– 2004-11-03 08:46:12
At this very moment, leaders from the House and Senate are engaged in heated negotiations over what could become the most dramatic restructuring ever of our nation’s intelligence agencies. One of the key sticking points is the creation of a robust Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to ensure that government actions do not infringe on our liberties.
The 9/11 Commission endorsed the creation of a strong board. Yet in its version of the legislation to implement the commission’s recommendations, the House rejected the creation of a board, a position that the Bush White House has endorsed. Fortunately, however, the bipartisan Senate version of the legislation included a strong board.
Support an Independent Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Tell Congress that we can be both safe and free and that the final intelligence reform bill must include the creation of a powerful and independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to act as a watchdog over our civil liberties.
The 9/11 Commission specifically recommended an oversight board. After months of consideration, testimony and review, the 9/11 Commission recommended restructuring the intelligence community in the United States and strongly urged the creation of an Oversight Board with powers to hold hearings, examine classified information, issue public reports and subpoena non-governmental witnesses and documents.
Creating a more powerful intelligence operation without the counterbalance and oversight of a review board could lead to serious abuses.
A real oversight board is an essential part of intelligence reform. The consolidation of government surveillance powers under an Intelligence Director poses risks to fundamental American civil liberties.
Such a reorganization requires strong, independent oversight, as is proposed in the Senate’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This board is essential to the protection of our freedoms, and will provide both the Congress and the public with the information they need to ensure that our freedoms are not trampled in the name of national security.
The Senate must refuse to compromise on this issue. The House Republican version of the intelligence restructuring legislation does not create a board, and provides for no credible counterbalance to protect the public’s civil liberties and privacy from a greatly empowered intelligence operation.
The Bush White House also dismisses the need for an independent civil liberties board. Senate negotiators must stand firm and not compromise on this critical component to intelligence reform.
TAKE ACTION! Contact your Members of Congress