President's Daily Brief

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The President's Daily Brief[1] (PDB), sometimes referred to as the President's Daily Briefing or the President's Daily Bulletin, is a Top Secret document produced each morning for the President of the United States. Producing and presenting the brief is the responsibility of the Director of National Intelligence,[2] whose office is tasked with fusing intelligence from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other members of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Purpose and history[edit]

The PDB is intended to provide the president of the United States with new international intelligence warranting attention and analysis of sensitive international situations. The prototype of the PDB was termed the President's Intelligence Check List (PICL); the first was produced by CIA officer Richard Lehman at the direction of Huntington D. Sheldon on June 17, 1961.

Although the production and coordination of the PDB was a CIA responsibility, other members of the U.S. Intelligence Community reviewed articles (the "coordination" process) and were free to write and submit articles for inclusion.

While the name of the PDB implies exclusivity, it has historically been briefed to other high officials. The distribution list has varied over time, but has always or almost always included the Secretaries of State and Defense and the National Security Advisor. Rarely, special editions of the PDB have actually been "for the President's eyes only," with further dissemination of the information left to the President's discretion.

Production of the PDB is associated with that of another publication, historically known as the National Intelligence Daily, that includes many of the same items but is distributed considerably more widely than the PDB.


The PDB is an all-source intelligence product summarized from all collecting agencies.[3][4] The Washington Post noted that a leaked document indicated that the PRISM SIGAD (US-984) run by National Security Agency (NSA) is "the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports."[5] The PDB cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in the 2012 calendar year.[6] Declassified documents show that as of January 2001 over 60% of material in the PDB was sourced from signals intelligence (SIGINT).[7] According to the National Security Archive, the percentage of SIGINT-sourced material has likely increased since then.[7]

Political importance[edit]

Former Central Intelligence Director George Tenet considered the PDB so sensitive that during July 2000 he indicated to the National Archives and Records Administration that none of them could be released for publication "no matter how old or historically significant it may be."[8]

During a briefing on May 21, 2002, Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary, characterized the PDB as "the most highly sensitized classified document in the government."[9]

On Sept. 16, 2015, CIA Director John Brennan spoke at the LBJ Library, at the public release of a total of 2,500 daily briefs and intelligence checklists from the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies.[10][11] The release was a reversal of the government's previous stance in legal briefs attempting to keep the PDB indefinitely classified.[12]

Public awareness[edit]

The PDB was scrutinized by news media during testimony to the 9/11 Commission, which was convened during 2004 to analyze the September 11, 2001 attacks. On April 8, 2004, after a testimony by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the Commission renewed calls for the declassification of a PDB from August 6, 2001, entitled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US. Two days later, the White House complied and released the document with redaction.


External links[edit]