Christie vs. Paul on Surveillance and Security

New Jersey's governor dismisses concerns about warrantless snooping.


Chris Christie says Rand Paul, one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, is "politicizing America's national security" by objecting to the government's indiscriminate collection of our telephone records. The New Jersey governor's puzzling charge against the Kentucky senator illustrates the bullying tactics of the national security state's defenders, who reflexively argue that civil libertarians endanger American lives by questioning mass surveillance.

Christie, whose appointees orchestrated a huge, four-day traffic jam in Fort Lee to punish the city's mayor for declining to endorse the governor, knows a thing or two about politicizing public policy. But the actions for which he criticizes Paul fall far short of the reckless pettiness displayed by Christie's underlings.

In a Fox News interview on Sunday, Christie faulted Paul for seeking campaign donations from people who share his concerns about the National Security Agency's phone record database, which includes information about the destination, timing, and duration of calls. Paul has "cut his speeches and put them on the Internet to raise money off of them," Christie said, apparently astonished at the audacity of such fundraising tactics.

"I know what he did with his positions after he made them," Christie reiterated, as if revealing scandalous information. "He used them to raise money off the Internet, and it's wrong." 

If soliciting support from people who agree with you is wrong, so is every candidate. That includes Christie, who presumably wants people to support him based on his own views concerning the proper balance between privacy and national security.

Christie clarified those views two years ago, when he dismissed concerns about NSA surveillance of innocent people as "esoteric, intellectual debates." Christie challenged NSA critics such as Paul to "come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and orphans and have that conversation."

In other words, if you ask why the NSA is collecting everyone's phone records instead of focusing on suspected terrorists, you are inviting another 9/11. Or as Christie put it on Sunday regarding Paul, "What he's done has made America weaker and more vulnerable."

That claim seems implausible in light of a 2014 report from President Obama's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. "We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation," the board said.

Nor did Christie's position that the NSA's phone record dragnet is essential to preventing terrorist attacks persuade the 338 representatives and 67 senators who recently voted to end the program. Those legislators included Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the bill's House sponsor and the main author of the PATRIOT Act.

Sensenbrenner insisted that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which the NSA cited as the source of its authority to collect everyone's phone records, did not allow such sweeping snooping. The president's civil liberties board agreed, and so did a federal appeals court.

According to Christie, all of these people are dangerously misguided, and so are most Americans. In an April survey of likely voters, 60 percent agreed that "Congress should modify the Patriot Act to limit government surveillance and protect Americans' privacy."

Rather than require the NSA to obtain phone records through court orders tied to specific targets, Christie says, "our Justice Department should prosecute any intelligence officer who violates the law." That solution is not very practical when an entire intelligence agency is routinely violating the law.

To Christie, such lawlessness is the price we pay for security. But even if the phone record program were as effective as he seems to think it is, his position would make sense only if we take a narrow view of security.

Christie worries about foreign terrorists, who pose a real but small threat, while ignoring the danger posed by an overweening state that is constantly reaching into the private recesses of our lives in the name of protecting us. Paul worries about both.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Politicians dont read enough SF. A Deepness in the Sky would be a good place for them to start on this topic.

    1. Then again, 1984 seems to just give them ideas.

  2. I have no doubt that the secret police in any and every totalitarian regime believes it is making the country stronger and less vulnerable. Keeping themselves in power just happens to be a nice benefit.

    As for Christie, I hope he does the right thing and returns every penny he receives in campaign contributions. He can’t very well condemn Paul for excepting money from Paul supporters and yet still take Internet donations from Christie backers, can he? That would make him a big, fat hypocrite. Hypochristrie is what he’s all about!

    1. Accepting money. Not “excepting.” Pre-coffee commenting is always risky.

      1. I except yore correction

        1. It’s “yo’re”. Gawd, learn to English.

    2. I have no doubt that the secret police in any and every totalitarian regime believes it is making the country stronger and less vulnerable.

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  3. Christie is clearly an avowed statist. He seems bent upon keeping all us little people in straight lines, and has no business in the White House.

    1. Not much risk there. The notion that the sun revolves around the earth polls 6 times better than Christie does. The existence of unicorns polls twice a well.

      1. Christie’s best bet at being relevant at all in the 16 Presidential election would be to run on a ticket with Bloomberg as a ‘no labels’ candidate.

        1. So,they don’t label pants in his size?

          1. And Bloomberg is a tiny guy. They’ll be like Laurel and Hardy.

            1. Christie was a fat loud-mouthed bully. Now is (generously) is a chubby loud-mouthed bully. The fact is that I did not care if was fat, and do not care he is chubby, but care a great deal about his being a loud-mouthed bully.

              Of course he is also:
              a lying sack of $hit
              a conspirator worthy of RICO prosecution
              a hypocrite

              And that is just hitting the high points.

              1. High points? I was thinking those were his good points.

                The best things to be said about this particular America-hating cretin is he’s a loudmouthed, fat bully.

              2. The thing about Christie that many people don’t realize is, for a New Jersey politician he is far Right and painfully honest. This is a little like being the most likable character in the Three Penny Opera.

                In New Jersey, he’s a good thing. He is the first politician they’ve had in decades, maybe since WWII, who has ever said “That’s a lovely idea, state senator, but we don’t. Have. The. Money.”. All the allegations I have ever read of corruption or bullying amount to; he’s a New Jersey politician, they play rough.

                Outside of New Jersey, he would be a disaster.

                1. So he’s the most likable sith lord?

                  1. “So he’s the most likable sith lord?”

                    That might be a tiny bit extreme. As I said, in NEW JERSEY, he’s as good as can be expected. Voting him out in New Jersey because he isn’t Conservative or Libertarian enough would result in somebody far worse getting elected.

                2. I have to agree with this.

                  We have kind of the same issue, but to a lesser degree, here in Maine with Paul LePage.

                  Difference is Maine people aren’t douches who deserve the government we have. Not sure what our issue is, maybe an outsider could point it out to me.

                  1. Nobody self-identifies as a douche!

                    1. That is why I wanted an outsider!

  4. Chris Christie ought to sit across from widows and orphans and have a conversation with them about pimping them out as emotional bargaining chips in his bid for power.

  5. OT: one of your upstart enforcer class files papers with marble-gilded bueracracy to personally steal resources from other mammal. Other mammal filmed her going into lazer tag mode, and she is suing for human word ‘defamation’. Side note: not sure about the relevance of when this mammal squats, perhaps bad translation.


  6. Mass surveillance, because he has a lot of mass, right?

    1. He does have enough mass to maintain his own atmosphere. Nasa probes have concluded the atmosphere around Christie’s head consists of hot methane and sulfurous gasses covering a pock marked surface with a hollow or possibly toy surprise center.

  7. This fat fuck can’t die of a massive coronary quick enough (perhaps brought on whilst feeding a wood chipper).

    No homo

    1. I don’t know, I’d kind of like to see him installed as Secretary of Labor in a future administration. The force from all the heads exploding would outnumber the megaton potential of all the world’s nuclear weapons combined. You just have to keep him confined to his useful functions. Like Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

    2. You will need a axe and a maul to cut him into chipper sized bites

  8. I can’t wait until the debates. Will this guy even get on the stage? If he does, Rand Paul will have a good time, I think. What an idiot!

  9. 83% of people under 40 are with Rand on this issue. Christie is a moron and somehow I feel bad for morons, making that statement.

  10. Do they make a wood chipper big enough to feed this statist piece of garbage into?

  11. OK, so what is up with all the ‘wood chipper’ stuff?

    1. It has something to do with the Streisand effect.

      1. ?

        1. You haven’t followed the great wood chipper event here?

    2. Have you been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks?

      1. I’ve been working, with only sporadic forays into the comments section here. Everyone suddenly has these ‘wood chipper’ handles and comments seemingly celebrating the psychopathic wish for the death of their political opponents lately. Was there a Fargo festival or something?

        1. seemingly celebrating the psychopathic wish for the death of their political opponents

          You’ve got a lot in common with Preet Bharara. He forgot the Gamergate modifier in his formulation, though.

          1. OK. So the psychopathic culture here got, inevitably, flagged by some ninny who had the mistake of taking the comments as some actionable threats as opposed to just cancerously sick online community culture that jokes about killing people, and, unfortunately, instead of it being a moment of self reflection about why presumably non-psychopathic people would express their disagreement with others by wishing and joking about their death and no one would see a problem with it other than a statist, authoritarian prosecutor it became a moment to embrace this culture even further. Sort of like the Dennis Leary character who realizes that his actions make him come off as an a**hole to others but who instead of thinking ‘man, I should maybe change’ instead doubles down and sings proudly about what an a**hole he is?

            1. Actually, I think it is more of a…

              So you don’t LIKE this huh? And you think you can scare us into backing down! Well take THAT, and THAT, and THAT! Head explode yet? Too bad, so take THAT, and THAT, and THAT, and THAT ….

            2. For the record I see no problem with it at all. If you don’t want people joking about your horrible death because you are a fascist asshole then don’t be a fascist asshole.

              1. Check out the comments on this page below. You will see statements by people (so long as they havent been removed yet) wanting some bad outcomes for George Soros. I wonder if CNBC will get subpoenas for their users information.


            3. This was a Tom Petty moment, and not a Leave Britney Alone! moment for the Reasonoids.

              And when an asshat in a robe can’t discriminate between a pop-culture reference and a True Threat, then it’s game on.

              The groundless victimization of the Woodchipper 6 at the time means we have a sacred (in a secular, non-denominational way of course) duty to never forget the service they did in creating a new Reason meme.

              I salute those men and women for their sacrifice while exercising their freedom.

            4. So the psychopathic culture here got, inevitably, flagged by some ninny who had the mistake of taking the comments as some actionable threats as opposed to just cancerously sick online community culture that jokes about killing people

              A lack of appreciation of sarcasm, dark humor, and literary/movie references is likely to be much more an indication of psychopathy than the use of such verbal devices. Yes, dear Bo, that statement includes you.

              1. Yep so far removed from the workings of the normal human mind that you take a joke so seriously that you come at said jokester with the force of the United States Government.

                The judge and prosecutor are the only psychopaths in this story.

            5. You could make the argument that some comments are ‘psychopathic’ (in your words), ‘classless’ or in ‘poor taste’ (among other terms). But those terms are subjective based on one’s perception. Your comment has not been proven to be scientifically or clinically accurate in any way.

              None of these comments are hurting anyone. No-one here who made those comments has publicly tried to organize the systematic harming of others (at least not that I have seen). And unless someone is harming or deliberately attempting to harm others, live and let live.

              While you may not be in favor of such commentary, I wonder if you would treat someone’s ‘psychopathic’ tattoos or clothing in the same manner… How far would you go to stifle freedom of expression and free speech? Or are you just giving us a holier than thou admonishment for exercising our rights in a way that you find distasteful?

              It’s all in your head.

            6. Other than one silly little “It was a dark and stormy night?” post I made long after most Reasoniods have left the article, I have not jumped in on the Woodchipper bandwagon.

              But I believe that if the normal Libertarian leaning posters were standing in the middle of a deep forest, with not a soul around for miles. And [insert liberal name here] was tied up and gagged right next to a real, honest-to-God woodchipper? they would NOT turn the wood chipper on and push [insert liberal name here] into the feeder.

              It’s like the moving mole on the face of the bad guy in “Men in Tights”. It’s just a running gag. When a liberal does something anti-liberty, they get, metaphorically speaking, fed into the imaginary woodchipper of reason.

        2. I’m never sure if you are being honest when you ask a question, but I’ll attempt to explain this one. Once.

          Remember that judge that wanted to coerce Reason into giving personal information about some of the commenters? That originated from someone making a woodchipper comment about the judge. Since then a bunch of people have been putting woodchipper in their handle and comments. Not because they’re psychopaths, but because it’s a big joke.


          1. I refuse to respond directly to him because I KNOW he is disingenuous, but I do find it amusing that in his zeal to always be the devil’s advocate on every issue, he is happy to flush the 1st amendment down the toilet.

        3. Sure thing, traitor.

      2. He’s the one who dimed and he’s pissed commenters didn’t cower but instead wore the subpoena like a badge of honor.

        I’m surprised he had the balls to come back. Must have been raging for weeks about it.

  12. He’s also a HUGE drug warrior.

    1. Christie’s from a long line of these Northeastern Republicans. They reflect how an ‘urban conservative’ mindset, preserving traditions of ‘municipal clean up,’ ‘law and order’ (which includes support of gun control as is the tradition in Northeastern urban areas) lower taxes (relative to the urban Democrat machines) and moderation, relative to rural areas, on some fashionable social issues of the day. Think Rockefeller, Kean, Chafee (the elder).

      1. “Think Rockefeller, Kean, Chafee (the elder).”

        Yes, all combined into one body.

  13. Christie is from a long line of Northeastern Republicans.

    They are “Democrat Lite” and specialize in being “moderate” versions of Northeastern Democrats. They are completely devoid of any principles beyond self enrichment and chose their role as a symbiotic niche for the Northeastern Democratic Machines.

    They provide the brief pauses on the way to socialist hell when the proles in the northeast get concerned about the pace the Democrats are taking them to hell.

    They also serve the role of keeping legitimate opposition parties from rising against the Democrats.

    1. Christie is from a long line of Northeastern Republicans. They are “Democrat Lite”

      There is nothing “lite” about Christie.

  14. It seems like you could defuse the issue pretty successfully if you just ask point-blank, “Why do you think we need the NSA?” If the answer is something along the lines of, “To keep us safe and protect Americans” you can demand an example of when the NSA has in fact thwarted a terrorist attack. When nothing is provided, you then make your point that the NSA doesn’t even follow through on its goal, so it’s only wasting money.

    1. It seems like you could defuse the issue pretty successfully if you just ask point-blank, “Why do you think we need the NSA?”

      The answer is generally likely to be one of two things: (1) we can’t tell you for reasons of national security or (2) would you please step into this room so that we can discuss your (insert embarrassing or illegal activity) and how it relates to your attempts to eliminate us.

      (Occasionally, as in the case of Dianne Feinstein, the NSA may also resort to lobotomies to turn politicians into their mindless, obedient minions; hence the impression of senility and incoherence that woman leaves.)

    2. Superficially, that’s the right approach to take, except by its very nature, the NSA *shouldn’t* be issuing press releases on how precisely it thwarted a terrorist attack – the problem being that citizens *have* to trust that its servants in the intelligence community are doing ‘the right thing’, and on the issue of the NSA today we definitely don’t trust them.

      So, Joe Q. Buddy *shouldn’t* be able to provide information on how the NSA thwarted a terrorist attack. If he can do so, the NSA has failed its secondary mission. It’s failed to maintain secrecy.

      1. Bullshit, because IF they did their political handlers would be screaming from the rooftops trying to take credit for thwarting a terrorist attack.

        1. Well, that’s the bind the NSA find themselves in.

          I’m of the opinion that the NSA may actually have contributed in some way to the detection and avoidance of *some* credible threats to the US (in their slack time, when not spying on us and infecting our thermostats with malware) – but have decided that over the long term, it’s in their own interest to try and walk that fine line between triumphalism and secrecy.

          Just below that top echelon of politically ambitious sociopaths who end up running the directorates of the NSA, there will be some true believers in their craft and ‘get it’.

          It’s also incorrect to assume that the entire structure of the NSA is a homogenous, undifferentiated mass of striving, scheming politicos; it’s more like the Vatican than it is the Borg. There are imany gray eminences with their own agendas which are not necessarily served by helping transitory political overlords gain stature and recognition.

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  18. “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” ? Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

    Don’t let Christie and others like him negotiate away our hard fought freedoms.

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