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ACLU official urges civil liberties probe

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A senior ACLU official has urged a new probe into the erosion of civil liberties in the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union's chief lobbyist, Caroline Fredrickson, made her plea Tuesday at the first public hearing of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

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Frederickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office, called on the new board "to conduct aggressive investigation and oversight over the administration's dismantling of the civil liberties of all Americans," the ACLU said in a statement.

"This hearing is a welcome but long overdue first step to air just some of the civil liberties transgressions of this administration," Fredrickson said. "Our democracy is at risk when the unprecedented threats to privacy and civil liberties undertaken in the name of the war on terror go unanswered and unchecked. We ask today: when did the American people become the enemy?"

Fredrickson said the board should probe the warrantless wiretapping of Americans and data mining of call information. She also said it should investigate torture, kidnapping and detention by the U.S. government, the growth of what she called a "surveillance society" in the United States, and the lack of transparency in the U.S. federal government.

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The ACLU criticized the board, which was formed in December 2004.

"Since its creation, the administration has done little to actually implement the launch of the board, with members not appointed until June 10, 2005," the civil liberties group said. It said the Bush administration had also "failed to include specific funding for the board in its budget for 2007."

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