The President's Book of Secrets

The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents

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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.
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On Sale
Feb 28, 2017
Page Count
400 pages
Publisher
PublicAffairs
ISBN-13
9781610397698

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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