Round the Clock

The Secret Life of Obama's Night Guards

With two wars, various other crises overseas, and increased terrorism at home, the lives of President Obama’s national-security officials are not peaceful. Or simple. In a compelling investigation, The Washington Post’s Laura Blumenfeld distills how Obama’s team helps to fight off the nation’s greatest threats, while researching intelligence trends and writing the President’s Daily Brief, “perhaps the most secret book on earth.” Much of the work, it turns out, is done at night—“the fourth act," as Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, an opera fan, calls it. Rarely a dull moment, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, describes late-night work this way: “I think if you asked any of us what keeps us awake at night, it’s the idea of a terrorist with a weapon of mass destruction.” In essence, Blumenfeld's story helps answer the first question Obama has each morning: What happened in the night?