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Civil Liberties Board Nominee Elisebeth Collins Cook Pushed for Broad DNA Sampling

Elisebeth Collins Cook is one of only two people nominated to sit on the nation’s empty Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the body charged with protecting Americans’ civil liberties and tracking abuses from within the executive branch. The quorum required for the board to meet is three members, and the first two nominees (Cook and James X. Dempsey) have had no progress in the consideration of their nominations in the nine months since their nominations were first announced. It appears there is little desire by either President Barack Obama or the Senate Judiciary Committee to proceed on actually filling the Board and allowing its civil liberties functions to commence. But if the Board were eventually to be filled and begin to function, what sort of role would Elisebeth Collins Cook play on that board?

We already know that in her previous government work Elisebeth Collins Cook:

  • advocated for undercover surveillance and infiltration of American political groups without probable cause to believe crimes are being committed
  • assisted Attorney General Michael Mukasey in stalling and blocking investigations of torture
  • opposed the right of journalists to remain silent regarding their sources

Now it comes to light that Elisebeth Collins Cook was also a government advocate for the collection of DNA samples from all people detained on mere suspicion of immigration violation — not people who have actually violated immigration status, and not people who have actually committed any crime. The DNA sample would enter the government’s vast and growing database, to be used in data mining operations.

Given Elisebeth Collins Cook’s repeated advocacy on behalf of government power and against individual liberty, what kind of behavior could we expect from her if she is ever seated on a functioning Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board?

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