The President's Book of Secrets

The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents


By David Priess

Foreword by George H. W. Bush

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Every president has had a unique and complicated relationship with the intelligence community. While some have been coolly distant, even adversarial, others have found their intelligence agencies to be among the most valuable instruments of policy and power.

Since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, this relationship has been distilled into a personalized daily report: a short summary of what the intelligence apparatus considers the most crucial information for the president to know that day about global threats and opportunities. This top-secret document is known as the President’s Daily Brief, or, within national security circles, simply “the Book.” Presidents have spent anywhere from a few moments (Richard Nixon) to a healthy part of their day (George W. Bush) consumed by its contents; some (Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush) consider it far and away the most important document they saw on a regular basis while commander in chief.

The details of most PDBs are highly classified, and will remain so for many years. But the process by which the intelligence community develops and presents the Book is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels. David Priess, a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than one hundred others intimately involved with the production and delivery of the president’s book of secrets. He offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every president from Kennedy to Obama, with many character-rich stories revealed here for the first time.




Intelligence Analysis for the President, from Washington to Eisenhower

NO CHIEF EXECUTIVE IN the Republic’s first 150 years received any objective analysis of international events from an independent intelligence service. Secretaries of state and other advisors may have offered assessments of various foreign developments, but reports tailored to the specific needs and style of each occupant of the White House simply didn’t exist until the middle of the twentieth century. With no existential threats and limited global interests, the United States and its leaders could afford to go without them.

Early presidents did not avoid foreign intelligence altogether. George Washington brought to the nation’s highest office a personal understanding of the business, dating from his days handling espionage duties against Great Britain while commander in chief of the Continental Army. Even without formal training, he demonstrated a good feel for the importance of objective intelligence analysis in an April 1782 letter to Continental Congress delegate James Lovell: “It is by comparing a variety of information, we are frequently enabled to investigate facts, which were so intricate or hidden, that no single clue could have led to the knowledge of them in this point of view, intelligence becomes interesting which but from its connection and collateral circumstances, would not be important.” Washington had no analytic service to perform this duty, so he did it himself.

Many of Washington’s successors during America’s first century came to the presidency with significant international experience. Four of them—Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Martin Van Buren—served both as secretary of state and as ambassador to at least one other country before assuming the presidency. Two others, James Madison and James Buchanan, had been secretaries of state, while John Adams and William Henry Harrison had represented the United States abroad. All of these leaders’ first-hand knowledge of the world helped them evaluate reports coming across their desks from the young nation’s fledgling diplomatic service, but even they carried out their duties without an analytic cadre to assess foreign developments. Of course, they also lacked Washington’s intimate knowledge of espionage.

Abraham Lincoln used Allen Pinkerton, co-founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, to lead the nation’s intelligence gathering during much of the Civil War. The duties and the operations of the “Pinkertons” and the short-lived Bureau of Military Information had little to do with overseas issues, however, emphasizing instead the clandestine collection of information about the Confederacy, to the neglect of what we today consider analysis. For the next fifty years, the US intelligence system continued to lag well behind the services of the world’s other powers, and the nation’s experience in World War I moved the ball forward only slightly. Woodrow Wilson allowed only a small US foreign intelligence collection capability to emerge during the war. He exhibited little interest in intelligence analysis as such—largely ignoring the small intelligence division tasked to support the American end-of-war peace conference delegation that he led. The analysis he did receive came not from US analysts but largely from the British intelligence chief in the United States. It would take the dual challenge of Nazi aggression in Europe and the surprise Japanese attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to plant the seeds for a new system of modern intelligence analysis and, eventually, a presidentially focused intelligence publication.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT IN 1941 established the nation’s first foreign intelligence service: the Office of the Coordinator of Information, which morphed into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) the following year. Led by the charismatic and adventurous William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the OSS covered the gamut of intelligence activities—from the collection of human intelligence to propaganda and sabotage operations behind enemy lines—throughout World War II.

A lesser-known OSS component, the Office of Research and Analysis (R&A), emerged as the country’s first nondepartmental analytic unit, collating information from diplomats, military reports, international media sources, and academic research. The initial division of R&A officers into isolated geographical, economic, and political units shifted in January 1943 to multidisciplinary groups that reflected the military’s overseas theaters of operation. For the unprecedented effort, the government gathered a wide range of experts that Donovan referred to as “his professors,” many of them prominent scholars from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and other top universities. During the peak of the R&A effort, nearly a thousand of these political scientists, historians, economists, geographers, cartographers, and others produced about two thousand long reports, many more short memoranda, and stacks of generic handbooks about other countries.

Ray Cline, R&A’s chief of current intelligence from 1944 until the dissolution of the OSS after the war, struggled to get the office’s scholarly personnel to focus on immediate issues instead of academically interesting but policy-irrelevant research papers. He worked hard to get them to condense their assessments into readable articles suitable for the Joint Chiefs or the president. With scant feedback from Roosevelt, the analysts had no idea whether they had an eager reader in the Oval Office or a bored one.

Via the president’s secretary, Donovan sent FDR some of R&A’s assessments, covered by a memo that he wrote personally. These personal notes started out largely administrative but increasingly addressed substantive intelligence as the war progressed, and included some unedited intelligence tidbits from case officers in the field. Roosevelt appeared to like the OSS director’s memos, which certainly offered more interesting prose than the thick bureaucratic text typically reaching his desk from others. Donovan’s style embraced some decidedly nonacademic phrases such as “that old fox” and “the final death-bed contortions of a putrefied Nazi diplomacy.”

A CIA retrospective calls the R&A analytic effort “one of the few original contributions to the craft of intelligence” by the United States. Yet even a veteran of the service such as Cline recognized that this initial foray into presidential intelligence fell short of its promise. Not only did wartime analysts lack access to foreigners’ intercepted communications—SIGINT, in national security jargon—but also their publications tended to provide far more background information than actionable insights. For example, R&A officers in 1945 produced a civil affairs handbook on Germany that reached a whopping two thousand pages. Hopes faded for a rigorous system to gather and assess useful intelligence for the commander in chief.

HARRY TRUMAN, ONLY RECENTLY a senator from Missouri, faced a steep learning curve when he assumed the presidency in April 1945.

During his less than twelve weeks as Roosevelt’s vice president, Truman had picked up virtually nothing from the longest-serving president in American history to prepare him for the national security burdens he now faced. The ailing leader had spent much of early 1945 away from Washington, limiting his direct contact with Truman, outside of cabinet gatherings, to two inconsequential meetings. He excluded his VP from major discussions of foreign affairs, including his vision for the postwar world and his ideas regarding a US intelligence infrastructure after hostilities ended. Roosevelt even neglected to tell Truman about the production of the atomic bomb.

Truman, of course, found out about the Manhattan Project after taking office, using its product within four months to prompt Japan’s surrender and end the war. The new president, who disliked Donovan, almost immediately accepted a suggestion from his budget director to disband the OSS. By October 1, R&A officers who had neither returned to academia nor found other employment were transferred as a group to the State Department.

Nevertheless, Truman came to believe that the consolidation of intelligence, not just its collection, was crucial—and that the Japanese would not have surprised the United States at Pearl Harbor if his predecessor had established a more robust intelligence system. He observed in his memoirs that national security information that could not be presented in “an intelligent and understandable form” to its customers remained “useless.”

So Truman created the Central Intelligence Group (CIG), under the leadership of Rear Admiral Sidney Souers—the first director of central intelligence (DCI). The president lightened the mood at the founding meeting of the organization at the White House on January 24, 1946, handing Souers and military advisor William Leahy black cloaks, black hats, and wooden daggers while he read to them his directive bringing the CIG into existence. Truman described the DCI’s first duty as “the correlation and evaluation of intelligence relating to the national security, and the appropriate dissemination within the Government of the resulting strategic and national policy intelligence.” Truman did not explicitly mention current intelligence, such as daily analytic support for the president, but he clearly wanted it, complaining when conflicting reports reached his desk without any attempt at coordination.

CIG’s Office of Reports and Estimates (ORE) attempted to meet his need with the first daily analytic product targeted at the president personally: the Daily Summary, a classified compilation of reports from across the government. The first issue, on February 15, 1946, had just two pages with six items, covering Germany, Turkey, Yugoslavia, China, French Indochina, and the appearance in Europe of forged “secret protocols” allegedly signed in 1945 by Washington and Moscow. In the months to come, the Daily Summary regularly highlighted reports about the USSR’s aggressive global activities.

Even this initial publication spurred bureaucratic conflict. First, despite Truman’s wish for a publication including all departmental information, his new product initially lacked SIGINT; years went by before the Daily Summary’s successor actually included information from decrypted communications. Second, at the inaugural meeting on February 5, 1946, of the National Intelligence Authority (designed to oversee CIG’s fledgling intelligence activities), secretary of state James Byrnes asserted that, as the president’s primary advisor on foreign affairs, only he could deliver analysis on international developments to Truman. DCI Souers, who stayed in the job for less than five months, said that Byrnes won the day: “The result was agreement that the daily summaries should be ‘actual statements.’ The Department of State prepared its own digest, and so the President had two summaries on his desk.” An article in the CIA’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, acknowledges that early copies of the Daily Summary “probably did little but confuse the President.”

If Truman felt baffled, it didn’t show. He noted the Daily Summary in his memoirs but gave no sign that its largely factual nature, or the appearance of a more interpretive State Department cousin alongside it, troubled him. One of the document’s earliest editors, R. Jack Smith, noted that Truman began asking for it almost daily.

President Harry Truman’s first Daily Summary, February 15, 1946. Central Intelligence Agency website photo

Smith and his colleagues at ORE took the president’s interest as license to push the boundaries. Under the more assertive leadership of a new DCI, Lieutenant General Hoyt Vandenberg, CIG’s personnel expanded from roughly one hundred in June 1946 to more than eighteen hundred less than a year later. By the end of 1946, analysts occasionally complemented their raw reports with interpretations of the material. Hearing no objections from the Daily Summary’s readers, during the following year they kept doing it, with increasing frequency. The lack of a direct feedback mechanism initially prevented anybody at CIG from knowing what Truman truly wanted. White House officials simply never informed Smith or his officers what they expected for the president. Finally, in 1947, presidential naval aide James Foskett told officers in ORE that “the President considers that he personally originated the Daily, that it is prepared in accordance with his own specifications, that it is well done, and that in its present form it satisfies his requirements.”

Although aimed at Truman, the Daily Summary from the start also went to about fifteen other senior recipients. Some readers outside the White House dismissed the new publication. Secretary of state George Marshall read it for only two weeks after succeeding Byrnes in January 1947. Because most of the information in it came from State Department sources, which Marshall had already seen, his aide ended up showing him only two or three items from the Daily per week. An advisor to secretary of the navy James Forrestal said that his boss called the Daily Summary “valuable” but not “indispensable.” One of the few senior officials around town who seemed to like it was secretary of war Robert Patterson, who read it “avidly and regularly.”

It didn’t take long for the existence of Truman’s Daily Summary to hit the press. The New York Times in July 1946 said the president’s new secret “newspaper” made him “the best informed Chief Executive in history on foreign affairs.”

THE NATIONAL SECURITY ACT of 1947 restructured the US military services, established the National Security Council (NSC) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and created the Central Intelligence Agency on the foundation of the CIG. The law of the land codified analysts’ duty: “to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the Government using where appropriate existing agencies and facilities.” Led by Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter—the third DCI, and the first to also serve as CIA director—the Agency thus kept producing the Daily Summary for Truman.** In a practice that most of Truman’s successors would reject, the president frequently received his copy personally from the DCI.

From 1947 to 2005, directors of central intelligence (DCIs) both managed the intelligence community and ran the Central Intelligence Agency. For convenience, references hereafter most often use the title “CIA director.” In April 2005, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act split these duties between a new position, the director of national intelligence (DNI), and the director of the CIA (DCIA).

Authors of pieces in the publication found themselves asked quickly to assess controversial topics for the president. During the war scare of early 1948—sparked by a cable from the US military governor in Germany warning the Pentagon about a coming Soviet attack on the West—analysts pushed back in the March 16 Daily Summary: “CIA does not believe that the USSR is presently prepared to risk war in the pursuit of its aims in Europe.” Within months, as the Soviets ratcheted up pressure on the Western powers by blockading West Berlin, the Agency’s experts similarly wrote for Truman: “The Soviet action . . . has two possible objectives: either to force the Western powers to negotiate on Soviet terms regarding Germany or, failing that, to force a Western power withdrawal from Berlin. The USSR does not seem ready to force a definite showdown.” On June 26, 1950, the day after North Korea invaded the South, the Daily Summary included this text: “In sponsoring the aggression in Korea, the Kremlin probably calculated that no firm or effective countermeasures would be taken by the West. However, the Kremlin is not willing to undertake a global war at this time.”

And yet daily intelligence reports for the president still lacked access to much US government information. In January 1949, the so-called Dulles-Jackson-Correa Committee, which the NSC had tasked to explore the effectiveness of the new intelligence system, found that “approximately ninety per cent of the contents of the Daily Summary is derived from State Department sources. . . . There are occasional comments by the Central Intelligence Agency on portions of the Summary, but these, for the most part, appear gratuitous and lend little weight to the material itself.” Jack Smith, who directed the CIA’s current intelligence unit, acknowledged in September 1950 that State Department cables dominated the Daily Summary. He laid the blame at the feet of other departments for withholding from the Agency sensitive materials, such as General MacArthur’s reports from Tokyo and various messages sent in to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Smith urged his bosses to “make urgent efforts on a high level, as I have repeatedly requested be done, to have the sensitive cables of the Defense Department made available to CIA.”

Such high-level efforts would come sooner than expected. A new, widely respected DCI, General Walter Bedell “Beetle” Smith, took the Agency’s reins in October 1950. He possessed the most impressive background yet for the office, having served as secretary of the General Staff under General George Marshall early in World War II, chief of staff for General Dwight Eisenhower from 1942 to 1945, and ambassador to the USSR. The only thing stronger than his resume was his legendary temper, which he used liberally to smash through bureaucratic obstacles.

Within three months of Beetle Smith’s arrival at the CIA, the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI)—the Agency’s collection of analysts who would provide daily intelligence to the president for almost thirty years—took shape and began revamping the Agency’s finished product line. The Daily Summary ended on February 20, 1951, with an issue covering Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s comments in an interview, Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito’s machinations in Yugoslavia, and the USSR’s military operations in China. Each item passed on comments from US embassy cables or military attachés without any analysis.

The following week, the all-source Current Intelligence Bulletin debuted. From the start, it differed clearly from its predecessor. First of all, each item in the inaugural issue on February 28 included analytic commentary. All presidents from this point forward would consistently see in their daily intelligence book not only summaries of raw reports but also assessments from CIA experts. Second, four of this first edition’s six pieces focused on information from communications intercepts; only two remained based on State Department reporting and foreign media information. Such SIGINT appeared regularly in daily intelligence for the president after this.

The Current Intelligence Bulletin initially went only to a select few top-tier officials, listed inside the front cover of the first issue: Truman, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the three service chiefs. Soon thereafter, thirteen copies went outside the Agency, including to General Dwight Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander in Europe (SACEUR). However, errors tainted the product’s first few weeks. In a prominent example, one piece in March indicated that North Korea had missiles. A follow-up item a few days later admitted that upon retranslation, it was clear that the meaning of the Korean word was “radar,” not “missiles.” Despite such glitches, the new product pleased Truman, who wrote the same month to Smith: “Dear Bedel [sic], I have been reading the Intelligence Bulletin and I am highly impressed with it. I believe you have hit the jackpot with this one. Sincerely, Harry Truman.”

OCI officers knew little about how Truman actually used the Current Intelligence Bulletin during his remaining two years in office. However, they were pleased when he told a group of CIA employees as he was departing:

This agency puts the information of vital importance to the President in his hands. He has to know what is going on everywhere at home and abroad, so that he can intelligently make the decisions that are necessary to keep the government running. . . . Those of you who are deep in the Central Intelligence Agency know what goes on around the world—know what is necessary for the President to know every morning. I am briefed every day on all the world, on everything that takes place from one end of the world to the other, all the way around—by both the poles and the other way.

WAR HERO DWIGHT EISENHOWER entered the presidency in 1953 with orders of magnitude more international experience than Harry Truman had had some eight years earlier. He had served as SACEUR to close out the German theater in World War II, after earlier experience overseas in the Philippines and Central America. He had worked closely with British and French leaders and even traveled to Moscow after the war. For the first half of 1952, while serving as SACEUR, he joined the small (at that point) circle of readers of the top-level Current Intelligence Bulletin.

He also carried forward into his new job a rigid pattern for receiving and processing intelligence information and for making decisions—an approach that reduced the importance of the Agency’s daily intelligence product for the next eight years. When asked how he wanted his CIA briefings, Eisenhower said, “I would much rather have it at the NSC level so all my staff and all of us can hear the same thing each time rather than to have a personal briefing.” Thus, Agency analysts shifted their primary emphasis from writing presidentially relevant information in the Bulletin to preparing a steady stream of papers and briefing materials for the weekly NSC gathering, which Eisenhower chaired virtually every Thursday for eight years. Robert Cutler, one of Eisenhower’s national security advisors, asserts that his boss made the vast majority of his national security policy decisions through this formal process.

Although he and Eisenhower had shared a close relationship during the war, Smith did not regularly brief the president alone—a situation that continued under Allen Dulles, who succeeded Smith as CIA chief in February 1953. “Every President has his own system,” Dulles noted. “Under Eisenhower the briefing system was quite largely developed around the meetings of the National Security Council.” The director started each meeting with an intelligence presentation—which could take up 25 percent of the session—covering the world’s hot spots, fielding questions from the NSC members, and then spending most of his time on that meeting’s predetermined topic. An assistant took notes and produced charts or maps synchronized with the director’s commentary.

Officers in the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), formed in early 1952 to consolidate analytic functions in the Agency, accordingly shifted their focus away from the Bulletin (which stayed in print, just with less focus on the president as a customer) and toward support for the director’s frequent NSC briefings. The schedule of topics for forthcoming NSC sessions engendered an assembly line of policy papers that often had little to do with crises of the day. “I can remember an occasion when the newspaper headlines were along the lines of, ‘NSC Meets as War Clouds Loom over Taiwan Strait,’” recalled Dick Lehman, who in the early 1950s was a young current intelligence analyst. “They were right: the NSC did meet, but it discussed a paper on policy toward Italy, which had been in gestation for six months, because that was the agenda, set months in advance.”

Lehman got to see Eisenhower in action once, at an NSC meeting near the end of the president’s term. Lehman sat in the back row of the Cabinet Room, behind Dulles’s seat, where he could manipulate the maps and briefing boards to which Dulles would refer moments later. All rose as Eisenhower entered the room, and the briefing began with a discussion on Communist China’s shelling of offshore islands controlled by the nationalists. The president looked at Dulles and asked, “What are the calibers of the Communist guns?”

Dulles looked behind him. The back-benching Lehman quickly replied, “Just small stuff, 75-mm or less.” Eisenhower nodded, the meeting went on, and Lehman never spoke up again during this or any other NSC session during that administration. However, the young analyst believed that current intelligence publications could, and should, focus more effectively on the needs of the Agency’s top customer. Lehman would translate thought into action during the next administration and, in so doing, influence how presidents have received daily assessments of foreign developments for the five decades since.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE GENERAL ANDREW Goodpaster, in lieu of an Agency officer, briefed Eisenhower at least twice a week. He used the Current Intelligence Bulletin—along with products from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff—to develop an oral presentation because his boss avoided reading daily written reports himself. The Bulletin became seen less as a vehicle for getting intelligence analysis to the president than as a product for informing a wider cross section of national security officials. As a result, its distribution outside the Agency had expanded to thirty-three copies by 1954 and forty-eight copies by mid-1957.

Eisenhower grumbled in early 1954 that the intelligence coming to him lacked context for its assessments of the Soviet threat and failed to differentiate between the USSR’s capabilities and its intentions. The first concern was understandable: analysts at the CIA typically spent more time focusing on reports relating to foreign targets than to comparisons of US and Allied postures to those targets. But the fact that his intelligence analysis failed to distinguish clearly between what the Soviets could do with their resources and what they were likely to do must have infuriated the man who would leave office warning the American people about the societal implications of assuming the worst merely from an enemy’s capabilities.


  • "In The President's Book of Secrets, David Priess succeeds in lifting up the curtain on the personalities behind national security and how the government's leading analysts bend to those characters to fulfill their duty."—Charged Affair
  • "[Priess] deftly sketches the evolution of this daily intelligence digest, along with the twists and turns of policy, personalities and power plays...Anyone interested in how decisions get made by the most powerful person in the most powerful country in the world will relish the details in The President's Book of Secrets."—Wall Street Journal
  • "David Priess, a CIA officer who served as a daily intelligence briefer during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, has written a thoroughly engaging account of how 'The Book,' as it is known in Agency parlance, came into existence, and how presidents used (or ignored) it."—The Washington Times
  • "David Priess, a former CIA officer, has lifted the veil on the process and substance of creating the PDB in his readable and well-researched volume, The President's Book of Secrets...providing insights not only into modern American presidents and their approaches to working with intelligence products but also the attitudes of senior officials to the products. Those insights are an interesting addition to the historical record on U.S. foreign policy."—Jack Caravelli, The Washington Free Beacon
  • "An important addition to the body of academic works on national security. It offers a unique look into the people and processes that impacted and continue to shape the course of history. In lifting the veil, Priess gives readers not just a close look at a key product that influences the choices of those in the White House, but the inner workings of government itself."—Proceedings
  • "An authoritative yet easily read book about an important part of the president's daily routine. [Priess] has successfully enlivened the work with myriad first-person accounts from former presidents down to the folks who have written the PDB articles. A CIA review of the manuscript ensured that classified material was not included, but Priess gives the reader plenty of substance to go with details of the process. As a result, The President's Book of Secrets offers a previously untold story about one of those closely guarded, 'eyes-only' facets of the intelligence world."—Michael K. Bohn, Tribune News Service
  • "A welcome change of pace from the traditional spy yarn or tell-all books that dominate the intelligence literature today. Priess' work makes an invaluable contribution to the study of intelligence, which no library on national security is complete without...Priess's prose is highly readable, fast paced, more interesting and even suspenseful than many readers might expect when given a story about analysts doing their work. Priess is an exceptional raconteur, and his style makes characters come alive on the page."—The Cipher Brief
  • "At times as entertaining as it is informative, Priess' book is neither a dry academic exercise nor a sensational tell-all expose, but is instead a thoughtful and revealing peek behind the scenes of what goes on between the President and the keepers of the nation's secrets."—Mark McLaughlin, DC Examiner
  • "This volume provides greater understanding of how presidents' minds operate and dissect information. It also humanizes their decisions by detailing the intricacies of how the PDB is handled. With the September 2015 release of the Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson PDBs, this publication is timely...Recommended for those interested in a different perspective on the U.S. presidency, political scientists, and historians."—Library Journal, starred review
  • "Turns the potentially dour history of the president's daily intelligence briefing into a stimulating, if uncritical, account... Readers accustomed to CIA skullduggery will be surprised to find it admiringly portrayed as an organization of experts devoted to delivering unbiased information to a grateful president."—Publisher's Weekly
  • "A fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels with many character-rich stories."—Kentucky Forward

On Sale
Mar 1, 2016
Page Count
400 pages

David Priess

About the Author

Dr. David Priess is Publisher of Lawfare, Chief Operating Officer of the Lawfare Institute, and co-host of the Chatter podcast. He concurrently works as a visiting professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and a senior fellow at the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. Priess, who has a PhD in political science from Duke University, served at the CIA as an intelligence officer, a manager, and a daily intelligence briefer during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He is the author of two books, The President’s Book of Secrets and How to Get Rid of a President. He has appeared often in national media like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR to discuss the presidency, national security, and intelligence issues and has written on the same topics for many national publications.

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