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David Medine, chair of PCLOB, on surveillance program
January 29, 2014
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report on mass surveillance was issued in January 2014 in light of the global surveillance disclosures of 2013, recommending the US end bulk data collection.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was first chartered under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The role of the board is to provide advice and review of whether adequate supervision, guidelines, and oversight exist and to "continually review" regulations, policies, procedures, and information sharing practices to ensure privacy and civil liberties considerations are protected. To carry out these roles, the board does not have subpoena power, but is able to request subpoenas subject to the U.S. Attorney General's discretion "to protect sensitive law enforcement or counterterrorism information or ongoing operations." The U.S. Director of National Intelligence also has the power to override requests "to protect the national security interests of the United States"
A report by former members of the 9/11 commission in December 2005 noted there was "little urgency" in creation of the board, whose first meeting was in 2006. It was initially composed of a chair, vice chair, and three other members. As these members served at the pleasure of the President, "Critics... maintained that the board appeared to be a presidential appendage, devoid of the capability to exercise independent judgment and assessment or to provide impartial findings and recommendations", according to the Congressional Research Service. Subsequently member Lanny Davis resigned in protest over the board's lack of independence, citing "extensive redlining by Administration officials of the board's first report to Congress" that was accepted by the other members. The board was then reconstituted under the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (H.R. 1), beginning in January 2008, as an independent agency with appointments subject to Senate confirmation. Four members of the board were nominated by President Barack Obama in 2011, and confirmed by the Senate in August 2012. Board chairman David Medine was finally confirmed in May 2013 in the wake of the Snowden disclosures in a party-line vote with 53 Democrats supporting and 45 Republicans opposing.
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