Himes: Intelligence gathering efforts are ‘intrusive and overzealous’

Congressman Jim Himes, whose district includes part of Shelton, is raising questions about government intrusion into people’s privacy.

In response to reports that Verizon has been under court order to release all phone record data to the National Security Agency (NSA), Himes said the privacy of U.S. citizens “is being compromised by intrusive and overzealous intelligence gathering and law-enforcement activity.”

‘Becoming uncomfortably clear’

Himes, a third-term Democrat, said he was “deeply troubled by reports that Verizon has been under court order to release all phone record data to the NSA. In light of the Department of Justice's seizure of a wide variety of the Associated Press’ phone records, it is becoming uncomfortably clear that the privacy of the American people is being compromised by intrusive and over-zealous intelligence gathering and law-enforcement activity.

“This is the second time in as many months,” he continued, “that government surveillance has stretched or broken precedent and eroded our reasonable expectations of privacy. While we must be vigilant in protecting our nation, we must adhere to and protect our most basic liberties.”

Will oppose ‘over-broad intelligence gathering’

Himes is a co-sponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act, known less formally as the “reporter shield law,” and the Telephone Records Protection Act, which he said would “insert oversight into the U.S. Department of Justice’s record-gathering process.

“As a new member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have not received a briefing on the NSA's activities with respect to Verizon, but I intend to diligently review these programs and to push back against over-broad and intrusive intelligence gathering,” Himes said.

Shelton is in two congressional districts

Himes lives in Greenwich and was first elected to Congress in 2008. He represents the Fourth District, which includes most of Fairfield County.

The city of Shelton is divided between the Fourth District, represented by Himes, and the Third District, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.