A small federal panel that oversees privacy issues has been catapulted from a bureaucratic backwater into the political maelstrom roiled by leaks about the National Security Agency’s domestic snooping.
For most of the nine years since President George W. Bush signed the legislation creating it, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board did not have any members, let alone an office or staff.
It took 510 days — nearly 18 months ending in May — for the Senate to confirm the chairman, former Federal Trade Commission official David Medine.
But within a week of the five-member board’s meeting that month — the first in almost six years — newspapers published details about the NSA’s domestic data collection programs and documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
“The first Snowden leak happened during my second full week [as chairman],” Mr. Medine said.
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