April 9, 2008: Dirty pool

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To The Editor:
Americans need to have an honest discussion about security. Sadly, “Defense of Democracies” has been airing a scare tactic ad targeting U.S. Representative freshmen, including Kirsten Gillibrand. The ad claims the House refused to vote on a Terrorist Surveillance Bill, went on vacation and crippled new surveillance needs. This is deliberately dishonest by omission.
The ad fails to mention the House voted on a Terrorist Surveillance bill some time earlier. When the Senate made controversial changes just before the end of session, the House voted to extend the existing surveillance law long enough to allow for debate. The President, wanting the Senate bill or nothing, would not allow an extension of the existing law. Other important facts are:
Gillibrand voted to extend the current FISA law and has voted numerous times for a strong foreign surveillance bill that will protect America
Gillibrand has sent two letters, available on her Congressional website, asking Speaker Pelosi to bring legislation to the floor that will ensure a permanent FISA law giving the appropriate law enforcement agencies all the tools needed to keep America safe
The current law allows the NSA or FBI to begin surveillance immediately, without a court warrant, in cases of emergencies. They need only go to the FISA Court within three days after surveillance begins.
Gillibrand has been a strong fighter for our troops, sponsoring legislation to implement the bipartisan 9/11 Committee Recommendations and she serves on the Armed Services Committee.
The ad was paid for by a group founded by the former communications director for the Republican National Committee (RNC)
I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I do expect everyone to put the country’s best interests first, rise above “politics as usual” and engage in a full and fair discussion.

Cynthia Lockrow, chair,
Delaware County Democratic Committee