Legislation Passed to Strengthen Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

On February 15 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved legislation with provisions to strengthen President Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The provisions were part of a bill, the “Improving America’s Security Act of 2007” (S. 4), aimed at implementing unfulfilled recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Full text of the 227-page S. 4 bill is available online.

S. 4 and a similar bill, H.R. 1 (a 9/11 Commission bill approved January 9 by the House) would both require the board to provide at least two reports each year to Congress on its activities and to the greatest extent possible make such reports available to the public.
The reports would have to include details on any matters on which the board counseled that a program or policy not be adopted for privacy or civil liberties reasons, but the agency or the administration went ahead and implemented the program or policy.
Both bills include a whistle-blower retaliation provision, which would prohibit any reprisal or threat of reprisal by the government against individuals who disclose information to a privacy or civil liberties officer, or the board, that indicates a possible privacy or civil liberties violation by the federal government in its anti-terrorism efforts. However, a disclosure made with the knowledge it was false or in willful disregard for its truth or falsity would not be protected under the law.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply