I'm trying to understand the ramifications of the recent reorganization of the U.S. National Security Council. I've seen some posts saying that this means Steve Bannon now has power to suggest who is put on the secret "kill list". Perhaps it is too early to say definitively, I am trying to determine what his actual role might be.

Wikipedia says:

A secret National Security Council panel pursues the killing of an individual, including American citizens, who has been called a suspected terrorist. In this case, no public record of this decision or any operation to kill the suspect will be made available.

That page links to the Disposition Matrix article, which cites a New York Times article saying that US Homeland Security adviser Brennan was the "principal coordinator" of American kill lists.

Specifically, it says that the database implements

a "streamlined" system in which suspects are designated by multiple agencies and ultimately presented to Brennan. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responsible for carrying out orders to kill suspects on the list, no longer contributes to the decision of whether or not to kill them.

The chart on the National Security Council page makes it appear as if Brennan's position is on the same level of membership as the new White House Chief Strategist ("Additional Participants") - not sure if that means anything, though.

What are the official limits to the role of the White House Chief Strategist in the National Security Council? Are there other members of the council which could overrule him when deciding things like inclusion on the "kill list"?

  • This question is kind of moot because it is up to the president to decide up the structure and responsibilities of his administration. In the previous administration the role of chief strategist didn't exist. Now the chief strategist is on the National Security Council. Short version - its whatever Trump decides (and may not become public). Jan 30, 2017 at 17:44
  • I was afraid that would be the answer.. I was hoping there might be an official description of the new role, or how decisions are made in the NSC and who has what authority (beyond "president" being the head of it all). Haven't been able to find anything myself, though.
    – user812786
    Jan 31, 2017 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


In this case, the role of the White House Chief Strategist (Mr Bannon) on the National Security Council (NSC) seems to have been quite limited in both scope and time.

Steve Bannon loses National Security Council seat, 5 April 2017

The aide said Mr Bannon was only given a seat on the NSC to keep an eye on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February.

The assignment of the Chief Strategist to the Principals Committee was short-lived, existing for a little more than two months.


The Principals Committee (PC) ...

The PC shall have as its regular attendees ..., the Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist, ...

In National Security Presidential Memorandum–4 of April 4, 2017, the assignment of the Chief Strategist to the Principals Committee was removed.

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