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Barack Obama Goes 513 Days Without Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight

When President Barack Obama promptly nominated James Clapper to be Dennis Blair’s replacement as Director of National Intelligence, he urged that the Senate work without delay to confirm him:

Not surprisingly, the Senate has voted to confirm Jim for senior positions on four separate occasions — and each time it has done so overwhelmingly. Given the importance of this position, the urgent threats to our nation, and Jim’s unique experience, I urge the Senate to do so again — and as swiftly as possible. I’ve spoken to the appropriate Senate leaders and I’ve indicated that I expect this nomination to be completed during this work period. This nomination can’t fall victim to the usual Washington politics.

513 days ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States. The president is required by law to appoint a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The Board is charged with the responsibility of tracking the compliance of the executive branch of government with the provisions of the Constitution, and of making explicit reports to Congress and the public when the executive branch fails in this regard.

For 513 days now, Barack Obama has failed to nominate even one member to sit on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. The Board remains — in violation of federal law — nonexistent. The Board’s oversight functions are going undone.

In the meantime, Joseph Lieberman in the Senate and Jane Harman in the House of Representatives are introducing bills that give the U.S. government new powers to interfere in the workings of the Internet and even shut it off. But don’t worry, in both the Senate bill and House bill there’s this board that’s tasked with making sure the government doesn’t trample on Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.

It’s called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. And it doesn’t exist.

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