TAMPA, July 27, 2013 – Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have defunded the NSA’s blanket collection of metadata and limited the government’s collection of records to those “relevant to a national security investigation.”
It terrified New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who lashed out at those who supported the bill and libertarianism in general.
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because 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.
Yes, it is dangerous, but to what? It is dangerous to the bloated national security state, which tramples the liberty and dignity of every American under the pretense of protecting them from what Charles Kenny recently called the “vastly exaggerated” threat of terrorism.
Chris Christie shamelessly invoked the image of “widows and orphans” of 9/11 in an attempt to discredit any resistance to the federal government’s complete disregard for the Bill of Rights. He then echoed former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani in claiming some imagined authority on the matter because he is the governor of the state “that lost the second-most people on 9/11.”
Newsflash to Governor Christie: You have no more moral authority on this subject than the U.S. Congress had legislative authority to pass the Patriot Act.
Christie doesn’t understand that the power that legislators may exercise is limited to what was delegated to them in the Constitution. He seems to believe that power changes depending upon how he “feels.”
“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”
Ignoring the cheap tactic of trying to paint libertarians as “unfeeling” or not having sympathy for the victims of 9/11, there is a simple answer to Mr. Christie’s question.
“We as a country” decide questions like this through Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment forbids the federal government from running programs like the NSA’s. Only an amendment that revises or repeals it can change that.