Jeffrey LewisPresidential Policy Directives

It’s out!

We now know that the Obama NSC has named it’s National Security Council-related directives Presidential Policy Directives or PPDs — thanks to Steve Aftergood who has posted a copy of PPD-1.

I am mildly obsessed by this topic of what Administrations call these documents — every President chooses something different.

Since Nixon, Republican Presidents typically describe their NSC directives as “National Security” documents — as in National Security Decision Memoranda (Nixon), National Security Decision Directives (Reagan), National Security Directives (Bush), and National Security Presidential Directives (lesser Bush).

Democrats tend not to — Carter trimmed the title to Presidential Directive, with Clinton (Presidential Decision Directive) and Obama (Presidential Policy Directive) keeping up the trend.

For my money, nothing will ever be cooler than the Kennedy-era National Security Action Memoranda, but I am a purist.


  1. Andrew M. (History)

    Here’s part of a paragraph from Bush ’41’s NSD 54 dated January 15, 1991:

    10. Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, be found supporting terrorist acts against U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait’s oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq…

    Well, they couldn’t account for some of Iraq’s famously missing WMD. And Saddam is now gone. You don’t suppose…