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 June 22, 2016, the President appointed James E. Baker and Trevor W. Morrison (Chair) to the Board. 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 two vacancies.

Members Biographies

Presidential Appointees

James E. Baker
Judge Baker retired from the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in July 2015 after fifteen years of service, the last four as Chief Judge. Judge Baker is currently the Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security. He previously served as Special Assistant to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) (1997-2000), Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (1994-1997) and as Counsel to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board. Judge Baker has also served as an attorney adviser in the Office of the Legal Advisor, Department of State, a legislative aide and acting Chief of Staff to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1985-1987), and as a Marine Corps infantry officer (1979-2000), resigning his Reserve commission upon joining the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He is the author of In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times (Cambridge: 2007) and, with Michael Riesman, Regulating Covert Action (Yale University Press: 1992). He received a B.A from Yale University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He is serving his first term on the PIDB.

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
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.

Trevor W. Morrison (Chair)
was appointed and named as Chair by the President on June 22, 2016. Mr. Morrison is currently the Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He was previously the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he was also faculty co-director of the Center for Constitutional Governance and faculty co-chair of the Hertog Program on Law and National Security. Before that, he was on the faculty of Cornell Law School. Mr. Morrison spent 2009 in the White House, where he served as associate counsel to President Barack Obama. Before entering academia, he was a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1998-99) and to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court (2002-03). Between those clerkships, he was a Bristow Fellow in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General (1999-2000), an attorney-advisor in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (2000-01), and an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) (2001-02). Mr. Morrison is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law. He received a B.A. (hons.) in history from the University of British Columbia in 1994, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1998. He was also a Richard Hofstadter Fellow in History at Columbia University. Mr. Morrison is serving his first term on the PIDB.

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 July 26, 2016

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