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CIA’s Daily Briefings to the President Shed New Light on Johnson and Kennedy Administrations

At a public event hosted by the LBJ Presidential Library, the Central Intelligence Agency released previously classified daily briefings it delivered to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s.

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CIA Director John O. Brennan

CIA Director John O. Brennan

At a public event hosted by the LBJ Presidential Library on Sept. 16, the Central Intelligence Agency released previously classified daily briefings it gave to Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. CIA Director John O. Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper delivered remarks at the event, titled, “The President’s Daily Brief: Delivering Intelligence to the First Customer.”

The President’s Daily Brief, known in Washington as the “PDB,” contains intelligence analysis on crucial national security concerns. Only the President, Vice President and a small group of officials designated by the President receive the briefing, which one historian has described as the world’s smallest-circulation, most highly classified newspaper.

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Leading up the declassification, Brennan discussed intelligence in American society at a roundtable hosted by UT Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project, a collaboration of UT Austin’s Clements Center for National Security and Strauss Center for International Security and Law.

Intelligence Studies Project Director Stephen Slick, Clements Center Executive Director William Inboden, and Strauss Center Director Robert Chesney are national thought leaders on both historic and current national security and intelligence issues, and are combing through the PDBs for insight on the Johnson and Kennedy administrations and political implications.

After Brennan, M.A. ’80, released the documents, the CIA made them available online at http://www.foia.cia.gov. The collection includes early PDBs, called the President’s Intelligence Checklists, from June 1961 in the early years of the Kennedy administration to November 1964, and PDBs published from December 1964 through the end of President Johnson’s term in January 1969.

“The declassification and release of years of top-secret PDBs from the Kennedy and Johnson era could prove to be a treasure trove for historians,” said Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. “The PDBs provide fresh context for some of the most tumultuous and significant foreign events in our history, including the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall and other world-changing crises.”

The collection was assembled as part of the CIA’s Historical Review Program, which identifies, reviews and declassifies documents on historically significant events.

The event featured a panel discussion and remarks by leading U.S. intelligence officials, archivists and historians, including former CIA Director Porter Goss, former CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence John Helgerson, and former Deputy Assistant Director of CIA for Europe and Eurasia Peter Clement. View the full schedule and speaker biographies. Inboden and Admiral Bobby Inman, LBJ centennial chair in national policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former deputy director of the CIA, will be among the experts, and UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven, former admiral and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, spoke about the importance of intelligence.