UPDATED: Bloated Secret Intelligence Apparatus Poses Grave Civil Liberties Concerns, Says ACLU

July 19, 2010 12:00 am

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Group Responds To Washington Post Story With Call For Greater Oversight


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NEW YORK – According to the Washington Post today, the U.S. intelligence system, in the years since 9/11, has become so massive and lacking in oversight that it is impossible to know how effective it is. The American Civil Liberties Union has long warned about the civil liberties implications of expanding secret government intelligence programs without oversight.

In 2007, Congress created an independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board with some significant powers for overseeing anti-terrorism efforts, but the Obama administration has failed thus far to appoint anybody to that board.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“At a time when the government should be focusing on creating policies that protect our civil liberties and make us safer, it is alarming that it is instead expanding a secretive system that does neither. We should be focusing our limited resources on national security policies that are proven effective, not throwing money at agencies and policies that provide little more than a band-aid solution.

“It is vital that Congress and the administration act to greatly increase the transparency and oversight of what the Post calls ‘Top Secret America.’ Congress and the administration must recognize the importance of solving these problems, rather than presiding over the creation of a permanent, Kafkaesque intelligence establishment that continues to waste money and erode our rights.”

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“The intelligence system that is supposed to protect the nation’s security now presents a grave threat to our liberties and our democracy. A sprawling and largely unaccountable complex of government agencies and private corporations now controls a huge amount of information about ordinary Americans, monitors their telephone calls and emails and administers a slew of secret watchlists. The unchecked growth of this intelligence system is endangering the very fabric of American democracy.”

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