[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 02/02/10
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from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 11
February 2, 2010
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
** MOMENTUM GROWS FOR PRIVACY & CIVIL LIBERTIES BOARD
** CLASSIFIED OUTREACH TO MUSLIM WOMEN
** SOME MORE NEW CONGRESSIONAL HEARING VOLUMES
MOMENTUM GROWS FOR PRIVACY & CIVIL LIBERTIES BOARD
Members of Congress are urging the Obama Administration to activate the
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency that is
supposed to monitor and defend civil liberties in the development and
implementation of counterterrorism policies.
Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Jane Harman wrote to the
President and asked him to appoint members to the vacant Board, which has
a budget for the current fiscal year that remains unexpended.
"Given the recent events of December 25, 2009, and the prospective policy
changes that will be made subsequent to this incident, including potential
expansion of watch lists and widespread use of body-scanning technology, we
believe that the Board will give an anxious public confidence that
appropriate rights are respected," they wrote.
Their letter was reported by Eli Lake in the Washington Times
(washingtontimes.com) today. See "Liberties oversight panel gets short
shrift," February 2.
The White House expects to name the Board leadership "soon," a spokesman
told the Times.
First proposed by the 9/11 Commission, the Board was originally set up
within the Executive Office of the President. But after concerns about
its independence and freedom of action arose, Congress enacted legislation
in 2007 to establish it as an independent agency.
For further background see "Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board:
New Independent Agency Status," Congressional Research Service.
CLASSIFIED OUTREACH TO MUSLIM WOMEN
Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) wanted to know: What is the National
Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) doing to improve the status of women in the
Muslim world, and to better engage women around the world on
"The response to this question is classified," replied NCTC Director
Michael Leiter in a written response that has recently been published.
See the last page of "The Roots of Violent Islamist Extremism and Efforts
to Counter It," hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Committee, July 10, 2008 (published December 2009).
SOME MORE NEW CONGRESSIONAL HEARING VOLUMES
At a 2008 Senate hearing, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was
effusively praised for standing by the ailing Attorney General John
Ashcroft in his hospital bed in 2004 and helping him to resist White House
pressure to reauthorize the Bush Administration's domestic surveillance
"It is hard to imagine in America circumstances in which the Director of
the FBI has to order agents standing guard over a stricken Attorney
General not to leave him alone with the White House counsel and the
President's Chief of Staff to make sure that Deputy Attorney General James
Comey stayed with him," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in the newly published
"But it is not hard to understand the feeling of pressure, isolation, and
consequence that bore down on all of you through that episode. I will
disagree with all of you on many things, but I wanted to take this
opportunity today to say thank you. Against intense and hostile pressure
from the highest offices in the land, you stood for the principle that all
public offices have public duties and responsibilities and that honoring
those duties and responsibilities, at least as God gives us each of us the
light to see them, is a higher public virtue than mere obedience. That is
an important lesson in democracy. I hope it is a lasting one, and I thank
you for showing us it," Sen. Whitehouse said. (page 30)
At the same hearing, Sen. Arlen Specter scolded Director Mueller for
failing to inform the Judiciary Committee of the secret Bush
Administration warrantless surveillance program in the first place. The
Committee had to learn about it from the New York Times, Sen. Specter
complained. "Why didn't you inform me as Chairman and Senator Leahy as
Ranking Member about the existence of this program?" (page 14)
See "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Senate Judiciary
Committee, September 17, 2008 (published December 2009).
Other noteworthy new hearing volumes include these:
"Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War," Senate
Judiciary Committee, January 30, 2007 (published November 2009).
"The Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of
the United States," Senate Armed Services Committee, May 7, 2009
(published January 2010).
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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