CIA releases declassified JFK, LBJ White House documents

The "President's Daily Brief" is a report with top secret intelligence delivered each day to every Commander in Chief starting with President Kennedy.

"It represents the intelligence communities daily dialogue with the President in addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities related to our National Security," explains C.I.A. Director John O. Brennan.

For the first time ever the C.I.A. released P.B.D.'s, 20000 of highly classified pages from Kennedy's and Johnson's administrations. Brennan, a U.T. alum, was on hand at the unveiling, at UT's LBJ Library on Wednesday.

On the first day of his Presidency in 2009, President Obama called on the head of government agency's to create more transparency.

"In light of this new approach and pursuant to an Executive Order outlining new classification and declassification guidelinesCentral Intelligence information management officers worked with their counterparts at the National Security Council and the Office of The Director of Intelligence to start the review and declassification of PDB's that were more than 40 years old," Brennan said.

The P.D.B. was created for President Kennedy who was getting bogged down with paperwork. "The result that much of what he was given each day went unread," Brennan explained, adding, "and the president was making policy decisions without the benefit of the intelligence our government had collected for him."

Brennan said the White House called the CIA, "demanding that the Agency find a better way to keep the President informed."

During Kennedy's administration, the daily report was called the PICLs (The President's Intelligence Checklist). It was officially dubbed "President's Daily Brief" during President Johnson's White House.

The pages released from Kennedy and Johnson's administration's open a window into the era, from the Space Race to the Cuban Missle Crisis. "The P.D.B.'s history includes more than just coverage of crisis and conflict," says Brennan, "in today's collection you will find off beat items like Russian reaction to a performance by the New York City Ballet and commentary on a decision by the N.Y. Yankees to fire Yogi Berra."

The memos also give a glimpse into some of the nation's darkest times, the day in November 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, then five years later when his brother Bobby met the same fate.

"For students of history the declassified briefs will lend insight into why a President chooses one path over another when it comes to statecraft," Brennan said.

Next year the C.I.A. will release the President Nixon and Ford's P.D.B.'s after they are declassified. 

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