CIA releases tranche of secret docs from JFK, LBJ era

The CIA released to the public approximately 2,500 classified briefing documents from former Presidents Kennedy and Johnson on Wednesday, with plans to unveil thousands more in coming months.

The thousands of “presidential daily briefs” (PDB) and “presidential intelligence checklists” represent the presidents’ daily updates and analysis from intelligence sources from 1961 through 1969. 

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“The PDB is among the most highly classified and sensitive documents in all of government,” CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community DOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT MORE said in prepared remarks during the documents’ release in Texas on Wednesday.

“For students of history, the declassified briefs will lend insight into why a president chooses one path over another when it comes to statecraft.”

The Wednesday release is the first time the CIA has discharged thousands of classified presidential briefing materials en masse, and comes as a marked change of pace from the government’s long insistence that the documents should remain secret. The publication, the CIA said, is due to an Obama administration order to declassify more records unless there is a good reason to keep them secret.  

The briefings from the Kennedy and Johnson years outline a crucial period in American history, during the height of the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis and the build up to the war in Vietnam.

“This is just the beginning,” Brennan said on Wednesday.

Next year, the administration plans to release approximately 2,000 additional PDB documents dating from the Nixon and Ford administrations.