So far, Obama is keeping his promise to create a truly independent review board over national surveillance policy. Today, ABC reports that privacy hawk and Center for American Progress fellow, Peter Swire, will join a small group of government insiders to draft a public report on the National Security Agency’s civil liberties record. The review panel was announced along with several proposed reforms aimed at making the NSA surveillance program more transparent.
Swire, currently a professor of Georgia Institute of Technology, endorsed two court briefs claiming that the NSA’s program to collect call records (meta-data) of every Verizon phone call was illegal.
“I also think the collection about Americans doing domestic calls is highly questionable under the Fourth Amendment,” he said in a recent Interview.
The other three picks, Cass Sunstein, Richard Clark, and Michael Morell, are all White House and intelligence insiders. Sunstein was an intellectual inspiration for Obama at the University of Chicago and helped engineer a regulatory philosophy that permitted the government to “nudge” citizens to be more pro-social. Morell was former acting head of the CIA. Clarke is veteran security insider, who was critical of the Iraq war and is now an author on cyber warfare.
Civil liberty groups aren’t thrilled that there’s only one privacy advocate on the group, and all are Washington insiders. But, if public opinion polls are any indication, the 3-1 ratio is roughly equivalent to the 38% of Americans who think investigating terrorist threats are more important than trying not to intrude on privacy.
The group’s report should be out 60 days after the panel official begins. So, we don’t have to wait too long before we’ll know if the President follows through on his announcement. It’s still early days, but so far, a promise has been kept