Year of Action: National Security Staff Renamed

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama reaches for a pen in the Oval Office of the White House.

Updated at 2:55 pm

When President Barack Obama said he has a pen and he has a phone — his way of saying there is plenty of action he can take on his own, without the approval of a recalcitrant Congress — he wasn’t kidding.

Comes this newest executive order from the White House:

“An Executive Order signed by the President today regarding changing the name of the National Security Staff to the National Security Council Staff.”

Obama actually is taking it back to the old name.

He had originally changed the nomenclature in May 2009 to reflect the inclusion of homeland security staff in the venerable National Security Council apparatus, which has grown from a small outfit to roughly 300 specialists.

It never sat well with the aides, who knew a job on the recognizable National Security Council staff could be a career springboard. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and current National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who leads the group, both served on the NSC staff earlier in their careers.

It was Rice who asked the president to reverse his earlier decision after a November town-hall meeting with her aides in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across a narrow access road from the West Wing of the White House.

Rice polled the room and found robust support for switching from NSS to NSC staff. The National Security Council is the set of top presidential advisers, including the Secretaries of State and Defense, who counsel the president on matters of war and peace.

The change required an executive order to supersede the president’s earlier mandate.

This won’t affect, in any way, the functioning of the Office of Management and Budget, however — or any legislative proposals.

To place this in full context,  the order:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to reflect my decision to change the name of the National Security Staff to the National Security Council staff, it is hereby ordered as follows:

“Section 1. Name Change. All references to the National Security Staff or Homeland Security Council Staff in any Executive Order or Presidential directive shall be understood to refer to the staff of the National Security Council.”

“Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

“(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

“(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

“(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.”


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