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. mk

    This post us for all the McCain supportors who will post here and all over the net. To those of you who were McCain suppoters and choose to continue posting hate and angry accusations. Who will make it your life mission to spread fear and hatred among those with whom come into contact Don't worry, we won't do what you would do. We won't call you "Un American" because you dare to speak your mind. We won't call you "Unpatriotic" because you choose to speak your mind. Those tactics belong exclusively to your kind. And we, the Obama voters, the MILLIONS of Obama voters understand that what is wrong with you has to do with your complete inability to lose with grace and dignity. You either were never taught or are so full of hate you could not be taught that losing is always harder than winning. And the way you conduct yourselves after a loss tells everyone what kind of moral character you possess. So, go ahead and show us all what you are made of. We know there aren't that many of you and we will forever seek to stop you from overshadowing the good, true, patriotic Americans of all political parties. Our voices will always louder and stronger than yours. Perhaps you might spend some time reflecting on what your job should be in making this country less divided instead of continuing the policy of division that is so dangerous to the well being of the United States of American. Yes we CAN, and YES WE DID, and YES WE WILL. Nothing you can say will change that.

    November 5, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Tbone

    Somehow Bush got the clearance despite his past drug use, so I think President Obama will be o.k. To the haters questioning his intelligence or implying he's naive, grow up. Obama clearly won the election. You would think that the party always trumpeting "Country First" would be embracing a new President and wishing him well in service to our nation. It just goes to show that there are some people with hidden agendas, double-standards, and outright hatred who have been masquerading as "patriots". A new day is here. We need to make the most of it. If Obama doesn't succeed, will you be happier being right than seeing our nation make progress? Negativity took a beating yesterday. This is an opportunity to support a positive direction instead of being trapped by yesterday's poisonous political environment. Get with the program or move out of the way while we position America for our next century of greatness.

    November 5, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. W Spivey Merritt Island, FL

    You two hit the ground running. Get-er-done.

    November 5, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. fella from Chicago

    There you go, Barack. Now you're in a position to turn over our country's top secrets to Ayers, Wright, et al. Bet your buddies are licking their chops on this. Which of our spies are you going to turn over to Iran and Bin Laden to find and terminate? God help us as a nation now.

    November 5, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. bill jones

    Since you Libs are the smartest people on the face of the earth, I'm sure you've heard the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for." Every 30 to 40 years the United States of America needs to see true socialism at work to bring about the true change. Your vote yesterday was not historic. You voted for a black man who was able to read a good speech from a teleprompter written for him. I can't wait to see Obama start breaking all of his promises he's made to his supporters. An Obama administration will be Jimmy Carter times 100, and that's what you Obama zombies deserve. Get ready for the next Ronald Reagan in 2012.

    November 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Florida Woman

    Thank you America for not listening to the Fear and Smear, half truths and lies of Mc Cain and especially Palin. Bill Ayers was a 60's radical not a terrorist,the ONLY people killed were some of the weathmen, when one of thier bombs prematurely deplyed,they were symbolic bombings (wrong yes, terriorist no), the media needs to interview him, he receives his funding from the Annanberg foundation, Reps who donated to McCain, socialism no, it is our progressive tax base (increased taxes to the oil companies is how Sarah Palin gave each Alaskan checks), believe Colin Powell, Barack is much better equipted to protect us and lead us in the World.


    November 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Cricket

    Lawerence – is Bush YOUR President??? I doubt it. I'm with John. Obama is the President of the US. Not MY President. I didn't vote for him. He will go down as THE biggest failure ever. He has set up a house of cards and it will fall in his first year.
    1.20.13 End of An Error

    November 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Independent In NY

    In all fairness:

    The neo-conservatives have had eight years, and they have tried their ideas. I don't think the gloom and doom predictions are fair since we are already in really bad shape. It's time to give Obama a chance, he will look out for the vast majority of people in this country.

    But even if you do not agree with him:


    YES WE CAN!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Sarah kansas

    I thank God we all live in a country where we call can vote. I am proud that Obama is the President-elect. I am proud of everyone who voted, no matter who you voted for. This next years won't be perfect but I believe we will be better off as a nation than we were at first. God Bless America!!!!

    November 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Troy

    I will never claim that arab as my president!!!!! This county will divide because of this election pick. P.S. TO YEE who commented earlier, you have been in this country 20 years, and you still can't put together an english sentence that makes snese. Go back to communist china where you belong..

    November 5, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. aamir

    Lot of people are bitter in this forum. Look I voted for McCain too but now Mcain voters should not whine. This country and its politics is about coming up with an intelligent argument and convincing other people of it. Sure 52 % americans disagree but I am not going to be bitter about it. I will sharpen my argument and convince my fellow Americans. Now that Obama is the president. Lets support him and be the best we can be!

    November 5, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. the snarly old hawk squawks in fellowship square

    I see by the division of opinions here,that even with the history written
    last night,the people of the U.S still have a long way to go.
    The pettiness of poltics should be cast aside when all is said and done and the re-building of the country should be the prime focus for
    its citizens.You can disagree without being disagreeable but the common ground on which you walk should not divide a people but
    unite in the co-operation of making the country the shining beacon it has been through the years.

    November 5, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Ken Sawyer

    I am waiting till the Democrats throw Obama to the dogs as they did the Clintons. They will do anything for the party. Lets see how he deals with Pelosi. His butt is in the hot seat Jan 20 and he will not be able to hide from tough decisions as he did in the senate.

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. David from Canada

    America should be proud that your democracy is strong, over 100 million of you marched to paricipate in your election and you electrified the world. From a Canadian perspective I would like to see this change take place to heal the word economy. Our enemy is still free, alive and laughing at you from his caves in Afganistan and Pakistan. I hope that President Obama with CIA and the other intelligence agencies track down this terrorist and his network and as Obama promised, "Kill Bin Landin". Let's face it George Bush and the Republicans have failed at this fundamental task.

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. trinity

    The reason so much attention is put on race is because white people put so much attention on race. We live in a racist country...that can not be escaped. You don't have to like him but he is our next President. So deal with it. We have had to deal with EIGHT years of that fool that never had a clue. The winds of change are blowing. Get in line or you'll be blown away.

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. Cricket

    Ummm Brian – In Canada – did you actually SEE the results of your last election??? Harper won 14 more seats. Canada is tired of Socialism. (I lived there for 25 years so I can speak to it). Does your husband like it there though?

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. andy

    Please don't be naive enough to think "hope" is enough to turn this country around. It is in a mess initiated by Clinton, perpetuated by Bush, and now handed to Obama. Please do not also allow yourselves to think that Barack can deliver all he has promised, as shallow and obtuse his promises were. It is going to be an incredibly volatile and humbling four years for him. You all better buckle up.

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Setys

    John, as long as you live in this country President Obama is your president or else move.

    I pray God touch your heart to be kind and clean the ugly words that comes out of your mouth.

    November 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Christina, NY

    We ALL have to work together and bear the burden of progress. The difference between Obama and McCain is how Obama believes we can all do good together and how he urges to do so, as one nation, regardless of our individual sociopolitical alignments. I feel so proud to be an American today.

    November 5, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Ian

    Obama Obama Obama The Great Obama Obama Obama

    November 5, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. Maggi

    To ugh!

    Grow up. Election is over. Wake up and join the process.

    November 5, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Starr_Hill

    I am sooooo pleased with President Elect Obama and his VP Joe Binden's victory. I’m even more pleased that I don't have to hear Sara Palin's voice anymore. Why McCain ever picked her as a running mate I’ll never understand. Guess he really didn’t want the job as president but didn’t know how to get out of the race gracefully.

    November 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. PJ

    I am so proud that this country spoke yesterday like it has never spoken before. It is wonderful that we have elected our First African American President. This is an exciting historical event. However it is equally important and exciting that our President Elect Barack Obama is also a Brilliant, Humble and Strong Leader who, along with Vice President Elect Joe Biden will lead this country into a new Era. An Era where we will learn to work together to bring this country back to the land of opportunity, the land that everyone in the world will want to imitate. We as Americans want to regain the respect and Awe that we once had in the world. This is the United States of America and we are ready to get to work healing this nation. The people that wish to stay behind in ignorance and hate will find themselves in the minority, no longer the majority. God Bless America this country I love.

    November 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Cricket

    "Al Qaieda leader Osama bin Laden has released a tape in which he praises Allah for the election of our Muslim Brother to lead the Great Satan." Tape to be played on CNN shortly.........

    November 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. hopeful

    My hope is that all he has promised is true and all that has been said and is suspected is false, becuase if even the slightest bit of what has been said about his affiliation with extremists, and thoses who could jeopordize our national security and way of life (religious freedom, democracy, etc.) is true, we are all in for a wake-up call unlike we could ever imagine. We have seen it in other places in the world and we could be experiencing it ourselves. Let's hope all these voters are right about this man they believe will save us all, remember, the majority based their decision on money and race. Are those really the best reasons? What if we didn't know what race either of them were and the economy hadn't been and issue, would the other issues of his background, the company he kept, comments he has made and other items of interest changed anything? What if he had been German-American and had the same background or controversial issue following him...who would have won?

    November 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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