Synopses & Reviews
Every day, the President receives a report revealing the most sensitive intelligence reporting and analysis of world events: the Presidentand#8217;s Daily Brief, or PDB
. The Central Intelligence Agencyand#8217;s spies, the National Security Agencyand#8217;s listening posts, and the nationand#8217;s reconnaissance satellites secrets for it, while Americaand#8217;s enemies send undercover agents to try to unearth its classified content. No major foreign policy decisions are made without it.
Yet the PDBand#8217;s stories have gone untoldand#151;until now.
For 50 years, assessments in what insiders simply call and#147;the bookand#8221; have prepared the President for national security threats and opportunities. Intelligence leaders from the start have tailored its format, content, and mode of delivery to the current Commander in Chief. This Top Secret daily report, destined only for the eyes of the President and the few others that he allows to see it, provides a window into the personality and character of each President and his Administration.
The Presidentand#8217;s Book of Secrets is the first deep dive into this mysterious world. Its tales are those of the crucial interactions between modern Presidents and their daily briefers, National Security Advisors and CIA Directors, Secretaries of State and Defense and intelligence officers of all ranksand#151;all woven together by David Priess, who served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as an award-winning intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer at CIA.
Every living former President and Vice President, along with most former CIA Directors, Secretaries of State and Defense, National Security Advisors, White House Chiefs of Staff, and senior intelligence leaders, shared with Priess their personal stories about the PDB. And by digging through both the extensive files of the Presidential libraries and millions of pages of declassified CIA raw intelligence reports, analytic assessments, and memosand#151;Priess emerges with a uniqueand#151;and fascinatingand#151;look into the most tightly controlled document in modern world.
Priess a former CIA intelligence officer turns the potentially dour history of the president’s daily intelligence briefing into a stimulating if uncritical account. Every day a CIA officer travels to the White House to deliver a top secret summary of international events. The practice was initiated under President Truman when the CIA first circulated a “Current Intelligence Bulletin.” It wasn’t highly regarded according to Priess but Eisenhower would still read it. Kennedy preferred to get his news from the press; in response CIA officials produced a shorter document that held his attention. Lyndon Johnson ignored it so it was trimmed further to just a few pages and renamed the president’s daily brief. Johnson approved. Perhaps unsurprisingly Nixon preferred to learn about the world through Henry Kissinger. Presidential successors from Ford onward have taken the document more or less seriously. Readers accustomed to CIA skullduggery will be surprised to find it admiringly portrayed as an organization of experts devoted to delivering unbiased information to a grateful president. Priess notes with regret that the briefing has failed to predict several crises but dismisses critics who maintain that some presidents pressured the agency to slant evidence in favor of presidential policies. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
The information presented in The President’s Book of Secrets: TheUntold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents revolves around a little-known daily report--the President’s DailyBrief, or the PDB. The genesis of the PDB occurred in the mid-sixties and continues today. Although its delivery and formatvaries according to the preferences of each administration, what is known as “the Book” contains the most sensitive intelligenceinformation and analysis in the world. The topics at the heart of this book includes not the substance of the information, but thepersonalities of its producers, readers, and reviewers; the process of its creation and delivery; and its role in our nation’s daily security work.Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
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 topsecret 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 characterrich stories revealed here for the first time."
and#147;One of the most interesting, exhilarating, and informative aspects of the presidency was my time with the CIA analysts and my PDB briefers.and#8221; and#151;George W. Bush, correspondence with the author, November 2012.
Every day a member of the CIA presents to the president a report detailing the most sensitive activities and analysis of world events. These can range from the behavior of Americaand#8217;s allies to the maneuvering of its adversaries, from imminent dangers to long-term strategic opportunities, and are often based on the words of highly placed sources or the interceptions of astonishingly nimble technologies.
This report forms the basis of the presidentand#8217;s assessment of US intelligence and strength. It is for the presidentand#8217;s eyes only. The story of the Presidentand#8217;s Daily Briefand#151;the PDB, in the jargonand#151;is a window into the character of each president and his administration, and the degree to which his worldview and policy was shaped by the information from the security services.
It is a story that could only be told by a trusted insider. David Priess served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as an award-winning intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer at the CIA. The CIA, despite its mission of secrecy, has diligently declassified and posted millions of pages of raw intelligence reports, analytic assessments, and memos from the late 1940s through the 1980s. These agency papers have been awaiting examination in a nondescript corner of the CIAand#8217;s public website. Many more sit on an antiquated database terminal at the National Archives annex in College Park, Maryland.
Few people know such documents exist. Fewer still made the effort to dig through them as Priess has, hauling in never-before-revealed insights about the PDB. The information base for this book, finally, includes largely untapped oral histories, memoirs from PDB recipients and intelligence leaders, publicly released CIA internal studies, and tidbits about key personalities and locations from previously published works.
About the Author
Dr. David Priess served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as an award-winning intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer at the CIA as well as a desk officer at the State Department. He obtained his PhD in political science from Duke University and has published articles in prominent journals like Security Studies, Middle East Policy, and the Mershon International Studies Review as well as more than a dozen book reviews and eclectic articles in outlets ranging from Foreword to the Middle East Studies Association Bulletin to Skeptic. Priess is currently Director of Analytic Services for Analytic Advantage, Inc., offering specialized training, mentoring, and consulting services to the Intelligence Community, other government offices, and the private sector.