President Barack Obama is required by federal law to appoint a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to report to Congress and the public on the extent to which the Obama administration does — or does not — respect constitutional liberties in its actions.
Barack Obama’s been in office 485 days now, and he hasn’t submitted the name of a single person in nomination for this board. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board therefore does not exist, and its responsibilities are going unmet.
Yesterday, former New Jersey Governor and 9/11 Commission head Thomas Kean joined the growing list of people calling on Barack Obama to meet his legal obligation and appoint the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. In testimony at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Kean remarked:
Following the 9/11 Commission recommendations, the Bush Administration created a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to advise the executive branch and oversee government efforts to defend civil liberties. The board was staffed and became operational in 2006. In 2007, Congress restructured the Board as an independent agency outside the White House. Despite early criticisms of undue delay and inadequate funding, the Board held numerous sessions with national security and homeland security advisers, the attorney general, and the FBI Director, among others, on terrorist surveillance and other issues arising from intelligence collection.
However, the Board has been dormant since that time. With massive capacity to develop data on individuals, the Board should fight to ensure that collection capabilities do not violate privacy and civil liberties. Mr. Chairman we support the sentiment expressed in your letter to President Obama, supported by many members of this committee, that he should quickly appoint members to the Board. We continue to believe that the Board provides critical functions and we urge President Obama its swift reconstitution.
What happened to the candidate who stated so frequently and with such fervor that he would restore respect for the constitution and the rule of law when he took office as president?