Oversight Gap Must Be Filled (Sen. Joe Lieberman)

The White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), created under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 is history, having gone out of business on Wednesday. I am grateful to the board members' service over the past three years. Unfortunately, the White House has failed to send Congress any nominees for the stronger replacement board, created in the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.

I am concerned that the lack of transition planning to the new board has created a gap in the oversight needed to respond to the ongoing threat of terrorism. The President should move swiftly to nominate members to the new board so they can get to work protecting the public's privacy and civil liberties as we work to protect the country against terrorism.

The new board will serve the same functions as the old board - advising the President and other members of the executive branch on the privacy and civil liberties implications of new terrorism policies or regulations and overseeing and investigating subsequent government actions to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are upheld.

But the new board has been given greater authorities. It will be removed from the White House; its five members must be Senate confirmed; and it will have the power to issue subpoenas through the Attorney General.

In addition, no more than three members of the board can be of one party; the board will have expanded responsibilities to hold public hearings and inform the public of its activities; and the board will be required to tell Congress if the Attorney General refuses to issue a subpoena it requests.

The Administration has had a full six months to prepare for this transition. It's failure to do so is irresponsible. I urge the White House to abide by the law and re-staff this essential oversight board.