WASHINGTON — After the political convention confetti is swept away, a more sobering tradition of the presidential election begins: The regular, top-secret intelligence briefings for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
Started by President Harry S. Truman, the briefings are designed to get the candidates, before they walk into the Oval Office, up to speed on problems around the globe. Truman, who was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president for almost three months before Roosevelt died, first learned about the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb only 12 days into his presidency, and he pledged not to leave any future commander in chief behind the ball.
There’s an old political saw about how a White House candidate believes firmly in his or her foreign policy views — until that first top-secret briefing. In his recent book, former CIA Director Michael Hayden says these revelations are known as “aw s—” moments — as in, “Aw s—, wish we hadn’t said that during that campaign stop in Buffalo.”
If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, much of the intelligence information she receives probably will sound familiar. As secretary of state until 2013, Clinton was one of President Barack Obama’s senior advisers who were privy to the President’s Daily Brief — the highest level intelligence document prepared in the United States.
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