Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Has Not Met for 422 Days, and May Never Meet Again
In one of the most under-reported stories of the year, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has been without a chair since July 1, 2016, and President Barack Obama has failed to nominate a replacement.
This matters. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is the only body in the executive branch of the United States government with independent power to investigate and report on violations of privacy and constitutional liberties in the U.S. government’s “War on Terror.” Without the PCLOB, there is no civil liberties oversight in the Obama administration and will not be any civil liberties oversight in the Trump administration.
The lack of a chair is not a hypothetical problem. Without a chair, any single member of the PCLOB can entirely block any action. Perhaps for that reason, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board a href=”https://pclob.gov/events.html”>PCLOB has not met since November 9, 2015 — that’s 422 days ago. No board meetings have been scheduled for the future.
Without a chair, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has four remaining members. In a show of bipartisanship, two are supposed to be Republicans and two are supposed to be Democrats. But the two Democrats on the PCLOB have just announced that they’re leaving the board — one because his term is over and the other because she can apparently see the writing on the wall. This leaves just two members of the PCLOB out of the legally-mandated five. They are both Republicans, and both have a demonstrated anti-liberty record.
Through decided inaction, President Barack Obama has made the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board effectively disappear. Unless you have faith that the new President Donald Trump will reinvigorate the PCLOB, now may be the time to declare civil liberties oversight dead.