Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Political Science

Second Major


Thesis Advisor

Alison Howard, MA


The National Security Council is a crucial tool for American presidents when making tough foreign policy decisions that have the potential to affect the entire nation. Since its creation in 1947 under President Harry Truman, the National Security Council has provided presidents with advice on national security and foreign policies. It was used numerous times when presidents had to make decisions about the Vietnam War. However, it must be asked, how transparent were presidents with the public about the information they received from the National Security Council? This thesis examines President Johnson's public statements about the Vietnam War and how he utilized the intelligence he received during National Security Council briefings. Scholars have previously looked at why and how presidents make foreign policy decisions. Building off the work of these scholars, I looked at the transparency of Johnson’s explanations to the public for how he reached decisions about the actions the United States would take during the Vietnam War during his presidency. Using content analysis to look at the National Security Council meeting minutes and public statements made by Johnson, I compared the subject matter to analyze the information he shared with the public. First, I found some transparency from Johnson regarding the importance of fighting communism as a reason for increasing support, including committing troops, and continued involvement in the Vietnam War. Next, I found that Johnson limited the details shared about strategy and national security. Lastly, I found a certain level of preservation by being dishonest about the negative outcomes of the war, especially among casualties.