New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called for strengthening U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities and downplayed the privacy concerns expressed by some of his Republican colleagues during a national security address Monday.
"When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda," Christie said.
“Let’s be clear,” he later added, “all these fears are exaggerated and ridiculous. When it comes to fighting terrorism our government is not the enemy, and we should not be listening to people like Edward Snowden.”
The Garden State Republican called for renewal of the Patriot Act as key provisions of the controversial legislation are set to expire at the end of the month. Republican senators and presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz support replacing some provisions of the Patriot Act with alternative legislation that would reform the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton also supports the alternative legislation, known as the USA Freedom Act.
But in his address, Christie critiqued the notion that the U.S. would attempt to curb its spying powers as terrorist threats seem to be growing.
“Right now that debate is dominated by intellectual purists worried about theoretical abuses that have not occurred,” Christie said.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate’s speech was the third policy address he’s delivered in New Hampshire.
-- Andrew Rafferty