The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama

28 Nov

The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama

The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama

David Priess

Language: English

Pages: 402

ISBN: 2:00331000

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Every president has had a unique and complicated relationship with the intelligence community. While some have been coolly distant, even adversarial, others have found their intelligence agencies to be among the most valuable instruments of policy and power.

Since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, this relationship has been distilled into a personalized daily report: a short summary of what the intelligence apparatus considers the most crucial information for the president to know that day about global threats and opportunities. This top–secret document is known as the President’s Daily Brief, or, within national security circles, simply “the Book.” Presidents have spent anywhere from a few moments (Richard Nixon) to a healthy part of their day (George W. Bush) consumed by its contents; some (Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush) consider it far and away the most important document they saw on a regular basis while commander in chief.

The details of most PDBs are highly classified, and will remain so for many years. But the process by which the intelligence community develops and presents the Book is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels. David Priess, a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than one hundred others intimately involved with the production and delivery of the president's book of secrets. He offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every president from Kennedy to Obama, with many character–rich stories revealed here for the first time.





















Kissinger, House majority leader/vice president– designate Gerald Ford, and chief of staff Al Haig, October 13, 1973. Courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library sure, if the Israelis said nothing is going to happen, nothing is going to happen. I went out to dinner, got home late, and went to bed.” Scowcroft recalls hearing, immediately upon his arrival at the White House the next morning, that the Egyptians had attacked Israel. “And then I opened the PDB,” he says, “and it said that the

Washington, D.C. Lehman fought outrageous crowds to escape downtown, finally arriving home at 3:00 a.m.—just in time to take a call from George H. W. Bush. “I want you to meet me in Bar Harbor tomorrow in the afternoon,” the CIA director said. “We are going down to Hershey to brief Carter. Will you pull the stuff together and come on up?” Within hours, the Agency’s Gulfstream flew Lehman and a healthy stack of highly classified material to Maine. To show off the capabilities of the prized KH-9

Careerists felt the new crew prioritized reform over support for ongoing operations and analysis. He also went forward with personnel cuts that had been proposed, but not implemented, long before his arrival. Most of the cuts came through attrition, and the operations directorate took the bulk of them. Still, the event sent a chill across the Agency. 116 – the president’s book of secrets Soon after starting, Turner circulated to the analytic wing of the Agency a paper raising two provocative

into the office well before dawn to peruse the cables related to PDB items that the Operations Center’s senior duty officer had collected overnight. After briefing, one by one, every recipient of the book other than the president himself, the briefer would return to CIA headquarters to tell director Casey and other Agency leaders about principals’ reactions and attend the production meeting for the next day’s book; then he could go home early while his partner took over for the next day. It was

officials even seemed to enjoy denigrating each other in their public statements and memoirs after leaving office. A representative example is Casper Weinberger’s swipe at Al Haig for habitually making his points with much “passion and intensity” combined with “a deep suspicion of the competence and motives of anyone who did not share his opinions.” By contrast, the team that ran Reagan’s White House operations and foreign policy at the close of his presidency cannot seem to say enough good

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