The Board That Never Meets

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Board That Never Meets

Milton Berle once quipped, "Committees take minutes and lose hours." But there are exceptions. Consider the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a body established a year ago this month by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

This Board was created to help ensure that the USA Patriot Act's police and investigatory powers weren't abused. Yet, according to Eric Alterman:
[Bush administration officials] insist that there can be no possibility that they would ever abuse the powers they enjoy under the “Patriot Act” and yet, to take one minor example from the recently released — and barely covered — 9/11 commission report on compliance, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that is supposed to oversee this delicate balance ... was deemed to have “funding [that] is insufficient, no meetings have been held, no staff named, no work plan outlined, no work begun, no office established.” (And they didn’t even get an “F” for that one.)
So what happened?

Well, for starters, after the Board was created by the '04 law, it took President Bush nearly 6 months just to announce his "intention to nominate" a chair and vice-chair for the Board. And even that happened only after a group of senators from both parties complained that the White House was dragging its feet.

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