Christie calls for new government surveillance powers

May 18, 2015, 2:48 PM

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered a vigorous defense of post-Sept. 11 surveillance tactics on Monday, backing existing programs and calling for an expansion of intelligence-gathering capabilities even as Congress seeks ways to rein in the programs.

Christie, who spent seven years as the U.S. attorney in New Jersey before he was elected governor, said that he had used provisions of the Patriot Act in pursuing terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks and argued that the country must not weaken its anti-terror and surveillance laws.

“We need to toughen our anti-terror and surveillance laws to give our services the legal mechanisms to do their job,” he said in a foreign policy-themed speech.

The likely Republican GOP presidential candidate took specific aim at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked thousands of documents to journalists. Among Snowden’s revelations: NSA had for years been secretly collecting data about millions of Americans’ landline phone calls.

“When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their very own narrow agenda,” he said. “They want you to think that there’s a government agent listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids. They want you to think our intelligence community are the bad guys — straight out of the ‘Bourne Identity’ or some other Hollywood thriller. They want you to think that if we weakened our capabilities, the rest of the world would somehow love us more.”

“Let’s be clear, all these fears are exaggerated and ridiculous. When it comes to fighting terrorism, our government is not the enemy,” he said.

Last week more than 300 House members voted to end the NSA’s bulk phone records collection program and replace it with a system to leave the data with telephone companies and allow the NSA to search the data on a case-by-case basis. The supporters of ending the program include Democrats and Republicans, and even the NSA doesn’t object to having private companies store the data.

Independent reviews have found that the bulk collection program did not foil a single terrorist attack.

But Christie slammed those pushing reforms as “intellectual purists” and insisted law-abiding citizens had nothing to fear from the surveillance efforts.

“The vast majority of Americans are not worried about the government listening in on them, because it hasn’t happened. They are worried about what happens if we don’t catch the bad people who want to harm our country,” he said.

Christie, who has said he will announce his White House plans by the end of June, spoke on the bank of the Piscataqua River, with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in the distance behind him.

Throughout his speech, he painted himself as an antidote to what he described as President Barack Obama’s weak leadership abroad. He argued the case for a more active U.S. presence overseas, bolstered by a larger military and increased defense spending. He also criticized president’s approach to the Islamic State militants and the emerging nuclear deal with Iran, as well as Russia’s backing of separatists in Ukraine and China’s encroachment in the South China Sea.

“All these things are happening because American power is in retreat and we’ve backed away from the principles that made us a source of strength and stability,” Christie said. “No one understands any longer whom America stands with or whom we stand against. No one understands exactly what we stand for and what we’re willing to sacrifice to stand up for it.

The speech is the third Christie has delivered in recent weeks in the early-voting state as he lays the groundwork for an expected campaign. His previous speeches focused on overhauling Social Security and lowering taxes on individuals and corporations.

Christie has been working to try to re-establish his place in the top tier of likely candidates after the fallout from the George Washington Bridge scandal. He’ll hold his fifth town hall event in the state Monday evening.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

Chinese envoy expresses concern over US tariffs with Yellen

BEIJING (AP) — China’s envoy to trade war talks with Washington expressed concern about U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports during a phone call Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the Ministry of Commerce announced, but it gave no indication of progress toward resolving an array of conflicts. Vice Premier Liu He and Yellen also discussed […]
23 hours ago
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index ...
Associated Press

Asia shares rise on optimism about easing COVID restrictions

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares advanced Monday across the board as buying set in after the lull of a U.S. national holiday. Analysts said the optimism may be driven by expectations the U.S. may decide to cut Chinese tariffs, a welcome move that would also help tame inflation. China’s Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that Vice […]
23 hours ago
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index ...
Associated Press

Asia shares rise on optimism about easing COVID restrictions

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares advanced Monday across the board as buying set in after the lull of a U.S. national holiday. Analysts said the optimism may be driven by expectations the U.S. may decide to cut Chinese tariffs, a welcome move that would also help tame inflation. China’s Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that Vice […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks in Leavenworth, Kan., on July 8, 2019. K...
Associated Press

Kobach looks for comeback in Kansas after losing 2 big races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have said no to him twice over the past four years. But Kris Kobach is nonetheless betting that this can be the year he makes a political comeback. His losses, including a 2018 defeat that handed the governor’s office in this Republican-leaning state to a Democrat, might end other […]
23 hours ago
Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Brian Dahle, left, talks with fellow GOP state Sen. A...
Associated Press

Newsom’s opponent: I’m reasonable, not a ‘crazy Republican’

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Brian Dahle, the Republican Party’s longshot hope to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, knows that to win in his progressive home state he can’t allow Democrats to label him as an election denying, abortion-hating, gun-loving, bombastic right-winger. It’s why Dahle, an affable farmer and state senator from the sparsely populated […]
23 hours ago
Mynor Cardona shows a photo on his cellphone of her daughter, Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, at the...
Associated Press

A survivor of the migrant trailer: ‘They couldn’t breathe’

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Simple advice from a friend to stay near the door may have saved Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás from the deadly fate that befell 53 other migrants when they were abandoned trapped in a sweltering semi-trailer last week on the edge of San Antonio. Speaking by phone from her hospital bed Monday, […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Christie calls for new government surveillance powers