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tv   Presidents Daily Briefing  CSPAN  October 12, 2015 5:58pm-8:11pm EDT

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washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. each and every day, intelligence agencies brief the president about what is going on around the world. the lbj presidential library and the university of texas, together with the cia recently hosted a symposium about the history of the president's daily briefing. as part of this program, 2500 previously classified briefs from the kennedy and johnson administrations were made open to the public. this is about two hours. >> good afternoon. the director of the lbj presidential library. and behalf of the central intelligence agency, the national archives and records administration and the university of texas is my great privilege to welcome you to the
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president's daily brief delivering intelligence to the first customer. 50 years ago, president johnson in an address to american business leaders said a long axiom in my political thinking is a man's judgment is no better than his information on any given subject. since its creation, the president's daily brief has served to provide our commanders in chief with the intelligence that informs vital decisions relating to our foreign and national security policy. in short, these classified documents offer presidents the tools they need to render their best judgment. first known as the president's intelligence checklist, or the pickle when it was introduced in june 1961, the document became known as the president's daily brief, or pdb in december of 1964. it represents the distillation
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of intelligence material deemed worthy of a president's attention, providing not just news, but importantly, context and analysis. today's program which includes our nation's top intelligence officials will shed light on the intelligence apparatus and how it is used to ensure that the first and most important customer, the president of the united states, is armed with the information he needs on matters of state. it comes as the cia releases pdbs from the kennedy and johnson administrations, from june 1961 through january 1969. making -- marking the first time the cia has through its historical review board declassified pdbs and made them available to the public. as of today, in fact as of about five minutes ago, they will be posted on the cia's website. it is now my great privilege to
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welcome to the stage the head of the national archives and records administration, the archivist of the united states, the honorable david ferial. >> thank you, mark. and let me add my welcomes to one of my favorite presidential libraries, the lbj. when we opened our doors in 1935, the mission was to protect, encourage the use of the records of the united states government. most importantly, to make the records available so that the american public can hold its government accountable for its actions and to learn from the past. we're the final destination of the most important records of the united states government, that 2 to 3% of records deemed by departments and agencies to be important enough for permanent preservation. the national archives is responsible for the records of 275 executive branch agencies and departments, the white house, and the supreme court.
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and we provide courtesy storage for the records of congress. our records start with the oath of allegiance signed by george washington and his troops at valley forge in 1775 and go all the way up to the tweets that are being created as i am speaking in the white house. it's a collection of about 12 billion pieces of paper, 42 million photographs, miles and miles of film and video and 5 billion electronic records. 13 of the 46 facilities that make up the national archives are presidential libraries. when president franklin roosevelt created the national archives in 1934, he also created the presidential library system. linebackers start with the herbert hoover presidential library in west branch, iowa and go to the george w. bush library in dallas, texas. they contain more than 780 million pages of contextual material, 625,000 museum objects, and electronic records.
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we started collecting electronic records during the reagan administration, between reagan and bush 41, about 2.5 million e-mail messages. 20 million in the clinton white house. 210 million in bush 43. and we just recently passed the one billion mark for the obama white house. on his first day in office, president barack obama issued an open government directive which declared that my administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. we will work together to ensure the public trust and accomplish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. this idea of open government is embedded in the mission of the national archives. our work is built on the belief that citizens have a right to see, examine, and learn from those records. five years ago, president obama signed an executive order entitled classified national
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security information intended to overhaul the way documents created by the federal government are assigned classification codes. secret, top secret. the executive order also created the national declassification center within the national archives with the mandate to review for declassification some 400 million pages of classified records going back to world war i. and to do that by the end of 2013. we successfully met that goal in the declassification process, emphasizing a risk management strategy and expanding data capture efforts. and i'm proud to report that the six oldest documents were released. they are classified by the cia. they are just about his last day in office, leon panetta held a press conference announcing the release of these six documents. all formulas for secret inc.
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most recently, the national declassification center coordinated a multiagency activity across government to answer a white house request for declassified records responsive to the brazilian national truth commission. the desire for records relating to human rights abuses during 1964. vice president joe biden provided the first of several cd collections to the brazilian government last summer in the national declassification center is concluding this review in 2015 with a web release that also describes the impacts on americans abroad. the motto of the national declassification center is releasing all we can, protecting what we must. in that spirit, let me tell you that the work of the national declassification center goes on so that we avoid those backlogs that they were originally saddled with.
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finally, i'd like to say that the release of the president's intelligent checklists and the daily briefs will add meaningful contexts to other national archives documents in how the presidents used intelligence briefs to do their job. and we're thrilled that the cia is releasing these documents from the kennedy and johnson administrations. and we look forward to more presidential daily briefs from the nixon and ford libraries after the cia completes its review. and the special shout out from the archivist of the united states to my colleague joe lambert for making this work a priority. thank you. >> thank you, david. it is now my pleasure to work the gentleman who david just shouted out. the man who is largely responsible for the release of these pdbs, and consequently, this conference today. the cia's director of
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information managing service, joe lambert. [ applause ] >> thank you, mark, and thank you, david. on behalf of all of my colleagues at langley, i want to welcome you to the release of the latest event of pdbs. this is our 24th major release event in the last seven years. the first occurred in 2008 at georgetown university and it focused on the tenure of richard helms as director of central intelligence. since that time we have held events at presidential libraries and major universities all over the country, highlighting the release of significant -- historically significant documents such as air america, where at the university of texas at dallas, we put air america helicopter pilots in touch for the very first time with the air force pilots that they had rescued. and we contributed thousands of documents on air america to the archive at ut.
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we've held events on the '92 to '95 bosnian war with the president as keynote speaker in little rock. we held camp david accords with jimmy carter as keynote at his library in atlanta. back in washington, we held an event on the declaration of polish martial law which focused on the life of a general from the polish staff who is one of the cia's most important cold war assets. we held our very first thematic event and that was typist to trail blazer and focused on the evolving role of women in the cia workforce. in addition to these major events we've held a a number of smaller ones like to one in the wilson center in d.c. highlights the cia's involvement in the publication of the russian language version of boris pasternak's "dr. zhivago." today marks the second time we've had the chance to work
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with the lbj library. in 2010 we released documents on the 1968 invasion of czechoslovakia. for me that was one of the most memorable events not necessarily for what we released but for the day after i received from my 25-year-old college student in california. the event had made the media as they typically do and was picked up by an outlet in california in los angeles. and my son called me and said dad, i hear the cia is talking about an invasion. do i need to be worried? i said, son, did you read the article? no. do you have it? yeah. can you take a minute and go a little further south? and typical 20-year-old fashion, i waited about 15, 20 seconds. heard a big sigh followed by aw, come on, dad, 1968, really? public releases of historically significant documents like this don't just happen. they require a tremendous amount of behind the scenes collaboration and work.
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we gratefully acknowledge the appreciation and support of lbj and the library here and the university of texas for making this wonderful venue available to showcase this document release. in addition to the cia, there were 13 other intelligence community and government agencies that were involved in one way or another with the review of these documents. i want to offer a very special thanks to the national security agency for their efforts. finally, i'd like to thank cia's information management professionals back in washington who have been diligently reviewing these pdbs for the past two years to enable their release today to the american people. their work is often unsung, and the lesson that they have taught me over the past five years is that decide when a secret is no longer a secret can sometimes be a very difficult task. now i have the pleasure of introducing our keynote speaker for today. we're very pleased that we have the director of the cia, john brennan with us today. john joined the cia in 1980 and has been our director since march of 2013. he is uniquely qualified to give
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the keynote address as he has been on both sides of the pdb process, as both a pdb briefer himself and as a recipient when he was assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. please join me in welcoming my boss, john brennan. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, joe, and thank you for your outstanding work that brought us to today's event. and good afternoon, everyone. having spent some wonderful years as a student at ut and still a very, very proud longhorn, it is my very great pleasure to be back in austin. i want to thank mark uptegrove and his excellent staff for hosting today's event. when president johnson dedicated this library, he said it is all here, the story of our time with
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the bark off. you can't get much further below the bark than top secret intelligence reports. so i think president johnson would approve of today's proceedings. i also want to thank my good friend and one of our nation's greatest patriots, admiral william mccraven, chancellor of the university of texas system for speaking later this afternoon on the importance of intelligence. it is highly appropriate for bill to help celebrate the history of the president's daily brief, the pdb, because for a number of years, the operations he commanded helped fill the book with some of the very best intelligence. i also want to offer my gratitude to two outstanding agency leaders, former cia director porter goss, and former deputy director of central intelligence bobby inman for lending their expertise vice to the panel coming up next. and finally i want to thank general james clapper, the
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director of national intelligence and the icon of the intelligence profession who knows more about this business than i would argue anyone else. president johnson made a point of keeping most of his speeches to a 400-word limit, and i may be dangerously close to hitting that already. but i plan to hold on to this podium for a while so i can offer a few words on today's release and the enduring challenge of preserving our national security. on his first full day in office, president obama called on the heads of executive departments and agencies to build an unprecedented level of openness in our government. he made it known that giving the american people a clear picture of the work done on their behalf consistent with common sense and those legitimate requirements of national security would be a touchstone of his administration. in light of this new approach and pursuant to an executive order outlining new classification and declassification guidelines, cia information management officers worked with their counterparts at the national security council
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and the office of the director of national intelligence to start the review and declassification of pdbs that were more than 40 years old. and today for the first time ever, the central intelligence agency is releasing in mass declassified copies of pdbs and its predecessor publications, some 2500 documents from the kennedy and johnson administrations. this is just the beginning. some 2,000 additional declassified pdb documents from the nixon and ford administrations will be released next year. and the process will continue. the pdb is among the most highly classified and sensitive documents in all of our government. it represents the intelligence communities a daily dialogue with the president in addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities related to our national security. and for students of history, the declassified briefs will lend insight into why a president chooses one path over another when it comes to state craft.
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the release of these documents affirms that the world's greatest democracy does not keep secrets merely for secrecy's sake. whenever we can shed light on the work of our government without harming national security, let me repeat that caveat, without harming national security, we will do so. the story of the pdb begins more than 50 years ago at president kennedy's weekend retreat near the blue ridge mountains in virginia. it was june 17th, 1961, and an aide had just arrived from washington carrying a top secret document. the president sat down to read it next to the swimming pool, perched on the edge of the diving board. the document was seven pages long and printed on short square blocks of paper, with spiral binding along the top. inside were two maps, a few notes, and 14 intelligence briefs. most no more than two sentences in length.
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on topics ranging from laos to cuba to kruch chef. >> so far so good. this was the very first issue of what would become the pdb. the publication quickly became a must-read for president kennedy and set in motion a routine for delivering intelligence to the oval office that has been at the heart of the cia's mission ever since. the idea behind the pdb was developed quickly in a matter of days to meet a very specific need. since taking office, president kennedy had been frustrated with the way intelligence was being delivered to him. the reports he was receiving were long, dense, and abstract, and they would come in half ha d haphazardly throughout the day. much of what he was being given each day went unread.
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and the president was making policy decisions without the benefit of the intelligence our government had collected for him. a few months into the president's term, after he was caught offguard by several developments on the intelligence front, his brother robert kennedy lit into the president's staff. cia soon got a call from the white house demanding that the agency find a better way to keep the president informed. in consultation with the president's advisers, a team of agency officers decided to produce a daily digest, delivered each morning to the white house that would summarize in a few pages all the intelligence that deserved the president's attention. they called it the pickle. short for the president's intelligence checklist, the forerunner of the pdb. the idea was so successful that it has endured in various forms under ten presidents. and today it is such a vital part of how the white house operates that one can hardly imagine the modern presidency without it. throughout its history, the pdb
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has helped the president confront the gravest suggests a commander in chief can face, issues like terrorism and famine and war. but as you will see in the documents we are releasing today, the pdb's history includes more than coverage of crisis and conflict. in today's collection you will find offbeat items like russian reaction to a performance by the new york city ballet. and commentary on a decision by the new york yankees to fire yogi berra. an awful decision. you will encounter a host of lively characters such as the political leader in latin america described as a high-living fifth of scotch a day man. you will also find occasional doses of humor, a fair number of offcolor remarks and an entire issue comprising little more than a poem. today the pdb is the most abundantly staffed, most deeply sourced daily information service in the world. it provides the president with a
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wealth of insight and analysis on virtually every issue on his foreign policy agenda. when the idea of the pdb was first conceived, the plans were not nearly so ambitious. the document was envisioned as more of a straight forward news bulletin, some rising the latest developments rather than a font of in-depth analysis. there was very little in the way of rigorous forecasting in the early years, whole disciplines that are integral to the intelligence business such as covert action were largely left out. dr. john mccomb, who was presidented by president kennedy thought that some subjects were simply too sensitive to be included in the document so he would relay them to president in person, a practice that has continued to this day. nevertheless, today's pdb in many respects is unrecognizable from what it was in the kennedy and johnson years. one of the clearest differences is writing style. back then, the articles were full of colorful language and personal asides that would never make it past a pdb editor today.
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about the harassment of diplomats in china. it said, "a mob kept one ambassador in his car for ten hours, causing him to ruin both his clothing and the up hole industry." or this assessment of a fact finding ooeps team sent to yemen in 1967. the team left yesterday with more haste than dignity after six gunfire-ridden days spent mostly locked in hotel rooms and presumably under the beds. it gets more colorful. but i think you are the idea. having been a pdb briefer myself in the 1990s, i can assure you that the commentary in the oval office is at times quite sporty and eyebrow raising when the pdb is discussed. beyond the writing style, the pdb has evolved in countless ways since the early years. it has grown in length and sophistication, agenda features like graphics and imagery.
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it is more comprehensive now, and the analysis is far nor rigorous. and perhaps most importantly, it has gone from a document written by just a handful of people at cia to one produced by officers representing an array of organizations, specialties, and disciplines in the intelligence community. many of the changes have been driven by technology and by the possibilities afforded by our expanding capabilities and a more integrated intelligence community. but above all, the publication has changed in response to the preferences and habits of each president. president kennedy wanted the checklist as it was known then to be short and to the point. it should be small enough, one aide said, to fit into a breast pocket so that the president could carry it around with him and read it at his convenience. kennedy also insisted that it be written in plain conversational english, strip to have had jargon that characterized most intelligence writing at the
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time. no gobbledygook, the white house said. over time the checklist began to reflect kennedy's pet peeves in language and usage. one that rankled him was boondocks. he found it too colloquial and told the writers of the checklist that it was not an acceptable word. but kennedy was not an overly fastidious editor, and his writers clearly relished the freedom they were giving, sprinkling the prose with words like effervescent, ticklish and cuckoo. kennedy's aides did not want them cluttering up the text. each document was to carry a single marking, top secret, stamped at the bottom of the page. this was true even if the information was based on diplomatic reporting or unclassified news accounts. so while you will see a lot of what can rightfully be described as overclassification in today's release, the reason was to streamline the production
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processes back then and to make the document easier on the eye. ah, the good old days. in both content and style, the checklist also testified to president kennedy's breadth of expertise. since kennedy was so well versed on intelligence issues, each item in his checklist was spare and direct. without much background or explanatory information, the authors focused only on what the president did not already know. meaning that a lot of important intelligence was left out of the document. during the cuban missile crisis, for example, photographs and other pieces of intelligence that were passed to the president through separate channels were often omitted from the checklist. as one editor said, why summarize what the president already knows. after only a few months of producing the checklist, the authors had gotten so much feedback from kennedy that they were able to anticipate his intelligence needs and draft a document to meet them. they understood the kind of
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writing he liked, the issues that mattered to him, and how he wanted them explained. a bond of trust had formed between them and the president that would last throughout his time in office. one senior officer later said the relationship was going so well that it seemed like heaven on earth. but one of the eternal challenges of the pdb is what works for one president rarely works for the next one. you almost have to start from scratch each time. that is certainly what happened when president johnson took office. during the kennedy administration, the checklist was not disseminated very widely. at first it only went to the president and to the director of central intelligence, and later to the secretaries of state and defense. but one of kennedy's aides told the agency that under no circumstances should the checklist be given to johnson. so when johnson took office, agency editors had no idea how familiar he was with the subjects they had been writing about in the checklist. it was clear that he needed more
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background information in the articles than kennedy did. but how much more? the editors wanted to give the appropriate context, but they worried if they went too far, they would appear condescending and might alienate the new president. their first effort delivered the day after president kennedy's assassination included five rather lengthy items and several notes. it did not seem to hit the mark, though it was hard to tell. when the president was briefed on it in the morning, he did not say much in response. he seemed mostly relieved that nothing in the document required his immediate attention. understandable in light of the trauma and mourning that our nation was experiencing. as the months went by, it became clearer that johnson was not reading the checklist. part of the problem was that early on, at least, he preferred to get his intelligence informally, in meetings and through conversation, instead of from written products. johnson may also have harbored a
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built-in bias against the checklist since it had deliberately been withheld from him since he was vice president. but main problem was the format. the checklist had been created for president kennedy, and in many respects it was still his product, designed to match his preferences and work habits rather than those of johnson. so the editors of the checklist decided to change course. they gave the document a new name, the president's daily brief. they repackaged it, adding longer articles that supplied greater detail as well as thoughts on future trends. and they delivered it in the afternoon, not the morning since johnson liked to do his reading at the end of the day, often in his pajamas while lying in bed. after several test runs, the first official pdb was published on december 1, 1964. senior aide jack valenti returned it with a handwritten note the very same day. the president likes this very much.
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as with kennedy, johnson's pdb did not include material that he had already received through other briefs, or that he was getting from other intelligence products. it is worth emphasizing here that the pdb was never intended to be the only source of intelligence for a president. and it never has been. throughout the pdbs existence, presidents have also gotten intelligence from the military and other departments of government through briefs, meetings and informal conversations and from longer forms of analysis such as that found in national intelligence estimates. but to say that presidents get their intelligence from a variety of sources in no way minimizes the importance of the pdb there is no denying the utility of the product to kennedy and after several changes to johnson as well. and as the documents we are releasing today made clear, the pdb provided them with critical insights as we charted our nation's course amid the challenges of a turbulent
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decade. looking down from history's summit at the challenges and crisis of the past, it is human nature to see them as less complicated and dangerous than those we face today. the threats have either subsided or does appeared. the standoffs have long been resolved. in hindsight has showed us all the answer, or at least most of them to the questions that were so vexing back in the day. so the past does seem a lot simpler than today' world until you jump in at any point in the narrative contained in these documents and start reading and put yourself in the shoes of the men for whom they were written. i took a couple of hours on a recent evening to do just that. and doing so quickly restores one sense of perspective. these pages remind us, for example, that while president kennedy was deciding how to stop moscow from establishing a nuclear arsenal in cuba, the rest of the world was not standing still for him.
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india and china were engaged in a fierce border war. the vietnam conflict, especially the presence of north vietnamese troops in laos was a persistent concern. civil wars were raging in yemen and the congo. countries that tragically have had more than their fair share of fighting over the years. warsaw pact countries launched unannounced military exercises in eastern europe, and the east germans resumed work on extending the wall along their board were west germany. the fact is america has faced an unending series of national security challenges ever since we emerged from the end of the second world war and emerged as the world's preeminent global power. having assumed the duties and obligations that go along with plead leading the free world, our country's most pressing policy need was not only to counter relentless soviet military and clandestine threat, but to obtain timely, accurate and insightful information on
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our adversaries' actions and intentions. so it took the united states 171 years before it finally did what every other great power had done, establish a comprehensive intelligence service for both peacetime and war. i joined that service, the crawl intelligence agency in 1980. i believed in its mission back then, and i believe in it even more strongly today. we have had great fortune over the past 68 years to play. to keep people safe from the constantly evolving array of overseas threats. though we are exceptionally proud of the work we do, we have not been a perfect organization. we have made mistakes, more than a few. and we have tried mightily to learn from them and move forward as a smaller, more capable organization. and ever since the agency's founding during the truman administration, its single most important mission has been to give each president and his senior advisers the clearest possible picture of the world as it is rather than as we would like it to be.
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cia endeavors to be a trusted, authoritative source in answering any president's most crucial questions, particularly in times of heightened risk and danger. the cuban missile crisis is an iconic example of the agency marshalling its technical operational and strengths to help the commander in chief resolve a delicate standoff peacefully and successfully. amid the highest stakes imaginable. in the pages of the president's intelligence checklist, and in far greater detail and briefs, and other products and venues, the cia offered precise up-to-the-minute information tailored to presidential requirements, highlighting its essential role in supporting every president of the modern era. but it doesn't take a nuclear confrontation to demonstrate the agency's support to the president. throughout the documents released today, you'll find reports that reflect a truly global scope.
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all the overseas issues that demand some amount of the president's time and attention presented with bottom line assessments, significant detail, and helpful context for breaking events for which the busy reader might not be familiar. during the johnson administration, for instance, the pdb was well received at the white house during the outbreak of the civil war in the dominican republic in april of 1965. it was a very complex situation in a country that wasn't often in the headlines. and lbj's press secretary, bill moyers observed that president johnson read the pdb avidly throughout the crisis. object two is critical to presidential support. the cia was charted as an independent agency unique in government, free of departmental bias and serving as a dependable source of available information, good news and bad news. it's an essential role, albeit a challenging one. for just as collecting intelligence often requires fizz
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cal courage, reporting it requires intellectual courage. a proverbial ability to speak truth to power. and that quality shows in the agency's coverage of the conflict that overshadowed all overs during thatter remarks vietnam. it is certainly true that cia missed some important calls. most notably before the tet offensive when cia headquarters failed to pass along the warning from cia's station in saigon that an unprecedented enemy offensive was at hand. but the fact remains that cia estimates of the enemy's order of battle and staying power will consistently more ominous and as events would prove, more accurate than those produced elsewhere. senior white house staffers occasionally express concern over the pdb's perceived negativism on vietnam. bromley smith, the nfc's executive secretary during the johnson administration told an agency officer at the time that you're going to break the president's heart.
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he thinks things are much better today, but that's no reason for not writing it as you see it. in covering the world in 2015, we at cia are still writing it as we see it. our contributions to the pdb, which today is published under the auspices of the office of the director of national intelligence at cia headquarters benefit from the enormous range of talents, skills, and disciplines that cia brings to bear in fulfilling our global mission. drawing on the intelligence and ground truth by the agency's worldwide network of stations and bases as well as the expertise and insight of our all source analysts at headquarters and overseas, we put together products in the pdb and elsewhere that enable the president and the senior advisers to see an issue in its entirety with the risk, challenges, and opportunities clearly delineated. and like our predecessors who adapted to the needs of the day by developing the pickle and the pdb, we too are taking steps to optimize our relevance and our
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effectiveness in our own time. when the pdb is sent to the oval office today, for example, it arrives on a tablet computer, an ipad instead of paper. instead, the transformational effect of information technology is the single most decisive factor in setting today's world apart from that of the 1960s. along with the end of the cold war, both the cyberrealm and social media have a made the planet smaller and dramatically more interconnected and those developments in turn have had a profound impact on the mission of the central intelligence agency and our partners. to begin with cybertechnology has created an entirely new domain for human interaction. though it produces boundless opportunities for advancesing our national interests, it also enables individuals and small groups to inflict great harm on our national security. when it comes to intelligence operation, digital fingerprints might enable us to track down a terrorist. but the digital world also makes
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it harder to maintain cover for a current generation of clandestine officers who for example almost certainly have used social media sites before they even began their agency careers. moreover, the erosion of boundaries between domestic and foreign communications has raised complicated legal and ethical professions for our profession. in president kennedy and johnson's days, the enormous signals collection against the soviets and their client states whose communication networks were largely segregated from those of the free world carried little or no legal ambiguity. but the terrorists we face today routinely use the same channels everyone else does. and the public debate rightly continues over how to strike the appropriate balance between the need for security and the importance of privacy. when i asked a group of our senior officers last fall to ponder cia's future and come back with a strategic plan for modernizing the agency, they agreed that among other things, we had to do a much better job of embracing and leveraging the
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digital revolution. consequently, under our current modernization program launched last march, we are adding a fifth directorate to the agency as part of the biggest change to cia structure in five decades, the directorate of digital innovation. when this new directorate is up and running on october 1, it will be the center of the's's effort to inject digital solutions into every aspect of our work. it will be responsible for accelerating the digital and cybercapabilities across all of our mission areas. human intelligence collection, all sorts of analysis, open source intelligence, and covert action. and though the documents we are releasing today show us that the world is hardly unique in its complexity and danger, it nonetheless harbors a wider variety of threats than the world of the 1960s. these contemporary challenges often overlap, change rapidly and require a multidisciplinary approach. and as the intelligence community as a whole has learned
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in the year since 9/11 attacks, integrating disciplines and capabilities is a very powerful way to magnify and optimize our effectiveness. so on october 1, ten new cia mission centers will cover every issue we face. six focused on regions like africa and the near east, and four focused on functional issues such as terrorism and weapons proliferation. each center will pull together all the tremendous talents and skills previously stovepiped into separate groups, promoting collaboration among agency specialists and operations, collection, analysis, technical capabilities and support. these are times of tremendous opportunity for cia. our plan will bring the same kind of team work to cia headquarters that one finds in our stations and bases around the globe, where it has helped us succeed against the toughest of targets. these changes build squarely on our strengths, enabling the agency to do an even better job of operating in the multidisciplinary and ever more technical environments that come with our mission today.
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and that will be even more prevalent in the years ahead. before i conclude, i want to thank you all for coming out today to mark this occasion. the documents released today touch on history, the presidency, the intelligence field, and democracy itself. subjects that were of great interest to me when i was a graduate student here at university of texas and are of even greater interest to me today. if any of this kindles your interest in joining the agency, chancellor mccraven can tell you some pretty good stories of what it's like to work with us. and i hope to see you among the new officers that i swear in every couple of weeks or so. my own path to cia started here at ut where as i interviewed for an agency job, where my wife thought i was getting far too comfortable as a graduate student, and i was. it has been my deep privilege to not only serve as a cia officer, but to serve presidents, democrats and republicans alike who devote so much of themselves to the extraordinarily hard and
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consequential work of leading our republic. each of us who has ever had a hand in producing a pdb or a pickle feels deeply honored to have played a role, however small in helping the president make the decisions on which our national security rests. every book is written, edited and delivered not only as a review of intelligence, but as an expression of respect. and none better captures the spirit than the president's intelligence checklist of november 22nd, 1963, the day we lost president kennedy. its pages are largely blank, except for the following words. for this day, the checklist staff can find no words more fitting than a verse quoted by the president to a group of newspaper men the day he learned of the presidents of soviet missiles and cuba. crowd the enormous plaza full. but only one is there who knows and he is the man who fights the bull.
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last night we received from the white house a letter from president barack obama addressed to the dedicated professionals of the united states intelligence community. and it says our national security depends on protecting the intelligence that saves lives, and our democracy depends on transparency for our citizens to make informed judgments and to hold our government accountable. that is why i have pledged to the american people that the united states government will be as open as possible, even as we safeguard the intelligence sources and methods that must remain secret. in keeping with this commitment, i want to thank the men and women of the central intelligence agency and the entire intelligence community for working so diligently to declassify and release an unprecedented number of the world's most sensitive intelligence products. the president's daily brief from 1961 to 1969. i also want to thank the lyndon
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baines johnson presidential library and the usual of texas for supporting this historic release of pdb articles. as your commander in chief, each morning i rely on the expertise of the intelligence community to understand the threats, challenges and opportunities we face around the world. i depend on your insights and analysis as i make decisions critical to the security of our nation. put simply, i could not do my job without you. the united states has the most professional and capable intelligence community in the world. and we are going to keep that it way. while most americans will never know the full extent of your success, i hope these declassified documents offer our fellow citizens and people around the world a window into your extraordinary service and indispensable contributions to global security and peace. as you gather in austin to celebrate the culmination of your hard work and success, please accept my deepest appreciation and best wishes.
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barack obama. thank you. it has been a real pleasure and an honor and privilege to be here as director of the cia and to be part of this release. thank you. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. we're very pleased to have such a terrific turnout for this
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unprecedented historical event, providing to the american public for the first time such a huge number of the presidential eyes only products. director brennan gave an excellent overview. and before we discuss the various perspectives of the practitioners and academic here, i'd like to do a little bit of a backdrop to provide you with the sense of how we got to the pickle and the pdb. my name is david robarge. i'm the chief historian of the cia. and i've been currently working on an internal history of all of the presidential products. and i found it very interesting over the years to track how they have changed, how they have evolved, how they have responded to various policymakers' concerns, the presidents' concerns and such. and we need to take ourselves back to a period that is very different from the present. so much of what the agency does day to day is really focused around providing that daily product for the president.
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much of the agency constantly spends 24/7 and 365 practically dealing with feeding that president's eyes only product, the pdb. and we need to understand that back at the founding of the modern u.s. intelligence community in 1946/'47, it was a very different environment. the whole process was very almost laid back there was a sort of almost lackadaisical element to it in which briefs may or may not appear. the document may or may not get read. there simply was not the anxiety and the pace and the drive that went on. it goes on daily today. let's take our minds back to roughly the end of 1945, early 1956. president harry truman has just abolished the first national level strategically oriented all service intelligence agency, the office of strategic services. and he finds himself a bit
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confused about what he is receiving through the intelligence process, if that's the right word. he complains about a lot of random uncoordinated perspectives that don't provide him with an overall insight into what is going on in the world. he wrote in his memoirs that the needed intelligence information was not coordinated in any one place. reports came across my desk on the same subject at different times from various departments, and these reports often conflicted. very much deja vu, if you will. so one of the first things he charged the cia's immediate predecessor, the central intelligence group with doing was creating a document that correlated, evaluated and disseminated information from all departments of the u.s. intelligence community, provided it to him in a concise fashion, one that he could receive every day and sort of get a classified news bulletin.
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so the first director of central intelligence, admiral sydney sauers leads the way which was referred to as the daily summary. almost all of them have been totally if not almost completely declassified and are available out at the truman library. it's a very interesting document because it looks absolutely nothing like any of the documents that you will see in the release today of the pickle and the pdb. it was a two-page mimeographed document. those of us old enough to remember mimeographed documents and tests and things in grade school, it really did look like that, printed on a roller after somebody typed it in on a stencil. very, very crowd by modern standards. had no visuals, no pictorals. very, very short. it had only six items at the time. it was organize nighed in a kind of geographic fashion. but what is interesting is to
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kind of look at these early documents and see what people really thought were important at the time. for example, in the very first daily summary, most important item in the estimation of central intelligence group analysts was a piece concerning alleged secret agreements between the united states and the soviet union that agents of some russians in switzerland were offering up for sale in paris. it sounds pretty kind of down in the weeds operational information. but we thought that was important for the president to know. by the end of 1946, the daily summary writers who started to include little tidbits of analysis and insight. but it really is not intended to be an analytic document. it is a classified news bulletin. it never runs for much more than four pages. by february 1948, about two dozen individuals and offices ininside the u.s. government are receiving it. it is not nearly as closely held as the early pickle was. there is no briefing.
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and the delivery and communication process involving the summary was almost haphazard. it was prepared every day, but it might or might not be read by the president. it was always given to the senior military aide or some prominent white house associate. sometimes it was used in the morning briefs. sometimes it was not. but one key was that no one from cig or from the cia after it took on the responsibility was present. truman liked the publication. gave it good positive feedback. when cia is created in september 1947, it inherits this responsibility from cig. now even though the feedback from the white house was generally positive, other people were questioning the utility of the daily summary. the -- for example, important early evaluation of the new cia by the dulles jackson carreira committee that came out in 1949
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made some significant comments about the daily summary that really resonate throughout the history of the president's proprietary publication. this commission says that it was a fragmentary publication and might be misleading to its consumers because it is based on limited information from certain departments. it lacks historical perspective, does not follow stories through to their end. the writers doept know everything about the pollty involved or the details of the countries they're looking at. and as a result, the agency decides to change course and come up with a different product that addresses some of these concerns. much of this is done under the supervision of the new dci who cameras in in late 1950. one of the things he does is carry out wup of the big reorganizations the agent i, renames them and uses the new office of current intelligence
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to create a different product called the current intelligence bulletin. that premiers at the end of february 1951. it looks pretty much like the daily summary in content. short items, same regional categorization. but technology moves ahead at this time and you know have off set printing being used instead of miniography and three years later, the oci gets a studio camera and starts printing graphics in the document. truman is very, very pleased with this. he writes, i've been reading the intelligence bulletin and am highly impressed with it. you have really hit the jackpot with this one. now, the document may have been improved, but the briefs process was not. the senior military aide continues to practice of meeting with him in the morning, giving him an update, sometimes using the document, sometimes not.
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after the korean war begins, the president meets every thursday morning and gets updates. the truman and eisenhower administrations were really the -- weekly national security counsel meeting. this is the situation that p pertains when the new president takes office in 1953, dwight eisenhower, he organizes quite differently. this is one of the constant variables of the history of the president's document, how the president chooses to run his national security process. whether the agency -- he's suspicious of any product that comes directly from a department and by that, he included cia even though it is an interagency national level organization.
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he does not read the cid, makes it clear he does not want morning briefings and is not going to use the cid as his -- into intelligence. he is getting most of his intel from the weekly meeting from his director of central intelligence, allen dulles. they don't figure prominently in those and this process continues throughout his presidency. in the sixth year of the current intelligence bulletin's p publication in 1957, various observers note some prominent shortcomings in it that work their way through the history of the president's product. articles are based on material that comes in every day, so, important stories might not even get written about if they don't have that current peg an analyst can use to hang the story on. the flip side is once the peg is gone, there's no continuity from day-to-day to follow up with a story, so developing situations
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after the big news may not get due attention. and not enough top officials are reading the current intelligence bulletin because they have their own sources of intelligence through their department channels or through conversations or discussions. they also complain the topics important to them are not covered in the document and the a articling are superficial or don't contain warning. so, the agency responds again retroactively and creates a document called the central intelligence bulletin. which premiers in january of 1958. it has a new name. it has a slick new cover. it has enhanced graphics. and it sort of looks like a classified magazine. it sometimes runs to ten to 20 pages, but even though it has a dissemination of hundreds of individuals and office, it was
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not an element in the daily process. this is one of the reasons why president kennedy is disfie sfooied when he takes office. he simply does not like the ceid as we call it. the central intelligence bulletin and because of his disallusionment after the bay of pig, agency leaders decide they need to reconnect with the president and one of the key ways to do that is by tailoring the daily product to the president's needs and preferences. and i will leave it at that because the director did such a fine job in presenting the history of the pickle and the peb and we'll move on to our discussion with our very, very distinguished panel of practitioners and experts here. we'll lead off with former director of cia, porter goss. he has the unique situation of being the only individual to be both dci, director of central
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intelligence and director of the central intelligence agency because he was there when the reform and terrorism prevention act was passed, abolishing the dci position and creating the dcia position. prior to that, director goss had in m years in the house of representatives, when for several, he was chairman of the house oversight committee, so he sees the process from two sides of the consumer end and one side of the producer end and has some interesti inin ining thoughts a prominence the president's daily product has. >> thank you, david, very much. first of all, i'd like to say thank you all for the extraordinary hospitality you've given us away from florida out here in texas. enjoyed it very much. first time in the library and i hope to come back and take advantage of all it has to offer besides events like this. i want to start out by echoing a little bit what director brennan
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said about the amazing capabilities we have in intelligence on a very dangerous world. it is truly amazing how far ahead we are in the things we can do and find out. and partially, that's because we've got such extraordinary men and women in our intelligence service doing extraordinary work. all of this comes together for the consumer in chief. that would be the president of the united states and the point of delivery for all of this information actually is the pdb. there are of course other ways the president gets information, but this is the vehicle that we look at as a way to get the stuff he needs to know to him or the things he needs to think about for him. so, it's an extraordinary document and it takes an extraordinary amount of effort to get stuff to him. think about this. most important man in the world. you want to give him what he needs, not what he doesn't. doesn't want to give him a lot of fluff. you need to know what he needs
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to know, that means you need to know something about what he's about and what his policies are, what his daily schedule might be. you need to know the things in the world that are going on so you can connect those in a meaningful way to him. that's an extraordinary analytical challenge and writing challenge, drafting challenge for the people involved and i congratulate them very much. thank you. >> seem to be tiflted to the left. repeating that verbatim, i think the most important thing that i can offer to this panel is how much times have changed from the days of the history david and the director brennan have referred to. it's extraordinary. presidents of course are different, but the evolution of how information flows, how much information is out there and how
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much is known is really extraordinary if you just think back in the last ten years of social media and all the ways we are suspected to information flow in our daily lives. weeding through that giant hey stack for the nuggets is therefore gotten a lot harder. on the subject of transparency, we need to have the citizens of the united states of america comfortable with how we run our intelligence committee and understanding the value of it. that does require a lot of transparency. unfortunately, when you speak now to an audience you think might be your national security team, you've got to remember you're setting very well because with the flow of information, often, the audience of your, the audience you're daysing is is the whole world and it is hard sometimes to remember which audience you're addressing and if you notice our politicians these days are having more and more trouble trying to figure out what they want to say for that group and not have it spill
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over to the other group that's also list ping who wants to hear something else. this process is very important to understand because you don't want to get the president of the united states subject to it or in it. you want to give him what he needs, the right stuff at the right time, that's urgent and not waste his time either. i would suggest right now that the question of secrecy of the pdb is a very important subject because of the audience problem. i think there's a lot in the pdb that could be shared with the american public, but i would not want to share it with people overseas who have a different view of the united states and a different plan for the united states of america and its well being and the global stage. when there is no secrecy
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required, it is the order of the day to build the confidence of the people of our country that aur leadership is doing the best they can in a difficult situation with the information that's available. and keeping that trust and confidence up there the a major effort. when i took over as the dci in 2004, time, of course, were extraordinarily different than they had been in the '60s. we still had many challenges. they were of a different sort. i started my day, my responsibilities in the five categories. the first and most important was fighting the war. in 2004, you understood we weren't quite sure whether we were going to get hit again and who the bad guys were and who this al-qaeda group was, so, that was job one every day, making sure that we did not have another terrible tragedy on our doorstep. job two of course was being a
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dci, which forntly now has evolved to a, a new architectal form. we're pleased to have director clapper, our chief intelligence officer and community who has taken ore the coordination, integration, management of the community rit large, 16 or 17 agencies or more maybe that are doing different things in different ways, but are the team that bring all this extraordinary stuff together. that in those days, we did not have the dni, so, the dci had that job. we didn't have the money because of the defense department had the money, so i was accountable for a bunch of stuff i couldn't control. it wasn't a good condition and fortunately, general clapper has come to the rescue and we now have the dni and the third job i had was to director of cia, which was managing cia at a time of great transition from what we called conventional activities
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overseas to very unconventional dangerous, asymmetric warfare of a time we hadn't experienced before and didn't quite know how to handle. those are three big jobs for any individual. the fourth job came along, well, our system doesn't seem to be working properly. congressional reports are saying we need to make some changes, so we're going to have new architecture, so my fourth job was saying, porter, you've got to help build that new architecture of how we are going to create the dni and remove the dci out of this game, so i was basically putting myself out of work and finding somebody else to do a job i was very happy to get rid of and i thank john, the first dni, for accepting all of that fun work and the last job i had was the one that almost killed me. the most time consuming, the hardest, the one i took most
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seriously, kept me up at night every night and that was preparing the pdb. i can tell you i felt that when i first started reading the pdb as new director of dci, i was dispinted. i thought there were things in there that were not relevant to the president's needs. i felt there were things in there that were stated in a way that outlined a worst case scenario rather than emphasizing a scenario. there were a lot of things i wasn't impressed by and i was getting feedback from the white house, they felt there could be some improvements, too, but weren't exactly clear about what those might be. i am very happy to say in those days, the pdb basically was delivered by professional briefers, so it was not just a director of cia in the room with a president and the vice president. it was also the national security adviser, myself and a
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professional briefer and i am forever grateful to the kad ray of extraordinary men and women who did that job. my job was to make sure the sub sans of the book was there, answer the questions, yes, sir, no, sir, mr. president, we'll get that for you tomorrow, but the people who had the facts and presented them so well in language that the president of the united states understood because they had spent enough time with him to know what his needs and wants would be and the kinds of questions he would ask. that is an extraordinarily valuable commodity for them to have. those men and women, they did a fabulous job. and i take my hat off to them. that did not mean that my day every day started at 7:00 the previous day. i would at that poinlt get the pdb for the following day. i would sit in my office and go
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through it. i would quite often have questions, usually about why is this in here. or why isn't there something in here on this. and i would call various people in the appropriate department to come up and explain it to me. about 9:00, i would generally get home. think a little bit more about it, make some questions and thoughts. go to bed. get some sleep. get up 0 dark hundred and be presented with the updates at 5:30, 6:30, whatever time we were going to the white house that day and i would have to digest all of that. then i would go down to my office in the white house complex and my briefer would come in. brief me on all the changes that had come in overnight and then, the president's briefer would come in and tell me the things he was going to say to the president and then we would all march over to the oval office and talk to the president. and it took me about two weeks to understand that about half of what we were telling the president, he had already found out because he got up earlier
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and got on the phone and talked to people overseas and we were talking to people to the east of us who had been up for five or six or seven or eight hours earlier and he had been having a regular conversation with them. we accommodated those kinds of things as best we could as we learned. it is that kind of process that makes us so rich and so valuable. and i would say that we got a lot of great questions and feedback from the president and that changed from day-to-day. some days, i was never quite sure. what it was he was going to want and he kept me off balance very, very well. and that kept me doing my job even better. i have never had a harder job in my life than try iing to figure out what was worth the president of the united states' time that we had. and i must say, there were several cabinet officers and a couple of other white house staffers who wondered what we
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were doing, too, why we were taking so much of his valuable time. but that was the president's decision. loved the pdb. couldn't get enough of it. always asked for me. he was an ideal customer and i hope that is something all presidents, the agency will always do its job so well that all presidents will feel that way about the pdb, now, to finish on a personal note, i look with great interest on these revelations that are coming out because i was a very junior person on the front lines in the missile crisis down in the conflict area and in the dominican republic during these days and i always wondered what those guys in washington were thinking and so, now, it's my chance to find out. thank you very much. >> next, we'll hear from admiral bob by inmann, well-known to you
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as a professor at the lbj school of public affairs. for our event today, we have his extensive background as an intelligence officer at the most senior ranks. director of the national security agency and major contributor and deputy director central intelligence under one of the most interesting characters to be dci. please. >> sound is going out. >> you realize very quickly how perishable your sources are. how easily they're compromised. you lose them, you have a void. so from the beginning, you want to get the information you, that you've collected in the hands of those that can use it, but at
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the same time, you want to protect how you know it in the process. what was unique about the pdb? was it not only what we knew, but it often also told how we knew it in the process. when i heard that the pdb was going to be declassified and released, my first alarm was what are you going to do about all the details and then i heard there was a lot of redax and i relaxed. so, my comments here from the journalist story. all redaxs. you can often tell what you know without harming your sources of methods. but even the slightest inference of how you get that information can lead to atz traffic loss often. often hard, even impossible to
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replace. what when i was director of national security agency, looking at what could be decl s declassified for my great holdings, i made the decision to release all of the purple materials breaking the japanese codes during world war ii. huge value to historians. changed a lot of their understanding of how the world was conducting critical decisions that were made. i was also impressed by the fbi to replace the -- materials. this was the dekripgs of kgb and i declined to declassify even though the fbi wanted to document why the rosenburgs had been arrested and tried. certainty from the intercepts of their involvement and guilt. why didn't i release it?
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kgb was still using that same system all those years later to get a new source, they weren't sure of the plant. they couldn't trust it. so they would use -- until they were confident that the sources, the new case officer was reliable and then they would go to a much higher level system. so, the key often is and this is the part i want to make redaxs, how you collected 40 years ago may still be pertinent for other targets you want to go after. it may not be the same countries you're after, but what you have to protect is the ability you information for this country's that takes precedence over telling a good story about how you happen to know something. so, i'm looking forward to seeing the redacted pdbs.
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process. and i'm also happy that we brought in this process. wonderfully valuable for historians. to look at this period of history. i'm particularly pleased in this location that you'll get a chance to see president johnson wasn't just concerned with the vietnam war. all the things he had on his plate every day with the outside world and this will give a greater understanding hopefully to those who make judgments about his presidency. that his involvement on the scene was vastly broader than just vietnam. but in accomplishing that, we're still going to protect sources. thank you. >> we'll next hear from john, a former deputy director for intelligence at cia, which
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administratively -- he was responsible for repairing the pdb. he has a long and distinguished career in u.s. intelligence, which can you can read about in your insert about the speaker's profiles. to what we're discussing today is his preparation of an unclassified book that talks about how the agency briefed presidential candidates and presidents elect over the years since eisenhower. this book has been reissued in a second edition and it is now available as i understand it, the u.s. government's first audio book. you can buy from the general or government printing office both disc set and download an ebook for i'm told only $10, so, rush right out after this event and please do so and you'll find fascinating insights from his research. john? >> thank you, david. like the other panelists, i'm delighted to be here at the lb
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glrj library and join in this edition. i would point out in addition to paying the government printer $35 for this book, you can get it online for $2. i'll leave it to you to decide which you prefer. i am participating today for the reason david mentioned, that is i happen to write the book on our briefings in the intelligence community of presidential candidates and presidents elect. and it seemed appropriate, particularly today with debates tonight and so on, that we take a few minutes to focus on that aspect of the issue. intelligence community in reaching out to brief presidential candidates and presidents elect, had really two fundamental goals broadly speaking. one of course was to ensure that those individuals of both parties were as adequately
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briefed as was feasible in the middle of presidential campaigns and all the chaos that goes with that. the second goal was not a selfish one, but sounds a bit like that. it was to establish a relationship between the intelligence community and the next president whoever it might be. now, on the one hand, there was the fun of getting to know the president. which was the title of my book, but on a more serious note and aspect, it was to ensure that we did understand the person we would be supporting, how we could best support them, but more important, to be sure they understood and their staff understood the kinds of information they could reasonably expect to get from the intelligence community and who they should contact to get that information so there would be no break from the past to the future. now, let me take just a minute
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to jump back as others have to the history of this. this all began through the good sense of president harry truman, who came to the presidency obviously when franklin roosevelt died and truman was startled to find although he had been vice president and served many other capacities in government, about how much he did not know b about critical national curt issues, including for example, the manhattan project. after truman had been in office a couple of week, secretary of war came to his office and briefed him on the manhattan project. atomic bomb. truman used this as one example of why he wanted to be sure that whoever succeeded him should be as well briefed as possible. so, truman right after the political conventions in 1952, reached out to addly stevenson, the democrat, and dwight eisenhower, the republican, and
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invited them to come to the white house so they could be briefed by the dci, whom david mentioned, bidel smith and the rump group of the cabinet who dealt with national security affairs to get the candidates up to speed. well, to make a long story short, sort of instructive series of events here, stevenson accepted and went ahead with this plan. eisenhower, however, did not. eisenhower later wrote that he thought it would be inappropriate for him to be briefed on information otherwise unavailable to the american public. and he told harry truman this in a handwritten note, seeking to explain his declination. well, you probably know a little about harry truman and he was powerfully irritated, offended at this reply from eisenhower, so you will find in a different presidential library, a handwritten letter from truman to eisenhower which i'll take the liberty to quote just a
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moment. truman said, partisan politics should stop at the boundaries of the u.s. is that not an antiquated thought? then referring to eisenhower's staff, truman went on to write, i am extremely sorry that you have allowed a bunch of screw balls to come between us. he's writing now to dwight eisenhower. just won world war ii. he goes on to say, you have made a bad mistake and i'm hoping it won't injure this great republic. there has never been one like it and i want to see it continue regardless of the man who holds the most important position in the history of the world. may god guide you and give you light. well. i know from the records that eisenhower and his staff deliberated a little and then took the high road, declining to respond in kind. to truman, but what eisenhower
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did and this was instructive to those in the intelligence community ever since. eisenhower wrote a note to beatle smith, the dci. keep in mind that indeed, eisenhower had just won world war ii in europe, but his chief of staff had been smith who still wore the uniform as the director of central intelligence. so, here's eisenhower in the few days after writing to smith. an he said to smith to the political mind, it looked like the outstanding administration was canvassing all its resources in order to support stevenson's election. eisenhower went on to describe the importance of doing what is right and the challenge and wrote of the challenges he and smith had faced in europe. this was a crushing thing for smith to receive, but the lesson for us in the intelligence
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business is that one must be ca that briefings provided to presidential candidates, presidents elect an certainly to presidents, must not be politicized nor should they have the give the impression of being politicized. well, i don't mean to paint too dreary a picture here, because eisenhower, who won the election, was a very wise man and he did say to smith, he would be happy to accept briefings from mid level substantive expert frs the cia, which he did on a regular basis, but he did not want it done at the political level. powerful lesson, which we have mostly remembered over the years. now, if i may, let me talk just a little bit about the 1960 and 1963 transitions because they were each a little different and
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each tells us, teaches us a lesson about how to handle candidates and presidents elect. in 1960, kennedy of course was running against nixon, who was the vice president and thus received his own intelligence. but kennedy was to be briefed. well, surprisingly, when kennedy became officially the candidate, the dci, allen dulles, decided he personally would do all the briefings of kennedy. well, senior officers in cia were very concerned at this. i was a little surprising that eisenhower, who had been president for eight years thinking back to his exchange with smith and truman, eisenhower sat still for this despite some reservations in the white house. and so, allen dulles did the briefings of kennedy. while he was a candidate and while he was president-elect. and frankly, although they
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worked reasonly well together, there was never a warm bond primarily i believe because they were men of different generations and temperments and personalities and while alan dell us knew most everything important, he did not have the expertise that impressed, would impress kennedy or his staff. there was one briefing however, that was an exception. and that is that allen dulles took richard bissle, the director of operations, to palm beach, and briefed john kennedy. on the array of actions the cia had underway, the most important which became the bay of pigs operation, but at that stage, was an array of political and propaganda activities, not the military conception. kennedy, according to bissle and
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dulles, listened attentively, the briefing on the cuban subject alone went on for almost an hour. kennedy asked a number of sensible questions, but studiously avoided tipping his hand as to what he thought of the plans underway. the issue for the community of course is one must reflect carefully on when and in what way you brief a president-elect or sensitive military operations. we have pretty much mastered that over the years. but in its formative stages, it was worked out here with kennedy. the other thing a little more timely, it's a lesson from that 1960 transition, was the presidential debates. 1960 were the first televised debates and as we all know, kennedy benefitted immensely and
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nixon was harmed by his performance. interestingly, those debates, both candidates, mentioned the director of central intelligence, alan dulles, and commented he had made as if he was the expert public purposes on the soviet strength of the soviet economy and the so-called bomber and missile gaps. and all of these things redachshunded to nixon's disadvantage as the debate unfolded and nixon held a grudge against the intelligence community he felt partly responsible for his loss of the election. what i would recommend you take away from this is watch carefully, particularly when the debates, not tonight, but later, occur, between the candidates, republican and democrat. the rule of thumb is that if intelligence is mentioned, there's trouble. i mentioned 18960, but briefly,
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let me mention that as recently as 2004, there was the issue of weapons of mass destruction in iraq. where both candidates were critical of intelligence. 2008, the issue was rendition detention, interrogation, cia's practices with terrorist suspects, both candidates attacked the agency. or in 2012, more recently, benghazi was the issue. it never goes away. we're still hearing about benghazi, so, the point is, whatever be your opinion on these issues, if they come up in the debate, it's going to be an enduring issue and trouble for the intelligence community. now, concerning 1963, the transition to president johnson, others have commented on this, so i won't say much expect to say the profound lesson for the intelligence community is you've got to be good to the vice president.
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others have mentioned we did not. we the community, did not give the pickle to vice president johnson. well, the reason is the that the kennedy administration prohibited it, but this was lesson that was learned in overnight by john mccone, who was then director. we've had some discussion already today of the day after they returned from texas to washington, but john mccone took the initiative to have his executive assistant telephone johnson's secretary and say, tomorrow morning, the dci will be at the vice president's office to provide the usual intelligence briefing as is regularly done. well, in truth, there was nothing usual or regular about this. as you all now know. but mccone did get in and was able quickly to recover in terms of providing briefings to johnson.
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now, interestingly, first lesson was take the vice president seriously. the second is lesson however, mccone did not really digest from our earlier experience because johnson appreciated the briefings, but he also taken with mccone's forceful direct style, began engaging mccone and seeking his advice on what should be our policy in vietnam or who should be appointed? ambassador or to other key positions. needless to say, while this was flattering to mccone, he should not have followed down that track and within some months, the relationship soured for a variety of reasons, primarily, vietnam and mccone of course ended up resign iing as dci. i oversimplified this a little bit, but the lesson of course is take the vice president seriously, don't get involved in policy issues or personnel issues.
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now, i mentioned we have two goals as an intelligence community to inform and establish a relationship. you will by now be relieved to know i won't lead you through all the other transitions in the intervening years. suffice it to say, however, that there was a major break between the first four presidents, post truman. that is truman through nixon. and the seven who followed. for the first four, when they were presidential candidates and presidents elect, they did not receive a daily publication at all and they did not receive daily briefings. they did begin to read the daily pub once they were president. the following seven presidents though, from jerry ford to the present, in somewhat different ways, all read the daily pdb while they were president-elect. they continued to read it while
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they were president and had a briefer, every day, while president-elect and most continued, all continued with a briefing, usually from the intelligence community, not infrequently from the national security adviser. the point is, the process has matured over the years and the last transition or two have been frankly great successes in no small part owing to the initiative of general clapper and his staff. the secret recently has proved to be not only have a director involved, but bring along people at a subordinate level who really know what they're talking about in detail and that is more useful and more impressive to new administration. now, i end with a couple of other thoughts. one of them is that all 11 presidents elected since truman have accepted and taken seriously the intelligence briefings they've been offered.
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you might be interested to know however, there were a handful of candidates who declined the briefings. none of them obviously got elected. so, in the coming months -- if you hear one or the other of the candidates declines the briefing, you know who to bet on come election day. now, final point i would make is that in addition to dealing with presidents, presidential candidates, presidents elect, is very important to establish a relationship and support the senior staff. the least successful briefing operation we had was with president nixon. when he was elected. y owing to the history i've mentioned, but the most successful operation so to speak we've had with senior support staff was with henry kissinger, who became national security
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adviser. when nixon did not even be returned unopened the envelopes with the pdb, kissenger read them, tasked the intelligence community. we provided him everything from substantive support to secretarial support and in his memoi memoirs, he wrote of richard helms who was the dci. now, keep in mind, this is a guy, henry kissenger, who does not dispense praise lightly, shall we say, in his memoirs. he says it is to the director, this is in the white house years book, it is to the director that the national security assistant first turns to learn the facts in a crisis. and for analysis of events. and since decisions turn on the perception of the consequences of actions, the intelligence assessment can almost amount to
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a policy recommendation, but concerned helms personally, he said disciplined, meticulously fair and discreet, helms performed his duties with a total objectivity. i never knew him to mice use his intelligence or his power. he never forgot that his integrity guaranteed his effe effectiveness, that his best weapon with presidents was a reputation for reliability. the intelligence input was an important element of every policy deliberation. by and large, the president, the policy, the practices worked, the presidents have appreciated it and we need to remember to support also cabinet level and national security advisers who were also key to the pros. thank you very much. >> our next commentator is peter
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clement, whoocg currently is dey assistant director of one of the new mission centers that director brennan mentioned. froms before him, he had many, many years of an analyst or senior intelligence manager focusing on the soviet union and later russia. and his remark about supporting the vice president and senior staff, mr. clement was a pdb briefer for vice president cheney and rice. and currently, or excuse me, was chief of the cia's presidential transition team in 2008. >> thank you, david. it's a pleasure to be here. this is my second time and this is an incredibly impressive library, the taf here are terrific and i've had a lot of fun yus touring the exhibits for the second time. they upgraded them and it's a terrific facility. i'm also honored because i'm actually sitting with people for whom i've worked pretty directly
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for a good part of my career, including currently, john brennan, and part of the joy of being with the agency for 30 plus years is working with this caliber of true intellect, insight and just a lot of fun to work with. so i want to thank everybody for having me on the panel. i want to talk specifically about my time as a pdb briefer. i feel particularly strongly about the pdb because pretty much most of my long time ten year hur has been central to my life. as a contributor, writer, analyst, first and second line editor, reviewer, not the most popular job at the agency. as a senior reviewer, when i was sitting in the di suite as the final reviewer before it went out the door. also, a fairly unpopular job. i got to meet a lot of tremendously smart and terrific angel cysts to work with on the review and finally, as the
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actually delivery person. taz briefer, i got to deliver the book to the senior policymakers. so, i spent one year as a pdb briefer. for the first six months, i breached vice president cheney. for the second, i briefed condoleezza rice. her deputy steven hadley and another deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, fran townsend. so, i'd like to divide my comments into two parts. first, what i would call the prep part. what my life was like getting ready for the brief iing and secondly, the key elements of the job as the briefer in the room with the policymaker. my wife was not thrilled when i mentioned i was taking on the job. when i told her well, i'll be going to bed at 6:00 tonight, dear, because i got to get to work by 12:30, so i would spend from 12:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. getting ready to be the briefer
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that day. so, you might ask yourself, why do you need six hours to prepare? it's a pretty small book. four or five pieces. what's the problem here? the short answer is as david noted, i'm really a rush at hand from the past and suddenly, i found myself having to brief about nuclear programs, nuclear proliferation, weird goings on in north korea. take your pick of the world and suddenly, i had to preef on this. so, part of my prep was familiarize yourself closely with the piece. what's the main analytic line. what's the basis, where do we get this information and how good is it because i need to be able to answer those quind kinds of questions from the recipient. and then figure out if there were any other odds and ends i needed to prepare for. and vice president cheney's case, his book was a little bigger than just the pdb book. a lot of the policymaker
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recipients will say i got all these articles, but i want to see some interesting other things. interesting memos that will lead the issues i'm interested in. any potential good traffic in here. we're talking about the finished products from different agencies, but we called them raw traffic. so interesting intercepts, imagery that might pertain to an item in a book. so you spend a little time fick yuring out what's going on in the pack you deliver down to the policymaker. the second is thing i discovered quickly was how much i didn't know. which was very sobering. you think you're relatively well informed until you start reading all these pieces, so, i quickly realized like in about a day or two, this whole russia thing, it's great you know a lot about russia, but it's not going to get you too far, so i adopt ed the mentality, my job here is to basically, i'm going to be a mile wide and inch deep. i'm going to be able to get through five or ten or 15
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minutes or a particular irk, but i'm never going to be that deep, deep expert. it's important to recognize your limitations. there are some answers that you're not going to have and the right answer always is sir, i'll get back to you. we have people who will have the answers. at this point, it may not be me. so, the other thing that goes on in the six hours, you sbrer act with a lot of people. we might still be finishing a particular piece if there's a last minute change. you want to get updated. the analysts who wrote the pieces will come up pretty early in the morning before you leave to get in the car at 6:30 or 7:00 to update you if there's a new tidbit you need or if you ask for a prebeef and sometimes, if i were doing a piece on say the nuclear fuel cycle and how many centrifuges are spinning in certain country, i'd say i want to have some people come down and talk to me on how to explain
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this in case i get questions. so, there's a lot of -- going on in the morning. the other thing the analyst would do, this is not what was going on in early days of the pdb. but as angel cyalystnalysts, th much more intense and demanding over the years because we develop all these background notes, so, the briefer in addition to having the piece, would have several pages of so-called background notes where the analysts would write the kinds of questions participating and here are the answers. very, very helpful. i'm looking at porter, talked about those expert professional briefers going down. some of us were more expert than others. so, forward this prep really helped. a couple of observations on the actual delivery piece. so, about 6:30, i'd hop in the car. fortunately, we had drivers, i
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didn't have to worry about the driving part. i'd do late l cramming as we would get down to the office on the west wing. and as i'd go in, i'd kind of walk through the pieces in the book and that's job number one. there's multiple roles you play as the actual briefer that morning. the first is you're conveying the bottom line of the piece. some particular issue or aspect you may want to read it to about the sensitivity of the sources, is this something new. or perhaps more importantly, is there a shift in the analytic line of the analyst when briefing this particular piece. we want to make sure that we clarify any ambiguities or uncertainties the reader might have. all the, theory recipient, some would read, look up, what about this sentence? others like you to walk through
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the piece and do a really quick summary, bottom line and interesting data point or two. the other part, two other big parts in the briefer role is you actually are a very important li san person. having that time alone in the office gives you a unique opportunity to judge a, how well the piece worked. did they have a lot of questi questions? were there things we should have done differently in presenting the piece to make it more clear so when you go back to headquarters, you can provide really good context and feedback about why things worked or didn't work or in some cases, why your generating a lot more questions. so, the other role that you play here is to, that you're the actual vehicle to bring back a fair number of questions and taskings. sometimes, that would not make you so popular. you'd get back to the building, make a few calls, oh, dr. rice
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would like this memo by tomorrow morning. a big question she had about this piece or vice president cheney. so, you would frequently be the conveyer belt as it were for bringing back feedback. the other thing that you would do when you would come back after the briefing, you frequently would get together to talk about feedback directly. convey any taskings, then alert them, he had some other questions that aren't directly related to the piece, but some i'm thinking about writing, so we'd use to opportunity to provide insights to some of the issues, concerns that the reader might have that had nothing directly related to a particular piece, but give you a nice heads-up to anticipate some issues on their mind. why didn't we plan ahead? think of another piece we might do about x, y and z. all the people i briefed for dr. rice or deputy hadley or vice president cheney, frequently, they would say gee, i'm really interested, i can't do it today, but i'd leadoff to get kind of a
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deeper look at what's going on in whatever, russia, china. and we would go back an arrange for a deep, what we call a deep dive and let's organize a briefing and vice president cheney would do this not infrequent ly, he'd want a briefing on a saturday for maybe a couple of hours and we'd wring bring out a team of analysts and do what i call a serious review of all the issues related to a particular country or issue. so, in that sense, we were really trying to be a full service liaison rep both delivering the book, but also bringing back the feedback and conveying to the authors or to the director. there would be days where there would be particular feedback that was sensitive or not good news. we didn't want to be sure to alert your boss or perhaps porter goss and say, boss, this piece stirred a lot of interest that you may want to be aware of so, the next time you're in the building, you're not blind
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sided. so i'm going stop there. if you have any other question, we'd be happy to take them on in questions and answers. >> final commentator so professor william -- executive director of the climate center and has tensive background commenting on foreign policy issues an brings a policy perspective after service at the state department policy planning staff and the national security council. >> thank you, david. and as david indicated, i want to offer my brief comments from two vantage points. first, as a historian, scholar of the cold war, i'll offer some reflections on the significance of these particular documents for the scholarly enterprise and resource. then second as a former staff member on the nsc at the white
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house, offer some brief reflections on the policymaker perspective. the basic craft of the historian is to reconstruct and interritory the past based on the documentary records stored in archives such as here where we're sitting today. these ar kifs help us address questions like how the world looked to leaders. what policy options were they considering and rejecting, what policy opgs did they embrace and why. and so, archives are unique in that they give us a snapshot of what was known at the time as opposed to say written memoirs or oral history interviews, which can be helpful, but are subject to imperfections of personal memory and sometimes, the distortions of personal vanity. in other words, we want to be remembered well and sometime, we remember ourselves a little better than the facts may warrant. so, while the cold war archival
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record contains memos to and from leaders, we have a lot of archives from other countries, particularly the end of the cold war, eastern european archives opened up. missing thus far -- the relationship we've been hearing about today wean the president of the united states and his intelligence community. in short, we historians have access to what policy advisers recommended to the president. what decisions were made, what was said in public presidential speech, but until now, we hadn't had access to what the president knew at the time. that's why these helped answer in a foreign policy context a variant of senator howard baker's question from watergate, what did the president know and when did he know it?
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? they help a related question. what did the president want to snow and reading these is like getting a mirror image of the president's mind at the time. has been discussed here in aspects that is not fully appreciated it. it's not just developed from a blank slate by the community based on what the cia wants to tell the president but, a very interactive pros. it's driven largely by customer demand, so the president tells the intelligence community what he's interested in and what format and the ic responds. and so, these pdbs don't just provide a record of what the intelligence community was telling the president at the time. it provides a record like a mirror image diary of the president's daily corns and preoccupatio preoccupations. what types of issues worried him? what countries and regions were on his mind? and while i've had the privilege of several days ago of getting some advanced access to these
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pdbs, but full disclosure, they total what 2500 documents, over 8,000 pages, i have not read them all. but i did read a number of them and a couple of my students and staff read a lot more, so special shutout to olivia and anna if you're here, thank you. i'm going to base these comments in part on your good work. a few highlights and take aways on what we've seen already and what all historians and journalists should look for. first, the staggers breadth of issues that a president daily confronts and multitude of considerations he must juggle. this is a really important cautionary note for historians who may want to only focus on the decision making process on a single issue. example, one that director brennan mentioned earlier today, historians writing on the johnson administration's troop escalation in vietnam in the 1964 and '65 window will find much value in these documents seeing what the cia was telling
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the president tat time about conditions in vietnam. but i also hope that historians focusing on vietnam will take notice while wrestling with the vietnam decision, lbj was receiving warning about stretch
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of our historical imaginations to appreciate this was the new reality that faced lbj and the realize these are not just academic interests, but the things he faces as the being responsible for leadership of the free world. the president's interaction with the pdb shaped the policy agenda for those of us working for him on the staff. the p pdb is staff.
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the pdb is such a privileged document. the rest of us, the directors and senior directors, our exposure to pdb would be episodic. one rather delicate one that came up for us in 2005 was president bush got into a disagreement with his briefer related to the iranian posture and hostage situation at the time. the president disagreed with the briefer. the briefer held her ground. the question was kicked over to my office, the strategy office. you need to resolve this. it's not a happy place to be stuck between the president and the cia.
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fortunately, one of my more colleagues took the fever. peter is a very honorable political scientist. he did the research. it turns out president bush was right. i don't know if you remember that one. the next day we got raises. all worked out. other times the president might be intrigued by an item in the pdb and ask us to develop a follow-up initiative on the issue. this sometimes turns into a full intelligence and policy feedback loop. so one time pdb item on a large country in east asia interested the president, and he asked me to then develop a major strategic initiative. we fed it back to cia, who ad t adapted that into a special
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feature. we made a lot more work for the intelligence community. you have already heard the information from that. to fully appreciate the significance of the pdb, one has to consider it from a full spectrum of perspectives. the full intelligence committee, the scholarry communit scholarle media. i want to thank president obama and brennan for declassifying these documents. this prompts a final thought. for all the criticism the u.s. intelligence community has faced in recent years, in comparison to intelligence around the world the american intelligence community remains the most transparent intelligence community in the world. and for that, i'm grateful. [ applause ]
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>> we have about 15 minutes left in our symposium here to take some questions from the audience. before we do, i would enjoin anyone who is proposing to advance to the microphone to please keep your question in the form of a question. keep it within one or two sentences. please avoid any long-winded statements. thirdly, please stick to the content of the symposium. the remarks made here, the details in the publication that you received when you arrived, and please stay away from current events or other controversies that we're in no position to discuss in this forum. i will start on this side and move over here. otherwise, i'll stick with this side. sir? >> i'm afraid i must withdraw in
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response to the last restriction since my question had to do with the intelligence in regard to the emergence and the capabilities of isil in which there seem to be a contradiction between the director's public testimony as to the agency's briefing of the president on it and the president's own statements in march of 2014, which belittled the threat and referred to isil as a junior vos -- >> thank you, sir. you're exactly right. you'll need to withdraw. >> i apologize. >> it's not part of the symposium. >> i apologize to that and i'll take my seat. >> thank you. >> thank y'all for being here today. very important day. can you hear me? >> yes. >> robert morrow of austin, texas.
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director brennan gave us a very interesting nugget a few minutes ago. it was the kennedy administration's directive to the cia saying that under no circumstances should the pdb, or the pickle, be given to johnson. under no circumstances. a few years ago roger stone wrote a book called "the man who killed kennedy, the case against l lbj. do any of you believe that lyndon johnson or the cia murdered john kennedy? >> let me very direct. it's total fiction. it has no element of accuracy or fact at all. >> and who do you think killed john kennedy?
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>> we know for certain that oswald killed him. we're going castro may or may not have been involved in that process. efforts to assassinate castro caused him in turn to inspire it, that is pure speculation. there is to fact to support that speculation, but there is certainty that stonebrook has zero creditability of fact. >> that's a question for the panel. who killed john kennedy? >> i withdraw and allow someone else to ask a question. thank you. >> i think bill o'reilly had the
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last word on that if you read his book. >> you talked about the pressures of protecting your sources and the pressures on the analysts. briefly what is the effect on wikileaks and snowden in terms of how this is done? second, if i can, what is the correlation between what the president receives daily and what i'm going to see in "the washington post" or "new york times"? >> i'll answer quickly the first part and defer to my colleagues for the second. the snowden revelations are the single most damaging series of leaks for u.s. intelligence collection capability and our relationship with an ally. he is a traitor, not a hero, in the process. wikileaks was not as damaging to
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intelligence collection as it was to our relationship with other countries because most of that damage -- the state department had dumped virtually all their secret level -- into a defense intelligence network. the damage here is that it revealed who was talking to us in kabul, who the individuals were that were talking to u.s. representatives. while it may not have compromised in the same sense what we were reading or listening to, but the damage of people being willing to talk to us, if they're going to show up in wikileaks and embarrass them in they're own country, terribly damaging to getting the
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information we need from the outside world. >> david, if i may answer the second question, which i think is a perceptive one. may be good that i answer it since it's been 20 years since i was the deputy director of intelligence and responsible for the production of the pdb. at that time, because this question had arisen, i had a careful study done. for some period, frankly forgotten how ,(tlong, we discovered something like 60% of the pdb items, the essential substance of the item was not replicated in any way in the press. we talk about the same countries and general issues, but the substance of the information reported was not to be found in "the new york times" or "the washington post." i can't speak to how that ratio may have changed from earlier periods or still later periods, but i found it striking at the time. it's a unique publication. >> can i add one quick note to
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john's comment? >> yeah, sure. >> the pdb is not actually like the newspaper. there are items in the pdb that are about things that have not happened yesterday. there are pieces about ongoing trends. things not in the headlines today or tomorrow, nonetheless important. >> there's no question that the media content of the day and the influential media outlets in our country was also a side bar in the information we had. didn't necessarily brief it as part of the pdb, but we were aware of it because quite often we got questions because something would appear that
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would tickle an interest. the question would come. we'd take it home and research it with relevant information if there was any. to say there was a correlation would be too strong a word, but to say interest was piqued sometimes by what the major news organizations were putting out and quite often followed in lock step what editorial board was saying in another. there's in question that was of interest to the policymakers. we obviously didn't get into the political aspects of it. >> next question, please. >> yes. there's a november 2014 article in "the new york times" about how the obama administration in a year earlier asked for a report from the cia about the historical record of the united states supporting various groups. the report came out it was a complete failure.
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all the cia's operations in that regards were failures. the obama administration went ahead and proceeded to go ahead and arm the syrian rebels in full defiance of the cia's expert advice. this report is classified. how can anybody in the cia talk about the importance of open government when a report like this based on the open historical report is classified and kept from the american people? another thing is that there are other issues involving past support that presumably should have gone to the white house. has anybody at the cia ever bothered to task the failure of the war on drugs? and -- >> let me cut in and address that promptly because then i want to get into --
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>> well, i'd like to bring back to -- >> let me answer it because i helped contribute to that report. i was the lead historian on that matter and the press accounts were grossly distorted. the press accounts based on that particular report are very, very inaccurate. it presents a much more mixed and nuanced picture of the record of success and failure. we're talking about current events. somebody please ask a question -- >> would you please sit down? >> sit down. >> sir, you are behaving in an uncivil manner. please retreat to your seat. sir, do you have a question about the pickle or the pdb?
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>> in the history of pdbs has there been a case when an item was not included in the pdb but later turned out to be a major snafu that day. did somebody find themselves in hot water because of potus? >> how about the practitioners here? >> there's more communication with the president of the united states between the agency and the white house with just the pdb. that would be the main vehicle of dealing with the main issues with the president of the united states. if you discover that the president's agenda has changed
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and he has a visitor from out of town, those are the kinds of things the agency, the whole community, has many abilities to respond to. >> hats off. very sincere thanks for the intelligence community. keeps our nation safe. >> thank you. >> we have time for your question. please very, very concise. >> i hope you'll be happy to know this really is about pdbs and history. i was curious given that a lot of credit for the, quote, downfall of the soviet union was attributed to an arms race that essentially bankrupted them. that's the way it's been reported lately. i'm curious if and/or how that would have been addressed in the pdb that it was particularly -- well, it was military spending, but it had more to do with economic issues behind the
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scenes than it was a militaristic battlefield, so to speak? >> it's an addressing long-term trends. peter, why don't you nail that one? >> these are exactly the kinds of questions you don't look forward to. there's considerable debate among academics about what was the main driver in the class of the soviet union. these are probably my own personal views. there's a variety of factors. gorbachev tackled issues no one else was prepared to take on because he knew how bad things were. one clue was military spending. the other was the war in vietnam. and domestic internal trends. not to mention extremist
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resistance in the communist party to his reforms. >> i think it's fair you weren't getting questions from the consumers about the state of the soviet economy. it was ultimately the state of the economy that couldn't keep up. in several years in working this process i never had a policymaker ask me about the state of the soviet economy except one occasion. wineburger wanted to know how measure the rubel against the dollar because he wanted to use it in armed services testimony. that's how you get answers to the question you're asking. when there was little interest in the state of the soviet economy, there wasn't a lot of focus on it. there was some surprise that had proved to be so weak ando


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