tv Book Discussion on The Presidents Book of Secrets CSPAN April 23, 2016 8:00am-9:01am EDT
>> based on clandestine collection from a variety of sources. pulling all that information together to give the president what they assess the president needs to know that day about something going on in the world. it might be a crisis, it might be a pending coup. it might be a longer-term issue. mr. president, you need to be aware of this dynamic. and each day this book is compiled. its format and delivery style have changed over the decades. that's where a lot of rich stories in the book come from. it's trying to get objective, timely and, hopefully, accurate analysis of world events to the president of the united states and to whomever the president also designates can receive it, usually just a handful of people. >> one of the things i was very
impressed with was the amount of reasonable care that you did -- research that you did. i think i it'd be interesting to share that with the audience. >> my stories are boring compared to the wider sweep of history. the book is not a memoir. i interviewed all of the living former president, all of the living former vice presidents, the vast majority of former directors of central intelligence, secretaries of state and defense, national security advisers, white house chiefs of staff. all the people who regularly had access to this document when so many other people even within the white house and the cia did not. so a lot of the information came directly from people who were handing off the book, the briefers, the presidents when were reading it and top policy officials who had to act. i supplemented that with documentary research, going to the presidential libraries and digging through the files, the
national archives as well. the cia had declassified millions of documents, especially before the 1980s, that make reference to how the pdb was planned and used, the reception of it. this gave great insight into how this document has evolved and developed over the years. >> and periodically we've heard people say often in the white house, and i'm not going to cite sources because i can't recall any names, well, i didn't hear anything more than i read in "the new york times" this morning. and, of curse, the purpose of the pdb is not necessarily to reflect what's in "the new york times," but dave the president the very -- give the president the very latest intelligence. from time to time, that may correspond with what's in "the new york times." >> sometimes the best intelligence comes from open sources. one aspect is how much of this
book needs to be only secrets and how much of it needs to be a full view of what's going on in the view. if it's news about an election in a country in western europe, chances are the press is pretty good on that. clandestine sources might add that much and, therefore, the president's daily brief might be mostly open sources. on the other hand, if you're talking about decision making in a place like north korea, you're going to need to get some more of that secret intelligence in the book, so that's one of the great variances. some of the people who receive the book, the people who read are it while the president was getting the book hike a secretary of state or national security adviser, someone did tell me i often thought it wasn't much better than "the new york times." that depends on the story, what they're doing with it. i'm not going to deny any of them that interpretation, but there there's always things in there you would only get from there.
>> yeah. not to give "the new york times" publicity, we never saw producing the pdb as racing with cnn. once cnn came on the scene, you know, you would get a tick tock or a play-by-play all through the day whether it was like in the paris terrorist attacks and so forth. we never saw the role of intelligence as being that connected to cmn, it was to try -- cnn, it was to try to give a different take -- >> exactly right. the purpose isn't to give a tutorial to the president about facts on the ground. that may be the case. but the primary purpose of the president's daily brief is to give insight to the president. what are the dynamics underlying this foreign leader's decision? what's actually going on that might be different than it appears? that comes from analysis. that comes from assessment. that is not necessarily a fact. that is an interpretation.
and that's been the goal of the pdb from its beginning, to compile these sources, not to just give a data dump of information, but to say what does this information mean for a decision that's likely to come on the president's agenda? it's a different goal. >> right. you mentioned in talking a few minutes ago speaking truth to power, and the intelligence needed to be timely, objective. in speaking to all of your sources, former presidents, the national security advisers and others, did you run across any sense that any of them felt in any beta it was some -- way wayt it was, i don't want to say cooked, that the excellence community was hedging its views because of what we were doing, fighting a war in vietnam or something of that nature? >> generally, quite the opposite. it's more often i had people tell me they would read things in the president's daily brief that were not convenient for
policy. the policy says we're going to move forward on this front, and the intelligence says, huh-uh, the facts that support that respect there. in fact, we're seeing something different. that explained vietnam. there was a lot of reporting in vietnam that was not going along with the president's policies. that explains more recently after the invasion of iraq the pdb was presenting a steady drum beat to the president of news saying this insurgency is not going well, the policy is not working well based on the intelligence we're seeing on the ground. and yet what did presidents do? generally, presidents said keep it coming. they did not say that's not supporting our policies, we don't want it. they might not like reading it, but they understood that was meant to help them to make better policy and to get it out this. in the cases where people complained about the contents of the president's daily brief to me, more often it was i wanted more. i wanted even more insight. i was hoping they could tell me
exactly where this person is in some random third world capital. bill clinton was one of those. it didn't give him all that he wanted to know. i get that. you're the president of the united states, you think everybody should be able to collect that information. but he also had an insight to say i understood that's not always available. out did help hum to remind the intelligence community to say i want more on this. >> and there's a famous story i'm sure you're familiar with of former director helms briefing president nixon on, i think, the course of the vietnam war and concluding with his personal views that the war was not going well. and my understanding is he was never invite toed back to see the president -- invited back to see the president again. i think it would be interesting to hard some of the individual presidents' reactions. how did the pdb start? >> sure. back in the 1960s when john f. kennedy became president, he could not sit still for
briefings. they started handing him a large stack from the cia, from the pentagon, from everywhere, and at one point he said to his advisers, do i have to read it all? one of them called into the offices and asked them to create for the president's purposes, develop a document that would give him only what he needed to know in colloquial, comfortable style and something without all of the classification markings and other gobbledygook that comes with government documents. within a couple of days he was reading a prototype of it, and he liked et. when lyndon johnson became president, it i involved into the president's daily brief. president johnson interacted with it quite a bit, got a lot of play out of it. sometimes he read it in bed at night. it is tailored and it's
deliveried in its production to the personality of the president it serves. lyndon johnson liked to do a lot of work in bed at night. so the pdb changed. the sent to the white house late in the afternoon so he could read it at night. it is the president's book. the president wants it at night he'll get it at night. if he wants it in the form of interpretive dance, there's going to be a whole lot of intelligence officers learning to interpretive dance. [laughter] >> johnson would occasionally take briefings sitting in the bathroom as well. >> i've heard that story, and i don't want details. [laughter] >> you mentioned jfk had trouble sitting still. you're talking about his physical situation. >> i think it was on two fronts. >> yeah. >> one, the physical condition, but also his advisers said he was constantly trying to get
into new ideas, constantly trying to move to the next topic. he was so excited about some other meeting, or he had an idea and he wanted to go chase that down that they could not get him to focus for long periods of time. forever, having a document as was designed, something small enough that he could fold it and carry it around with him, that way if he was interested in something, he could read it for two minutes, he'd have that idea, and an hour later he could pull it out and read it again. they designed it for his personality for that purpose. richard nixon, delivered every morning to the white house. the funny thing was, it got there the night before because of a man named henry kissinger. he didn't want things going to the president that he hadn't seen, even the objective president's daily brief. so what did he do? he told the cia to deliver it the night before. one of his advisers pointed out to him you realize that's going
to introduce a 16 or 17-hour delay in the information the president sees in the morning. kissinger said, fine, that was the price they had to pay for him being on top of the information that bent to the president. >> i think you made a similar comment about dr. brzezinski, that he wanted to see the brief before or instead of the president. >> right. the national security adviser for president jimmy carter, he delivered the president's daily brief as part of the national security briefing each morning. now usually the president, jimmy carter, saw it in advance. but the interesting thing about that one is there was still a director of central excellence, and this was stansfield turner. and when he came into office he figured out, wait a minute, the president is reading this document every day, and i'm the chief intelligence adviser, shouldn't i be giving him his
intelligence briefing every morning? so he talked with brzezinski about this, and he said you have a point, and then he went over to the president's schedule, he crossed it out and wrote national security briefing, and from that point on the national security adviser just incorporated it into the security briefing, and the issue, as far as he was concerned, was resolved. >> one of the views we have taken in later years is that the, pdb, the very presentation of the pdb to the president by the head of the dci, the director of central intelligence, provided the president an opportunity to give us direct feedback -- >> right. >> -- on what was satisfying him, what was not satisfying him, what were his open questions, what he'd like us to work on. that was invaluable feedback loop for the agency at the time. >> yep. >> and i don't know if the folks you interviewed commented on
that aspect or not. >> absolutely. that was a big part of out. through one means or another the intelligence community had to get feedback on what was working for the president and what wasn't. not in terms of the content. not in terms of don't tell me bad news about this, because that is the duty of the intelligence community, to tell the president bad news. but in terms of the respective coverage, in terms of the.of the analysis. should it be a long paper of many pages or just one paragraph? what does the president need? that's something that feedback is necessary. if you have a broker in the room as -- a briefer in the room, a cia-level officer talking to the president, if you have a briefer like george w. bush kid -- did for all eight years of his term, that officer can come back and say this is what the president did with this today, this is how he reacted to what he was reading. if you don't have that, you have
to have another mechanism for it. the mechanism tip chi has been the national security -- typically has been the national security adviser. you hope, and it's in probably their best interests to do so, you hope they pass on feedback unfiltered. in some cases what happens is the president writes on a the pdb himself. that was president carter's style. he met with dr. bear zen sky every day -- brzezinski ever day, but he would circle things, ask questions, and then a copy of that would get back to the agency. >> solid gold for the analysts. >> absolutely. >> there's always the stories about reagan work mostly from 3x5 cards and not doing a lot of reading. >> right. >> that was not what you gleaned from the sources that you talked to. >> yeah. the mythology has it that ronald reagan wasn't much of a reader.
we can debunk that myth, and we can do that are if up kohl of -- we can doha for a couple of reasons. reagan's diaries show many comments about the pdb that he was reading. he would are remark on things that were in there. the orr way we know -- oh way we know is we have a cia historian who went into the vault from the reagan era. he went new the first thousand or so of them one by one looking through them, and he found all kinds of marks in there. not every day, but enough underlines, brackets, exclamation points, in some cases calculations of numbers that appeared in this analysis. and sometimes he would actually have questions in there saying isn't this different than what i read on the previous page? not the things you would see if somebody was not reading the document. >> interesting. well, you mentioned the use of interpretive dance. [laughter]
in briefing the president. my recollection is on several occasions we actually produced some films by way of briefing president reagan, particularly on foreign leaders. >> yes. >> did you run across any traces of that? >> yes. there's evidence that richard nixon received a film on brezhnev, and then reagan appeared to take to them really well which makes sense as someone familiar with the entertainment industry and film from his own career. what these things tended to do was supplement the analysis. they did not replace the daily brief, but they added a different way of telling the story. what reagan found most useful was when it introduced him to a foreign leader. if he's going to be meeting with somebody, yes, you can read a piece of paper, or you can watch a video of how they interact with oh people. and for reagan that ghei him great insight into the person he
would be interacting with in turn. videos have been a nice supplement, but it really depends on what the purpose is. your trying to show what a speaker's like, show a video. >> yeah. reagan was not entirely wrong by following the movies to learn about current history. one of the remarkable stories you tell is about the, again, the pdb represents the views of the community, not just cia. >> yeah. that has changed over time. back in the day the cia monopolized the pdb. the rest of the intelligence community couldn't even see it. in recent years that has changed. the president's daily brief is a document of the wider intelligence community and has been for more than ten years now. as such, it is fully coordinated across the intelligence community. anybody in the intelligence community even outside of the cia can write for the president's daily brief. the briefers who tack it to
customers -- take it to customers downtown, those briefers can come from anywhere in the intelligence community. that has been a change. it always incorporated information from across the excellence community. big difference is who was the one writing it up and delivering it. >> it's also got broader distribution over the years, has it not? >> right. john f. kennedy, he got his president's intelligence checklist, and the national security adviser saw it in a couple of days. no one else saw it. the secretary of state didn't see it, the secretary of defense, and yet kennedy was giving orders based on it. they corrected that quickly. the president does not actually enact foreign policy, he sets strategic direction. so they got it within six months to those two secretaries. but somebody they never got it to was the vice president. so lyndon johnson comes into office one day after the assassination of john f. kennedy, he has no idea the president's intelligence checklist even exists. it was an awkward moment for the
director of cia who had to introduce him to this document which johnson was no dummy, it was probably pretty clear that he had been can kept out of the loop on this. >> you told a somewhat similar story about a president who was then vice president ford -- >> right. >> had not been brought in on that process by then-president nexon. >> right. yeah, that's another case of a tight dissemination of the pdb. richard nixon and henry kissinger kept it very tight such that gerald ford becomes vice president, he's not brought into the loop. but the director of central intelligence, bill colby, invited ford out for a series of presentations. he walks him through a tour of some offices including the office of current intelligence, the group of cia which produced the pding b and other intelligence analysis. and as they're walking through, there just happens to be a copy of the president's daily brief sitting on the table. ford notices it, what's that?
that's the document that goes to the president and dr. kissinger every morning. would you like to see it? why sure. and that led to a pattern whereby a cia officer, dave peterson -- i tell his story in the book -- he went to ford's house in alexandria, virginia, every morning to talk to him about the pdb at his kitchen table or sometimes in the car downtown. and then when he became president, ford said, no, i'm keeping this, and the first item of business he had every day was talking directly about the pdb. >> so the agency has, in fact, run operations against the president -- [laughter] okay. one of the, i think remarkable stories you tell is the briefing that i think it was president johnson was giving about the possibility of the war in the middle east -- >> the tale of two middle east wars in 1967, the six-day war,
the cia predicted in its intelligence document before it even tarted saying, you know, this war, we don't think it'll last longer than seven days. and it became known as the suggestion-day war. pretty good analysis. fast forward to 1973, richard nixon is president and egypt and syria and israel, there's a lot of tension going on, a lot of serious military exercises in egypt. the analysis going to the president one morning was news egyptian military -- these egyptian military exercises are the most serious we've ever seen but we don't expect a threat to israel. at the time the president was reading it, egypt was invading israel. the a total failure. >> you call it a book. it is, in fact, in the form of a notebook? >> yeah. that has changed over time too. sometimes just spiral bound at the top. you'll see a lot of pictures where you can see the president
holding something with a spiral. sometimes it's been bound on the side. for president george w. bush, he wanted much more late breaking information, often raw intelligence reports put into this book, so they changed it to a three-ring binder. and literally as the briefer was running out the door, you could put in a new report so that the president would get something that was immediate instead of something that had to go to a bankrupting plant and be bound. the biggest change is with this administration. barack obama gets electrons on a p screen, he yets his president's daily brief on an ipad. now, it's a very special ipad -- [laughter] sure, it's a little bit different than the one we play with at home, but it's a different way of getting the information to him and a format that works for him. the theme of the book across the decades. >> yeah. the agency, in fact, had thought of doing something like the ipad 20 years or so, as i recall. >> i couldn't believe it. as i was digging through the fuels, there was a document from 1970 which showed that a
consultant to the national security council proposed to henry kissinger, you know, we could put some words up on a monitor, and we have this thing called a a keyboard, and you can see one lean from the piece, and you can press a button if you want a longer story, and then if you really want more, you can press another button, and it'll give you page after page, and if you have questions about it, you can type in a question to the analyst who wrote it. kissinger didn't act on it at all, and i asked him about that. i pulled out this memo and said, hey, you got this in 1970, by the way. totally unfair of me, by the way. i can't remember what i had for dipper last night. i show him the memo. this was probe posed to you, why didn't you act on it? he just chuckled. i wouldn't have even known what a computer was at that point. [laughter] it wouldn't have worked for us. >> quite remarkably -- when was
your book actually fleshed? >> last month. >> okay -- published. last month. it's gotten terrific reviews. last september of '15 the cia released 2500 pdbs as a conference held, sponsored by the university of texas at austin and the lbj library. i don't know if you've had a chance to hook at those, in other words, in the light of your book. >> yeah. the funny thing about study ising the pdb is you get the stories from the president, the vice presidents, the cia directors, the briefers in the oval office, and they tell you a whole lot, but most of the pdb's content remains classified. you can't see inside of it. scientists know a whole lot of black holes by what's in orbit around it, and that's more what this is, but there have been a smattering of some particular analyses within that have been declassified. and all of those that are available are in the book. then the cia last fall, as the
book's going to publication, decides we're going to end up everything from -- open up everything from the kennedy and johnson era with something around 80% of the material being shown to the public, about 20% being redacted because the sources and methods still pertain. i found it did not fundamentally change anything in this story. it gave a lot more examples for historians. if you're interested in what was going on in laos in 1963, you've got a treasure-trove of material. for the purpose of telling the story of every president since john kennedy and how they used the book, putting in 50 pages about the congo in 1967 would have been a real downer, so i decided not to include the information, but i definitely looked at it to see whether there was anything in it that fundamental hi changed our view of the pdb during the johnson or kennedy era before him, and it had not. what i expect to see coming forward is a whole lot of dissertations in graduate programs on intelligence and national security taking advantage of this specific information that was going the
president every morning across the decades. this is a continuing process, by the way. later this year, my understanding is, the ford and nixon pdbs will be released in the same fashion. we'll see a whole lot of information coming out on a rolling basis. nothing remains classified forever, and this was apparently the cia's way -- with the cooperation of the intelligence community overall and of historians involved in it -- to say what can we release to give us more insight into our own history? >> well, i don't know what we have here by the way of graduate students who may be taking a note on a possible subject. i think, obviously, there are a lot of people interested here in the workings of governments, and i think attending this kind of presentation is important. you've had a unique opportunity to speak to a number of very senior people who served at the highest levels of government. and i think we are probably unique as a country in making so much of what we have told our most senior leaders, the president and his advisers,
about what was going on in the world. in speaking to those folks, you must have developed some sense of how they thought and think government works. does the system work. i think that's often raised. is the president getting the right information? does it go forward? what happened, you've got this big intelligence community, how because that work -- how does that work? is it an overweaning bureaucracy? so i think the sense of government and, in fact, you've been in government yourself. >> right. >> so you have your own view. >> right. >> what did you develop as a view after you had done your research? >> yeah, what i learned from the people who mattered most for the president's daily brief starting with the president is simply how much they appreciated it. almost at a human level. they weren't blind to the amount of bureaucratic work that goes into this from the collection of the information, from the human intelligence collectors overseas to the technology to the production of this book, to the delivery of it. they understand that a lot of
effort goes into it. and to a person they seem to appreciate what it gave them that others could not. you have to remember that every other institution in the united states government has a policy agenda. the state department has policy proposals, and they want the president to back those. the defense department similarly. the cia explicitly created to be an objective source of information outside of the actual policy implementation process. they seemed to appreciate that and, in fact, that's why george h.w. bush agreed to write the forward for the book. he didn't do it to write anything about me and not about the president's daily brief itself, he used the forward to thank the people who produced the book for him. he was cia director, he was vice president, he was president, and he just wanted to say thanks to the people who rarely get credit for what they do, to try to give the president an objective and timely take on world affairs without an axe to grind. that was the general take i got from most people i talked to. >> sure. >> several people thought, i
wish it had more. i really thought the cia knew everything. [laughter] they found out pretty quickly, no, the cia doesn't know everything. but what the cia can do and the president's daily brief routinely did is narrow the cone of uncertainty. you might think all of these things are possible right now, really we're seeing only this many are possible. that is an asset to any president. >> yeah. well, thank you. what i think i'd like to do, identify gotten to ask -- i've gotten to ask all the questions, and your answers have been very stimulating. let's turn to the audience, i'm sure there's some questions here. there's one all the way in the back there. i would ask you to wait for the microphone to everyone can hear your question. thank you. >> thank you. could you give us an idea and, obviously, it varied from president to president, is this a 10-page document, a 50-page document? obviously, different people are going to want different amounts, and you learn that quickly, but i just want to get a sense of that. and my second quick question is
that you're brilliant, handsome and articulate -- >> peter, right? >> -- is important, but how did you get all these people to talk to you? [laughter] >> let me answer the first question, and then i'll get to that. the pdb -- you know, let me get to the second one, because i like the handsome, brilliant part. [laughter] i am. that's as simple -- i asked. that's as simple as it is. i asked. now, i'm not fooling myself, i also did my homework. a did a lott -- i did a lot of the archival work also to show i did not have an axe to grind. when you read the book, you'll sees the not a polemic. i'm not going after anyone because of a bias or a political view, i'm trying to tell the no kidding history that can be told. so, therefore, they said, sure. shethis is something i have accs
to that other people don't, and that sense of illuminating history came out. some of it was with a snowball effect. once you talk to the cia director and a few senior advisers, then you go to the national security adviser, and you say, hi, you were national security adviser in this administration, i'd like to talk with you. who have you talked to? this person, this person -- okay. then you go to the national security adviser and suddenly they start cooperating. then vernlgly yo get to the vice president or the president. and when you talk to them -- >> [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? >> [inaudible] between you and the person you want to talk to? >> right. some of them have gatekeepers, some of them don't. some of them are working doing things after their government career teaching at university, things like that, and you can just contact them say, hi, i'd like to chat, and they'll say
yes or no. many of them do have gatekeepers, and your job is to show them you're serious about this, ask you want them to be able to tell their stories. you're not putting words in their mouth. and in that sense it was often a case of showing the gatekeepers here's some research i've done but, frankly, here's some people who will vouch for me. and if you've already interviewed the national security adviser, the secretary of state and the vice president getting a gatekeeper to say, yeah, he's no kidding serious about this, that's much easier when you've already lined that up. >> okay. let's take some other questions. right here, amanda. >> wonderful talk. i assume that the president's daily briefing is solely concerned with foreign intelligence. >> right. >> to the best of your knowledge, does the president receive a comparable briefing on nest you can matters? >> right -- domestic. >> right. the president's daily brief largely a book of foreign as well as, and new most of its history, that is what it
detailed; national security issues analyzing foreign act torgs, foreign governments. a few exceptions. one of the cases in the book is when lee harvey oswald suddenly pops up in the president's intelligence checklist right after the assassination. here's a u.s. citizen being talked about in the president's daily brief. very rare. in fact, it's not until after september 11th that the pdb starts shifting and up corporating national security threats and information from across the foreign and domestic vied. and that makes sense. 9/11 was a plot that reached across borders. to have this daily document not could do a disservice to the president. in terms of whether there is a counterpart on domestic affairs, i think it depends on what the issue is. if i'm white house chief of staff, chances are i'm giving the president every morning an agenda of what he's got going on that day maybe supplemented by
other things. the domestic policies of the president cover so many things from education and agriculture to politics to dealing with congress. it's not the same as focusing in on foreign threats and opportunities to the united states as a national security issue. i would doubt there is a president's daily brief for domestic affairs. don't fool yourself. the president is getting plenty of paper on all the decisions that he has to make. >> david, at one point the director of the fbi and of cia were briefing the president together. >> right. >> after 9/11. >> right. >> that was sort of -- it wasn't the daily brief, but it was a briefing from the top level of his domestic and foreign intelligence agency. >> that's right. at that point, after september 11th, the president would get his pdb briefing and, again, george w. bush received a cia briefer every morning along with usually the director of cia. and then after that every day he would bring in his homeland security top team, the homeland security director, the attorney
general, the fbi director. so it was an extension of the pdb briefing often continuing the discussion of the president's daily brief, but it was explicitly combining the foreign and domestic when it came to national security issues. >> okay. right there, amanda. >> first of all, thank you. very, very interesting. i can't wait to read the book. you mentioned early on that often times the daily brief was contrary to maybe the president's policies or whatever. how did they react to that often times? would they turn a blind eye to it? did they embrace it? did they change policy? maybe you could talk about that. >> i will. in the older cases, that is the presidents like richard nixon, you'll see the story in the book. it's unclear whether richard nixon even read the pdb every day, and that's the one president we really don't know. kissinger on the one hand said i knew gerald ford read it every
day. but kissinger said, no, i'm pretty sure nixon read it every day, is and i find it hard to believe he wouldn't have read it. we don't have the direct evidence, and we can't ask him, so we don't know what he did with the book and how he reacted. did he, in fact, put some distance between himself and the analysts at cia because the stuff he was reading disagreed with what he thought was going on? that's a possibility. unfortunately, we don't know. i'll give you the opposite case. george w. bush after the invasion of iraq, he starts getting analysis, a steady drum beat saying things in iraq just aren't going well. oh, and by way, like we told you yesterday, things aren't going well. and the next day, did we mention things aren't going well? of after a while, it's easy as a human being thinking a president would say i don't want to read this anymore. george bush inted of pushing -- instead of pushing the intelligence away, he actually brought in more intelligence officers. he started a process in his second term which came to be
called the deep dive where intelligence analysts -- primarily from cia, but across the intelligence commitment -- would come in to talk with him and senior advisers about specific aspects of excellence that he wanted to dig deeper on. and he would spend a lot of time with this. in the first 18 months of doing it, more than 200 analysts had come in to talk with him on top of the president's daily brief. so that's the case of somebody getting what you call bad news but deciding i need more intelligence to help me out rather than less intelligence to stop reminding me of it. >> [inaudible] >> it's hard to say, and this is one of troublesome things, trying to find out what the actual policy impact of reading this was versus reading it and talking to advisers versus talking to advisers later in the day and maybe deeply informed by that. we just don't have, probably can't yet that raw data unless you have a camera on the president and insight into the
president's mind 24/7. in many cases people realize the pdb and took action on it that day. many ore cases it is that -- oh cases it is that black hole. >> right here. >> thank you for a fascinating presentation, gentlemen, it's very interesting. my question is in your research, who made the most effective use of the pdb, and can you give an example? >> i'd love to. george h.w. bush. he brought in, as i mentioned, he brought in a briefer when he was in washington every working day for his entire term which took him up a ten from where gerald ford had done it. he'd only done it for his first year in office. that gave him the ability to do two things. one, he could engage the briefing in much greater depth, he could ask the briefer questions, he could ask them for the deeper story, the stuff that didn't make it onto the printed page but left on the cutting room floor back at cia headquarters. the briefers who briefed him had
to be prepared because they had a national security team that was no kidding experienced on this with a president who had been vice president for eight years w a national security adviser, brent scowcroft, who had been national security adviser more gerald ford. with people like bob gates who had also been a senior agency officer for years. these briefers had to be on their game x they said it was an exhilarating experience having the president of the united states knowing he was going to get on the phone with this leader to have that in-depth conversation on what's driving that leader on how are you going to move things forward. it also made him comfortable enough with the intelligence that he could have a little fun with it. one of the stories in the book is the time that he read the analysis in the book that an election in nicaragua was going to go for dan yell ortega -- daniel ortega. analysts predicted he's going to win. the president looked at husband briefer, said i don't think so.
i'll bet you an ice cream cone that you're wrong. now, you're the briefer, he wants to bet you an ice cream cone, you take the becamer. [laughter] he explains why the analyst feels that way, takes the wager, next day brings in an ice cream cone. the president was right, the analysis was wrong. thank you. >> there's one right here, amanda, and then one right over from it. >> thanks for all your great work. i get the impression the daily briefing had a lot of facts and data. you mentioned an example of a forecast or prediction of a seven-day war that took six days in 1967. i also infer from what you've said that the daily briefing stayed away from specific recommendations. could you comment on that? >> yeah. there's a difference between the assessments and analysis in the book and policy recommendation. and that is a very, very red line, hate to use that phrase, but a red line for analysts to
realize we don't cross that line. assess what the foreign actor is thinking, doing, try to put together a picture, this mosaic based on very limited information and fill in the gaps. that's all part of the job. that's the responsibility and ethics of intelligence analysis. as soon as you cross that line to say and here's what you should be doing about it, you're venturing out of your territory. that's for the president, the national security adviser, secretary of state and others to do. the job is to describe the lay of the land, to narrow that cone of uncertainty so that good decisions can be made, hopefully, but not to suggest what decision be made. that's the difference. now, when it comes to how useful it is to help make that decision, that varies. i found some evidence back in the '60s where the colloquial, loose language was so vague that i can't imagine it helping the president. things hike the chinese leader is saying this, we doubt it will
amount to much. and that was it. now there's a much more robust process for producing the president's daily brief based on the lessons of the iraq wmd case, 9/11 itself and, hope any, 50 years of working on a book like this has some institutional effort that improves the product over time such that i doubt something like we doubt it will amount to much would appear in today's pdb. i think there would be some logic and argumentation behind it as well as clarity about the source of the information getting into the product. >> all right. i think there was one just right over here, amanda. yeah, just down. >> obviously, producing the pdb daily is going to be a massive task with diversish hues from all corners of the -- diverse issues from all over the world. what's the kind of nuts and bolts process and timeline for delivering or producing that pdb each day? is one person on a 24-hour cycle or a -- [inaudible] held by one person at different
stages? >> right. thank you. the information that people gave me about its evolution over time is that has varied. the general model has been you have to give the president what he needs to know that morning or, briefly for lyndon johnson, that night. therefore, it can be breaking news. we just got this report in, and you need to know it, certainly before 24/7 media around the world getting things in quickly, that was the case. but it could also be we understand you have a policy meeting coming up that you're going to be talking to your advisers later this week on overall policy toward latin america. here are some pieces to get you thinking about that dynamic, and those might have been planned weeks or month in advance to get into the book. it goes back to the question from earlier about how long is the president's daily brief. that that is varied by president. there's been some hike for kennedy and johnson that were one page. and then there are cases of dozens of pages where there's a
main analysis and maybe some supplemental papers that are longer. and i think that hooks back to what you asked, because if your research and your feedback from the president tells you this is what the president needs now and he will carve out time to do it, you can get away with a 30-page pdb. most of the time the president's schedule, which is measured in minutes, does not have anything available for anything superflowous. and more often it's probably in the single pages rather than in the tens of dozens. >> thank you very much. great talk, david. you've touched glancingly on a couple aspect obviously of the question, but i wasn'ted to see if i could draw you out a little bit. one of the things that struck me was that the johnson and kennedy
kennedy -- in the late '90s and the early 2000s, i wrote for the pdb from time to time. i know i'm not alone in the room in that regard. and in my day, and everybody knows publicly these pieces need to be longer. and much more about underlying dynamics and future she their glows and that sort of thing -- scenarios and that sort of thing. do you have any sense of how that transition happened? >> you've nailed the general trend, but there are counterexamples. there have been several presidents who have formatted their pdb in such a way that they have those longer pieces of a page or two. thinking of that as long tells you just how tight the president's time frame is, but having a longer piece of a page or two, but often a page of just
single bullet, of one-liners, little highlights, snowflakes dropped into the pdb as opposed to the pages that followed. the president reads it for a while, his advisers notice he's getting a little cranky with this, what's happening? oi, i'd like to get horsier peats -- shorter pieces, or the president's getting frustrated, let's just put longer pieces in the book. i have a feeling that's how it evolved. you get that kind of interaction of getting to know the president. in the best of all possible worlds, that happens during the transition. when traditionally the sitting president has allowed the president-elect to start reading the pdb even before he or she assumes office. that's good government because that means that on january 20th the president isn't coming in saying, huh, what's this book? and for a period of weeks, days or months reading something that does not actually work.
instead, there's this process during the transition of what works for this president? how can we adjust the president's daily brief so that when it becomes his or her book on the 20th, we've got something that actually works based on that individual style? >> okay. dr. david priess, thank you very much for an absolutely fascinating talk. >> thank you. [applause] david will be in the back of the room to sign bookings. some of you probably till have questions. i would try and keep them short, there's lots of people in line. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on
c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> and today marks the 400th anniversary of william shakespeare's death. at noon today booktv is live from the folger shakespeare library in washington, d.c. with performances and remarks from community. that all begins at noon. also this weekend on booktv on our "after words" program, sue collie bold traces her europeny to understand the junction between violence and mental illness. some of the other books we're featuring this weekend on booktv, why the rust belt is the next hot spot for global innovation. there's two few biographies which examine the lives of john quincy adams and first lady
louisa adams and a panel of authors discuss their recent books on the supreme court. plus, you'll hear about the life of missionary john birch, the namesake of the john birch society. for a complete television schedule, go to booktv.org. booktv on c-span2, it's 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors, television for serious read ors. >> booktv tapes hundreds of author programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we'll be covering this week. :
>> that's a look at some of the aur programs booktv is covering this week. many of these events are open to the public. look for them to air in the near future on booktv on c-span2. >> let me introduce you to another woman. her name is -- [inaudible] heidi is a venture capitalist in silicon valley. and a few years back a colleague of mine wrote a case study about her, the kind of case study that we teach really across the world
to help our students understand what good business, good leadership, good management looks like. and the case is about what you did as a entrepreneur, as a venture capitalist and how she built her enterprises in silicon valley. a few years later some other colleagues had the creative idea to replace her first name by howard. and what they then did was to give half of their students the case with the protagonist being called howard and and the other half of their students the same case, everything absolutely identical, with the protagonist name called heidi. so the students prepared for class, and then at the end had to film out a questionnaire -- fill out a questionnaire asked how they feel about heidi and howard. and you might not be surprised knowing what the topic of our discussion tonight is that students thought that both heidi and howard did a good job.
in fact, they were both competent. but they did not like heidi. they wouldn't want to hire heidi, and they didn't want to work with heidi. why is that? heidi does not conform to our stereotypes of what a venture capitalist looks like. she is a minority. and the same is, of course, true for male nurses or male kindergarten teachers. same is true for female ceos and female engineers. this is how our minds work. our minds put people into categories, and if you do not conform to the norm, we tend to punish you for that norm violation. this is what we collectively are up against. we're up against how our minds work in that we put people into boxes and that seeing really is believing. and if you don't see male kindergarten teachers, we don't
naturally associate that job with men. and if you don't see female engineers, we don't naturally think that women are made for engineering. so what do we do? here's the good news and the bad news. the good news is that this is not about pointing fingers at anyone. but, in fact, this is about all of us. this is about well meaning people who kind of want to do the right thing but find it hard to always get around to doing it. now here's the bad news. our minds are stubborn beasts. they're really hard to change. so what i was trying to do in my book at the beginning was to really learn what works, the title of the book, what works to overcome such gender bias. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's a look at some authors
>> in the beginning i was certainly feeling very much a victim of the tragedy. i was bewildered, i didn't understand what had happened or why. i couldn't make sense of any of it. i was humiliated, i was grief stricken, i was terrified. and as time went by and i began to understand a little bit about how he died, a little bit about his own suicidalty, i think i became more of a survivor. i identified with other survivors of loss from tragedies or suicides or murder-suicides. and i became a little more active, a little more interested in all of our welfare together. >> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern. you can watch all previous "after words"' programs on our
web site, booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> hello, everyone. oh. hello, everyone, welcome to books at noon. i'm jessica strand, director of public programs and events for the library. and i'm happy today, thrilled to introduce louis sullivan, dr. louis sullivan who is, i'm going to have to read, because this is a long list of things. he's a