Chief Brief: How Intelligence Officials Prepare for a New President

The presidency doesn’t start at the inauguration but weeks before. As nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton continue to battle it out before the November election, government officials are focused on transitioning from one administration to the next. 

Behind the scenes of the 2016 presidential election, there is a group of intelligence chiefs tasked with preparing the next administration for its job ahead.

At the September Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, D.C., the leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies explained how they are preparing for the inevitable presidential transition.

CIA Director John Brennan described his agency’s efforts to set up a “Presidential Transition Office” to ensure that the next President is fully aware of national security threats.

“And we are preparing, as we have done in previous administrations, we have set up a presidential transition office, so that we have the materials and the briefings ready for the incoming team,” Brennan said.

FBI chief James Comey echoed Brennan’s statements, saying that his agency has a responsibility to ensure the next administration is well-informed.

“We’ve been working on the transition briefing project since March, because we think given the scope of the bureau’s responsibilities, and the number of new people, whether they’re U.S. attorneys, or other parts of the intelligence community, or presidential appointees . . . we want to make sure they understand the threats as we see them.”

Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, underscored his commitment to aid the next administrationA look into how Intelligence Officials will be ushering in the new political era however he can in line with the next President’s priorities.

“Help me understand what’s most important for the next administration. If it’s all about Da’esh, [another name for ISIS] that’s fine, we can re-organize for Da’esh. But there are other threats and challenges in the world,” Lt. Gen Stewart implored the next President.

In the wake of terror attacks by ISIS and its affiliates that have rocked the U.S. and its allies, national security has been a hot-button issue during the presidential campaign. Lt. Gen Stewart predicted that threats of so-called “lone wolf” attacks reminiscent of the San Bernardino and Brussels shootings will “dominate our lives for the next 5 years.”

In light of the range of national security threats facing the United States, Stewart offered a piece of advice to the next administration: “Be ready for the world as it is, not as you’d like it to be.”


Staff writer Jimmy King (CAS ’17) is studying Political Science and Journalism at BU and is currently interning at ABC News in Washington, DC.

Featured image by The White House on Flickr Commons.

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