- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2011

President Obama has named two lawyers and a former federal judge to an independent privacy board recommended by the 9/11 Commission that has sat dormant for years under he and President George W. Bush.

The nominations Thursday fill out the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, where vacancies have left the panel unable to meet for years.

The Washington Times reported on the vacancies in August. At the time, the White House declined to say why the board had languished so long even as critics openly called on Mr. Obama to fill the seats.

The appointments Tuesday were David Medine, a partner at the WilmerHale law firm specializing in privacy and data security; Rachel Brand, chief counsel for regulatory litigation at the Chamber of Commerce; and Patricia Wald, who served for 20 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.

“I am confident that these outstanding individuals will greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Mr. Obama said.

The president previously nominated James Dempsey, vice president of public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Elisebeth Collins Cook, a lawyer who worked for the Justice Department in the Bush Administration.

Before the nominations, privacy analysts complained that the board could have been providing important oversight work on a host of national security issues, such as airport screening, Internet security and how law enforcement uses satellite tracking devices.

In a 2007 report to Congress, the board said that one of its tasks was reviewing the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow agents to obtain financial and credit information on U.S. citizens without going through the normal channels of getting a court order.

The oversight board was formed in 2004 but came under scrutiny for being too close to the Bush administration. In 2007, Congress made it independent and gave the panel subpoena powers. The board, however, remained dormant for years under Republican and Democratic administrations.