Five myths about the President’s Daily Brief

By David Priess, David Priess, a former analyst and daily intelligence briefer at the CIA, is the author of “The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents From Kennedy to Obama.” by David Priess We’ve learned that President-elect Donald Trump has declined many intelligence briefings, delegating the daily task instead to Vice President-elect Mike Pence. “I get it when I need it,” Trump said. “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t need to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years.” In some ways this is a departure from the approach of past presidents. But there’s also widespread misunderstanding of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) and the traditions surrounding it. Here are five erroneous beliefs worth correcting. Myth No. 1 The PDB has traditionally been for the president’s eyes only. The very title of this top-secret intelligence report says so: It’s the president’s book. And indeed, it is tailored to each president’s individual needs. CIA officers in 1961 designed what was initially known as the President’s Intelligence Checklist specifically for John F. Kennedy’s tastes, using punchy words and phrases while avoiding clunky bureaucratic language and annoying classification markings. That checklist evolved into the President’s Daily Brief in late 1964 , as the agency reformatted and retitled the book of secrets to appeal to Lyndon Johnson’s...

Read More