||National Security Council Intelligence Directive||1947–1977||Truman–Ford|
|NSAM||National Security Action Memorandum||1961–1969||Kennedy and Johnson|
|NSSM||National Security Study Memorandum||1969–1977||Nixon and Ford|
|NSDM||National Security Decision Memorandum||1969–1977||Nixon and Ford|
|PRM||Presidential Review Memorandum||1977–1981||Carter|
|NSSD||National Security Study Directive||1981–1989||Reagan|
|NSDD||National Security Decision Directive||1981–1989||Reagan|
|NSR||National Security Review||1989–1993||G. H. W. Bush|
|NSD||National Security Directive||1989–1993||G. H. W. Bush|
|PRD||Presidential Review Directive||1993–2001||Clinton|
|PDD||Presidential Decision Directive||1993–2001||Clinton|
|NSPD||National Security Presidential Directive||2001–2009||G. W. Bush|
|PSD||Presidential Study Directive||2009–2017||Obama|
|PPD||Presidential Policy Directive||2009–2017||Obama|
|NSPM||National Security Presidential Memorandum||2017–||Trump|
Truman and Eisenhower administrations
National security directives were quite different in the early period of the Cold War. A 1988 General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation into national security directives left out the directives from the Truman and Eisenhower years because "they were not structured in a way to allow categorization." The study nevertheless made note of two types of directives. The first was "policy papers" which could contain policy recommendations, in which case the president might decide to approve the policy by writing his signature. A famous example of such a policy paper is NSC 68. GAO also noted another type of directive called "NSC Actions", which were "numbered records of decisions that were reached at NSC meetings.
Kennedy and Johnson administrations
The Kennedy administration which took office in 1961 reorganized the NSC and began issuing National Security Action Memoranda (NSAMs). Many NSAMs were signed in Kennedy's name by National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, although Kennedy sometimes signed them personally. Lyndon B. Johnson continued issuing NSAMs where Kennedy left off, although issuing only 99 directives as compared to Kennedy's 273.
A 1986 National Security Decision Directive gave the State Department authority and responsibility to coordinate responses to international terrorism across government agencies including the CIA, DoD, and FBI. This was intended to reduce interagency conflicts which were observed in the response to the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. The State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism continues this coordinating function.
Homeland Security Presidential Directive
After September 11, 2001, George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs), with the consent of the Homeland Security Council. These directives were sometimes issued concurrently as national security directives.
Regarding the secrecy of presidential directives, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy stated in February 2008 that:
Of the 54 National Security Presidential Directives issued by the (George W.) Bush Administration to date, the titles of only about half have been publicly identified. There is descriptive material or actual text in the public domain for only about a third. In other words, there are dozens of undisclosed Presidential directives that define U.S. national security policy and task government agencies, but whose substance is unknown either to the public or, as a rule, to Congress.
- Presidential directive
- Continuity of Operations Plan
- National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-51)
- Dwyer 2002, Abstract.
- General Accounting Office 1988, Background.
- General Accounting Office 1992, p. 3; Dwyer 2002, p. 411; Relyea 2008, p. 9.
- Relyea 2008, p. 9.
- General Accounting Office 1992, p. 1.
- "Presidential Directives and Executive Orders". Federation of American Scientists.
- General Accounting Office 1988, p. 1.
- General Accounting Office 1988, p. 2.
- Dwyer 2002, p. 412.
- Prados, John (2006). Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA. Ivan R. Dee. p. 8. ISBN 9781615780112.
- General Accounting Office 1988, p. 4.
- Johnson, Larry C. 2005. Terrorism: Why the Numbers Matter.
- Relyea 2008, pp. 6–7.
- Aftergood, Steven (2008-02-07). "The next president should open up the Bush Administration's record". Neiman Watchdog; Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
- Aftergood, Steven (30 January 2017). "Trump Broadcasts His National Security Directives". Secrecy News, Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
- Aftergood, Steven (5 July 2017). "Still No Classified Trump Presidential Directives". Secrecy News, Federation of American Scientists. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- Relyea, Harold C. (26 November 2008). "Presidential Directives: Background and Overview" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Order Code 98-611 GOV.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- General Accounting Office (14 January 1992). "National security: The use of presidential directives to make and implement U.S. policy: Report to the Chairman, Legislation and National Security Subcommittee, Committee on Government Relations, House of Representatives" (PDF). GAO/NSIAD-92-72.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- General Accounting Office (28 December 1988). "National security: The use of presidential directives to make and implement U.S. policy: Report to the Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives". GAO/NSIAD-89-31.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Dwyer, Catherine M. (November–December 2002). "The U.S. Presidency and national security directives: An overview". Journal of Government Information. 29 (6): 410–419. doi:10.1016/j.jgi.2002.05.001.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
|Wikisource has several original texts related to: Presidential Directives (United States Government)|
- Presidential Directives and Executive Orders, a comprehensive listing of national security directives by the Federation of American Scientists
- National security directives at presidential libraries
- National Security Action Memoranda, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
- National Security Action Memorandums, at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
- National Security Study Memoranda and National Security Decision Memoranda, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library
- National Security Study Memoranda and National Security Decision Memoranda, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
- Presidential Review Memoranda and Presidential Directives, at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
- National Security Study Directives and National Security Decision Directives, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- National Security Reviews and National Security Directives, at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library
- Presidential Review Directives and Presidential Decision Directives, at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library
- National Security Presidential Directives, at the George W. Bush Presidential Library