The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was suggested in the list of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission report, back in 2004, and was created by Congress later that year. It was never truly funded or staffed, but after a 2008 change in its authorizing law, and after years of Congressional and delays from the Bush and Obama administrations, its chairman was finally confirmed by the Senate on May 7 of this year.
That man, David Medine, has said his board will investigate the NSA program — after a classified briefing on June 11, he told the Associated Press “further questions are warranted.” In addition to meeting with Obama and officials in the intelligence community, the board will also hold a public meeting slated for July 9, “that would bring together academics, experts and advocates to explore issues raised by the national surveillance programs,” the Washington Post wrote on June 21.
But then again, perhaps these surveillance programs do keep us safer. As Stephen Colbert said of our enemies: “They hate us for our freedoms. The less freedom we have, the less likely they are to attack us.”
There’s a comforting thought.