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

Obama to receive first daily intel briefing

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "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. Florida for Obama


    You should move to Mexico since Canada is the most liberal country in the world behind Amsterdam.

    November 5, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. MarcyWH, Pa

    Hate,Lies and deception has brought us to this major turning point. We have to move forward with respect and decency, not only for our new president but for each other. WE cannot heal until we stop this maddness.We are not savages, we are proud americans. I am still emotional over the history that I witnessed last night. Let that be our starting point. I couldn't be more proud of Our great country and of Obama.

    God bless our new president, and God bless America

    November 5, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. michael


    November 5, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. cl

    As a Canadian I would like to congratulate the American People on their choice of President/Vice President. But I would also like to draw attention to the comments of a few who think it is now necessary for them to leave their country for 4 years and perhaps come to mine. Well, simply stated : WE DON'T WANT YOU ! We have our own problems regarding unity , negativity and supporting our own government. When faced with a problem you should be working to find a solution that is right for your circumstance, not running away from it !! Get involved with your choice of political parties, and make a difference. That is what a democracy is all about ! And when it doen't go your way, THAT IS ALSO WHAT A DEMOCRACY IS ABOUT !!

    November 5, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. a, holley

    To Cricket put your real name down there. If you are going to rant do not be a coward, Put your face on the internet.

    Not going to happen, Scared someone might recognize you.

    November 5, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. jeno

    Betty – be quite!!! no body cares what you think or the hate that is within you.

    November 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. a, holley


    November 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Sweetie

    It is truly a SAD DAY for America when our dependents have elected into office an Empty suit who is now part of a VERY DANGEROUS TRILOGY!

    Absolute Power corrupts absolutely and Reid, Pelosi, and Obama have already proven they are corrupt so look out America we are going to experience "Change"!

    During the LBJ years I lost many good friends and relatives to the War in Vietnam, During the Carter years I was a young women married to a Silicon Valley Executive making good money, with two children in Grade School, I wish I was kidding when I say I couldn't afford shoes for my kids!

    I will survive because I'm resourceful, but I FEAR our Nation will not!

    November 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Sherri

    It is a great day to be an American! President Barack Obama will be president of the entire country, not just those who agree with him. He will call no on unpatriotic.

    I will remember this day for the rest of my life, as the day we the people took our country back.

    November 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. anybody anywhere

    neither of them have a freakin clue. one is just a smoother talker and will take a bigger step toward socialism than the other. america loses either way. screw moving to canada, I'm going to Mars...

    November 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Betty

    midwest mom – you are so misguided; sleep better a night. He has no idea about foriegn affairs. SO WHAT WHERE HE GRADUATED from. People with ignorance like you is the reason why he won.

    November 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. OptimisticTX

    All I can say is that I feel sorry for some of you. It must feel awful to have to carry around such negativity and in some cases hatred. Hate and/or negativity only hurts the person it possesses.

    November 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. John, Toronto Canada

    President -elect Obama
    Vice President-elect Biden
    You have just given America and the world a breath of fresh air. As a Canadian we welcome our new neighbour. America will now be a better place for all.

    November 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Mike G

    Wow. C'mon haters, take the loss like men and women. Mccain lost fair and square. If you voted, then there is nothing you can do. Leave it at that and fly your american flag high! The world is already starting to admire us again!!
    If not, there is always Canada and other countries to move too.

    See you on January 20th in D.C.

    November 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. chorne

    Bush had to get the briefings "in-person". His reading level is probably equal to his illiteratcy!

    November 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. Jayadha

    For those of you making negative comments abouts the election win, I just don't understand you. For the first time in years, America has a leader that already has the admiration and respect of the international community. Given the Image America has had overseas for a while now, you should embrace the fact that this election win has given you guys a new image and once again you are seen as the Nation who dare to dream and dare to make a difference. I appluad you for that. Now just as the majority of you came together to make a difference in the election, now that the election is over, why not get behind your new leader and together turn things around for yourselves and become the envy of the international community again.

    Oh....! If you hadn't realised, I'm not American 🙂

    Good Luck President Obama

    November 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8