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 Board is 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 non-partisan 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 Confidential not only illuminates a little-known element of U.S. intelligence operations but also offers suggestions for enhancing a critical executive function.
Kenneth Michael Absher, a retired senior CIA operations officer, is a fellow with the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the author of Mind-Sets and Missiles: A First Hand Account of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Michael C. Desch, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of Civilian Control of the Military: The Changing Security Environment. Roman Popadiuk served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 1992-1993. He is a retired member of the career Senior Foreign Service.