To recap: A privacy and civil liberties oversight board was recommended by the 9/11 Commission, and the board was created in 2004 and placed within the White House. In 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed the “Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007,” which took the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board out of the White House and established it “as an independent agency within the executive branch.”
Terms for the original board expired in January 2008, but President Bush delayed the nomination of new board members for many months; none were confirmed by the Senate. In 2010, President Obama nominated James X. Dempsey, Vice President for Public Policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Elisebeth Collins Cook, who worked in the Justice Department in the Bush administration. Privacy Lives joined in the call to nominate and confirm experts to the board. (For more information on the board, here’s a 2008 Congressional Research Service report (pdf) on the board’s history and powers.)
In December 2011, Obama nominated Rachel L. Brand (Chief Counsel for Regulatory Litigation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber Litigation Center), Patricia M. Wald (who had served for twenty years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia), and for the chairmanship, David Medine (a partner at WilmerHale whose practice focuses on data security and privacy). In August, all but Medine were approved by the full Senate, so the board did not have a chairman.
On Tuesday, the Senate finally voted to confirm (pdf) Medine (53 yeas, 45 nays, 2 did not vote). On the floor, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of Judiciary Committee, which sent the nomination to the full Senate for a vote, said:
I am glad the Senate is finally confirming David Medine as Chairman of the bipartisan Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, PCLOB. The confirmation of this nominee is a significant victory for all Americans who care about safeguarding our privacy rights and civil liberties. The American people now have a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that is at full strength. This Board should help ensure that we honor our fundamental values as we implement a strategy to keep our Nation safe. […]
The Judiciary Committee favorably reported this nomination last May along with a bipartisan group of nominees to serve as members of the Board. This nomination should not have taken a year to be considered and confirmed by the Senate. The Senate finally confirmed all of the other individuals, those nominated to serve as members of the Board, last August. Republican Senators refused to vote on the chairman’s nomination. This was a needless delay and prevented the Board from functioning at full strength. […]
Protecting national security and protecting Americans’ fundamental rights are not in conflict. We can–and must–do both. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board should help ensure that we do now that the Senate has finally been allowed to act on the nomination of Chairman Medine.