Barack Obama will begin receiving highly classified briefings from top intelligence officials Thursday, as the rush of his campaign gives way to intensive preparations to take over as commander in chief and build a Democratic administration.
The briefings typically last 45 minutes to an hour, but Obama's initial one is expected to be longer. A U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, also will begin receiving briefings this week.
Briefing documents are mostly written by the Central Intelligence Agency and include the most critical overnight intelligence for the president. They sometimes dig deeply into a specific topic to give the president an in-depth understanding.
On the morning after his historic election, Senator Obama had breakfast Wednesday with his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, before the girls left for school. Then, wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and workout clothes, left for the gym.
National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell will launch the intelligence briefings. CIA Intelligence Director Mike Morell will be Senator Obama's prime contact with the intelligence community throughout the transition, according to a message CIA Director Mike Hayden sent to agency employees that was obtained by The Associated Press. His two principal daily briefers also will be from the CIA.
Barack Obama will have access to vastly more intelligence, including ongoing covert operations, than he was privy to as a senator, said Hayden's message.
"Through expanded access, greater than what he had in his briefings as a candidate or as a Senator, he will see the full range of capabilities we deploy for the United States," Hayden wrote.
CIA officials were meeting Wednesday to discuss the transition.
"The goal today is to review what has been done and to ensure that every part of the Agency is well-placed to contribute in the weeks ahead," he wrote.
Hayden also encouraged employees to ignore the chatter in political circles in Washington about who will take over the agency under the new administration.
"I certainly have," he said. "Those privileged to lead this organization understand that they serve at the pleasure of the president."