03.09.10

Leahy Urges President To Make Privacy Board Nominations

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) yesterday sent a letter to the White House, urging President Obama to make nominations to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Leahy first wrote to the President about reconstituting the Board in April 2009.  The Board, which was established by Congress at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, is charged with ensuring that privacy and civil liberties concerns are considered in the development of national security and counterterrorism policies. 

“Having a fully functional Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is a key step in protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans,” Leahy wrote.  “Given the many pressing privacy and civil liberties issues facing our Nation, including timely issues related to counterterrorism and cybersecurity policies, this vital Board has remained vacant for far too long.” 

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was first constituted in 2005 and is comprised of five members.  The terms of the Board’s first members lapsed in January 2008, and the Bush administration delayed in announcing new nominations to the Board.  Last year, Leahy worked to secure funding in the omnibus appropriations bill to reconstitute the Board.  In 2007, Leahy championed reforms to the Board, including the establishment of annual reporting requirements, and a requirement that all Board members be confirmed by the Senate.

The full text of Leahy’s letter to President Obama follows.  A PDF is available online.  A PDF of the letter Leahy sent with Senator Arlen Specter in April 2009 is also available online.

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March 8, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

In April, Senator Specter and I wrote to urge you to promptly reconstitute the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (“Board”).   I write again to encourage you to nominate qualified individuals to the Board at the earliest opportunity. 

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an integral component of our counterterrorism policies established by Congress to ensure that privacy and civil liberties concerns are appropriately considered in developing and implementing these measures.  At the recommendation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), Congress created the Board as an agency within the Executive Office of the President in 2004.  During the 110th Congress, I worked with many others in the Senate to reform and reconstitute the Board, to give it more independence. 

Having a fully functional Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is a key step in protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans.  Given the many pressing privacy and civil liberties issues facing our Nation, including timely issues related to counterterrorism and cybersecurity policies, this vital Board has remained vacant for far too long. 

I look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Respectfully,

PATRICK LEAHY                                                                
Chairman                                                                   

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