GOP moves to slash National Security Council after Rhodes remarks

GOP moves to slash National Security Council after Rhodes remarks

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) filed an amendment on Wednesday to cut the size of the National Security Council, following controversial comments made by senior NSC staffer Ben Rhodes. 

"The current NSC has grown so large that the White House cannot even give us a clear estimate of how many people actually work for it. Now we hear reports of NSC staffers running misinformation campaigns targeted at Congress and the press," Thornberry said in a statement. 

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The New York Times Magazine recently published an interview with Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in which he talked about the tactics he used to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the Washington press corps. 

Republicans responded forcefully to the report, accusing the White House of manipulating the truth to achieve its goals.

The new amendment would be to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, and would cap the NSC's size at 100 people, down from approximately 400 now. 

The president would have the option to have a larger staff, but then the National Security Adviser would be subject to confirmation by the Senate. 

"However, if the President wants an NSC modeled after the current one — an NSC that makes operational decisions, builds misinformation campaigns, and absorbs most national security functions within the White House — it will come with accountability and oversight from Congress," he added. 

The move also comes after complaints by three former defense secretaries about the NSC's micromanagement of the Pentagon. 

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously told one story where he found a direct line to the White House at a base he visited in Afghanistan, which he immediately ordered ripped out. 

“All of President Obama’s former Defense Secretaries have complained about micromanagement by the NSC," the chairman said. "I have personally heard from troops on the frontlines who have received intimidating calls from junior White House staffers." 

He added, “I believe the traditional role filled by the NSC — of coordinating policy and offering advice to the President — is essential and should continue. History proves that 100 people are enough to get that job done."