22

In Michael Moore's 2004 film Fahrenheight 9/11 a person named Dan Briody says the following:

George H.W. Bush is a man who has obviously incredible reach into the White House. He receives daily CIA briefings, which is the right of any ex-president, but very few ex-presidents actually exercise that right, but he does.

If it's true, what's the supposed reason for this given that the ex-president doesn't hold the office of president anymore? I mean what practical purpose does it serve for a former president to have this sort of information made available to him/her? Does this mean that, for example, former presidents Obama and Trump will have the right to daily CIA briefings for the rest of their lives after leaving the presidency?

  • 3
    given that Osama was thrown out of his family for his ideals well before 9/11, the phrasing of this statement is suggestive to say the least. – jwenting Jan 21 at 7:09
  • 4
    Might be worth noting that H.W. Bush led the CIA himself for a time before becoming president. – bobsburner Jan 21 at 13:05
32

Do former US presidents have the right to receive daily CIA briefings?

Whether any such briefings are daily or as needed is not clear. As mentioned below, briefings concerning activities with which the former president was aware could be significant.

WHY DOES OBAMA GET INTELLIGENCE BRIEFINGS? TRUMP DENIES TRYING TO HALT ACCESS: 'FAKE NEWS', 8/21/18.

Why do former presidents and officials continue to receive intelligence?

In addition to meeting with foreign leaders, former presidents and intelligence officials are expected to receive intelligence briefings for a number of other reasons.

One of the most obvious reasons is so that they can continue to advise the sitting administration and officials on incidents that may either be ongoing or reflect those of the past.

"Having former senior officials hold active security clearances can be critically important for those currently charged with defending our nation," Jamil N. Jaffer, who was associate counsel to President George W. Bush and founder of George Mason University's National Security Institute, told The Washington Post in a recent interview.

"It allows them to turn rapidly to people with significant experience, context and contacts to help interpret the activity of our opponents and to provide wise counsel and guidance, whether that's in the terrorism, foreign policy or any national security context," he said.


The current authority for former presidents to access CIA information is given as:

32 CFR § 1909.1 - Authority and purpose.

(b) Purpose. This part prescribes procedures for waiving the need-to-know requirement for access to classified information with respect to persons:

(3) Requesting access to classified CIA information as a former President or Vice President.

32 CFR § 1909.5 - Requirements as to who may apply.

(c) Former Presidents and Vice Presidents. Any former President or Vice President may submit a request for access to classified CIA information. Requests from former Presidents or Vice Presidents shall be in writing to the Coordinator and shall identify the records containing the classified information of interest. A former President or Vice President may also request approval for a research associate, but there is no entitlement to such enlargement of access and the decision in this regard shall be in the sole discretion of the Senior Agency Official.


Concerning "daily CIA briefings" for former presidents:

During December 2006, the term "daily CIA briefings" was added to the Wikipedia page, President of the United States, then marked as "[citation needed]", and subsequently removed. Other fora have been asked a similar question, but none of the responses cited any authority.

That the CIA does brief former presidents is established:

That former presidents have the "right" to receive "daily CIA briefings" has not been verified.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Okay, that makes sense, I guess former presidents are valuable for their experience and "wise counsel" I guess. Thanks. – Zebrafish Jan 20 at 12:31
  • 23
    I wonder how often Trump has consulted Obama for his "wise counsel". Or Obama consulted Bush for that matter. – DJClayworth Jan 20 at 18:29
  • 15
    @DJClayworth As far as the President himself, probably not often outside of the transition periods. However, I wouldn't be surprised if various parts of the administration and intelligence communities consulted them on a more regular basis. – reirab Jan 20 at 21:16
  • In a phrase, "continuity of government" – TylerH Jan 21 at 15:06
  • @DJClayworth Your comment inspired me to ask a more general question here: politics.stackexchange.com/q/49612/10172 – BurnsBA Jan 21 at 18:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .