Donilon, whose speech was sponsored by UF’s ACCENT Speakers Bureau, spoke to about 80 people about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Syria, global women’s rights and the raid on Osama bin Laden.
He said he spent three to four hours each morning preparing briefs with the intelligence community and other White House staff, and making them into digestible products for the president.
He presented more than 700 briefings for Obama.
“One of the real challenges of the job was not letting the inbox dominate you each day,” he said. “It was a four-and-a-half-year conversation, each brief built up on the last.”
Donilon worked as national security adviser for about three years.
He said he remembers speaking to the president about deciding on whether to initiate the raid on bin Laden.
“At the end of the day, we ask our president to make these decisions,” he said.
Jordan Grass, an 18-year-old UF sports management freshman, said she wished she could have heard more about how Donilon acquired his position.
“He’s definitely a smart guy,” Grass said. “He knows his stuff when it comes to politics.”
A version of this story ran on page 4 on 9/27/2013 under the headline "Former NSA adviser speaks at UF about briefing Obama"
Former national security adviser Tom Donilon speaks Thursday in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Donilon held office during the assassination of Osama bin Laden.