Senate Finally Confirms Head of Privacy and Civil Liberties Board after a Year and a Half

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
David Medine

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board finally has a chairman after the U.S. Senate took almost a year and a half to confirm the nomination of David Medine.


With the backing of Democrats, the Senate voted 53-45 in favor of Medine, special counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) praised Medine and the board that he will lead.


“The confirmation of this nominee is a significant victory for all Americans who care about safeguarding our privacy rights and civil liberties,” Leahy said. “The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is a guardian of Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties as well as an essential part of our national security strategy.”


Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News characterized Leahy’s remark as an “overstatement.”


“The size of the five-member Board and the resources available to it are not commensurate with the responsibilities it has nominally been assigned,” Aftergood wrote. “It cannot possibly perform comprehensive oversight of the broad range of privacy or civil liberties concerns that arise in the national security domain. Expectations to the contrary are bound to be disappointed. At best, the Board may serve as a boutique oversight shop that tackles a couple of discrete policy issues each year.”


Republicans opposed Medine’s nomination over concerns that he wouldn’t unequivocally acknowledge the U.S. struggle to combat terrorism.


“I was disappointed that he failed to answer a basic yes-or-no question about national security law: ‘Do you believe that we are engaged in a war on terrorism?’” Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a prepared statement. “Instead of a simple yes or no, he opted for a more limited answer that military power is permissible in appropriate cases.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Senate Confirms Chair of Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)

Grassley Statement on David Medine to be Chairman, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (Senator Chuck Grassley)

Obama Nominees to Privacy and Civil Liberties Board Finally Get a Hearing (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Finally Starts to Activate Privacy Oversight Board (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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