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. Shari, NY

    Obama's win was orchestrated by GOD and facilitated by WE THE PEOPLES. McCain's demise was due to the millstone around his neck in the name of Bush; and Palin who has spunk and can "reach out and touch" needs more time to perfect her resume.

    November 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Jason

    welcome to the USSA...

    November 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. AK

    John, I will defend this country against all enermies...
    Foreign or Domestic!
    If you do not heed to your new president pack up and move to russia.
    Do not let me catch you pallying around with you know who and what!

    November 5, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Uncle Fester

    john November 5th, 2008 11:57 am ET

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

    don't let the door hit you on the way out

    November 5, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. Another Voter

    I'm sure Cheney has ordered up the industrial size shredders.

    November 5, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. michael


    I have been waiting for this for months. Finally I can say,

    In your face pumas....... you lost, AGAIN, How does that feel? Maybe you can move back to Alaska with Sarah.

    November 5, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. michael

    bye bye PUMAS

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. karen-phoenix

    God Bless Obama/Biden and USA and the world as it changes in the direction of PEACE & PROSPERITY!!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Dixie AZ

    Be sure to drop us a postcard.

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

    Ok He's the winner...
    1. Want to see him deliver on his promises.
    2. Most importatant legislation will be enacted before he ever takes
    3. Hope he get oour nose out of the entire world's business, and
    4. He needs to treat Russia with Respect, and try to partner more with
    them, if not we will face dire consequences, that have been playing
    aroudn since we said we were going t put protective anti-missle
    systems on Russia;s back door.
    5. Stop Sending monoey to the world. Send the people and things to
    help people help themselves for a change.

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Gayle

    We should all pray for President Obama and this country. It is really sad to still see so much hateful messages still. All you Obama haters get over it. You’re truly being silly the AMERICAN PEOPLE have spoken.

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Brittany

    I think it is really sad that some ignorant people still want to cling to hate and negativity when the majority of the people have already spoken. Obama and Biden will do what this country needs and reunite us. There is no room in this country for hate. That will not help us solve ANY of our problems. What we saw last night was a beautiful thing. The REAL America: Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics- EVERYONE to welcome Obama as President-Elect. People of all races, all walks of live, all tax brackets...united. That's what we need. Not John McCain opening race wounds and encouraging fear among everyone. Fear of our own fellow Americans.

    This is supose to be the land of the free. Freedom of religion, freedom to be an individual. And we watched the McCain campaign tell America that everyone but Christians are dangerous and that every person of color is dangerous. I hope that's not the America we are striving to be.

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Vickie from Texas

    As a registered republican I know I joined many others who voted for change in this election.

    Lets hope all the "politicians" are hearing us!!

    Now Americans it is time to get off our lazy rears and "git 'er done".

    This is our country and it's our job to clean it up. Not just in elections but in our everyday lives.

    I am really happy that someone else thinks he is remarkably like JFK.

    Go USA!!

    November 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. CR in WI

    Can we put to bed any thoughts of Obama's citizenship and eligability to be president?
    To all you morons who questioned his birth certificate and his "secret Muslim Jihad"; The CIA would not give this man top secret clearance if either of those accusations were true.

    Stop the lies already. The country has spoken. Sen. McCain was magnanimous in defeat as he quited a booing crowd when he first mentioned President-elect Obama's name. This was a grand gesture that, from what I read here, has affected the remaining intelligent people in the Republican party. Give our new leader a chance. We will try not to ask you to leave the country if you don't like as so many of you suggested we do when GWB got his second term.

    As Lennon says "Come together, right now" [not Lenin, morons]

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

    To all of you republicans who are still crying... GET OVER IT!! Obama is goiing to be the president on Jan 20th. He can't be any worse than Bush.

    November 5, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Dutch/Virginia

    Look at all the haters on this blog. Well deal with it.

    November 5, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Brian

    Hey Uncle Fester. Get out of our country. You don't belong.

    November 5, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Proud!

    I understand the level of disappointment for the Republican Party, but only arrogance would have you not realize the extent of lies, corruption that we have been subjected to for the past 8 years by a President you probably help elect.

    President Obama will not be a perfect President, but please do know, he will not be as bad as these past 8 years and next time you feel the desire to speak negatively about Obama do not forget these past 8 years!!

    November 5, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Noah

    Any Liberal who actually thought prior to Obama's election that he would immediately withdraw troops from Iraq is sadly mistaken. As soon as he starts receving these briefings and realizing what we are truly up against in the Middle East he will continue our job in Iraq. Just one of many promises he will break

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. Wendy in NC

    Define Irony....4 years ago everyone of your Dems were out here on these boards saying the same things..."Bush is not my pres" "I will never recognize him". The President called for Unity and you failed to do it because of your bitterness over your defeat. Now you have the nerve to call for the same unity that you refused to attempt yourselves? Get real or get lost!

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. Robert

    Enough with the hate, folks. I haven't much liked the last 8 years of Republican nonsense, but I'm an American and Bush IS my president. Whether you love him or hate him, Obama is the new president elect and whatever policies or positions we get are going to go through him. It's time to put the election aside and start thinking like AMERICANS first and republicans and democrats second.

    So what can YOU do to make this country a better place to live?

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Al

    I'd like to address those vowing to move to Canada: It's not as easy as "love it or leave it" makes it sound. I've spent the last seven years of my life positioning myself to qualify for permanent residence in Canada. My application is finally in progress, but it will likely be another 18 months or so before I get final approval. You've got to be educated, experienced, and young for them to even consider you. Also, all the applications and paperwork are quite expensive.
    I'm very pleased for the sake of the world at large that Obama's won, but I still can't wait to move away from here. Just know that you can't simply pack up and leave because you're angry in this moment.

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Dan

    I suspect Obama is thinking, "what on earth have I done?!"

    McCain is thinking "hmmmm, Jamaica or Key West?"

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. MominOttawa

    Actually, for those considering moving to Canada, I wouldn't – it's too cold and we are way more socialist than in the US

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Born in 1938

    This is a day that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. I'm one of the white seniors that voted for Obama, and proud of it. To those who are still criticizing the win and Obama – get over with it! You people are the reason the country's in the deep feces we're in.

    November 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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