By Barbara Starr
The Obama administration will stick with the election-year tradition of both Democratic and Republican White Houses in offering presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney classified intelligence briefings only after he formally secures his party's nomination at the convention this summer.
"It's a long-standing practice for presidential candidates and select advisers to be provided intelligence briefings following the party's nominating convention," Shawn Turner, the spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told Security Clearance. "During the last presidential campaign, all the candidates began receiving briefings in September following the conventions."
Turner stressed that the Obama administration is keeping to a tradition in place since the 1950s.
"The White House typically initiates contact with the campaign during the summer prior to the convention," he said. "This starts a lengthy process by the director of national intelligence which involves obtaining security clearances, and establishing logistical procedures and determining briefing protocols."
So far, Turner said, the Romney campaign has not asked for any briefings.
The intelligence community will approach the campaign in the coming weeks to begin working on interim security clearances for two staffers to be selected by the campaign, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN. Then the candidate and the staffers will be given briefings after the convention. Candidates are automatically granted access to the briefings without a clearance. The official would talk to CNN only if no name was used due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.
During the summertime discussions to set up the procedures for getting clearances and setting up briefings, the administration will discuss with the Romney staff the types of briefings and information they will receive. These briefings typically include the latest national security and intelligence information for the candidate on a variety of current matters.
The the briefings are conducted, the official said, to inform the candidate, but also to alert the candidate about sensitive matters on which it could be potentially harmful to national security for the candidate to inadvertently or unknowingly make statements.
The official noted all the procedures for briefing the Romney campaign closely mirror what previous Republican and Democratic administrations have done in prior election years. In 2008, the Bush White House reached out to the Obama and McCain campaigns in July to begin the security clearance process and discuss procedures and topics for the briefings.
In the previous election cycles, the candidates were on key congressional committees that gave them access to a lot of critical information already. As a candidate, Barack Obama was on the Senate Foreign Relations committee. His Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, was on the Armed Services Committee. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry was on the Foreign Affairs committee as well. But Romney is not in government and would not have access to such information.
The administration began preparing to reach out to the Romney campaign this week, given Romney's presumptive nominee status.
The Romney campaign did not respond to a CNN Security Clearance request for comment.