APL Colloquium

August 24, 2018

Colloquium Topic: The President's Book of Secrets

The President's Daily Brief, or PDB, contains the most sensitive reporting and analysis in the world. Every working morning, intelligence briefers fan out from CIA headquarters to personally deliver copies of the PDB to the President and the handful of senior advisers he has designated to see its Top Secret content. No major foreign policy decisions are made without it. Yet its story has gone largely untold--until now.

David Priess, a former CIA officer and intelligence briefer who interviewed all of the living former President and Vice Presidents, offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every President from John F. Kennedy until now via a peek inside the production, delivery, and reception of the President's Daily Brief. With many character-rich stories, Priess brings listeners inside the smallest circle of intelligence and national security leaders and illustrates the great efforts intelligence professionals make to ensure that the President gets the intelligence information he needs every day, in the format that is most useful to him.

Colloquium Speaker: David Priess

Dr. David Priess is a writer, speaker, and media commentator on the presidency, national security, and intelligence issues. He served at the CIA during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as an intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer as well as at the State Department as a desk officer in the Near East Bureau. His role as an intelligence briefer included delivering the President's Daily Brief to FBI Director Robert Mueller as well as to the Attorney General, the National Security Advisor and her deputy, and the CIA’s Deputy Director.

For his 2016 book The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents, Priess became the first author to interview for one book every living (at that time) former President, Vice President, and CIA Director as well as nearly 100 national security and intelligence leaders of the past half century—including most National Security Advisors, Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Defense, and White House Chiefs of Staff. His next book, coming out in November 2018, looks at the various ways Presidents have left office. His expert analysis and commentary has appeared in outlets including The Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Lawfare, War on the Rocks, The Cipher Brief, Skeptic, and The Houston Chronicle. He has appeared as a national security and political commentator on multiple occasions for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and the BBC. Priess obtained his PhD in political science from Duke University and has taught political science classes at Duke University, the George Washington University, and George Mason University.