The President has made some changes to the National Security Council that are leaving some people scratching their heads. The change that is drawing the most outrage really should not.
President Trump has put White House advisor Steve Bannon on the National Security Council. Bannon has a degree in National Security and was a naval officer. While Bannon and I do not much care for each other, I do not think there is any question that he is vastly more qualified for the NSC than Barack Obama’s own Ben Rhodes, who had a degree in creative writing and openly laughed about lying to the press to get the Iran deal passed. It’s call precedent. Bannon is vastly more qualified than Rhodes ever was.
More troubling, however, is that the President is taking the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff off the National Security Council. Previously, they had attended every meeting of the NSC. Now they’ll just show up when their areas of expertise are involved.
My suspicion, and it is only a suspicion, is that the President feels comfortable doing this because the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, both highly respected retired generals, have permanent seats on the NSC. Likewise, General Mike Flynn, formerly the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will continue presiding over the NSC for the President.
We should probably keep our eye on this, but with Mattis and Kelly on board and Bannon’s background, I do not think this is as outrageous as a lot of people are trying to paint it. It does, however, keep questions alive about Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community.