Obama is holding his first meeting with the obscure privacy and civil liberties board (PCLOB) today in order to keep his pledge to look into the government surveillance operations recently revealed.
The PCLOB, was created in 2004 after the 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of a board to safeguard civil liberties and oversee the new authorities granted to the security agencies.
According to Obama, the PCLOB will play a important role in making sure privacy concerns are taken into account with the terrorism programs conducted by our intelligence agencies.
The president is also tasking the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, to consider declassifying more details about the government’s collection of U.S. phone and Internet records. Obama is specifically asking Clapper to review possible declassification of opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the data-mining efforts.
The PCLOB has been around for nine years, but obviously has been inactive. David Medine, who I wrote about here, is the chairman of the PCLOB. Medine said the group has a “broad range of questions” about the newly revealed NSA programs. It will be interesting to see where Medine comes down on the privacy issues of Americans, as he is on the record protecting the privacy of foreign visitors to the US. When asked about profiling foreigners by Senator Grassley (R-IA) during his confirmation hearing on the board, Medine replied “In general, profiling of foreign nationals based solely on their point of departure to the United States is inappropriate.”