Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Excerpt

The President’s Intelligence
Advisory Board
Learning Lessons from Its Past
to Shape Its Future

Presidents could be forgiven if they did not make reconstituting the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) their highest priority on taking office. Established in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower as the President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Affairs (PBCFIA), and known for most of its existence as the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), the board, which was renamed at the end of the second Bush administration, is one of the smallest and most obscure parts of the U.S. intelligence community.

This obscurity has been compounded by the fact that the board has not always, especially in recent years, distinguished itself in its mission of providing independent expert advice to presidents on the larger issues affecting the organization of the intelligence community and some of the core technologies it depends on. As a result, it has developed something of an inconsistent reputation among the intelligence cognoscenti as either a cushy “do-nothing” panel that simply offers additional slots for the “plum book” with which to reward political cronies or a highly politicized cabal that can meddle in intelligence community affairs to the annoyance of the director of central intelligence (DCI), the director of national intelligence (DNI), and even the president.

To be sure, there is much truth behind both these views of the board, particularly in recent years. But it would be a mistake for the president to ignore the fact that since its inception it has made some signal contributions to improving the organization of the U.S. intelligence community and also pushed it to remain on the cutting edge . . .

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