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. yee

    i am immigrated from china twenty years ago.I remember back than very many jobs either you are old and young, all they have spend time some place productive way of living. but now I am watching all went down just because someone was forcefuly got in and set in wrong place white house and ex alcoholism mean no brain that is a lot to consider......... thank god it 's past now. we need get back in to old america back sos. to the make smooth trasition all house should control by democratic party that way not too much interrupting so not wasting time to fixing it.

    November 5, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Miykael Poly

    "However, President-elect Obama will likely get supplemental materials that provide more detailed information"

    Details like the difference between sunni and shia? I think that the President asking for more details can only be a good thing...

    November 5, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    Thank you Mr. President-elect Obama. We will be here when you call because we all know that it is going to take all of us as a nation to turn this mess around and get our country back on the right track. Just call when you need us and we will be here.

    November 5, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. RH

    Obama's promised openness and honesty. Let's have the whole truth on Roswell, then, shall we? Nobody's buying the official government line. Well, nobody with half a brain, anyway.

    November 5, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. and it begins

    Recall how fast Clinton and Bush Jr's hair turned grey and they looked worn out?

    It's the PDB...Obama won't be smiling on Thursday. The challenge of change and the real-world will be readily apparent, and we will begin to see how our new President will handle Iran. The experts also typically agree that there is a 10-50% chance in the next 10 years that we will have to deal with a nuclear terrorist incident. These are serious issues that will weigh heavily on any president. I wouldn't be surprised to hear his tone change in the near future. These topics are what would present a challenge to the ethereal talk of change.

    November 5, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Grog in Ohio

    Let's hope his first words to the CIA is, "Your use of torture in this country's name, stops now. Today."

    76 days till the end of the Bush administration.

    November 5, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. truth hurts

    john get over it he is your president like it or not we have spoken

    will be like that next 8 years

    because we are voting him back in 2012

    November 5, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. blaising

    Operative word here is "discuss". That intelligence crew probably won't know what to do now that they have to engage a president who's WAY smarter than a sack of rocks.

    November 5, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. aa

    we are screwed

    November 5, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. sabuc for Obama

    Thank God that the one with the good ticker won to handle such stressful and challenging times.

    November 5, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. dcgirl1975

    Congratulations, President Obama 🙂

    November 5, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Indy guy

    John, NO! the BIGGEST mistake was electing George Bush! What a waste of the last 8 years of American history. Absolutely NO progress for 8 years, just Corporate GREED. Death to the Greedy Old Party!

    November 5, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. cr

    Food for thought.....

    "Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen." – Winston Churchill

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

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

    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.

    FreeNLovIt November 5th, 2008 11:50 am ET

    Funny how you had no problem with this when it was Bush.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. RH

    Also, would it be too much to ask to have Obama and Biden fasten both jacket buttons? They look less than presidential with their ties showing at the bottom.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    If he was in the Armed Forces he could not get the security clearance approval to get the briefings because of his past drug use. Maybe the briefings will tell him how dangerous the world really is and that they are not really our friends unless he wants the news manipulated to his beliefs.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. vote OBAMA

    so thankful that we as Americans have the right to choose who our leaders our...and we did just that yesterday!

    as for all the "President-in-training" least we have one that will be in training now, we have gone for 8 years with the absense of anything that looked/acted remotely like someone who we could be proud to call OUR President!

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Steve A. , New Braunfels , Texas

    Obama will be just fine, do we still remember what a scatter brain and water head Bush was and still is. Obama will bring more to these meetings then he takes away, I hope pray and really believe things are going to get better. It's feels good to have hope again.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. email4kh

    I'm sure it'll be a nice change to brief someone who understands what's being discussed.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. David

    Have faith in Obama.

    If you were paying attention to the last 21 months you would just how smart and intelligent Obama is. Sure he will have some "on-the-job-training" so to speak but so would McCain need the same training.

    Obama will handle the country better than what all you critics are imagining. Give him a bit of credit, give him a chance.

    George W. Bush has been a failure.

    The Republican Party is not America it is a party and does not define America.

    November 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. weneedstrongleadership

    Based on this what does this tell you about how military overseas would vote

    Contributions from U.S. Troops Deployed AbroadRecipient Total Number
    Obama, Barack $60,642 134
    Paul, Ron $45,512 99
    McCain, John $10,665 26
    Huckabee, Mike $7,950 10
    Thompson, Fred $6,350 7
    Romney, Mitt $5,550 10
    Clinton, Hillary $3,240 6

    November 5, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Leatherneck

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

    John, your an idiot. He is your President so get used to it. I bet your one of the morons that voted for Bush, twice no less. Haven't you learned from you mistakes. It's time to unite this country and stop with the division. Just as PRESIDENT ELECT BARACK OBAMA said we are not a blue America or a red America, we are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    November 5, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. VP

    FreeNLovIt & John has to get over it and try to grow up.

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Seattle Sue

    I am so happy Obama/Biden won, a bonus will be not having that worthless Bush to dictate law and abuse the laws and our constitution. Another big plus will be not hearing McCain say "my friends" or Palin say "you betcha" and Joe the Plumber never to be heard of again.

    November 5, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. David

    heaven help us.

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