What’s the PCLOB and why should you care?
In the election year of 2004, President George W. Bush quieted down anger at his constitutional record by signing a law creating a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to protect Americans’ rights during his War on Terror. Under the law this board is to be housed within the Executive Office of the President, and it is George W. Bush’s responsibilty under the law to ensure that the Board is put to work. But after he got re-elected, George W. Bush spent years in office without actually appointing that board.
In 2008, a new law was passed yet again requiring the President to appoint a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This new PCLOB, if it actually existed, would have been working since the beginning of the Obama administration 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 job of finding out whether or not surveillance and other intelligence activities are protecting the civil liberties guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution. Had the PCLOB been appointed by Barack Obama, it would have already made three mandated reports to the Congress and the public sharing its findings, with both majority and minority reports of the PCLOB included.
Why does the PCLOB matter? Why should you care to find out what the Obama Administration has been up to and whether it is constitutional? Well, in the last day alone we’ve seen two answers:
1. Yesterday, the Obama Administration won a court case it pursued, and that wasn’t in the cause of civil liberties: if you’re abducted by the U.S. government and tortured and Barack Obama decides that should stay secret, you can’t do anything about it.
2. Also yesterday, we found out that under the Obama Administration a CIA officer who used power drills and handguns as implements in the interrogation of naked prisoners is back at work — training new CIA officers in standards compliance.
That’s just yesterday’s news. Can you trust the Obama Administration to uphold your privacy and civil liberties in its conduct? The answer is “no,” folks. No, you can’t.
597 days after his inauguration as President of the United States, Barack Obama is following the example of George W. Bush by failing to appoint even a single member the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that the law requires.
How long do we have to wait for the President of the United States to follow the law? Will 600 days be too many? 700? When will the American people say they’ve had enough? When will the American people notice?
Barack Obama ran for office declaring that his presidency would respect American constitutional rights and civil liberties. Nearly halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama has failed to deliver.
Is this the Change You Can Believe In?