The President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a highly classified intelligence report prepared daily for the President of the United States, “is the quintessential predecisional, deliberative document,” the Central Intelligence Agency argued (pdf) recently in court, claiming that virtually nothing about it can be made public even after several decades have passed.
“What is most amazing is that one day they say the method of producing [the PDB] is so secret that nothing about the document can be disclosed, and then not long after they release this detailed, hour by hour explanation of how it is produced,” she said.
The 1970 memorandum, written by Andrew Marshall for Henry Kissinger, describes strengths and weaknesses in the PDB process, and proposals for improvement.
But the biggest “secret” about the Daily Brief may be what Marshall described as “the widely shared suspicion that the President does not ever read the CIA PDBs.”
As for the selection process that determines what to include in the PDB, Mr. Marshall wrote in his Top Secret Codeword report, “It is derived… to a large extent, I believe, from a sense of what’s timely as judged from the New York Times, press, and wire service coverage.”
See the “Evaluation of the Process Leading to the President’s Morning Intelligence Reading Package,” memorandum for Henry A. Kissinger from A.W. Marshall, March 18, 1970 (13 MB PDF file).
Selected other declassified documents from the Nixon Library released this week are here.