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CNN Journalist Talks National Security

Jim Sciutto, chief national security correspondent, spoke to the Ursinus community about national security issues during a talk in Olin Auditorium.

“It’s never been like this before,” he told the audience, which also included members of the surrounding community. “There’s never been a time like this in history in terms of the number of threats that exist.”

Sciutto reports and provides analysis across the CNN’s platforms on all aspects of U.S. national security, including foreign policy, the military and the intelligence community. The event was presented by the departments of politics and international relations and media and communications studies; the Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement; and the Arts and Lecture Committee.

Sciutto began by providing a history of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), an intelligence briefing given every morning to the President of the United States. This practice began with John F. Kennedy, he said, who wanted to be presented with something compact and easy to digest.  

“President Obama was the first to get a digital PDB. He got it on his iPad,” Sciutto said. “Presidents also get a verbal briefing. Trump’s favorite briefer is Mike Pompeo. He’s respectful of the intel he receives and asks many questions.”

“This is what the president was reading about a year and a half into his term,” Sciutto said, showing a briefing during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “JFK was concerned that the U.S. and Russia were poised to go to nuclear war.”

The journalist also shared Kennedy’s prepared remarks in the event of military action during the crisis.

“Right now the president has been presented with options concerning North Korea. You can expect that President Trump might be thinking about how to explain to the American people if he had to carry out an attack.”

Today, Sciutto said, North Korea, Russia and China remain threats to the U.S., in addition to terrorism, cyber-attacks, the “war in space” and artificial intelligence. He shared his experiences aboard submarines and in the South China Sea and discussed North Korea’s growing nuclear force.

He said that while some of the threats that have emerged sound like they come right out of a Hollywood blockbuster, they are real.

“U.S. military commanders and some folks on the Hill are thinking about these things as we speak. It is not happening in the dark.” –By Ed Moorhouse