Privacy Group Sues for List of Members on Panel Overseeing Intelligence Agencies

A privacy advocacy group is suing the Office of Director of National Intelligence in effort to force the agency to turn over records of who is on the Intelligence Oversight Board, (IOB), the presidentially appointed panel responsible for oversight of the nation's intelligence agencies.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it wants the identities of the board members revealed so it can be determined whether they are appropriate to be deciding whether the government has overstepped its bounds.

“The IOB has a critically important mission – civilian oversight of America’s intelligence activities,” said Mark Rumold, an open government legal fellow with the group.

“The board exists to make sure government agencies are not overstepping their authority and abusing citizens’ rights,” he said. “History has shown that intelligence agencies overseeing their own behavior is like the fox guarding the henhouse. If the IOB is ineffective, impaired, or short-staffed, that’s information Americans need to know.”

President Obama hasn’t announced any appointments to the IOB since he took office in 2009.

The group says it brought the lawsuit after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence didn't respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for membership, vacancies and other information about the IOB made earlier this year.

The national intelligence office told FoxNews.com on Saturday that no one would be available to comment until Monday.

The EFF said its ongoing litigation work under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed widespread violations in intelligence investigations, including a recent discovery that the U.S. Army issued three National Security Letters for phone records, even though the law allows only the FBI to make the requests. The group said it also obtained documents showing how the Army improperly tried to probe participants at a law school conference on Islamic law.

“We’re trying to create a picture of the federal government’s intelligence violations as Congress considers updates and changes to current surveillance law and oversight,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney for EFF. “Part of that picture is who is on the IOB. We’re asking the government to follow the law and release the records on IOB membership.”