U.S.Rep. Rush HoltU.S. Congressman Rush Holt, D-New Jersey, came to Connecticut Friday to ask Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson to pull a television ad that attacks challenger state Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Cheshire, on the subject of national security. The ad which has been running since Sept. 12 begins: “A call is placed from New York to a known terrorist in Pakistan. A terrorist plot may be unfolding. Should the government intercept that call or wait until the paperwork is filed?”
Holt said as soon as he saw the ad he said, “I have to call Chris Murphy and set the record straight.” Holt, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the ad is wrong and slanderous. Johnson’s either “willfully ignorant or maliciously deceitful,” Holt said. He said Murphy supports the law as it is today. Currently the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows a warrant to be obtained within 24 to 72-hours after the tap has been placed. Chris MurphyMurphy, citing a senior fellow at the Cato Institute said, “the FISA statute allows the government in emergency situations to put a wiretap in place immediately, then seek court approval later, within 72-hours.” Murphy said it was the U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, a member of the president’s own administration, that added another layer of bureaucracy to the FISA approval process. adds another three steps to the application process. Just to prove how false the ad is, Murphy said for those who are really interested you can slow down the ad when the documents are dropped on the table and see it’s a college loan application, not a FISA application. Johnson’s campaign spokesman, Brian Schubert who attended the afternoon press conference at the state Capitol Friday, said FISA applications are classified information and was unable to confirm it was a college loan application. Schubert did say that the application process for approval before the warrant is brought to a judge takes much longer than 72-hours. “You can not instantly apply for an application,” he said. He said the Attorney General’s office must approve it first.Holt said the current FISA legislation that passed through two committees and is making its way to the U.S. House gives the president the ability to dismiss some of the safe guards built into the original law enacted in 1978. He said the legislation is misguided because “it doesn’t make Americans more secure it gives the administration a freer hand.” And the administration has proven it doesn’t “know who the bad guys are,” Holt said, citing the example of the fingerprint in the train explosion in Madrid. Johnson and the Republicans in Washington have advocated to repeal some of the restrictions currently in place under FISA, while Holt and the Democrats have argued the law, as it stands today, is fine and doesn’t need to be changed. But for now the judicial branch has sided with the Democrats in this debate. Earlier this month a federal judge in Michigan, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the current program in which the NSA monitored American calls oversees without a court warrant unconstitutional and ordered it shut down. Schubert said Johnson disagrees with the decision in that case. Click here to read how that same day the federal government sued Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control Commission to make sure it doesn’t obtain records from telecommunication companies on the National Security Agency’s wiretaps of state residents, that may or may not exist. Since January 2006 more than 30 class action lawsuits have been filed alleging telecommunication companies have unlawfully provided assistance to the National Security Administration.