Christie: NSA critics should talk to 9/11 families
July 26th, 2013
12:43 AM ET
10 years ago

Christie: NSA critics should talk to 9/11 families

Updated at 1:54 p.m. ET on 7/26

(CNN) - Opponents of government spying programs should talk to families who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at a Republican governors forum Thursday.

Asked about the influence of libertarian-minded leaders in the GOP - including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky - Christie said that when it comes to national security, those who oppose National Security Agency programs that monitor Americans' electronic activity were just wrong.

"These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and orphans and have that conversation," Christie said. "And they won't. That's a lot tougher conversation to have."

Christie was appearing on a panel of governors that also included Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mike Pence of Indiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. All four are considered potential candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, though the topic did not arise on Thursday.

Christie, speaking "as a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on September 10, 2001," urged caution when discussing calls to revamp the way the U.S. government collects data on Americans. A measure narrowly failed in the House Wednesday that would have restricted a phone monitoring program that came to light earlier this summer.

"This strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought," Christie said, referring to national security topics.

Christie acknowledged during the discussion that Paul, an outspoken critic of the NSA spying programs, was among the people who held opposing views.

"You can name any number of people, and he is one of them," he said.

The sharp denunciation from Christie elicited a similarly cutting retort from a senior adviser to Paul, the tea party favorite who is also considering a 2016 White House bid.

"If Governor Christie believes the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans is 'esoteric,' he either needs a new dictionary, or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years," Doug Stafford wrote in a statement.

Quoting the Bruce Springsteen song "Long Walk Home," Stafford wrote, "In the words of the Governor's favorite lyricist, 'You know that flag flying over the courthouse, Means certain things are set in stone. Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't.'"

Later, on his campaign's Twitter account, Rand Paul went after Christie by making reference to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who served in the statehouse as a Republican but later became an independent, finally registering as a Democrat last year.

Republicans questioned in a Quinnipiac University national poll conducted earlier this month were divided on the NSA anti-terrorism program, which scans domestic calls. Forty-nine percent supported it while 45% were opposed.

On social issues, two of the governors - Walker and Pence - acknowledged that at home, their children have different viewpoints on topics like same-sex marriage.

"For me, going forward, when I talk to young people, including my three kids, it's about respect and authenticity for this generation," Pence said.

Christie, however, joked that such ideological dissonance wasn't permitted in his household.

"For me and Mary Pat, there's no use in having children if you can't brainwash them," he joked, adding that his son Andrew is a member of the Princeton Republicans.

"What I hear from Andrew is that what his friends, when they do talk about politics, that what they talk about is how broken it it," he said. "They wish that people would be nicer to each other."

CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

Filed under: 9/11 • Chris Christie • NSA
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. BigJolie

    Yah no problem ill talk to them.

    July 26, 2013 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  2. Faisal Saya

    Usually, spying programs are run by the government for the safety of the people, and this is what intelligence is all about. Raising a finger on this effective method seems to be a totally baseless act considering the loads of security risks looming over our heads. It shows the sincerity of the American government with its people, and it’s always recommended to take precautionary measures in such conditions when terrorism is in full swing across the world.

    July 26, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  3. Anonymous

    I was sick of my rights being murdered under the name of 9/11 on 9/11. Now it is just lame. If you want to invade my privacy just say I have no rights any more.

    July 26, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  4. BigJack110

    I'm Sorry Gov Christie, this is 2013 no 2001, we don't need to have our rights trampled on while the NSA does spying on countless hundreds of thousands of Americans. This smacks of the war on communism under the McCarthy era. Stop using 9/11 as an excuse. Its time to move on.

    July 26, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  5. David Witcraft

    There is no evidence that PRISM would have exposed the 9/11 plot, had it been in existence then. All the post-9/11 reports, detailing the activities of the hijackers, prior to 9/11, made this clear. The hijackers likely wouldn't even have been identified as Al Queda. They were novices, with no terrorism experience and their Al Queda influence was difficult to track, even after the fact. They communicated in a very effective code.

    If the hijackers were here today, they might be amazed how successful their attack was. The "Patriot Act" is the greatest erosion of personal liberty in our history and perhaps in the history of democracy. None of the democracies that have passed similar limits have survived(Rome, Weimar Republic, etc). We surrendered more freedom than during WWII or the Civil War, where we were fighting on our own soil.

    July 26, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  6. Pig Rockwell

    And then Christie should talk to the families of Boston bombing victims.

    July 26, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  7. Anonymous

    how about talk to Susan Lindauer

    July 26, 2013 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  8. Doug

    And supporters of the program should talk to people like the protester of a totalitarian state in Tianemen Square, who stood in front of a tank. Oh wait, nobody knows where he is because the government there took care of him!!!

    July 26, 2013 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  9. karlblessing

    Oh because we never tried to sway people's decisions based on fear and emotions...

    July 26, 2013 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  10. Ed

    By making Americans less free through these spy programs Osama Bin Laden wins

    July 26, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  11. Privacy advocate

    Christie should talk to 9/11 victims.

    July 26, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  12. Privacy advocate

    Forget the niceness – dogs are nice – the house is broken.

    July 26, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  13. Gurgyl

    Exactly. I bet he will join democratic party just like Arline Spector. I like him.

    July 26, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |

    Christie is too smart for the Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty. They call him a RINO because he won't stay in lockstep.

    July 26, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  15. S. B. Stein

    So, he hasn't finished the re-election campaign for governor (hope he loses) and already making his moves for the 2016 election.

    July 26, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  16. Quadg

    As a Brit i have lived through my own terrorist attacks...
    like the IRA vaporizing a mile square of Manchesters city center, when i lived there.

    please tell us the shady deals you have made with the brit GCHQ, so we can vote accordingly..
    democracy and all that...

    10 years of muslim terrorism has eroded more freedoms than 60 years of irish ones... with only 1% of the terrorist attacks..

    America, terrorism is the cost of empire... or "world police" as you call it..
    there is only one way to prevent it.
    and its not giving up your own freedoms...

    July 26, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  17. Independent for sure

    So let's strip search everyone on the street, it will reduce unlawful weapons.

    And by the way Gov..... Racial profiling works to reduce crime BUT does that make it right?

    And we didn't stop the Boston attack so what makes you think we would have stopped 9-11 attacks?

    You don't stand a chance in 2016!

    July 26, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  18. sethmo

    Dangling victems in front of you to win a debate. Classy. No better then the dems using sandy hook victems rather then forming an intelligent campaign.

    July 26, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  19. jojo

    Yea, Gov. Christie, let's ask the families why the NSA didn't protect their loved ones on 9/11. Ask them why the NSA let it happen!!!

    July 26, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  20. Marie MD

    Mr. Hurricane Sandy gov. You had your five minutes of fame.
    While I do agree with you 100% you are still too much of a bully and rethug.

    July 26, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |