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Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Susan Rice
since July 1, 2013
Executive Office of the President
Appointer The President of the United States
Formation 1953
First holder Robert Cutler
Website The White House

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor (abbreviated NSA, or sometimes APNSA or ANSA to avoid confusion with the abbreviation of the National Security Agency), is a senior official in the Executive Office of the President who serves as the chief advisor, stationed in the White House, to the President of the United States on national security issues. This person also participates in the meetings of the National Security Council. The National Security Advisor's office is located in the West Wing of the White House. He or she is supported by the National Security Council staff that produces research, briefings, and intelligence for the APNSA to review and present either to the National Security Council or directly to the President.

The current Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs is Susan Rice, who assumed the role on July 1, 2013.[1]


The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) is appointed by the President without confirmation by the United States Senate. However, the APNSA is a staff position in the Executive Office of the President and does not have line authority over either the Department of State or the Department of Defense, but is able, as a consequence thereof, to offer advice to the President—unlike the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense who are Senate-confirmed officials with line authority over their departments—independently of the vested interests of the large bureaucracies and clientele of those departments. The influence and role of the National Security Advisor varies from administration to administration and depends heavily on the qualities of the person appointed to the position.

In times of crisis, the National Security Advisor operates from the White House Situation Room, updating the President on the latest events of a crisis.


The National Security Council was created at the start of the Cold War under the National Security Act of 1947 to coordinate defence, foreign affairs, international economic policy, and intelligence; this was part of a large reorganisation that saw the creation of the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency and the independence of the US Air Force.[2][3] In 1949 it became part of the president's executive office.[2] Robert Cutler became the first National Security Advisor in 1953. The system has remained largely unchanged since then, particularly since Kennedy's time, with powerful National Security Advisors and strong staff but a lower importance given to formal NSC meetings; this continuity persists despite the tendency of each new president to replace the advisor and senior NSC staff.[2]

Henry Kissinger as Nixon's NSA enhanced the importance of the role, controlling the flow of information to the President and meeting him multiple times per day.[3] However, the role has not always been so powerful, with Ronald Reagan choosing less senior and experienced figures, and George W. Bush's first NSA, Condoleezza Rice, less powerful than other administration figures.[2]

List of National Security Advisors

# Picture Name Term of Office[4] President(s) served under
Start End
1 Robert Cutler March 23, 1953 April 2, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
2 Dillon Anderson April 2, 1955 September 1, 1956
3 William H. Jackson September 1, 1956 January 7, 1957
4 Robert Cutler January 7, 1957 June 24, 1958
5 Gordon Gray June 24, 1958 January 13, 1961
6 McGeorge Bundy January 20, 1961 February 28, 1966 John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
7 Walt W. Rostow April 1, 1966 January 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
8 Henry Kissinger January 20, 1969 November 3, 1975 Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford
9 Brent Scowcroft November 3, 1975 January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
10 Zbigniew Brzezinski January 20, 1977 January 21, 1981 Jimmy Carter
11 Richard V. Allen January 21, 1981 January 4, 1982 Ronald Reagan
12 William P. Clark, Jr. January 4, 1982 October 17, 1983
13 Robert McFarlane October 17, 1983 December 4, 1985
14 John Poindexter December 4, 1985 November 25, 1986
15 Frank Carlucci December 2, 1986 November 23, 1987
16 Colin Powell November 23, 1987 January 20, 1989
17 Brent Scowcroft January 20, 1989 January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
18 Anthony Lake January 20, 1993 March 14, 1997 Bill Clinton
19 Sandy Berger March 14, 1997 January 20, 2001
20 Condoleezza Rice January 22, 2001 January 25, 2005 George W. Bush
21 Stephen Hadley January 26, 2005 January 20, 2009
22 James Jones[5] January 20, 2009 October 8, 2010 Barack Obama
23 Tom Donilon[6] October 8, 2010 July 1, 2013[7]
24 Susan Rice[7] July 1, 2013[7] present



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