On May 7, the U.S. Senate confirmed David Medine as chair of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Although the Senate had confirmed the other four members of board — Rachel Brand, Elisebeth Collins Cook, James Dempsey, and Patricia Wald — last summer, the chair is the board’s only full-time member and only member with the authority to hire a staff.
“This confirmation means the board is finally at full strength and can move forward at full speed with its vital oversight work,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior policy counsel at TCP, in a press release. Franklin was also interviewed on Federal News Radio on May 14 about the two-and-a-half year delay and the outlook for the new chairman.
First created in 2004 based on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is designed to oversee the privacy and civil liberties implications of national security programs and policies. In 2007, Congress enacted legislation to strengthen the PCLOB, including making it an independent agency and giving it subpoena power, but no members were confirmed until 2012, and the board was non-existent for more than five years. TCP has long urged Congress and the president to establish and staff an independent privacy board.