May 8, 2015 5:04 PM
Christie backs NSA phone records collection, Patriot Act
The Associated Press
AMHERST — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records should continue, and the Patriot Act should be renewed in its current form.
The potential 2016 Republican presidential contender said he doesn't see the government's collection of phone records as an overreach. A federal appeals court has ruled the practice is illegal because Congress didn't authorize it.
"I think it can be done in a way that's not only constitutional, but protects national security," Christie said Friday after greeting people at a diner on the second day of a visit to N.H. "I'm not one of these folks who believe that we should bring our guard down, especially during this really dangerous time."
The NSA's collection and storage of U.S. landline calling records, including the times, dates and numbers — but not content — of calls was disclosed in 2013 by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden.
Christie said he believes Congress can provide "appropriate oversight" of the program.
Christie, who served as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey before he was elected governor and was named to the post the day before the 2001 terrorist attacks, also called on Congress to renew the Patriot Act, parts of which are set to expire June 1.
"I'm probably the only person in these discussions who've actually used it and I know how important a tool the Patriot Act is to help to prevent terrorism, to intercede before a terrorist act occurs," he said. "And I'm not somebody who's going to back off at all from the Patriot Act."
Christie has generally taken a harder line than some of his rivals when it comes to national security issues.