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Privileged and Confidential

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

Kenneth Michael Absher
Michael C. Desch
Roman Popadiuk
the 2006 Bush School Master in Public and International Affairs’ Capstone Team
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 528
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  • Book Info
    Privileged and Confidential
    Book Description:

    Above the politics and ideological battles of Washington, D.C., is a committee that meets behind locked doors and leaves its paper trail in classified files. The President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) is one of the most secretive and potentially influential segments of the U.S. intelligence community. Established in 1956, the PIAB advises the president about intelligence collection, analysis, and estimates, and about the legality of foreign intelligence activities.

    Privileged and Confidential: The Secret History of the President's Intelligence Advisory Boardis the first and only study of the PIAB. Foreign policy veterans Kenneth Michael Absher, Michael C. Desch, and Roman Popadiuk trace the board's history from Eisenhower through Obama and evaluate its effectiveness under each president. Created to be an independent panel of nonpartisan experts, the PIAB has become increasingly susceptible to politics in recent years and has lost some of its influence. Absher, Desch, and Popadiuk, however, clearly demonstrate the board's potential to offer a unique and valuable perspective on intelligence issues.Privileged and Confidentialnot only illuminates a little-known element of U.S. intelligence operations but also offers suggestions for enhancing a critical executive function.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3609-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION. The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board: Learning Lessons from Its Past to Shape Its Future
    (pp. 1-14)

    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,...

  4. 1 Dwight D. Eisenhower
    (pp. 15-50)

    In early 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued Executive Order (EO) 10656, creating the President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities (PBCFIA), the forerunner of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and today’s President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). This unique consultative intelligence board was an outgrowth of a variety of external and internal factors. We identify three factors as the most important: the growing Soviet military threat, the increasing efforts by Congress to challenge the prerogatives of the president in the intelligence arena, and the precedent of using extragovernment advisory boards in the immediate post–World War II...

  5. 2 John F. Kennedy
    (pp. 51-110)

    The new president, John F. Kennedy, did not appoint a new President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Affairs (PBCFIA) immediately on taking office. After the resignation of Dwight Eisenhower’s PBCFIA on January 7, 1961, no further meetings were held, and the board was completely inactive in the new Kennedy administration.¹ True, the PBCFIA executive secretary, J. Patrick Coyne, remained in place to report to the new president, but the presidential adviser Clark Clifford recounts that “the Board of Consultants was lying moribund and ignored, waiting for its formal termination.” It was his understanding that Kennedy “originally planned to abolish...

  6. 3 Lyndon B. Johnson
    (pp. 111-154)

    Lyndon B. Johnson became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. The President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) was conducting one of its regularly scheduled meetings that same day.¹ Johnson inherited a PFIAB created by Kennedy’s executive order and board members chosen by Kennedy and his administration. Nothing we could find suggests that the Johnson administration ever considered dissolving the PFIAB or making any other radical changes to it.

    When Johnson unexpectedly became president in November 1963, there were eight members of the PFIAB: Clark M. Clifford (chair), William O. Baker, Gordon...

  7. 4 Richard M. Nixon
    (pp. 155-186)

    President Richard Nixon established his President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) with Executive Order (EO) 11460 on March 20, 1969. The process of thinking about the PFIAB began even before the new President’s inauguration with a January 7, 1969, memorandum from the CIA to Nixon’s national security adviser designate, Dr. Henry Kissinger, describing the board’s functions: “The President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), now chaired by General Maxwell Taylor, is comprised of former high ranking government officials and prominent businessmen who agree to monitor on the President’s behalf the caliber of the intelligence community’s performance. PFIAB meets regularly or at...

  8. 5 Gerald R. Ford/Jimmy Carter
    (pp. 187-232)

    When President Richard Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, a tumultuous time loomed on the horizon for the CIA and the intelligence community as a whole—1975 would be “theyear of intelligence.”¹ President Gerald Ford was not a novice when it came to intelligence matters; he had seen firsthand the role of intelligence during his service in the U.S. Navy and in Congress and as vice president. But as Christopher Andrew observes: “Ford had concentrated on the nuts and bolts of administration rather than the great issues of national and international policy.”² To aid him in navigating...

  9. 6 Ronald W. Reagan
    (pp. 233-262)

    President Ronald Reagan reestablished the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) on October 20, 1981, through Executive Order (EO) 12331.¹ Four years earlier, President Jimmy Carter had disbanded the board on the grounds that it was irrelevant given the institutional developments in both the executive and the legislative branches in terms of intelligence oversight and also because he felt that it had become deeply politicized in the 1970s. Several weeks after his election, Reagan toldNewsweekthat he would reconstitute the board.²

    The decision to bring the PFIAB back was the result of several factors. First, Reagan had promised during...

  10. 7 George H. W. Bush
    (pp. 263-278)

    President George H. W. Bush seemed ambivalent about the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) at the beginning of his term. His experience with the board during the Team B exercise of the 1970s reportedly colored his views, as did the board’s outspokenness about the difficulties of verifying the START treaty.¹ As a result, he made no changes to the Reagan PFIAB and issued no executive orders (EOs) concerning the board, and it lay dormant for the first eighteen months of his presidency. The members of Reagan’s board remained on the official roster, and the staff continued to work on...

  11. 8 William J. Clinton
    (pp. 279-308)

    President William J. Clinton established his President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) when he signed Executive Order (EO) 12863 on September 13, 1993. This EO revoked both EO 12334, signed on December 4, 1981, and EO 12537, signed on October 28, 1985, which governed the PFIAB under President Ronald Reagan. According to EO 12863, the membership of President Clinton’s board was not expected to exceed sixteen. Clinton also established the specific terms of the board’s service to the president, appointed each member, and set the protocol to govern future appointments. The appointment of members to Clinton’s PFIAB was unique because,...

  12. 9 George W. Bush
    (pp. 309-324)

    Unlike most of his predecessors, President George W. Bush did not issue a new executive order (EO) to establish his President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). Instead, he allowed Clinton’s EO 12863 to carry over through much of his administration. This initial laissez-faire attitude toward the PFIAB left many of Clinton’s appointees in place during the opening year of his administration. Warren Rudman stayed on as chair until late in the autumn of 2001, but there is debate about whether other members remained as well. In April 2006, White House spokesperson Dana Perrino stated that members of Clinton’s PFIAB stayed...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 325-344)

    On January 19, 2009, President Bush’s President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) members submitted their resignations to incoming President Barack Obama, as is customary during a change in administrations. The Obama administration did not reach out to the PIAB during the transition phase or after it came into office. It did, however, set in motion the process for constituting its own board. Well into its first year in office, the Obama administration did not appear to be moving expeditiously to create its own board. In this manner, it paralleled many other new administrations that did not act on the board quickly....

  14. Acknowledgments and Disclaimer
    (pp. 345-346)
  15. Biographical Sketches of PFIAB Members
    (pp. 347-410)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 411-490)
  17. Index
    (pp. 491-515)