"The law as it was then made the board a functional equivalent of White House staff," Davis said. "Congress corrected that by making the board independent. If they have a problem with classified material, they still can't release it on their own. But they can go out and have a press conference complaining about it. Before, they had to defer to the White House."
Congress' revision of the legal authority that set up the board gave Obama the ability to appoint a new group of appointees when he came into office in January 2009. But Obama did not forward his first nominations until December 2010, and they languished among dozens of other nominations in Congress.
The current board is a mix of civil libertarians and former government lawyers. Medine, the chairman, most recently worked as a Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer. James X. Dempsey is a vice president of public policy with the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet civil liberties group. Elisebeth Collins Cook and Rachel Brand both worked as Justice Department lawyers during the Bush administration and are now in private practice. Patricia M. Wald is a former federal judge appointed by President Jimmy Carter.
Three members — Medine, Cook and Brand — have worked as lawyers at WilmerHale, a top legal and lobbying shop in Washington. Medine lobbied for several years for data security groups, including Iron Mountain and the National Association for Information Destruction, a trade association for shredding and other information disposal companies. Brand lobbied for Google, T-Mobile and a pharmaceutical association.
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