Since January, the U.S. civil liberties oversight board — meant to monitor the government’s impact on American’s privacy and civil liberties — has been shuttered with the expiration of the five members’ terms. Unfortunately, the White House is now blocking the board’s progress by refusing to accept the nomination of progressive civil liberties expert and Center for American Progress senior fellow Morton Halperin:
Without any public announcement, the White House recently sent a letter to Capitol Hill stating it would nominate only one of two names recommended by congressional leaders to sit on the five-member civil liberties panel. The candidate whose name it would not forward: Morton Halperin, a veteran and sometimes controversial civil liberties advocate who has a famous role in the history of modern debates over government wiretapping. While serving on the National Security Council during the early days of the Nixon administration, Halperin’s phone was secretly wiretapped by the FBI because his then boss, Henry Kissinger, suspected he was leaking to the press.
The White House has refused to give any reason for Halperin’s rejection. However, as Newsweek notes, this development means there is “a decreasing chance” of the board “ever actually meeting, much less doing anything, for the rest of the year.”