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. James

    I voted for Obama, but I don't think McCain would have been that bad. It was really Palin that did it in for me (that accent). I really hope that once the nation's problems are looked after that investigation goes deep into the past Bush administration. The checks and balance system is out of control and I would really like to see those criminals given the sentences they deserve.

    November 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. ANGIE

    People The Election is Over, The Campaigns are over, It is time to stand Behind President Obama regardless if you agree with him or not. The reality is he is OUR President and we must support him,Just like our Past Presidents Good or Bad Today is a new lets stop the Division and UNITE AS ONE NATION UNDER GOD!

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    For the millions that did not vote for Obama, when a DONKEY grows the economy, yuo benefit from it too. So, say all you want to say, but we'll remember what Jesus recommends us to do: If someone asks slaps you, turn the other cheek. (Meaning, resist hate and you'll win them over)

    Remember it took TWO Donkeys to help US out: Roosevelt and Clinton

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |

    »AMERICA! What a country! America Rocks! Wow!

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Scruffy

    Barack is fortunate enough to not have any parents who were president before him. We don't have to worry about him trying to make Daddy proud by finding a killing a leader that we later found out had nothing to do with 9/11 – instead, he'll find and kill the leader who actually WAS responsible for 9/11.

    Stop being a sore loser – you hate it that much, leave the country. So much for your fake patriotism.

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. bro-man

    For all of you who predict disaster (or great times) in the future of USA, I recommend this: Copy and paste this stream of postings and save it on your computer. When summer 09 comes around check to see if things turned out the way you said they would.

    -you might be surprised to learn that everything is not as it seems
    -you might also be surprised to learn that America is a great country

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |

    »What a MEMORABLE/HISTORIC day! Wow!

    November 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. NR

    It makes me laugh everytime some lunatic comes and says this is the biggest mistake we ever did. Just look back to last 8 years and you think anybody is capable of making bigger mistakes than that moron Bush?

    Trust me. That mistake was committed in 2000 and we just fixed the glitch.

    November 5, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |


    November 5, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |

    This is a great individual that we as Americans can trust.
    Obama taught us that with hard work look what we can do!
    Change the world!
    God bless him!

    November 5, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Proud American

    wow – it is amazing to see intellectual power overriding the illiteracy and ignorance in this country!!!

    It was like a New Year's eve yesterday (watching on the TV sets)

    Amazing – Let us hope this is better for all of our future...

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. David

    For the people that want to move to Canada... good luck! I tried it when Bush was elected for a second term, it's not that easy.

    What's in store for me next year?

    No raise. -Confirmed
    No Christmas bonus. -Confirmed
    No performance bonus. -Highly Unlikely

    Meanwhile, I spent over $80 on a hand basket of groceries at the store last night. I'm actually kind of looking forward to a tax break, and if that means our CEO (who got an $11 million raise this year) has to pay more in taxes, so be it.

    Trickle-down economics didn't work, the rich get richer, etc.

    Politics as usual isn't working, change is here, let's see how it goes. It can't be worse than where Bush has put us.

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Dave

    Following an 8 year abject failure, the bar has been set pretty low. Let's hope that President Obama sets the bar higher for the next President–he certainly can't do any worse.

    And as a life long Republican (sans Bush), let's hope the RNC offers us a better choice than Palin come 2012–THAT certainly shouldn't be too difficult.

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Jen

    Andy, as if the last 8 years haven't been volatile and humbling for
    Bush. Our country is a mess, and all the hostile negativity on here certainly isn't going to help. The only way our country will bring about any kind of change for any of us, is not by relying on one person to do it-no matter what person has been voted in as president. This country belongs to us, the people, and it's about time we start taking responsibility and own up to what WE need to do to clean up the mess.....

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. JB

    There goes my money to someone who didn't earn it

    Everyone deserves a chance though.... I hope you prove me wrong, I doubt you will.... but I'm giving you your chance.

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Todd

    You reap what you sow. Negative thought and/or action brings negative thought and/or action in return. A little positivity may well serve you better in the future 🙂

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. EMT

    ". If you can't support this change, please leave. Don't just make threats — actually follow through. We'll all be better for it!"

    Still waiting for all the left-wing moonbats who said they'd leave after 2000 to actually do it...

    November 5, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. midwest mom

    I will sleep better from now on knowing an intelligent, critical thinker, Harvard Educated, who know more than I, will be entrusted with this information....ahhhh, what a relief!

    November 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Betty

    Enjoy your win, it will only last 4 years, He WILL DISAPPOINT all of you. Remember don't complain in 2 years; you voted for him. He is your President not mine. His Change is not the change we need, higher taxes, governement control health insurance etc.

    November 5, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Glenn Doty, Columbia, SC

    This might be the first intel briefing that has actually been READ in nearly eight years.

    November 5, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Diana K.

    Obama Supporters: Do not give anyone lectures on hatred. I have been viewing the blogs for months and have been shocked by the vile and disgusting comments, a vast majority of which have been posted by you. He had all of you to run the most negative campaign I have ever witnessed so that he could give the public appearance of being a untier. John McCain is a great american and acutally served his country. Obama bought the election. Once the media is through with their lovefest I am hopeful you will then see how really stupidily you casted your vote.

    November 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. gerri

    I just want to thank Rush Limbaugh for making it so easy for me to vote for Obama.The daily hate speeches of him and his followers on this blog made me see just how dangerous the right wing facist zealots have become.

    November 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Betty

    I keeping reading you can trust Obama, HOW MANY TIMES HAS HE LIED. WAKE UP America, he is a politician and nothing more. You Obama lovers are so brain washed.

    November 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Maryann

    Congratulations to US on this historic day! 😀

    November 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. M.S. McMinnville, TN

    Congratulations to our new President-Elect. These times are hard in our Nation. I believe we will prevail, but not until more damage is done. I can honestly speak for those of us that are having a hard time financially. Some of us wonder if our children will have gifts under the tree this year, I don't worry about that too much, I only worry if my children will have school clothes or food on the table. Gifts come last on our list. My children didn't get school supplies this year, and probably won't wake up on Dec. 25th to wrapped gifts under the tree.

    Many of us struggle each month to provide housing, utilities, and food for our families. There is no work in my community. Even the minimum wage jobs are given to high school students.

    Many of you do not know what it is like to wake up and look at your childrens faces, knowing they need things that you can't give them right then, to try and explain why they cannot go on a field trip that costs $5, hoping and praying that money comes together so that you can at least put food on the table, pay rent for one more month, and secure utilities for just another month. And then do it all over again.

    I am in college to make a difference for my family, after being denied through my entire marriage of my education. Now, as a single mother with 4 children, I am tired. A family member bought life insurance a few years ago, and she too is tired. She is tired of scratching to make ends meet. And it saddens me to hear that she is ready to give up if she can't make ends meet this winter. Many of us are tired. I am tired of the Republicans being the voice for the rich.

    It is time for change. I don't know yet if Obama will bring that change during his term, but I have faith in him. My vote counts.

    November 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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