Friday, December 29, 2006

The Overlook Board

Apparently there is a board whose job is to provide oversight of the NSA illegal domestic spying program. Who knew? Certainly not me, but at least the NY Times has been keeping tabs.

The wondrously named Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board held its first public hearing the other day on the National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping program. If you expected it to discover any truths about the secret program, you can forget it. The board spent its time explaining why it was more important to work from within the administration than to challenge it. Thus wags the tail of a watchdog with neither bark nor bite. [Emphasis added]

The whole point of the board was, as its name suggests, to oversee the various post-9/11 security organizations to make certain that privacy and First Amendment rights were not sacrificed at the altar of "national security." Well, ideally that was the point, but the current administration is obviously having none of that. The make-up and structure of the board ensures that.

The board was created two years ago by the White House and the Republican Congress as a pale substitute for the independent monitor recommended by the Sept. 11 commission. Its members (four Republicans and one lone Democrat) serve at the pleasure of the administration. It has a paltry budget and no subpoena power, and any requests for documents can be vetoed by the attorney general. [Emphasis added]

In other words, it is an Orwellian newspeak program, a mere sham. Not even the most minimal oversight can be accomplished under such a charter.

Add this to the list of issues the 110th Congress must address.

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