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Damning assessment of fed agencies’ civil liberties record

January 27, 2009 by  

Not all agencies are reporting to Congress as they are supposed toGovernment records indicate that key federal agencies have fallen short on compliance with existing laws protecting civil liberties.

According to USA Today, the departments of Defense, State, and Health and Human Services have failed to appoint civil liberties protection officers and report to Congress on a regular basis on the safeguards they use to ensure that their programs respect public rights and privacy, despite a 2007 law mandating them to do so.

In addition to that, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has not convened publicly since 2006.

One expert quoted by the newspaper expressed concern at these findings given that the departments in question hold citizens’ passport and medical data.

Caroline Fredrickson, legislative director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told USA Today that if the agencies upheld the required standards, issues such as innocent people’s names appearing on terrorist watchlists could have been avoided.

Top members of the Senate Homeland Security committee have criticized the agencies and vowed to hold them accountable.

USA Today has verified that Homeland Security, Treasury, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have complied with the law requiring eight federal departments and agencies to have civil liberties officers and file reports to Congress.
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