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. Alex, Houston

    To Scott, West Chester, OH:
    There is no school that prepares common people to become presidents. Every new president is a presidnet in training...

    November 5, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Pat, Brooklyn NY

    It is a great day in America! Finally the world will be able to look at African-Americans in a new light. God bless President-elect Obama and give him the strength to lead us out of this horrible state of affairs.

    November 5, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Brian

    Hey Uncle Fester. Get out of our country. You don't belong. You must be a SCHMUCK!

    November 5, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Monica M

    Finally, a president America can be proud of. What a refreshing change to have such an eloquent and inspiring leader.

    Congratulations President Obama! I applaud your calm approach, your balanced intellect, and your belief in a UNITED America.

    I support you all the way!

    November 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. from an island of blue in a state of red

    I'm confident Obama's up to the challenges facing this country. Not really sure what's wrong with the "haters". I know it's tough when your candidate's not elected. Let's at least give him a chance. My loathing of W took several years to percolate based upon his incorrect decisions. If you can't support this change, please leave. Don't just make threats - actually follow through. We'll all be better for it!

    November 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. J


    Is that a threat? You better watch what you say about our president-elect!

    God bless Obama, his family and Biden! Go Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    November 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Ugh!

    Obama must remember the milllions and millions who did NOT vote for him!

    It's amazing, watching all the news segments from different stations; and all the comments, this IS/WAS simply about race.

    Will we now have to hear "First African American" before Obama is introduced?

    If he is going to be a President for all (regardless of history), why such attention given to the race factor.

    It appears to me, that the African Americans believe him to solely be their President, perhaps he is!

    November 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. wait a minute

    I hope President Obama can keep Secretary Gates and General Petraeus or, at least, take their advice.

    November 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. micheals proud to be an american!!!!!!!!!

    43 % of the white vote,78% of the jewish voters. man talk about success. this is a new time. you had just as many white voters in the crowd last night as any other race. its time for america to stop playing hate my neighbor and start playing rodney king "why cant we all get along"

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Hope

    Does this mean that Obama now gets to slap Cheney around for being a total lying scum bag? I can't wait for the subpoenas to start flying once the White House is fumigated after the Bush debacle leaves.

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Marv Falis

    America has just made the biggest mistake in history. Obama will need at least three years to learn how to be President. Smooth talk does not a President make. Reagan.."the best offense is a good defense". Obama has no concept of American Security!

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Ben in San Diego

    Oh thank God its not McCain and Palin! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Red, Red WHINE!!

    To all the people still whining: Grow a sack and be an american. You were beat. The better man won, we did not elect the guy that committed treason as a POW. We elected the smart guy for a change!

    If you don't like it, then go, just go. We don't need whiners and lazy piles of human trash in this country. MOVE ALONG LOSERS!

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Brian in Toronto

    To those on the right that think moving to Canada is the answer....think again. First, we don't really want a bunch of right wing bible thumpers here....and you wouldn't like it anyway.

    We have universal health care...a pension system that works and a bunch of other 'left wing socialist' things you don't want in the US.

    Oh...and when I voted recently in our election...I only had to go two blocks to the polling station and it took me 5 and out.

    Mexico is a better bet for you.

    November 5, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Elizabeth K.

    Thank you, President Obama, for your audacity of hope! May God bless you. He has already blessed us because of you.

    November 5, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Sad!

    A "GREAT" man lost the election last evening, a "Great Lady," lost the primaries and to what, this ("that one").

    November 5, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. micheals proud to be an american!!!!!!!!!

    whats that smell? its uncle fester festering.

    November 5, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Cricket

    Hmmmmm...thought he would head to Hawaii for the funeral of his "dead" Grandmother. Oh, wait – he already WENT to Hawaii to cover up his birth certificate issue. Fraud.
    1.20.13 End of an Error.

    November 5, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. Lawrence in Denver

    It's funny to see and read how many people are still upset and will not give Obama a chance. Hey, Barack Obama won fairly. He won not only the electoral votes but the popular vote as well.

    And, John, Obama is YOUR president! GET OVER IT!

    YES WE......DID!!!

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    November 5, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Yes we can

    Racists not welcome in Canada.

    November 5, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. Setys

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, God will guide you both and your family through out the time in the office. We as supporters will continue to pray and fast for you an your family.

    God will definitely see and direct you through the coming years to come.

    God Bless American.

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. A.E

    This to fester.

    May be it's time for you to get out and leave and don't return.
    This country doesn't need people like you.

    Racist WT

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. wait a minute

    People, the election is over and let's get behind our president-elect and support him for our future success as one nation. This is what democracy is about.

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Warren

    At least all the gay marriage bans failed. Now we can move on from black and brown to all agreeing to hate the gays. Its a great country!

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Marc

    john : November 5th, 2008 11:57 am ET
    'That schmuck will NEVER be my president! This country just made it's biggest mistake ever.'

    It's 'President Obama' not 'schmuck'.
    You're a bad loser? No excuse.
    You don't trust him? No excuse.
    You think that yesterday was really a sad day for America? No excuse.
    It's Mr. President of the United States of America Barack Hussein Obama!
    He's the president because that's how democracy works: people vote and he/she who gets all the necessary votes (or much more as it was in this case) gets the job. And gets all due respect that comes with it!

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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