214. Editorial Note

During November 1964 the Central Intelligence Agency again addressed the issue of the best way to provide the President with daily intelligence information. At a meeting with Director of Central Intelligence McCone on October 30, Secretary of State Rusk raised concerns about the security of the President’s Intelligence Checklist given its distribution (see footnote 2, Document 192). In a November 3 memorandum, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Carter asked Ray Cline, Deputy Director for Intelligence, to follow up on the matter, keeping in mind McCone’s points of view: “The Checklist is and must continue to be comprehensive and capable of containing the most sensitive intelligence in a condensed form”; and “the President should read it or have it read to him daily and should not depend on the bi-weekly summaries [the President’s Intelligence Review].” (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01676R, DCI “Eyes Only” File, 01 July–31 Dec 1964)

Cline conferred with McGeorge Bundy, President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, and Bundy informed the President in a December 1 memorandum that he and Cline had worked out a “new form of daily intelligence briefing on the premise that it is more useful to you if it comes in your evening reading. Our thought is that this may run parallel to Dean Rusk’s daily report (see Document 1) and be more nearly responsive to your own interests than the papers we have been sending heretofore.” Bundy attached a copy of the new summary, the President’s Daily Brief. President’s Special Assistant Valenti later noted on Bundy’s memorandum: “Mac, The President likes this very much.” The President’s Daily Brief replaced the President’s Intelligence Checklist as of December 1 and was provided to President Johnson daily (6 days a week prior to 1966 and 7 days a week thereafter) for the rest of his administration. While both the Checklist and the Daily Brief provided brief intelligence notes organized by country, the Daily Brief was initially much shorter. Whereas the Checklist was usually about 6 to 8 pages (on 8 x 8 inch paper), the Daily Brief started out with one 8 x 13 inch page. From late 1965 on, however, it was typically 2 to 4 standard-sized pages plus maps and occasion [Page 474] al photographs. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence Briefings) At the request of the White House, in 1967 CIA shifted from providing it late in the day for Johnson’s Evening Reading to making it “available to the President wherever he may be at the start of each day before he reads his morning newspapers.” (Annual Report to PFIAB, 1966; Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Files, Job 80–B01447R, DDI Annual Report to PFIAB, 1966, 1967)

President Johnson saw both the Intelligence Checklist and the Daily Brief regularly, according to a spot check of the President’s file of Intelligence Checklists and Daily Briefs at the Johnson Library. Almost all copies examined are marked with an “L” or a “ps,” indicating that Johnson saw them. President’s Special Assistant Bill Moyers reported in May 1965 that the President read the Daily Brief “avidly.” (Richard Lehman, Memorandum for the record, May 25, 1965; ibid., White House and Executive Offices, 1966) The shift to the Daily Brief did not, however, dispose of more general concerns about getting intelligence reports into the hands of the President. In a memorandum for Cline, May 19, 1965, Helms stated: “We still have quite a problem at the White House getting material to the President. Mr. Bromley Smith spoke to me about it again today. Upon Mr. Bundy’s return, we have all got to get together and see if we can solve this crucial problem.” (Ibid., DCI (Helms) Files, Job 80–B01285A, Helms Chrono as DDP and DDCI)