White House Privacy Oversight Board Disappears

Thursday, July 16, 2009
A rare meeting of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (photo: RSingel)

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has had a brief, if not unwelcome, existence in the White House. Created by Congress in 2004 at the behest of the 9/11 Commission, the board was supposed to oversee the federal government’s actions on civil liberties and privacy. President George W. Bush never seemed to take it seriously, waiting six months to nominate anyone to the board, which didn’t even hold its first meeting until 2006. The following year a Democratic appointee, Lanny Davis, resigned because he said the remaining members saw the board as part of the White House operation, instead of being an independent oversight body.

With the arrival of President Barack Obama and his call for more openness in government, board proponents hoped it would get a fresh start. In May the Obama administration promised to reconstitute the board and “accelerate the selection process” for its members. But by late June no appointees had been announced—and then the board disappeared entirely from the White House website, according to ProPublica.
Administration officials have refused to offer any public explanations for this move. Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, told ProPublica that the Obama administration’s failure so far to take any positive action with the board was “extremely disappointing.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status (by Harold C. Relyea, Congressional research Service) (PDF)
White House Edits to Privacy Board’s Report Spur Resignation (by John Solomon and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post)


Leave a comment