Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Obama's Intelligence Brief

President's Morning Brief                      [Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty]

Click here for related story [Wash Post: Marc Thiessen]

The Washington Post, along with much of the Liberal Media, dismisses the fact that the President of the United States has missed nearly 60 per cent of his morning intelligence briefings.  But, the Media counters with the response that he actually read the print version of that brief, sometimes.

Expendable Ambassador
A "Bump in the Road"?
Interestingly, the morning following the assault on the Benghazi US Consulate, resulting in the deaths of the US Ambassador and three other US citizens [and at least one Marine not yet identified as a casualty], Mr Obama again ignored the morning brief and headed out for more campaigning.

He stated that this assault and death of a US Ambassador was merely a "bump in the road", nothing to be concerned about -- unless you work in a US embassy.

So, what's the big difference between sitting in on the morning brief vs simply reading the hard copy report. 

Short answer: Watching the movie Titanic vs reading the Cliff Notes.

Long answer: 
Since we have considerable experience in this briefing process, from gathering the information, to analyzing it, to preparing and delivering the Morning Brief, we'll share what the big deal is.

Will the Chinese Attack Pearl Harbor or Chicago?
The Morning Brief consumes a major effort throughout the US Intelligence Community.  Its purpose is to prepare the President and his decision-makers for the life and death contingencies he/they may have to face during the course of the day.

More goes into this morning report than goes into the morning edition of the New York Times or the Washington Post since thousands of analysts filter through millions of pages of field reporting by spooks, embassy officers of every specialty, Ambassadors' assessments, analyses by CIA Station Chiefs [COS] and Military Attaches [DATT], resident FBI and Treasury agents, and even Department of Commerce Commercial Attaches reporting on business trends [e.g., oil contracts]. 


Added to these Human Intelligence [HUMINT] reports and analyses are the National Security Agency's [NSA] Signals and Communications Intelligence [SIGINT/COMINT] reports of telephone and other communications intercepts of every relevant communication in the world.

Now, add to the HUMINT and SIGINT material all the relevant overhead [i.e., satellite/reconnaissance planes/drones] imagery [IMINT] taken of critical locations and facilities [e.g., nuclear facilities in Iran, Israeli nuclear weapons sites, terrorist training camps, Chinese military facilities, etc.] all of which is impressive stuff [you can read the name tags on a soldier's uniform].

Millions of News Stories
Finally, there is a compilation of open source news reports from every country in the world, with highlights of trends and potential internal and international flare-ups from military, economic, financial, ethnic, or other sources of irritation.

That's a lot of material to edit into a morning brief lasting roughly an hour, complete with visuals.

Jim Clapper:  DNI

Now, all those millions of pages of data are compressed into the President's Daily Brief [PDB], accompanied by the paper copy called the NID [National Intelligence Daily], formerly produced by the Director of Central Intelligence, but now under the thumb of the Director of National Intelligence [James Clapper].

This is all contained in a binder of about 30 pages, each with three to five paragraphs - plus images.

President's Daily Brief
The PDB contains both unclassified information as well as that classified well beyond Top Secret -- known as "Codeword", and abbreviated as TSC.

The "C" also stands for "Compartmented" which means that only a limited number of persons are authorized to have access to the material -- so not all the Cabinet Officers are privy to the contents; usually, just the President, the SecState, the SecDef, and the National Security Advisor.  On occasion, portions of PDB are EYES ONLY for the President.

Intelligence Community

Intelligence Community staffs screen all this information, compile it, edit it, and feed it into a central intelligence staff which refines it into the material suitable for PDB and reduced in hard copy form to the NID.  Separately, key items are highlighted for the oral brief which takes critical information essential to the President and the Cabinet for their decision-making process on issues of strategic importance.

So, the PDB oral version consists of a senior intelligence officer presenting the brief at a podium where he/she can control the visuals during the brief, to include highlights in Power Point, along with key imagery blown up to wall-sized pictures, with subsequent blow-ups to show minute detail.

Multi-media briefing -- Better than the book
For each segment of the brief, there are senior briefing officers fluent in the content and capable of elaborating and/or discussing the strategic impact of the event under review.  These officers are backed up by subject matter experts on call to discuss even the most minute detail of interest to the President or Cabinet Officer.

Thus, the value of the PDB is to educate the President on every major event in the world which may impact the US or its allies.  Because it is delivered orally, it affords the President the opportunity to grasp the importance of an event, and to receive input from his advisors, so that, should a strategic decision be necessary, he will have the background from which to decide, or at the very least, know how to ask an intelligent question to obtain the information he needs. the NID

Browsing, or even perusing the NID, will not provide the President the knowledge he needs as the Commander-in-Chief, particularly if he is more interested in the next campaign speech he will give.

The failure of a President to employ the most effective tool at his disposal 
to conduct the affairs of State is inexcusable.