- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2017

President Trump’s reorganization of the National Security Council principals committee, and the participation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, is a duplicate of what George W. Bush did in February 2001 when he issued his NSC directive.

Rather than radical change, Mr. Trump is simply reverting to the way the last Republican president did national security business in-house, a comparison of their directives shows.

Washington is in a uproar because the Trump directive does not make the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a “regular” member of the principals committee. The committee debates policies and is a sub-panel of the full National Security Council of which the JCS chair is a permanent member.

The Trump wording that has some former Obama officials up in arms reads:

“The Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”

In February 2001, his first full month in officer, Mr. Bush issued his own reorganization. Regarding the principals committee, the wording is identical:

“The Director of Central Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”

The director of National Intelligence did not exist at the time.

In other words, Mr. Trump’s treatment of the JCS chairman, currently Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford , is a throwback to the Bush era.

In 2001, there did not appear to be the Washington uproar that greeted Mr. Trump’s Jan. 28 order.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer made that point Monday during an appearance on MSNBC

“This is literally the language in 2001. The same language in 2017,” he said.

The Bush directive changed the regular membership from President Bill Clinton’s directive, which made the JSC chairman a regular member.

President Barack Obama then changed the wording back to Mr. Clinton’s directive concerning the JCS chairman.

The Trump principals committee will include as regular members the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and Homeland security as well as the Attorney General, the chief of staff, the chief strategies, the national security adviser and the homeland security adviser.

Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, called Mr. Trump’s wording on the JCS chairman, “stone cold crazy.”

“This is stone cold crazy,” she tweeted “After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?”

Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, Arizona Republican, criticizes the JCS chairman change. He did not appear to protest in 2001 when Mr. Bush made the same move.

“The role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been diminished, I understand, with this reorganization,” Mr. McCain told “Face the Nation.” on Sunday. “One person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view. So it’s of concern.”

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