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President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

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Introduction

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 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.

The History Of The Board

The Board was established in 1956 by President Eisenhower and was originally called the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. It gained its current name under President Kennedy and it has served all Presidents since that time except for President Carter. 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.