CIA Releases Presidential Briefings from JFK and LBJ

The Central Intelligence Agency  recently released 2,500 formerly classified presidential briefings that the agency gave to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during the 1960s. The briefings cover topics like the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, as well as other events.

The President’s Intelligence Checklist (the PICL or pickle for short) was delivered to the President for the first time on June 17, 1961. The Kennedy administration had asked the CIA to create, “…something that will have everything in it that is worth the President’s attention,” that would “…fit it into a breast pocket so that the President could carry it around with him and read it at his convenience,” the document’s creator, Richard Lehman said, according to CNN.com.

JFK and LBJ (source: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/05/caro-revives-kennedy-johnson-feud-076234)
JFK and LBJ (source: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/05/caro-revives-kennedy-johnson-feud-076234)

The PICL kept Kennedy updated over the next two years with top-secret intelligence. On the day Kennedy was assassinated, it read as follows: “For this day, the Checklist Staff can find no words more fitting than a verse quoted by the President to a group of newspapermen the day he learned of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

“Bullfight critics ranked in rows crowd the enormous plaza full; But only one is there who knows And he’s the man who fights the bull.”

After Kennedy’s death, the brief updated Johnson with information about Kennedy’s killer, Lee Harvey Oswald and later, the Vietnam War. Johnson changed the name of the document to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) about a year after taking over as president.

That isn’t the only change the document has gone through over the years. President Obama gets his daily briefing, which includes: “interactive links with video features and other multimedia components” on a tablet, according to CNN.com.

“This is an unprecedented event,” said Mark Updergrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum regarding the release of the half-century old documents, according to the Wall Street Journal. “These documents provide a mirror for how foreign governments, friends and enemies alike, viewed the United States during the 1960s.”

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