Monday, September 19, 2016
Did Nixon Even Read the CIA’s Daily Briefs?
President Richard Nixon may never have even read the President’s Daily Briefs partially declassified and released by the CIA with great fanfare on August 24, 2016. The CIA’s claim that the PDBs were “the primary vehicle for summarizing the day-to-day sensitive intelligence and analysis … for the White House” is partly true, but Nixon’s prejudices against the Agency and the distinctive role of national security adviser Henry Kissinger suggest that his cover memos to the PDBs were far more important to the President than whatever the CIA had to say.
Kissinger served as Nixon’s de facto intelligence adviser and it was Kissinger, not the CIA, whom Nixon counted on to help him keep informed about global events. In part, Kissinger did this each day by sending Nixon a memorandum prepared at the White House Situation Room, to which the PDB was appended, that consisted of Kissinger’s take of what developments were important for Nixon to keep in mind.
As a contribution to the ongoing discussion about the role of the PDBs in the Nixon White House, the National Security Archive today publishes together for the first time the six Kissinger daily briefing memoranda from 1969 through 1973 that have been declassified so far.