Obama to Convene Privacy, Civil Liberties Board

Image credit: Cliff Owen/AP Photo

President Obama will today hold his first meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, part of his plan to facilitate a public dialogue after controversial disclosure of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs.

"The president looks forward to … discussing recent developments, to include the disclosure of classified information," a senior administration official said.

The meeting comes as Obama plans to announce James Comey as his pick for the next director of the FBI. The former George W. Bush administration official would replace Robert Mueller if confirmed by the Senate.

The little-known oversight board was created in 2004 to review anti-terrorism programs implemented by the executive branch. But it has only convened intermittently and was dormant for Obama's first term.

The newly reconstituted board is chaired by Obama appointee David Medine, a former associate director of the Federal Trade Commission. The board's other members include two former assistant attorneys general, a former federal judge and a nonprofit policy expert.

In an interview earlier this week with Charlie Rose, Obama first announced that he would meet with the board, saying, "what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation, not only about these two programs, but also the general problem of data, big data sets, because this is not going to be restricted to government entities."

Obama also plans meetings in the coming weeks with "a range of stakeholders on the subject of protecting privacy in the digital era," the administration official said.

Meantime, administration officials say, the president has ordered Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to declassify more information about government surveillance programs to "better contextualize" them. He has specifically requested Clapper to consider releasing FISA court opinions to better explain how and why some surveillance requests were approved under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act.