This month, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board issued its second semi-annual public report on its investigations of the activities of the United States government and the extent to which those activities violate the constitutional rights of everyday people. A juicy tidbit in that report seems to have escaped notice. Let’s cover it.
Focus your attention on pages 12 and 13 of the report, which cover the requirement under law that “the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency” all “shall periodically, but not less than quarterly, submit a report” to Congress and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board regarding “the number and nature of the complaints received by the department, agency, or element concerned for alleged violations” of civil liberties and “a summary of the disposition of such complaints, the reviews and inquiries conducted,” and changes made to policy as a result.
Boil down the legalese and this amounts to a legal requirement that the information and intelligence agencies of the Obama administration submit quarterly reports to the PCLOB indicating the number of civil liberties complaints received, the kinds of civil liberties complaints received, and the status of responses to these complaints.
How well have the various wings of the Obama administration complied? According to the PCLOB, not very well at all:
- The Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State and Department of Health and Human Services haven’t bothered to send any such reports at all, despite being legally required to do so.
- The remainder of the Obama administration information and intelligence agencies listed above have sent on information that is, as the PCLOB puts it politely, “for the most part not informative.” These agencies have sent on counts of complaints, but (again despite the law) have not described the nature of the complaints or any description of the way in which the agencies have responded to those complaints.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board concluded that it had received no useful information to share, which is why you can’t find that information in this most recent report.
The bottom line: agencies of the Obama administration are blowing off the law, failing to report complaints about and responses to violations of your constitutional rights. Spread the word.