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Bush Nominates Rotunda for Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Ron & Kyndra Rotunda with George W. BushOn February 26, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate University Professor and Professor of Law Ronald Rotunda to become a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) for an initial four-year term. On February 27, the nomination was sent to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs which will hold confirmation hearings on the nominees.

The PCLOB was initially established as part of the White House Office within the Executive Office of the President by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act of 2004. In 2007 Congress passed a new law, the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, that reconfigured the board as an independent agency under the executive branch.  The board consists of five members who are appointed by the president and subject to confirmation by the Senate. Those selected for the board are chosen from the ranks of distinguished citizens outside the federal government on the basis of achievement, experience, and independence.

The function of the board is to advise the president and other senior executive branch officials to ensure concerns for privacy and civil liberties are properly considered in the implementation of laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to efforts to protect the nation against terrorism. Additional functions of the board are to review terrorism information sharing practices of executive branch departments and agencies to ensure that established guidelines are being followed, making recommendations as appropriate, and to make an annual report to Congress.

According to a January 30 press release issued by Senator Joe Lieberman, IN-Conn., Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., the new board will have the same functions as the old board but will have greater authorities including the authority to issue subpoenas through the Attorney General, expanded responsibilities to hold public hearings and inform the public of its activities, and a requirement to tell Congress if the Attorney General refuses to issue a subpoena it requests.

Rotunda is a nationally recognized and frequently cited expert on constitutional law and legal ethics who has written several treatises that are among the most widely cited modern authorities on constitutional law and procedure and professional ethics, having been cited more than 1000 times by state and federal courts at every level, from trial courts to the U.S. Supreme Court.