The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Surveillance criticized by local representatives

There is bipartisan criticism in the Capital Region of reports the National Security Administration and the FBI is tracking the telephone records and computer data of millions of Americans.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, noted that he voted against extending the Patriot Act because it can lead to situations like this.

"While it appears everything was done with accordance of the law, I remain concerned that we as a nation are not striking a balance between protecting our liberties and maintaining national security," he said in a statement. "Moving forward, it is my hope that we can put into use the Privacy and Civil Rights Board the law created while strengthening Congressional oversight until the Patriot Act expires."

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, was also critical of the latest news, noting that he voted against extending the Patriot Act when he took office in 2011. He has signed on to a bipartisan letter asking for answers about the latest revelations.

A copy of that letter is available below.

"It is imperative that as we protect our national security, we do not give up the rights that define us as Americans. I have long been critical of the Patriot Act, and have repeatedly voted against reauthorizing parts of the Patriot Act and FISA," Gibson said in a statement. "The recent reports of the National Security Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation potentially acquiring, compiling, and storing telephone and computer data on millions of Americans through a seemingly broad court order are deeply disturbing."

UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, can be added to the list of local representatives not on board with the mining for data by the NSA.

"While I strongly support responsible efforts to defend America's interests at home and abroad, I am troubled by news that the NSA is mining data from internet and phone companies as part of a surveillance program," he said in a statement. "I support the call for hearings and a thorough examination of this program to ensure we remain vigilant in the protection of constitutional rights to privacy."

Owens previously voted against extending the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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NSA Surveillance Letter

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