Director of National Intelligence

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The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is appointed by the President of the United States of America, subject to approval by the U.S. Senate. While the Director of National Intelligence is a cabinet-level position, its office-holder is not automatically a member of the president's cabinet (but could be invited by a given president to cabinet membership for that term). The DNI heads the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), headquartered in McLean, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, D.C.). As of 2024, the Office has about 1750 employees. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created in 2004 by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act[1] One of the main functions of the ODNI is to produce the President's Daily Brief, a classified document including intelligence from all the different U.S. intelligence agencies, that is handed each morning to the President.[2][3]

Prior to 2004, the U.S. intelligence community's head was called the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and was simultaneously head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The 2004 law abolished the DCI position and created instead the "Director of the CIA" office which is subordinate to the Director of National Intelligence who, however, lacks full budgetary authority over the intelligence agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense.[4] This is the main reason that critics say that the DNI's powers are too weak adequately to improve the cooperation of U.S. intelligence agencies.[5] Monitoring the implementation of this Act is a responsibility of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.


  1. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458) was created because of the perception that the various U.S. Intelligence agencies had not shared information adequately to prevent the 2001 9-11 Attack, even though enough information likely existed in various pockets here and there to have understood the threat. The new law also moved some community-related functions from the CIA to the ODNI, and specified that the Director and Principal Deputy Director of the new agency cannot both be active-duty military officers (i.e., one or the other should be a military intelligence officer, usually of four-star rank, or have extensive experience in military intelligence).
  2. "CIA to Cede President's Brief to Negroponte", February 19, 2005, The Washington Post
  3. Wikipedia's extensive article about the DNI has many more details and a list of all its office holders.
  4. The 2004 law establishing the ODNI left the Department of Defense in charge of the budget for the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
  5. Kaplan, Fred. You Call That a Reform Bill?, Slate Magazine, 7 December 2004.