June 24, 2013
Although the Obama administration claims that the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution will not be impeded upon for the sake of national security, Obama has breathed new life into the once dormant Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) in a closed door meeting to discuss how to maintain surveillance on Americans.
Meeting in the Situation Room, the details of that conference has yet to be divulged other than a cryptic statement which said: “T]his three hour meeting served as an expert’s forum in which the Board heard directly from non-governmental individuals and organizations with an interest and expertise in privacy and civil liberties issues arising in the context of the government’s actions to protect the nation from terrorism.”
The statement went on to say: The Board found the panel presentations and discussions to be illuminating and provocative. The discussions were constructive and respectful, and while the issues and concerns raised were not altogether unexpected, the Board members believe it was important to hear of them directly from the panel participants. . . . [T]he meeting at Georgetown was the beginning of an on-going dialog between the Board and the American people. It intends to hold further public meetings, and will explore different venues and formats to see what best serves the Board’s needs and the interests of the public.”
An anonymous White House official said that the three hour long meeting was closed to the public so that classified information could be discussed.
The official said : “The meeting was a candid conversation about the dual imperatives of safeguarding our national security and protecting the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens.”
Obama appointed former George W. Bush administration official and former associate director of the Federal Trade Commission David Medine to head the PCLOB.
Medine claims ‘‘that every effort be made to publicly provide the legal rationale for the programs in order to enhance the public discussion and debate about the legality and propriety of the country’s counterterrorism efforts.”
According to Medine, the group asked a “broad range of questions” of the Obama and the NSA surveillance programs that would be detailed in a report to be released in July of this year.
James Clapper, director of National Intelligence was present during the meeting to “review possible declassification of opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the surveillance efforts.”
In a statement from the White House the PCLOB is being directed toward an effort that “builds on the administration’s ongoing effort to declassify a significant amount of information regarding these programs. The president’s direction is that as much information as possible be made public while being mindful of the need to protect sources and methods and national security.”
The PCLOB is a branch of government created under the George W. Bush administration, with in the executive branch provided by the Congress to keep the president abreast of laws that pertain to terrorism.
In protecting the US from terrorism, the PCLOB is tasked with reviewing legislation, regulations, policies and procedures for the executive branch to work with when sharing information about terrorism.
Coming out of the 9/11 Commission Report, the PCLOB was founded by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.