News you may have missed #0235

  • How the CIA was conned by a compulsive gambler. In 2003, the CIA took seriously the fabricated claims of Dennis Montgomery, co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who claimed he could read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted by al-Qaeda.
  • Obama names intel advisory board members. The US President has appointed members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB), a critical oversight group tasked with alerting the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may go beyond Presidential authorization. The appointees are Roel Campos, Lee Hamilton, Rita Hauser, Paul Kaminski, Ellen Laipson, Les Lyles, and Jami Miscik. For more on PIAB, see here.
  • Turkey arrests three on espionage charges. Turkish media won’t say which country the arrestees allegedly spied for, but one of them is said to have “often visited Greece”. A tit-for-tat?

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Obama reestablishes critical intelligence oversight board (finally!)

Exec. Order 13516

Exec. Order 13516

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 19, I alerted intelNews readers to the fact that US President Barack Obama had yet to appoint any members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). First established in 1956 by President Eisenhower, the PIAB, is a critical oversight group tasked with alerting the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may in any way go beyond Presidential authorization. Now, after months of inexcusable delays, not only has US President Barack Obama restored PIAB, but has also restored its original oversight role, which had been curtailed by the Bush administration since 2008. Specifically, on October 28, the President appointed former Senators David Boren and Chuck Hagel as co-chairs of PIAB, a move that effectively ended the Board’s hiatus. Read more of this post

Comment: Board overseeing US intelligence practices still without members

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell

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. Read more of this post