On February 14 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to consider the confirmation of David Medine as Chair of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). For people who care about the U.S. Constitution and the preservation of constitutional liberty in America, this confirmation is a pretty big deal. It’s sad to say, but since the days when George W. Bush was President the PCLOB has existed in name only. By law, this Board has subpoena power to review the search and surveillance activities of the U.S. Government. By law, this Board is required to make twice-yearly public reports on violations of Americans’ constitutional rights.
But practicality trumps the law: without a Chair, the board cannot hire staff and cannot expend the resources needed for it to actually get to work. Without a Chair, the Board cannot do much of anything.
On February 14 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to consider the confirmation of David Medine as Chair of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). But as you can see in a webcast of that hearing, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa blocked consideration of David Medine’s nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Medine’s nomination is on hold until the Judiciary Committee decides to take it up again.
Why did Chuck Grassley decide to block a watchdog on behalf of constitutional rights? It’s a mystery. Senator Grassley didn’t even bother to explain himself before issuing the block.