Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Friday criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for advocating security over privacy rights when it comes to national security, further exposing a rift among Republicans in the debate over the nation's surveillance efforts.
Christie told an Aspen Institute forum that the U.S. House's reluctant extension of surveillance collection by the National Security Agency this week reflected a libertarian trend in both political parties that he called "dangerous."
"I remember what this country was like on Sept. 12," Christie said Thursday, referring to the day after the 2011 terror attacks. "I'm very nervous about the direction this is moving in."
"I think we need to be very cautious ... about shifting this thing way back," he added.
Christie was responding to a moderator's question Thursday about a libertarian streak among Democrats and Republicans in the debate.
Paul tweeted Friday, "Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional."
On Wednesday, the House narrowly upheld the continued collection of millions of Americans' phone records. Many conservatives and liberals joined forces to oppose the Obama administration's aggressive surveillance.
Ever since the 2001 attacks, Congress has authorized extensions of the powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists, tools provided by the USA Patriot Act. Paul, a libertarian and a tea party favorite, delayed its renewal over privacy concerns two years ago.
Christie noted that President Barack Obama had not fundamentally changed the anti-terror policies he inherited from President George W. Bush - "because they work," he said.