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National Security Council [NSC]
Truman Administration [1947-1953]

The National Security Council was created by Public Law 80-253, approved July 26, 1947, as part of a general reorganization of the U.S. national security apparatus. The function of the NSC as outlined in the 1947 act was to advise the President on integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security and to facilitate interagency cooperation. At the President's direction, the NSC could also assess and appraise risks to U.S. national security, consider policies, and then report or make recommendations to the President.

In his retirement President Truman denied any responsibility for "cloak and dagger operations" but it was during his Presidency that covert intelligence operations in support of foreign policy objectives was undertaken on an ever broadening scale. The NSC's first action (NSC 1/1) authorized covert action in the Italian elections. The formal institutionalization of covert actions was established as NSC 4 in December 1947, and NSC 10/2 of June 1948.

In 1949, events reinforced the need for better coordination of national security policy: NATO was formed, military assistance for Europe was begun, the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb, and the Communists gained control in China. The Department of State seized the opportunity to review U.S. strategic policy and military programs. State won approval of an ad hoc interdepartmental committee under its Policy Planning head, Paul Nitze. Their report, NSC 68, was submitted directly to Truman in February 1950. An NSC committee authorized to consider costs and broader implications of NSC 68 began its work, but before it could be completed the Korean war broke out.

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated April 5, 2009