Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Still AWOL

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) last week urged President Obama to revive the dormant Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by nominating members to fill the board's vacancies.

All five seats on the board are now vacant. President Obama nominated two members in December 2010, but even if confirmed they would not have a quorum to conduct business. The board has been inactive since 2008 due to vacancies.

In March 2010, OMB Watch joined several organizations in a letter urging President Obama to nominate members of the board, which stated:

The Board was designed to play a vital independent role in oversight of privacy and civil liberties. It is one of the few safeguards adopted to protect Americans from improper intrusions into our privacy and civil liberties as part of the major legal and policy changes put in place to fight terrorism.

Vigorous oversight can be a bulwark against excessive security secrecy. As the senators note, the changed practices over the past decade "present the potential for increased governmental intrusions into individuals' lives and therefore bear careful monitoring."

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