Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB)

Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) Members

The Board is composed of nine individuals, five appointed by the President and one each by the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House as well as the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate. Appointees are to be U.S. citizens who are preeminent in the fields of history, national security, foreign policy, intelligence policy, social science, law, or archives.

On March 12, 2015, the President appointed Laura A. DeBonis and Solomon B. Watson IV as members to the Board. On January 14, 2015, the President reappointed William H. Leary.  On March 6, 2014, the Majority Leader of the Senate appointed Sanford J. Ungar. On September 17, 2013, the Minority Leader of the Senate appointed Kenneth L. Wainstein. There are currently four vacancies.

Members Biographies

Presidential Appointees

Laura A. DeBonis
was appointed by the President on March 12, 2015.  Ms. DeBonis has over 20 years experience in the information technology and media fields.  She currently serves as a founding Board Member for the Digital Public Library of America, an organization dedicated to creating an open network of online resources from libraries, archives and museums and making them freely available to all.  Her professional experience includes a variety of leadership roles at Google, including her last position there as the Director of Library Partnerships for Book Search.  Since Google, Ms. DeBonis has been a consultant to a number of organizations, including serving as chair of the technology review team for the Internet Safety Technical Task Force at the Berkman Center at Harvard University.  Her additional early career experience includes Alter Ego Networks, Organic Online, and documentary film production.  Ms. DeBonis is currently on the Board of Trustees of WGBH Boston and has served as a trustee of the Boston Public Library.  She received a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  Ms. DeBonis is serving her first term on the Board.

William H. Leary, (Acting Chair)
was reappointed by the President on January 14, 2015. He was the Special Adviser to the National Security Advisor and Senior Director for Records and Access Management on the National Security Staff until his retirement in 2011. In that capacity, he served as Chair of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel and Chair of the Records Access and Information Security Interagency Policy Committee. A strong proponent of governmental transparency, Mr. Leary was one of the primary executive branch officials behind the creation of the Board in 2000 and the development of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 on Classified National Security Information. Prior to joining the National Security Council staff, he served as the Deputy Director of the Agency Services Division at the National Archives and Records Administration for five years. From 1968 until 1973, Mr. Leary taught American history at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and the University of South Alabama. He received his B.A. in foreign affairs and M.A. and A.B.D. in history, all from the University of Virginia. He is serving his second term on the Board.

Solomon B. Watson IV
Solomon B. Watson IV was appointed by the President on March 12, 2015.  He was Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of The New York Times Company, positions he held from 2005 to 2006.  He began his career at The New York Times Company in 1974 and held various positions including Senior Vice President and General Counsel from 1996 to 2005, Vice President and General Counsel from 1990 to 1996, General Counsel from 1989 to 1990, Corporate Secretary from 1979 to 1989 and 2000 to 2002, and Corporate Counsel from 1974 to 1979.  Mr. Watson has been a Special Master in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, and is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  From 1966 to 1968 he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the Military Police Corps.  Mr. Watson received a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He is serving his first term on the Board.

Congressional Appointees

Sanford J. Ungar
was reappointed to the Board by Sen. Harry Reid as Majority Leader of the Senate on March 6, 2014. He recently retired as the tenth President of Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to assuming his position at Goucher College, Mr. Ungar served as Director of the Voice of America, Dean of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., as the Washington editor of The Atlantic, as managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, and as a staff writer for The Washington Post. He is a former host of “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio and had published six books, including The Papers & The Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers. Mr. Ungar obtained his B.A. in Government from Harvard College and a Master's degree in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Mr. Ungar is serving his third term on the Board.

Kenneth L. Wainstein
was appointed to the Board by Sen. Mitch McConnell as Minority Leader of the Senate on September 17, 2013. He currently is a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, where he specializes in white collar and criminal defense and corporate investigations. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Center of Law. Previously, Mr. Wainstein served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, first in the Southern District of New York and then in the District of Columbia. In 2001, he served as the Director of the Executive office for U.S. Attorneys. In 2002, Mr. Wainstein joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as General Counsel. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller appointed him Chief of Staff in 2003. Mr. Wainstein was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia in 2004, a position he held until his appointment as Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Justice Department in 2006. As the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security, he established and led the new National Security Division, which consolidated the Justice Department’s law enforcement and intelligence activities on counter-terrorism and counterintelligence matters. In 2008, after 19 years at the Justice Department, Mr. Wainstein was named Homeland Security Advisor by President George W. Bush. As the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, he advised the President on all homeland security matters, chaired the Homeland Security Council, and oversaw the inter-agency coordination process for homeland security and counter-terrorism programs. Mr. Wainstein holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Wainstein is serving his first term on the Board.

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Updated January 14, 2015

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