Analysis: Bush focus on Daily Brief skewed policy decisions



A study by a Brookings Institution analyst says the “unprecedented” level of importance given to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) by George W. Bush skewed his administration’s policy decisions after 9/11 and had negative consequences for the US intelligence community. The PDB arrives at the US President’s desk every morning with highly classified summaries of the latest findings from America’s intelligence community. The importance given to the PDB, whose contents are often highly speculative or unprocessed, varies with Presidents. But Kenneth Lieberthal, former National Security Council staffer in the Bill Clinton administration and senior fellow at Brookings, says the Bush cabinet overwhelmingly relied on the PDB to make policy decisions, which were often based on information that lacked substantial analysis. In his study, titled The US Intelligence Community and Foreign Policy: Getting Analysis Right, Lieberthal argues that the tendency of senior Bush administration officials to focus and make “immediate policy decisions” on “the latest, attention-grabbing clandestine reports from the field” had negative consequence for US intelligence analysts. The latter were indirectly encouraged to produce attention-grabbing headline-oriented stories suitable for the PDB, which often lacked analytical depth. Lieberthal’s study relies on interviews with anonymous officials in US civilian and military intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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