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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey announced today that the President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties, established by executive order on August 27, 2004, held its first meeting today at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

According to the order, “The United States Government has a solemn obligation, and shall continue fully, to protect the legal rights of all Americans, including freedoms, civil liberties, and information privacy guaranteed by federal law, in the effective performance of national security and homeland security functions.” The board is designed to ensure that such liberties continue to be preserved. Deputy Attorney General James Comey serves as chairman of the board. Undersecretary Secretary Asa Hutchinson of the Department of Homeland Security serves as Vice-Chairman.

Under President Bush’s order, the 20-member board’s mission will be to advise the President on the most effective ways to implement new policies aimed at protecting Americans’ civil liberties. The board, which is made up of representatives from several governmental agencies, has been authorized to recommend new technologies, legislation, and other administrative actions as deemed appropriate.

The board has also been charged with referring credible information pertaining to possible violations of law regarding to the order’s policy by any federal employee or official to the appropriate office for prompt investigation. The board will also take steps to enhance cooperation and coordination among federal departments and agencies, including but not limited to working with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and other officers of the United States to review and assist in the coordination of guidelines and policies concerning national security and homeland security efforts, such as information collection and sharing, and undertake other efforts to protect the legal rights of all Americans, including freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy guaranteed by federal law.

In addition to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, the boardmembership will be as follows:

Department of Justice
Assistant Attorney General (Civil Rights Division)
Assistant Attorney General (Office of Legal Policy)
Counsel for Intelligence Policy
Chair of the Privacy Council (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Department of Homeland Security
Assistant Secretary for Information Analysis
Assistant Secretary (Policy)
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security
Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Privacy Officer

Department of the Treasury
Undersecretary for Enforcement
Assistant Secretary (Terrorist Financing)
General Counsel -- Office of Management and Budget

Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management
General Counsel
Director, Terrorist Threat Integration Center

General Counsel

Department of Defense
Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
General Counsel

State Department
Legal Adviser

*Under the President’s directive, the Deputy Attorney General may designate others to serve on the board from time to time as needed.