Getting to Know the President

Getting to Know the President, Second Edition:

Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952–2004

by John Helgerson


Getting to Know the President (divided by chapter)


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From the Introduction

The Central Intelligence Agency is more of a presidential service organization than perhaps any other component of the US government. Since 1952, CIA, and now the Intelligence Community, have 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.

Getting To Know the President by John Helgerson describes the important process of information sharing between the Intelligence Community and the chief executive. 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.

In addition to their central, substantive purpose, these briefings usually have also served as the IC’s introduction to the “First Customer,” the individual who, more than any other, determines what place intelligence will have in the national security hierarchy. They have been crucial in giving an early sense of the personalities of the candidates and presidents-elect, their knowledge of world affairs, and their views of how intelligence and the IC can best support national security decisionmaking.

Posted: Jul 06, 2012 08:46 AM
Last Updated: Aug 02, 2013 12:07 PM