- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
Covert board called crucial to presidents
Question of the Day
Presidents need to rely on a little-known group of intelligence advisers that since the 1950s has helped guide policies and oversee the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy, according to a report by former intelligence officials.
The book-length report to be released today is an exhaustive historical study of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which was created during the Eisenhower administration and has been used by presidents in different capacities ever since.
“In some instances, the Board has played a central role in advising the president and the intelligence community on crucial issues of substance or procedure and has made a significant contribution to the country’s national security,” the report says.
“In other instances, the Board has been ignored and treated as a dumping ground for rewarding political cronies.”
The report, sponsored by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, a Washington-based research group, represents the first major study of the secretive body that under President Bush has been renamed the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
Most of the board’s work is secret, but one of its most public investigations involved the loss of U.S. nuclear secrets to China from the Los Alamos National Laboratory during the 1990s.
“This investigation uncovered a twenty-year history of security and counterintelligence problems at the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories,” the report said of the loss of nuclear secrets.
“Clearly, it is in the interest of future presidents, not to speak of the nation, to make the best possible use of the PFIAB for two reasons,” the report said.
The first is that the board is a “political fact of life,” noting that “presidents have little latitude to abolish or ignore the board.”
President Carter tried to ignore the board and “paid a political price for doing so in the 1980 election.” President George H.W. Bush at first ignored the board as set up by his predecessor, President Reagan, and found that by 1990 he had to rely on the board for some intelligence-related advice.
Mr. Bush disliked the board’s second opinions when he was CIA director.
President Clinton used the PFIAB to repay political favors by naming large contributors to the board.
The second reason the board is needed is that the independent advisory panel, composed of specialists from a broad range of backgrounds, can offer the president “a unique and valuable perspective on intelligence issues,” the report says.
According to the report, the PFIAB has studied almost every important intelligence issue and problem since the Eisenhower administration.
Some of its recommendations over the years involved the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is 'torture'
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq