Comment: Board overseeing US intelligence practices still without members
June 19, 2009 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Intelligence insiders in the US are beginning to wonder why US President Barack Obama has yet to appoint any members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). The PIAB, first established in 1956 by President Eisenhower, is tasked with conducting executive oversight of US intelligence practices. Its sensitive role is accentuated by its main focus, which is to alert the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may in any way go beyond Presidential authorization. This part of its mission makes the Board extremely critical in ensuring adequate executive oversight of the US intelligence community. But now, lacking any members whatsoever, the PIAB is being managed by its administrative staff and is in a sort of “autopilot” mode, according to its counsel, Homer Pointer, who spoke to the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News. Of course, even if Barack Obama decides to appoint new members, it is questionable whether the Board will regain some of its powers with which it was equipped in the late 1970s. It is well known that the previous US administration severely weakened the Board’s authority. Will the new President resuscitate the PIAB? Early indications are not positive. Last January, there were rumors that the Obama transition team wanted Mike McConnel, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) under George W. Bush, to join the Board. One may be excused for questioning McConnel’s intelligence oversight credentials. As intelNews readers know, back in 2008, DNI McConnel secretly met with Barack Obama, and demanded assurances from the then President Elect that his administration would not pursue a legal inquiry into the CIA’s use of torture against “war on terrorism” detainees.