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US civil liberties panel expected to approve surveillance programs

[JURIST] The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board [official website] is expected to approve the Bush administration's controversial electronic eavesdropping and financial tracking programs when it presents its first report to Congress next week. Three members of the board told AP that warrantless electronic eavesdropping [JURIST news archive] by the National Security Agency and the financial tracking program [JURIST report] implemented by the Treasury Department have sufficient privacy protections. Board chairperson, Carol Dinkins [official profile], a Texas lawyer and former senior Justice Department official, told AP that the programs are "properly protective and attentive to civil liberties."

The panel began operations [JURIST report] last March after the Board's five members were sworn in at the White House. The board was created by Congress in December 2004 based on a recommendation [CRS backgrounder] from the 9/11 Commission [official website]. Legal experts, right groups, and Democrats have criticized [Center for American Progress opinion] the board for being too close to the administration. US Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) [official profile], chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee [official website], said the board's findings should not be completely trusted until the board has been shown to be fully independent of executive influence. AP has more.

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