Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thompson Seeks Explanation for Skirting of Privacy Report Provision

I suppose none of us should be surprised that the Department of Homeland Security hasn't been following protocol and submitting privacy reports as demanded by Congress.

The good news amidst the bad in this case is that the House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson - a Mississippi Democrat - has been ratcheting up the pressure on DHS to explain its actions. I would think that in light of the recent revelations regarding government eavesdropping on the calls of American citizens this kind of oversight should be pretty widely supported by Congress.

"Should" of course has a much different meaning than "will".

Congressional Quarterly reports:

DHS told Congress in March that it would not comply with a provision of the Sept. 11 commission legislation (PL 110-53) that calls for the DHS chief privacy officer to submit reports regarding the performance and responsibilities of anyone under his authority directly to Congress, without commentary or amendment by anyone at the department or the Office of Management and Budget.


Thompson sent another letter Tuesday, saying, “It is my understanding that the Annual Privacy Report underwent internal clearance at the Department. Sending the Annual Privacy Report through an internal clearance process which may have permitted revisions, instead of sending the report directly to Congress as required by PL 110-53 violated the letter and spirit of the 9/11 Act.”


Other information demanded in the letter includes the names and titles of all who reviewed the draft, a copy of the narrative opinion the department followed when it decided the review would be appropriate and an explanation of why the report — which was due in July — was submitted in October.

This is all just too familiar isn't it? Ignoring requests from Congress, obsuscating the truth, and treating privacy as if its an afterthought...or perhaps more aptly, an "enemy".

Click here to read the rest of the article.

No comments: