November 5th, 2008
11:46 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama to receive first daily intel briefing

President-elect Obama will receive his first daily intelligence briefing Thursday; Vice President-elect Biden will receive also receive a daily briefing as part of the transition of power.
President-elect Obama will receive his first daily intelligence briefing Thursday; Vice President-elect Biden will receive also receive a daily briefing as part of the transition of power.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama is expected to receive on Thursday his first top secret intelligence briefing similiar to the one provided President Bush each day, according to U.S. officials familiar with the process.

A team of intelligence briefers has been named and is ready to discuss with Sen. Obama the Presidential Daily Brief– the PDB as it is called.

In a message to CIA employees obtained by CNN, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell will lead the first briefing of the newly elected President and has designated senior agency officer Michael Morrell to oversee the PDB process during the transition. The two principal briefers for Obama will be CIA career officers.

Each day, the commander in chief receives the PDB. DNI McConnell and other senior national security officers brief President Bush each morning, six days a week, on the most sensitive information affecting the security of the United States. The President learns about the latest threats and what the nation's spies are doing to help protect the nation.

The PDB is put together each night by a small group of senior analysts at the CIA, incorporating the most current information gathered from the 16 agencies which make up the intelligence community. It might include reports from spies, satellite imagery and electronic intercepts. Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer once referred to the PDB as the "most highly sensitized classified document in government." Vice President Cheney has called the PDB "the family jewels."

The DNI's office which oversees the process has been ready to deliver the PDB to the newly elected President from day one. Senior intelligence officers are chosen to brief the president-elect in person where ever he may be. Secure equipment– computers, phones and office space– are pre-positioned ahead of time if the president elect is located outside of Washington. The briefing of President elect Obama will parallel what President Bush receives. However, President-elect Obama will likely get supplemental materials that provide more detailed information– the kind of stuff Mr. Bush would not need since he has been briefed on security issues for many years. The President elect will also get information tailored to his specific interests.

As the official candidate of the Democratic party, Obama was entitled to and did receive one intelligence briefing at his request following the political convention. DNI McConnell said the candidates briefings focused on terrorism and a few related topical issues, but it did not include the most sensitive details about operations and covert activities. Republican nominee Sen. John McCain received a similar briefing.

Each President ultimately sets the parameters for the PDB– what topics is the commander in chief interested in? What does he want to know more about? It's not a given that a President will ask for a face to face briefing by his chief intelligence officer.

President Clinton preferred to simply read the PDB himself, shunning the in person briefing. James Woolsey, Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence, spent so little time with the President that he has often joked that the small plane that crashed onto the White House lawn in 1994 was actually Woolsey trying to get an appointment with the President. Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush immediately reinstituted the daily briefing by his intelligence chief.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will also receive a PDB briefing.

soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Jacey

    To Jennifer who wants to move to Canada for the next 4 years.
    PLEASE GO!!!

    It's people with your kind of attitude that America does not need.
    We'll be happy to help you pack.

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. GLENN

    For the people that think electing Obama has healed America from racisim, get your heads out of the sand.There are many more racists among the blacks than white. I hope Obama can make all of his promises come true but if I was him I would watch my back. I hope he knows that his life will be in danger everyday of his life. May God bless him and lead him to do all he can for America.Good Luck President Obama.

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. JEWELL

    SOME OF YOU HAVE SO MANY BAD THINGS TO SAY!
    IT REALLY MAKES NO DIFFERNCE BECAUSE THE WORLD IS CHANGING WITH OR WITHOUT YOU! ALL THE NASTYNESS IS NOT GOING TO GET YOU ANYWHERE SO GET OVER IT!
    LET'S WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS, IT CAN'T BE NO WORST THEN VOTING FOR "BUSH"
    THIS IS NOT A BLACK AND WHITE THING IT'S A PEOPLE THING WE ARE ONE LIKE IT OR NOT IN THE EYES OF "GOD"

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Karen, Arkansas

    Godspeed, President-Elect Obama!

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. the beginning

    ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY, BUT IN TIME OBAMA WILL GET AMERICA BACK HER HONOR AND GLORY. I BELIEVE OBAMA WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS ONE OF OUR GREATEST PRESIDENTS EVER,GOD BLESS YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    November 5, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Amy

    Well, John, I suggest you move to Canada or Mexico.

    Adios!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. jojo

    ATLEAST OBAMAIS MORE INTELLIGENT THAN YOUR FATHER
    FreeNLove it.so it will be easy for him to read the art of war.
    by the way,he is not in the office to bring wars like the others do, so ,SORRY FREE,THERE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE LOVE IN THIS WORLD THAT IS BETTER THAN WAR.
    I CANT BELIEVE THIS PERSON CAN BE THAT DULL,,,,,DULL DUD.!!!!
    GO AND LIVE IN THE BUSH WHERE YOU DONT NEED LOVE.
    LEAVE PEOPLE WHO LOVE PEACE UNITY AND JSUTICE AND LOVE FOR EACH OTHER ALONE.

    November 5, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. 30-m-PA-Democrat-voted McCain

    Do you think Obama knows what an intel briefing is?

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    FreeNLovIt

    Too bad for you I will give you time you will come around just like Hillary people, if you don't then I feel very sorry for you because the next 8 years looks like will be very tough if not hell because America and the world are in Love with this Guy

    Go President of USA OBAMA HUSSEIN BARACK

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Bruce

    President elect Obama should demand to be briefed along side Bush every day...for transparency of course.

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. CC Adam

    I really wanted McCain to win.

    I must say I'm a bit relieved today. No longer do I have to hear people moan about their life w/ Bush.

    It's no longer my problem. I'm going on with my life.

    If your life sucked before Obama, then it will still suck unless you do something different.
    If you were proud of your life up until yesterday, then you still have the ability to be happy.

    Your happiness and success of the next 4 year will be largely determined by you, and not the president.

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. Nick, Boston, MA

    Sore winners and bitter losers...Man I love politics!

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Pointed Revelations

    Time for the truth on Haji Bashir Noorzai, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld!

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. weneedstrongleadership

    So now you know why the overseas ballots were so screwed up...

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Gary

    Watch who you listen to. All of a sudden the Republican media is trying to tell him how he should do it. They all have these great ideas.
    They're the reason we voted for you. We tried their garbage for the last 8 years. Why would it work now.
    No Ed, No Babe No Alex. We voted against your loosing theories.

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. LazyPeopleGetHappy

    You got your president, now start contributing to this great country!

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Michael Cayton

    That's was one of the most powerful nights that i have every seen, It reminded me of all the strugles that Martin Luther King and other African Actives died for, Just to see all Black, White, Asian, Hispanic etc, gathered and cheering on Obama and Biden was very Powerful and it lets us know that we as a nation need to pull together a one. Kennedy hit it on the nose when he said 40 years ago " There shouldn't be no reason that a NEGRO could be president of the UNITED STATES.. VERY Powerful night. I even kept my children up late to SEE HISTORY!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Team America

    Congrats to the first ever Bi-racial President of the United States. I personally think McCain was more qualified based on his experience to do the job on Day 1, but hey, I'm not black, and I'm not a hippie.

    It's bi-racial....not african-american.

    November 5, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama's election rivals that of George Bush's in that it was unearned and underserved and a product of strategy, manipulation and opportunism. It was rigged by the media when it looked like Hillary Clinton would be our next President. Obama benefitted from sexism. Prediction: he will make one of the most weak, ineffectual and fumbling Presidents yet.

    November 5, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. David

    Get ready everyone. The millions have fallen for the personality and the false optimism. So now he will ignore the 2nd amendment. Then he will pursue his carbon tax to the tune of $5 trillion. Should have done some research first.

    November 5, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. SD

    I agree with RH.

    With Obama, I'm hopeful that he'll get the need to know from those who know what the public has long suspected about Roswell.

    November 5, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Cynthia

    To all those who have diffuculty believing Obama can handle his position majority rules and the rest of us have Faith in him, I am very proud of my new president. Negative comments will get you no where accept the decision. And thank you to CNN for giving a good broadcast this year on the election process.

    November 5, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. PB&J

    When Obama gets his first whiff of the PDB, he'll be humbled.

    Now HE has to go into Pakistan to get Bin Laden. And he has to figure out how to keep terrorists from getting nuclear materials. We all give the president too much credit for the amount of influence they have. The president doesn't set the price of gasoline, nor does he control the economy. These are complex, adaptive systems that run without control. About the only thing Obama will bring is the psychology that things can be better, but given the challenges, it is unlikely that he will have much real immediate impact. (neither would McCain for that matter)

    November 5, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Pete Southworth

    Jimmy Carter II is on the way...high unemployment , high interest rates and high taxes. Hope the American people are smarter in 2012.

    November 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. Mark

    Well I did not vote for him, but he was elected I will give him a chance.

    Now that he is elected, according to V.P. elected Joe Biden, he guaranteed that there will be a national crisis. I wondering what that will be! curious!

    November 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8