WATCHING THE WATCHMEN….In practice, I don’t know how effective the Intelligence Oversight Board has been over the years. But I guess the answer is, a little too effective for President Bush’s taste:
Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.
….”It’s quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now,” said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. “Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era.”
….Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be “unlawful or contrary to executive order,” it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush’s order deleted the board’s authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation….Bush’s order also terminated the board’s authority to oversee each intelligence agency’s general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months.
All part of the final year cleanup before Bush retires to Crawford, I suppose.