Event: House Homeland Security Committee roundtables on privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties at DHS

  • When:  Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
  • Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building, Washington D.C.
  • Time:  9:00 am – 4:00 pm

On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Majority Staff of the House Committee on Homeland Security will host a series of roundtable discussions on the future of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties at DHS.  The event, entitled “A Path Forward: Constitutional Protections in Homeland Security”, is sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  Experts from the public sector will give their views on the focus the Department should take in dealing with privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties during the new Administration.  There will be a total of six panels:

  • 9am – The Road Ahead: Protecting Civil Liberties in a Natural Disaster
  • 10am – A New Direction:  Privacy Implications in Datamining
  • 11am – The Way Forward: Privacy and Domestic Intelligence & Information Sharing
  • 1pm – The Advancing Lane: Transportation Security & Privacy and Civil Liberties
  • 2pm – The Changing Course:  Privacy, Civil Liberties, and the Border
  • 3pm – A Progressive Dimension: Cybersecurity and Privacy
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McCain and Obama differences on intelligence

From Bloomberg.com:

John McCain and Barack Obama agree that the next president needs to shake up U.S. spy operations. That’s where the similarity ends.

Whoever wins Nov. 4, the next president must overhaul a $47.5 billion intelligence effort, spread through 16 agencies, that’s still struggling seven years after failing to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks and six years after wrongly concluding that Iraq had WMD.

The latest challenge involves revamping a 2004 law that was supposed to repair flaws exposed by 9/11 and Iraq, national security analysts say. The law established a new office led by a director of national intelligence, or DNI, to oversee the CIA and other intelligence operations. So far, the law has added a layer of bureaucracy without giving the director – currently former NSA Director Mike McConnell – enough authority over agencies’ budgets, national security analysts say.

“The DNI is still very much a work in progress, and a lot people are thinking it’s not working,” says Mark Lowenthal, former CIA assistant director for analysis and production. The next president must get it right, because U.S. spies face an array of threats besides terrorists and hostile countries like Iran and North Korea, advisers from both campaigns say.

Congress considers domestic intelligence agency

From HSToday:

Congress should consider the impact creating a domestic intelligence agency would have on intelligence analysis and information-sharing at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies that currently hold those responsibilities, the author of a new study on establishing such an agency told HSToday.us.

The Rand Corp., based in Santa Monica, Calif., Monday unveiled the study, titled “Reorganizing U.S. Domestic Intelligence: Assessing the Options,” which it conducted at the request of Congress to examine issues with standing up a US domestic intelligence agency in the mold of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the UK MI5. The report does not make any recommendations on the operations of a domestic intelligence agency, but it raises important questions about its structure and mission, Gregory Treverton, the report’s author, told HSToday.us.

“Our current efforts to reach out to state and local authorities not to mention private citizens are pretty much a mess despite good intentions,” Treverton remarked. “We talk a little bit about how a separate agency would or wouldn’t help that. In the short term, creating a new agency probably would as always disrupt existing relationships.”

President signs bill turning military spy satellites on U.S.

An appropriations bill signed by President Bush last week allows the controversial National Applications Office (NAO) to begin operating a stringently limited version of a program which would turn military spy satellites on the United States, sharing imagery with other federal, state, and local government agencies.

Both Congress and the GAO have expressed concern that the practice may be in violation of some laws and may be used for spying on U.S. Citizens.