Welcome back! This week your co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate:
Latest in Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released a public report about Executive Order 12333, an executive order that establishes the general framework for intelligence activities and for the organization of the various components that constitute the U.S. Intelligence Community. The 26-page report marks the culmination of six years of PCLOB research about how the government has made use of Executive Order 12333. The report can be found here or below.
This is my favorite story of the episode. David Kris covers a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on the enormous value that European governments get in fighting terrorism from the same American surveillance programs that European institutions have been fighting for twenty years to shut down. It’s a delightful takedown of European virtue-signaling, and I hope the Biden Administration gives the PCLOB a new name and mission in honor of the report.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from New York Times reporter Charlie Savage, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has declassified its implementation report on Presidential Policy Directive 28: Signals Intelligence Activities (PPD-28). PPD-28 was signed by President Obama in January of 2014 and provides principles guiding “why, whether, when, and how the United States conducts signals intelligence activities.” The report was sent to Congress in early 2017.
President Trump recently nominated Travis LeBlanc and Aditya Bamzai as members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), placing a full set of five nominees before the Senate and creating the possibility that the inquorate body could soon be revived. (A quorum requires three members; since early 2017, the body’s only member has been Elisabeth Collins.) This would be a welcome change.
The White House’s announcement of the intended nominations of Travis LeBlanc and Aditya Bamzai to be members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is a welcome development for this low-profile but increasingly significant board.
The White House announced two nominations Tuesday for positions on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). Pending confirmation, Jane Nitze and Ed Felten would join Adam Klein, whom the president nominated to chair the board in August.
The nomination of Adam Klein as chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is a welcome move by the president. Klein has excellent credentials for this position, having served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and most recently as a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. As readers of this site, to which he is a frequent contributor, know well, Klein is well situated to build upon the solid foundation created by previous PCLOB Chair David Medine.
There are many tools available to a president who seeks to scale back the scope and authority of an administrative agency. He can push to cut the agency's budget. He can embrace legal theories and litigation strategies that interpret the agency's statutory authority narrowly. He can try to appoint leadership that shares his reductionist agenda (and he can try to remove incumbent leaders who don't). And at the extreme, he might seek legislation formally shrinking the agency's authority or even abolishing the agency outright.
With this week’s White House announcement of an intent to nominate additional leadership officials at the Department of Justice, one of whom is current Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) member Rachel Brand, the PCLOB is one step closer to conducting its business with a lone remaining member, Elisebeth Collins. Board members may not serve in separate U.S. government positions.