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402 Days In, Barack Obama Has No Civil Liberties Oversight Board

H.R. 1, passed and signed into law during the 110th Congress of 2007-2008, requires the President to appoint a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to work as an independent office in the executive branch of the U.S. Government. Fusion Center administrators and information sharing specialists are required by law to take civil liberties training developed by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is tasked with the study of how surveillance and other intelligence activities protect (or do not protect) the civil liberties guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution, and is required to report to Congress with its findings.

402 days after his inauguration as President of the United States, Barack Obama has failed to appoint the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that the law requires. The Bush administration at least maintained web pages for this Board, but even those webpages have disappeared down the memory hole under the Obama administration, with no replacements. Barack Obama has even failed to respond to legislators’ letters asking him when he plans to get around to fulfilling this legal requirement. After writing President Obama a letter and receiving no answer, Representative Jane Harman took to the floor of the House to note his lapse:

Let me also mention that under the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, we required that the White House establish a privacy and civil liberties commission to oversee the development and implementation of laws with respect to terrorism. That commission was never fully established in the last administration, and this administration has yet to name a chairman and a vice chairman.

I urge the President again to fully implement the provisions of the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act. Standing up
that commission would send a message that we can protect our security, but we can also protect our liberty. This is not a zero-sum game.

Do you have even the slightest suspicion that Barack Obama would let 402 days lapse before signing this new reauthorization of the Patriot Act into law? For Homeland Security, Barack Obama will jump to attention. But how many more days of Barack Obama’s administration will fly by before he gets his act together, follows the law and appoints a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board?

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