Ten reports have gone missing.
Under a federal law passed in 2008, President Barack Obama is required to nominate members of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent office in the executive branch of the U.S. Government. Fusion Center administrators and information sharing specialists are required by law to take civil liberties training developed by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is also tasked with the job of finding out whether or not surveillance and other intelligence activities are protecting the civil liberties guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution, then reporting its findings every six months. Had the PCLOB been appointed by Barack Obama, it would have already made five mandated reports to the Congress, with both majority and minority reports of the PCLOB included. Five additional mandated reports would have been made to the American public.
These ten reports are missing, because for three years President Obama failed to nominate a quorum of members to sit on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. But on December 15 2011 President Obama finally filed nominations for all five seats on the PCLOB.
The next step for the seating of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must vote in approval of Obama’s five nominees so that, in turn, the full Senate may vote to confirm and at long last seat the members of the board. As of now, confirmation hearings for the five nominees have not been scheduled. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as such is in charge of scheduling such hearings. Whether and how quickly Senator Leahy schedules confirmation hearings for the five PCLOB nominees will be a fair indication of his commitment to civil liberties protections for the American people.