Chris Christie So Obsessed With Increasing Surveillance He Pretends He Was A Fed On 9/11 Even Though He Wasn't
from the the-lies-your-politicians-tell dept
Other than when News Corp. used copyright to takedown its own feed from last night’s GOP Presidential debates, there really wasn’t much that was Techdirt-related. The only other significant moment was a bit of a debate between Chris Christie and Rand Paul concerning the NSA and government surveillance. As we’ve discussed before, Christie is a big time surveillance state supporter. He’s argued that anyone opposed to NSA surveillance is guilty of “dangerous” thinking, has said that civil liberties worries about the NSA are “baloney” and has argued that Rand Paul is responsible for any future terrorist attacks, after Paul suggested that we shelve parts of the PATRIOT Act and obey the 4th Amendment.
The debate question focused specifically on Christie’s comments that Rand Paul should be forced to appear in hearings before Congress if there’s a future terrorist attack, to explain why he opposed greater surveillance. Reason summarized the back-and-forth:
?I will make no apologies ever for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people,? said Christie. ?We need to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer, and then trust those people and oversee them to do it the right way. As president, that?s exactly what I will do.?
Paul shot back immediately.
?I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans,? said Paul. ?The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over. John Adams said it was the spark that led to our War for Independence. I?m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.?
Christie insisted that Paul had given a ?ridiculous? answer, since there is no way to tell the terrorists apart from the innocent American citizens. Paul responded that the way to discern the difference is to ask a judge for a warrant.
?I?m talking about searches, without warrants, indiscriminately of all American?s records, and that?s what I fought to end,? said Paul.
But there was one very odd moment at the very beginning, before the exchange above. Christie noted that he was appointed to his former job as a US Attorney on September 10th of 2001:
MEGYN KELLY: Do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing he bulk collection of people?s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?
CHRISTIE: Yes, I do. And I?ll tell you why: because I?m the only person on this stage who?s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the federal ? the Foreign Intelligence Service court, who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in this country after September 11th.
I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001, and the world changed enormously the next day, and that happened in my state.
This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day, at her office, having gone through it that morning.
I found that interesting, because I didn’t know that. And perhaps the reason I didn’t know that is that it’s complete bullshit. As Marcy Wheeler points out on Emptywheel, Christie was actually nominated months later, with the announcement that he was going to be nominated released on December 7th, 2001
The President intends to nominate Christopher J. Christie to be United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Christie has been a partner with Dughi, Hewitt and Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey since 1987. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Seton Hall University School of Law.
Christie took office in January 2002.
Also, it’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, not the Foreign Intelligence Service Court, as he says — but that’s the kind of thing that is probably a forgivable mistake in such a setting. But arguing that you were appointed months before you actually were seems like a pretty blatant lie and one you wouldn’t make without deliberately seeking to mislead people. As Wheeler also points out, Christie’s own official bio notes that he “was named U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 2002.”
Also, for all his talk about he went before the court whose name he couldn’t get right, that’s actually not how it works. US Attorneys don’t do that (others in the DOJ do it instead). Wheeler further points out that if what Christie implies is true, then he may have been making use of illegal wiretaps during his time on the job — so perhaps that’s why he doesn’t want more scrutiny of the program:
Christie implies he was involved in the dragnet in question. He was US Attorney from January 2002 to December 2008 ? so he in fact would have been in office during the two years when the phone dragnet worked through the Servic?um, Surveillance court, and four years of the Internet dragnet. But if, as he implies, he was involved in the dragnet for the entire span of his tenure ? and remember, there were huge cases run out of Trenton right out of 9/11 ? then he was also using the fruits of illegal wiretapping to do his job. Not Servic ? um, Surveillance court authorized dragnets and wiretaps, but also illegal wiretaps.
Which may explain why he?s so invested in rebutting any questions about the legitimacy of the program.
Remember, when people have actually looked more closely at Christie’s high profile cases, such as the Fort Dix Five, it was revealed as a totally bogus manufactured plot, in which it appears Christie pushed trumped up charges against a set of brothers who didn’t seem to have anything to do with a terrorist plot at all.