05.17.12

Judiciary Committee Approves Nominees To Privacy Board

WASHIGNTON – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a slate of nominees to reconstitute the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. 

The Board was originally created by Congress in 2004, at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, to be located within the Executive Office of the President.  However, in 2007, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked to make the Board an independent entity within the Executive Branch.  The Board has been dormant since 2007, and consists of five members, all of whom must be confirmed by the Senate.

“The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an important guardian of Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties,” said Leahy.  “When we worked to create this board, we did so to ensure that our fundamental rights and liberties would be preserved as the Government take steps to better secure our Nation after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  The Senate should move quickly to confirm the nominees to the board so that they can get to their important work.”

Leahy chaired a hearing for the nominations in April.  The Committee’s vote Thursday will send the nominations to the full Senate for consideration.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
Chairman, Senate Committee On The Judiciary,
On Advancement of Nominees To The Privacy And Civil Liberties Oversight Board
May 17, 2012

 

I am pleased that today, the Committee voted in favor of the President’s nominees to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.   

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an important guardian of Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties. When we worked to create this board, we did so to ensure that our fundamental rights and liberties would be preserved as the Government take steps to better secure our Nation after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  The Senate should move quickly to confirm the nominees to the board so that they can get to their important work.

The board’s insights are particularly needed as Congress and the executive branch consider various proposals to enhance the Nation’s cybersecurity.  In the digital age, we must do more to protect our Nation from cyberattacks.  But, we must do so in a way that protects Americans’ privacy and respects our fundamental freedoms.  

I am very concerned that some of the cybersecurity proposals that the Congress is currently considering could significantly harm Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties.  During the past several weeks, I have received many phone calls and letters from Vermonters who are also very concerned about these proposals. Earlier this week, more than 30 privacy and civil liberties organizations from across the political spectrum also raised serious privacy and civil liberties objections to the cybersecurity bills pending in the Senate. 

Protecting national security and protecting Americans’ fundamental rights are not mutually exclusive goals.  We can -- and must -- do both.  A reconstituted Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will help ensure that we do.

As the 9/11 Commission observed in its report: "[I]f our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are struggling to defend."  I look forward to working with Senators from both sides of the aisle to confirm this bipartisan group of nominees to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.  I also look forward to hearing from them, working with them and working on the many privacy and civil liberties concerns with the cybersecurity legislation pending in the Senate, so that as we enhance cybersecurity we also honor the fundamental values that shaped our democracy.

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