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Intelligence Committee Democrats Send Letter to President Asking for Nomination of PCLOB Members

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Washington, July 28, 2017 | comments

Washington D.C. - Today, Rep. Adam Schiff and the Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to nominate candidates for the four open seats on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The PCLOB, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for its mission of overseeing the privacy and civil liberties impact of counterterrorism programs, currently has only one serving board member.

“As Congress begins the process of reauthorizing Section 702, ensuring the PCLOB can once again have a full complement of board members to perform is statutory functions is all the more important,” the Members wrote in their letter. “We urge you to make a public commitment to replenish the Board with highly qualified candidates, and to move quickly to send their nominations to the Senate so that they can be confirmed as soon as possible.”

The letter was signed by Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Jim Himes, Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep. André Carson, Rep. Jackie Speier, Rep. Mike Quigley, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. Joaquin Castro, and Rep. Denny Heck.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. President:

As members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, we write to urge you to put forward nominees for the four open seats on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). With only one sitting member, short of the three needed for a quorum, the Board is currently unable to carry out its statutory duties. Given the bipartisan recognition of the PCLOB's importance and value, and our shared concern in ensuring that important surveillance programs designed to keep Americans safe also protect privacy and civil liberties, reenergizing the PCLOB is a commonsense and constructive step.

On June 7th in the New York Times, your counterterrorism and homeland security advisor Thomas Bossert urged Congress to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act, which will expire at the end of 2017. We share your support for reauthorizing this critical authority, with the inclusion of appropriate reforms, but it is notable that Mr. Bossert took special notice of the PCLOB's work on 702 oversight, saying it deserved "special praise."

We agree with his assessment. In the decade since its establishment by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the PCLOB has repeatedly proven its value, conducting in-depth reviews of surveillance programs, recommending reforms, and serving in advisory function to the Administration and Congress.

In 2014, the PCLOB released an exhaustive review of Section 215 and Section 702 surveillance programs, studying their legality, their effectiveness, and making recommendations to the Intelligence Community and Congress on specific reforms. In doing so, the Board held numerous public hearings to hear detailed testimony from scholars, activists, and subject matter experts, as well as engaging directly with IC agencies. In the subsequent reports, the PCLOB made 22 recommendations to improve protections for Americans' civil liberties and privacy, all of which have been implemented in whole or part. As the House and Senate Intelligence Committees oversee legally and technically complex surveillance counterterrorism programs, the counsel and expertise of the Board is crucial to our mission.

As Congress begins the process of reauthorizing Section 702, ensuring the PCLOB can once again have a full complement of board members to perform is statutory functions is all the more important. We urge you to make a public commitment to replenish the Board with highly qualified candidates, and to move quickly to send their nominations to the Senate so that they can be confirmed as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

 

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Jim Himes (CT-04)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. André Carson (IN-07)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20)

Member of Congress

 

Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10)

Member of Congress

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