Announced in a public notice published on August 28, 2013, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (“the Board”) will conduct a public hearing on July 9, 2013. According to this notice, “invited experts, academics and advocacy organizations” will discuss “surveillance programs operated pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.” Members of the public are invited to participate. The Washington, D.C. location of the event has yet to be determined.
By way of background, the Board consists of five members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Board was first created in 2004 within the executive branch but became an independent agency several years later. Until the current NSA surveillance leak, the Board was quiet to say the least. Apparently, there is no record of the Board members meeting more than once and President Obama met with Board members only days ago for the first time. Notwithstanding the relative inexperience of the Board working as a team, this hearing will be of great interest if for no other reason the recent unveiling of the NSA surveillance programs may actually be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
As reported in the UK press — the very same UK paper that broke and explored the Snowden leak, “Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).” It would be nice if the American press were interested in taking a ride on this UK investigative bandwagon. Maybe after July 9, 2013, it finally will.
Update: July 15, 2013
Here’s the transcript of this very lively public workshop.