Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates

Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004

Agency Publisher: Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence
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Description

This second edition of Getting To Know the President by John Helgerson makes a singular contribution to the literature of intelligence by describing this important process of information sharing between the Intelligence Community (IC) and the Chief Executive, the President of the United States, starting as a presidential candidate. Since 1952, the CIA, and now the Intelligence Community as a whole, has provided presidential candidates and presidents-elect with intelligence briefings during their campaigns and transitions. These briefings have helped presidents be as well informed as possible on international developments from the day they take office.

First published in 1996 and now revised and updated to include accounts of intelligence support to candidates and presidents-elect in the three elections between then and 2004, Helgerson’s study provides unique insights into the mechanics and content of the briefings, the interaction of the participants, and the briefings’ effect on the relationships presidents have had with their intelligence services. His observations on how and what to brief during the campaign and transition periods are essential reading for members of the community charged with that responsibility in the future and seeking to learn from the best practices of their predecessors.

Table of Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Foreword to First Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

CHAPTER 1: Truman and Eisenhower: Launching the Process . . . . . . . . . . 7
Strained Relations Complicate the Arrangements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Preelection Briefings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Support to the President-Elect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
The New President as an Intelligence Consumer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Briefing Governor Stevenson in 1952 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Challenger Briefed Again in 1956 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

CHAPTER 2: Into Politics with Kennedy and Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
The Presidential Debates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Preelection Briefings: What Really Was Discussed? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
The Missile Gap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Postelection Briefing on Cuba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Other Covert Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
The Mystery Briefing of Late November . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Kennedy Visits the CIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Origins of the President’s Intelligence Checklist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
The Transition to President Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Vietnam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Evolution to the President’s Daily Brief. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

CHAPTER 3: Nixon and Ford - Uneven Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Supporting Nixon’s Team in New York City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
The Key Player: Henry Kissinger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Nixon Remains Aloof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
A Closer Relationship With Ford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Discussing Operations and Intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Political Problems Undermine the Briefing Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

CHAPTER 4: In-Depth Discussions with Carter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Extended Preelection Briefings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Operational and Political Issues Arise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Carter’s Use of the President’s Daily Brief. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

CHAPTER 5: Reagan and Bush - A Study in Contrasts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Postelection Briefings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
A Higher Level of Daily Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
After the Inauguration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
The Transition to President Bush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

CHAPTER 6: Briefing Governor Clinton in Little Rock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
The DCI Visits Little Rock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
Establishing a “Permanent” Presence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Substance of Discussions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Other Opportunities To Help . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Great Support Made It Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
What Was Accomplished . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

CHAPTER 7: George W. Bush: Demanding Consumer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
The Presidential Debates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
Postelection Briefings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
Vice President-elect Cheney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Covert Action Briefing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Strong Supporting Cast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
Impact of Austin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
President Bush as a Customer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
Intelligence and Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Kerry and Edwards Briefed in 2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171

CHAPTER 8: Concluding Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Patterns of Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
What the Presidents Recommend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Keeping Out of Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
The Arrangements Make a Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Material That Was Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193  

 

Author Bio:

Mr. Helgerson was the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general
from 2002 until his retirement in 2009. Previously, he served as chairman of
the Intelligence Community’s National Intelligence Council and deputy director
of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Mr. Helgerson began his career in government as an analyst of African politics
at the CIA. At varying posts he headed units responsible for coverage of
Africa, Latin America, and Europe. He served in a number of senior management
posts, including deputy director for intelligence and director of congressional
affairs.

Prior to his government service, Mr. Helgerson was an assistant professor
of political science at the University of Cincinnati and a research affiliate of
the University of Zambia in Lusaka. He specialized in international relations
and African politics.

A native of South Dakota, Mr Helgerson graduated from Saint Olaf College
in Northfield, Minnesota, and received M.A. and Ph.D degrees from Duke
University in Durham, North Carolina.

He is the author of Getting To Know the President: CIA Briefings of Presidential
Candidates, 1952–1992.

Mr. Helgerson has received a number of awards and commendations,
including the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, CIA’s Distinguished
Career Intelligence Medal, and NIMA’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

Product Details

GPO Stock Number:
041-015-00279-1
ISBN:
9781929667192
Availability Details:
In Stock - Warehouse and Retail (Priced)
USA Price:
$47.00
International Price:
$65.80
Publisher:
Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence
Author:
Helgerson, John L.
Year/Pages:
2012: 224 p.; ill.
Note:
Supersedes the first edition, which was originally published in 1996, and reprinted in its entirety in 2001 (Neither the 1996 nor the 2001 printings were sold by GPO, but the 1996 edition is available on the Internet at http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS9940.)
Key Phrases:
Presidential Candidates
President
Intelligence History
SuDocs Class:
 
Weight:
1.125 lb.
Quantity Price:
Discount
Binding:
Paperback
Cover:
Paper
Subject Bibliography:
 
Unit of Issue (U.S.):
Each
Item Available Date:
05/22/2012
Last Status Update:
04/14/2014

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Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004