Tags: | Homeland Security | NSA/Surveillance | War on Terrorism | mike lee | chris christie | patriot act

Mike Lee: Christie's Take on Patriot Act Reforms 'Ridiculous'

Image: Mike Lee: Christie's Take on Patriot Act Reforms 'Ridiculous'
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By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 02:09 PM

Sen. Mike Lee, who is sponsoring a Senate bill to reform the Patriot Act, on Friday said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's comments on the revisions are "tantamount to political pornography."

"He should be ashamed of himself," the Utah Republican said on CNN Friday,  concerning Christie's recent comments that "you can't enjoy your civil liberties if you're in a coffin."

"That's absolutely ridiculous," Lee continued. "If Mr. Christie wants to play a part in the national discussion regarding privacy and security, he should choose his words more carefully."

Christie, though, opposes reforms of the Patriot Act that would eliminate the National Security Agency's bulk data collection program, saying the system is necessary to prevent another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The governor was in Oklahoma on Friday for the annual Southern Republican Leadership Conference and spoke out against the revisions without mentioning Lee by name.

Christie explained that before he became governor, he was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey, a position he was appointed to on Sept. 10, 2001, one day before the 9/11 attacks, and that he prosecuted some of the suspects involved.

Further, Christie pointed out that he had friends who died in the attacks and that his wife was at work just two blocks away from the World Trade Center when the planes hit.

"It is not a theory to me," Christie said. "I went to the funerals; I lived it."

He said the information gathered through aggressive, strong intelligence allowed some of those behind the attacks to be prosecuted, and the debate about reforms is "very dangerous" and being done by people with no experience in using it.

Further, he said that if the law is reformed and another attack occurs, those criticizing the telephone metadata collection will be the ones interrogating the CIA and FBI.

"The first job of the president is to protect the homeland, and that is what we need to do," Christie said.

On CNN Friday, Lee, speaking before Christie's address in Oklahoma, said he would like to ask the governor how many lives the collection of telephone metadata has saved.

"I would ask Mr. Christie how many acts of terrorism have been thwarted simply because the NSA is collecting telephone data on what your grandmother calls, on calls that she makes or calls that she receives?" Lee said.

There are several Republicans in the Senate, though, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who oppose plans by Lee and others for a USA Freedom Act, which would require search warrants to be issued before metadata is seized, rather than continuing the Patriot Act's provision to seize all phone information.

A presidential advisory group consisting of top intelligence, constitutional and privacy experts said there are no instances in which the current program is essential to stopping an attack.

"At a minimum, any security benefit that could be achieved through this program could also be achieved through the type of program that the USA Freedom Act would put in place," Lee told CNN.

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Sen. Mike Lee, who is sponsoring a Senate bill to reform the Patriot Act, on Friday said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's comments on the revisions are "tantamount to political pornography."
mike lee, chris christie, patriot act, reforms
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2015-09-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 02:09 PM
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