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Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Presidential Daily Brief.

Being a retired intelligence officer, one thing that was drilled into my skull as a lieutenant in the late 80s, Intelligence is for the Commander! As the intelligence officer for a commander, you must insure he gets the information he needs. The goes from the battalion command level (normally the lowest unit that has a staff intelligence officer) to the Commander in Chief.

A few years back I read an excellent book, The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama. It was an interesting look at how intelligence started to be provided to the president in the post war level. If you want a good look at the pre-war level, I can suggest Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage. A Medal of Honor winner from World War I, a National Guard officer, and lawyer from New York City, he began using his contacts in Europe (his law office had business in multiple nations) and sending FDR updates on the situation on the continent.

Recently I discovered an excellent blog, Lawfare. And wouldn't you know, he has an interview on his podcast with the author of The President's Book of Secrets, Mr. David Priess. You get an explanation on how the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) started, was refined during the JFK administration, and has evolved over the years to fit the user, the president.

One point Mr. Priess makes is then President Obama decided to put on a mandatory forty year declassification on PDBs, and in 2015, there was a conference at the University of Texas on the newly released Kennedy and Johnson reports. and the Nixon/Ford PDBs have been released through the Nixon Library. No word yet on the Carter or Reagan files, but I'm going to keep an eye open!

For intel geeks, enjoy

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