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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - David Medine
A small federal panel that oversees privacy issues has been catapulted from a bureaucratic backwater into the political maelstrom roiled by leaks about the National Security Agency's domestic snooping.
The White House over the past several days has launched a public relations offensive to convince Americans that, under President Obama's leadership, privacy and Fourth Amendment rights won't be sacrificed in the name of national security.
With concerns over federal surveillance near the boiling point, President Obama on Friday will hold his first meeting with the newly constituted Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a senior administration official said.
A presidentially appointed panel charged with ensuring federal laws don't impede Americans' civil liberties has nothing to show for itself in recent years, failing to meet even once during a five-year span because vacancies had left the board dormant for so long.
President Obama has named two lawyers and a former federal judge to an independent privacy board recommended by the 9/11 Commission that has sat dormant for years under he and President George W. Bush.
Mr. Medine said the board's report would include recommendations, some of which might require legislation to implement.
The panel's members, who all have top-secret clearances, have been briefed in detail on the agency's data-gathering and surveillance activities and have visited NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland, he said.