Today in Legal History: President Truman Signs National Security Act

On July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, a central document in U.S. Cold War policy. The Act, which took more than a year to craft, directed a major reorganization of the foreign policy and military establishments of the U.S. Government. The Act established the National Security Council (NSC), merged the War and Navy departments into the Department of Defense headed by the secretary of defense, and recognized the Air Force as independent from the Army. The Act also established the role of the CIA by assigning the responsibility of foreign intelligence to the CIA.

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Today in Legal History: Truman Orders U.S. Troops to Korea

On June 27, 1950, President Truman ordered U.S. Air and Naval forces to join forces with South Korea’s army in order to prevent the communist conquest of the independent nation.  Two days earlier, 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean Army invaded South Korea, prompting a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting and the call for a cease-fire order.  Truman’s action, in the midst of the Cold War, met with approval from Congress and the U.S. public. The Korean War continued until July 27, 1953, when after two years of negotiations an armistice was signed and the war ended.

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Today in Legal History: Truman Signs United Nations Charter

On August 8, 1945, President Truman signed the United Nations Charter. The United Nations was formed after WWII in an attempt to maintain international peace and security and to achieve cooperation among nations on economic, social, and humanitarian issues. Its predecessor was the League of Nations, formed during WWI and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles. It attempted to maintain international peace and security; however, the League of Nations activities ceased after it failed to prevent WWII.

The United Nations consists of two main bodies: the General Assembly, which includes all member nations, and the Security Council. The five victors from WWII, China, Great Britain, United States, France, and Russia make up the permanent members of the Security Council, along with ten other countries elected by the General Assembly that serve two-year terms. There are nearly 200 member nations of the United Nations today.

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