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. maynard hopkins wi

    how to break the coal workers union and bank rupt the system

    November 5, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. RDS

    Elections it's time to get to work! We've got a long road ahead of us.

    November 5, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Barbara Campbell

    Congratulations Senator Obama for staying true to your ideals throughout an expertly-run campaign.

    The biggest loser – the one that pervaded all the others – is Republican gutter politics, perfected by Rove and promoted by the likes of Limbaugh and FOX news. The lies, name-calling, and smears demonstrated by McCain and Palin were a turn-off to most Americans, and this reaction "trickled down" to state and local races all over the country. Here in Asheville, NC, we've seen the election of a Democratic governor; the resounding defeat of slime-machines Senator Elizabeth Dole (proponent of the infamous "godless" ad)and Representative Robin Hayes (who called Senator Obama anti-American); the replacement of our Republican County Commission Chair with a Democrat; and the choice of four Democrats over four Republicans running for County Commission.

    Moderate Republicans, like Senator Susan Collins, may be considering a switch to the Democratic party until the GOP figures out how to stand for something besides catering to the rich and powerful while selling out American values.

    November 5, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. K

    Another EXTREMELY historic event by him reading this report.

    November 5, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. FreeNLovIt

    Yeah, he'll be on training wheels for 4 years. Should have grabbed the Clintons for light speed economy recovery. Now we have to wait 10 years.

    November 5, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. FreeNLovIt

    If the economy didnt crash, Hillary would have been right! He would have LOST all the major states. Luck is on his side.

    November 5, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    He'll need more than briefing. He better start reading materials on the art of war and grow his BRAIN!!!

    November 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA






    November 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Proud American

    May God Bless you Mr. President!
    I'll be praying for you and your presidency everyday for the next 4 years.
    Hats off to you!!

    November 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Scott, West Chester, OH

    This is where he'll realize how dangerous the world is and how ill-prepared he is to be President of the US. Are we ready for a President -in-Training? Too late, we got one anyway!

    November 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. ednadavid

    Good to see that everyone is working together to make this transition as efficient as possible. Change is a wonderful thing. I am confident that President Elect Obama will make all the decisions that are needed to protect the American people.

    November 5, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. KC

    God help us all.....please Lord show us your mercy and grace.

    November 5, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. sf

    Before November 4th, that article would not have been as half as interesting to read as it was today!

    Oh, just to live one day in the life of President – Elect Obama - first time I've written that and it is so WONDERFUL!

    November 5, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Andrew

    Why give any time to Jessie Jackson? A few tears do not make up for this behavior of this past year in which he, among other things, offered to castrate Obama.
    Gaff or not it was a glimpse into his real thinking.

    November 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. yvonne

    already working and trying to fulfill his promises to the american people. i am so proud to be an american right now! he has my support!

    November 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Goro

    "Let's get to work!" I like how Obama is already gathering his top people and getting ready to get his hands dirty. Take a break first Mr. President, the task at hand is indeed a great one. We as a people chose wisely as I have great faith we can get through this rought time.

    November 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. john

    That schmuck will NEVER be my president! This country just made it's biggest mistake ever.

    November 5, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |

    Obama be very careful of Bush, I'm sure he is up to know good before he leaves.

    P.S. make sure they spray after he is evicted out the white house, wouldn't want you to ketch any of Bush/Cheneys fleas.

    November 5, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. micheals proud to be an american!!!!!!!!!

    id like to thank all the people who voted. now is the time for action. im sure that we all know that he will not be able to change things over night . just give him some time and i know things will be alright

    November 5, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. MsAnnette, Little Rock, AR

    President Barack Obama
    Vice President Joe Biden


    November 5, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. mitch

    finally. some one with a brain will be getting the briefs.

    November 5, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. VP

    I hope the intelligence briefing should not be the kind of intelligence Collin Powell and team presented to the UN security council few years ago.

    November 5, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. NIKI

    We know Pres. Obama is a good listener
    Now let see if he is good actor

    November 5, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. I do solmnely swear...

    I hope all new demorcats coming in to office remember that when they take the oath over the Bible, you are swearing to your GOD to defend the constitution, not thwart it.

    November 5, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. oks

    Obama ,please donĀ“t eat in the white with bush, he might poising ur food.

    November 5, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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