The 2008 National Security Council Transition: Providing Continuity in a Bipartisan Environment

by  Marha Joynt Kumar

Article Abstract

The national security part of a presidential transition is perhaps the most important aspect of the changeover of administrations. In order to provide a solid framework for the transition, President Bush and National Security Council Advisor Stephen J. Hadley began early preparations for the power changeover, no matter who won the election. Under the leadership of the President-elect Obama and General James L. Jones Jr., the incoming national security advisor, the new team prepared the way during the transition period for the organizational and policy changes to come. Through interviews with Steve Hadley and General Jones, as well as background and on the record interviews with people knowledgeable about the 2008 transition period, we see the importance to a successful transfer of power of a mix of principal-to-principal briefings with people at the presidential and senior staff levels representing the outgoing and incoming administrations as well as memoranda by the outgoing White House staff and administration personnel reflecting the status of current and enduring national security issues. With a solid working relationship with outgoing officials, the incoming national security team acted early to develop an organizational and decision-making structure for the National Security Council reflecting the wishes of President Obama and General Jones.


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