recommended reading

Obama Resurrects Intel Advisory Panel

Chuck Burton/AP

The Obama administration is resuscitating a small intelligence council after membership dwindled to four people a year ago.

The President's Intelligence Advisory Board -- not to be confused with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board -- is intended to enhance the effectiveness of surveillance activities.

The White House late Thursday announced the appointments of six new members with backgrounds in technology research, telecommunications policy, cloud computing, financial regulation, the shipping business and private investment. 

President Obama’s timing is curious, some national security experts say.

Amid the past year’s uproar over domestic spying, it was privacy watchdog PCLOB that gathered steam, issuing two major reports on National Security Agency surveillance.

The country is now dealing with emergencies in the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine.

“Revamping the PIAB would have made more sense two or four years ago,” said Steven Aftergood, who studies government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “Presumably (the president) came to feel a need for what the PIAB tries to provide -- independent analysis and advice that looks beyond the immediate crises of the day.”

Bringing membership up to ten, the new members include:

  • James S. Crown, president of investment group Henry Crown and Company, who also serves on the board of trustees at the Aspen Institute
  • Scott Davis, UPS chief executive officer and a former member of the President’s Export Council
  • Jamie Dos Santos, former CEO of Web services provider Terremark Federal Group and current member of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee
  • Julius Genachowski, former Federal Communications Commission chairman
  • Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman
  • Neal S. Wolin, former Treasury deputy secretary

The additions are unlikely to affect any policy on Obama’s watch.

"It will take months or longer for the new PIAB to accomplish anything useful, and by that time it may be too late for this president to act on its recommendations,” Aftergood said.

He also noted, “The CEO of UPS was not an obvious candidate for the job.”

The shipping firm has been in the news recently with accusations that deliveries were intercepted by the NSA to bug computers as well as disclosures about a payment system hack affecting 51 retail locations nationwide. 

The postal and shipping industries are considered “critical infrastructure” that are crucial for sustaining the U.S. economy, according to the Department of Homeland Security. 

"Perhaps the choice reflects a view of intelligence as a competitive enterprise that aims to serve a customer base while being enabled by technology and constrained by cost limits," Aftergood said. 

A January presidential directive to reform NSA intelligence collection tasked the board with devising ways to distinguish between metadata and other types of information and options for replacing the "need-to-know" model of information sharing with a "work-related access" model.

Recommendations were due to Obama in May, but the assessment, like most of the board's reports, is not public. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.