Aug 072015
 August 7, 2015  Election2016, Featured News

So I didn’t get to watch to all of both the junior varsity debate and main debate involving 17 Republican presidential wannabes, but from what I did see, there weren’t many questions about privacy per se, with one notable exception: there was a heated exchange between Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey of Senator Rand Paul on the bulk collection of records. During the exchange, both made some statements that do not survive fact-checking, but watch the exchange first:

So… was Christie really appointed by President Bush as a U.S. Attorney on 9/10 (2001)?
Answer: No. The President issued a press release in December 2001 announcing that he would be nominating Christie. And an official report of the US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey shows that Christie joined the office on January 17, 2002.

Did Christie prosecute terrorists?
Answer: Yes, although perhaps not as much as he might wish us to believe. For a rundown of all the cases prosecuted under his term in the USAO, see this official report from the USAO’s office.

Did Christie use PATRIOT Act tools and go to FISC?
I don’t know, although I wouldn’t be surprised. And by the way, Governor, it’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, not Foreign Intelligence Services Court.

But what about Paul’s claims? He was clear that he was arguing against bulk collection of records and warrantless surveillance but not arguing against collection of suspected terrorists’ communications, but Christie doubled down on needing these tools to protect the homeland. The fact that they’ve been declared unconstitutional and a halt was called to the program didn’t seem to faze him.

Senator Paul, trying to work the Fourth Amendment into the debate (if memory serves, he was the only candidate to mention the Fourth Amendment), claimed that the Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution for. Except that we didn’t, of course, and the Bill of Rights came later.

Other than this one exchange, there was no discussion of surveillance of U.S. persons that I heard. There was some issue of sharing information with government in the second-string debate (for lack of a better descriptor). Carly Fiorina was clear that more private-public information sharing is essential for preventing cyberattacks. Given they only got one minute for answers and 30 seconds for follow-ups, we did not hear how she would protect individuals’ personal information if such sharing occurs, but she did point out that there was a bill to accomplish sharing languishing in Congress.

But if you believe that abortion and self-determination are privacy issues, there was lots on that, as the candidates thumped their chests and declared their determination to undo Roe v. Wade, which many of them declared unconstitutional and the actions of a rogue Supreme Court. If memory serves, only two candidates, Gov. Kasich of Ohio and former Governor Pataki of New York, made it clear that they would respect the law even though they were personally anti-abortion. But there was overwhelming support for defunding Planned Parenthood because according to the candidates, the majority of our country is morally opposed to abortion, and SCIENCE shows that a foetus is viable at 20 weeks. Yes, the GOP cites science when – and only when – it serves their agenda. There was no question on global warming or we’d really see how they deal with science.

One of the most disturbing questions to me was whether God spoke to the candidates, and if so, what God was telling them to do.

Seriously? In a presidential debate? Why didn’t any candidate respond that that was a private matter and decline to answer?

So… what did you think of the debate? What other privacy-related questions or statements caught your attention? Tell me what I missed.

CORRECTION: Post-publication, this post corrected a typo: Christie took office as USAO on January 17, 2002, not 2012.

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