Campaign Promises

Other/Miscellaneous -> Appointments -> Privacy/Civil Liberties Board

Privacy/Civil Liberties BoardGrade
AP-13 The Promise: "Support efforts to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board with subpoena powers and reporting responsibilities."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan to Improve Intelligence Capacity and Protect Civil Liberties,11/16/08
Status:This promise could have been filed under Homeland Security (HS), but the key tenet pertains to White House level appointments.

As a result of a 9/11 Commission Report recommendation dated 07/22/04 (formally referred to as the "Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States"), former President Bush selected three Republicans and one Democrat to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). Only the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson required Senate confirmation at the time and this was accomplished in 02/06.

In 01/07, Congress decided that the PCLOB should be reorganized as an independent agency with each member subject to Senate confirmation, serving for overlapping six-year terms with no more than three members being from the same party. By 01/08 the PCLOB, as originally structured, ceased to operate. It would remain nonfunctional for over four years.

In early-08/12, the Senate confirmed four of the PCLOB's five members -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- but failed to confirm its chairman, Democrat David Medine. In 01/13, the White House re-nominated Mr. Medine as chair and the Senate confirmed him on 05/07/13. On 07/09/13, the Board held its first public workshop followed by its first substantive hearing on 11/04/13.

As of end-CY2016, a majority of the PCLOB could submit a written request to the Attorney General (AG) to issue a subpoena on behalf of the board. Within 30 days, the AG must either comply or provide a written explanation for a denial to the board and to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Thus after President Obama's eight years in office, the PCLOB itself had no subpoena powers.

This promise was not fulfilled.