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President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) "provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities. The PFIAB, through its Intelligence Oversight Board, also advises the President on the legality of foreign intelligence activities.

"The PFIAB currently has 16 members selected from among distinguished citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence, and integrity," the White House website states.[1]


PFIAB during the Bush administration

In October 2001, President George W. Bush "chose a board of sixteen members, naming Brent Scowcroft as PFIAB chair. Scowcroft is a retired Air Force General with ties to every Republican administration over the past three decades. He served as military adviser to Richard M. Nixon, national security adviser to Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, sat on Ronald Reagan's commission on Strategic Forces, and was one of three members on the Tower Commission investigating the Iran-Contra Affair."[2]

On October 27, 2005, President George W. Bush named eleven members to the board, as well as a new executive director.[3]

PFIAB Members

Appointed September 5, 2006

The following is according to the September 5, 2006, White House Personnel Announcement.[4]

Appointed October 27, 2005

The following is according to the October 27, 2005, White House Personnel Announcement.[5]

Controversies

Richard N. Perle

Business Week Online reported April 7, 2003, that Perle, "no stranger to controversy, is likely to get through this dust-up (re Global Crossing). That's largely because, right or wrong, the intersection of his business dealings and his part-time public service is not unusual. Many former officials, industrialists, and political loyalists who advise the Administration have connections that might call into question their impartiality (table). Indeed, panels such as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and the Defense Policy Board were designed to tap the expertise of Corporate America. Appointees don't get paid, but they do get the cachet that comes with being in an elite club.

"They also get sensitive, non-public information on world affairs. In the case of the PFIAB, they can boast top security clearances. And they need not disclose their financial interests.

"So with a $75 billion (and counting) war under way and a multibillion-dollar reconstruction plan on the drawing board, hawks on advisory panels are well-positioned."

James C. Langdon's Moonlighting in China

"President Bush's top independent intelligence adviser met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., according to his law firm, Akin Gump," Jonathan Weisman wrote July 12, 2005, in the Washington Post.[6]

"The involvement of James C. Langdon Jr., chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major Bush fundraiser, underscores the tangled Washington connections beneath CNOOC Ltd.'s bid... Langdon's involvement, given his dual role as Bush intelligence adviser and energy lawyer at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, may prove politically problematic, some security experts said. Members of the intelligence board, known as PFIAB, are granted the highest security clearance and develop top-secret advisories and reports for the president, most of which are not even available to members of Congress," Weisman wrote.

About the PFIAB

Role of the Board

"Unique within the government, the PFIAB traditionally has been tasked with providing the President with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the intelligence community is meeting the nation's intelligence needs and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future.

History of the Board

"The Board was established [January 13,] 1956[1] by President Dwight David Eisenhower and was originally called the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. It gained its current name under President John F. Kennedy and it has served all Presidents since that time except for President James Earl Carter, Jr.. A record of chairpersons is available.

"For over four decades the PFIAB has acted as a nonpartisan body offering the President objective, expert advice on the conduct of U.S. foreign intelligence. This role reflects the vital assistance that intelligence provides the President in meeting his executive responsibilities. The President must have ample, accurate and timely intelligence; and most recent Presidents have sought the assistance of a separate, unbiased group -- the PFIAB -- to advise them on intelligence matters.

PFIAB Operations

"Through meetings with intelligence principals, substantive briefings, and visits to intelligence installations, the PFIAB seeks to identify deficiencies in the collection, analysis, and reporting of intelligence; to eliminate unnecessary duplication and functional overlap; and to ensure that major programs are responsive to clearly perceived needs and that the technology employed represents the product of the best minds and technical capabilities available in the nation.

PFIAB Product

"Independent of the intelligence community and free from any day-to-day management or operational responsibilities, the PFIAB is able to render advice which reflects an objective view of the kinds of intelligence that will best serve the country and the organizational structure most likely to achieve this goal. The effect of the Board's recommendations over the years has been to influence the composition and structure of the intelligence community, the development of major intelligence systems, and the degree of collection and analytic emphasis that is given to substantive areas.

"In carrying out their mandate, the members of the PFIAB enjoy the confidence of the President and have access to all the information related to foreign intelligence that they need to fulfill their vital advisory role."

History and Origins

"The board's origins can be traced to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy gave the body its current name and asked it to assess the quality of intelligence gathered leading up to and during the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Originally, PFIAB was concerned solely with the quality of intelligence efforts; the President had no official advisor on the legality of such operations. However, in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford created the Intelligence Oversight Board (I.O.B.) -- later renamed the President's Intelligence Oversight Board (P.I.O.B.) -- to watch for improprieties and report abuses directly to the President.

"Jimmy Carter has been the only American President since Eisenhower not to have a PFIAB. He abolished the board because he did not consider its reviews any more rigorous than similar evaluations conducted by the National Security Council, Senate Intelligence Committee, or the intelligence community itself. Carter did, however, retain the I.O.B. which could initiate inquires into covert operations.

"President Ronald Reagan revived PFIAB by appointing a board of twenty-one members. In 1985, he dismissed half of the group, believing its size had made it too unwieldy. Some critics have suggested that there was more to the story, claiming that the President and his CIA head, William J. Casey, purged PFIAB's ranks as part of a cover up of the Iran-Contra scandal.

"President George Herbert Walker Bush first formed an opinion of PFIAB while serving as Ford's Director of Central Intelligence. Many observers reported that Bush distrusted the board, which he considered a group of outsiders who second-guessed his decisions and reported directly to the President. During the early days of the Bush presidency, several analysts expected the President to dismantle the board. Instead, Bush reduced its membership from fifteen to six, and called on it sparingly.

"In 1997, President William Jefferson Clinton officially merged the two oversight bodies, with PIOB becoming a standing committee of PFIAB The reorganization didn't really change much since it had been common for members to serve on both in the past. Clinton also called on PFIAB to analyze security threats in the Energy Department's nuclear laboratories. The resulting [1999] report -- titled "Science at its Best, Security at its Worst" -- strongly suggested that China may have used information stolen by spies at American laboratories to enhance their nuclear weapons capability.

Miller Center of Public Affairs Synopsis of PFIAB

President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Executive Office of the President) (Copied from Miller Center of Public Affairs web site.)

"The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is a group of independent, non-governmental experts whose job is to evaluate the quality and adequacy of American foreign intelligence efforts. By communicating with department heads, conducting onsite inspections, and accessing classified information, PFIAB looks for deficiencies in the collection, analysis, and reporting of intelligence. It also helps the intelligence community focus on current threats while preparing sufficiently for future challenges, and offers the President advice on the legality and propriety of covert operations. This flow of objective input balances the potentially more subjective opinions of sources within government.
"Some Presidents have considered PFIAB heads significant presidential advisors while others have viewed board membership as a reward given to dedicated supporters and friends. The office has no management or operational responsibilities; however, over time, it has played a key role in structuring the intelligence community and developing major intelligence systems. Past PFIABs have, among other things, exposed mistaken estimates of Soviet strength, revealed mistakes made by the CIA and FBI in handling subversion, and criticized the Department of Energy's security procedures.

Some former members of the PFIAB

According to the White House web page on the PFIAB, the following have served as Board members:[7]

Contact Details

URL: http://www.whitehouse.gov/pfiab/

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, White House.
  2. Source unknown.
  3. Personnel Announcement, Office of the White House Press Secretary, October 27, 2005.
  4. Personnel Announcement, Office of the White House Press Secretary, September 5, 2006.
  5. Personnel Announcement, Office of the White House Press Secretary, October 27, 2005.
  6. Jonathan Weisman, "Bush Adviser Helped Law Firm Land Job Lobbying for CNOOC," Washington Post, July 12, 2005.
  7. PFIAB Chairpersons, White House.

Related Executive Orders

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10656: February 6, 1956, 21 F.R. 859, which established the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 10938, May 4, 1961, 26 F.R. 3951, formerly set out below.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10938: May 4, 1961, 26 F.R. 3951, which established the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 11460, Mar. 20, 1969, 34 F.R. 5535, formerly set out below.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 11460: March 20, 1969, 34 F.R. 5535, which established the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 11984, May 4, 1977, 42 F.R. 23129, set out below.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 11984: Abolition of President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, May 4, 1977, 42 F.R. 23129, provided: "By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the United States of America, and as President of the United States of America, in order to abolish the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Executive Order No. 11460 of March 20, 1969, is hereby revoked. Jimmy Carter.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 12331: October 20, 1981, 46 F.R. 51705, which established the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 12537, Oct. 28, 1985, 50 F.R. 45083, formerly set out below.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 12537: October 28, 1985, 50 F.R. 45083, as amended by Ex. Ord. No. 12624, Jan. 6, 1988, 53 F.R. 489, which established the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was revoked by EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 12863, Sec. 3.3, Sept. 13, 1993, 58 F.R. 48441, set out as a note under section 401 of this title.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 13376], Amend to EO 12863 regrading President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Responsible Office: Office of External Relations, Effective Date: April 17, 2005.

External articles

General information

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