NSA watchdog stepping down from federal civil liberties board

A top civil liberties government official and national surveillance watchdog is stepping down from the independent advisory board he’s led since 2013.

David Medine, chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, announced Tuesday that he will resign from his leadership position on July 1. Medine has led the board since 2013.

david medine
David Medine, chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, will resign from his leadership position, effective July 1. Medine has led the board since 2013.

Following information leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden, the PCLOB under Medine investigated the National Security Agency’s classified surveillance programs and informed the public about them — a public service praised by President Barack Obama, who nominated Medine for the chairman role.

“David has served our Nation as PCLOB Chairman during an especially momentous period, coinciding with a concerted examination of our national security tools and policies to ensure they are consistent with my Administration’s commitment to civil liberties and individual privacy,” Obama said in a statement. “Under David’s leadership, the PCLOB’s thoughtful analysis and considered input has consistently informed my decision-making and that of my team, and our country is better off because of it.”

Prior to heading up the PCLOB, Medine worked as an attorney fellow for the Security and Exchange Commission and as special counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Outside of government, he was a partner at WilmerHale, a law firm that focuses on privacy and data security issues.

During his announcement, Medine praised his team for safeguarding civil liberties and setting the record straight on national security and surveillance programs.

“I have had the great privilege of being PCLOB’s first chairman. During my tenure and thanks to the support of the President and Congress, the Board has been able to carry out its timely mission of conducting oversight and providing advice to ensure that federal counterterrorism efforts properly balance national security with privacy and civil liberties,” Medine said in a statement.

A spokesperson with the PCLOB told Federal News Radio that Medine has not publicly announced where he will work following his resignation.

The board consists of five lawyers who have top security clearances from the FBI and full access to the details of NSA’s programs. Each board member is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

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