By Elizabeth Holland, Public Policy Associate
A group of 13 senators has called for an independent investigation by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) into the National Security Agency (NSA)’s domestic spying programs. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander said at a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that the NSA would cooperate with an investigation and said the agency met with PCLOB earlier in the week.
In a letter sent to PCLOB yesterday, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and 11 colleagues requested the board examine whether the NSA data and phone record collection programs are legal as authorized by Congress and whether they adequately protect the privacy of Americans. The senators further asked that the investigation’s results be produced in an unclassified report for public release.
Established as an entity of the White House in 2004 by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (P.L. 108-458) at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and reconstituted as an independent agency by Congress in 2007, PCLOB was a long-dormant agency created to advise the Executive Branch on privacy and civil liberty issues impacted by U.S. counter-terrorism programs. With the August 2012 confirmation of four members of the Board and recent renewed focus on government oversight in surveillance program, it appears PCLOB will finally have the opportunity to begin its important work.
AALL has long supported PCLOB, most recently calling for the Board’s “focus on a variety of issues related to national security policies and programs…including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), cybersecurity, state secrets privilege, National Security Letters (NSLs), and the PATRIOT Act” in a November 2012 Blawg post.