While monitoring the Chris Christie beat ahead of 2016, New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro made an interesting observation about the New Jersey governor’s response – or lack thereof, as the case may be – to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques.
When asked by The Times reporter for his reaction to the widely publicized report, Christie declined to offer one.
“All I’ve seen, unfortunately, at this point, is some of the reporting from your newspaper, so I don’t think it would be responsible to comment based only on that,” Christie said.
He said of the report: “I’ll take some time to look at it. I don’t know about all of it. But I’ll take some time to get briefed on it for sure.”
As Barbaro later noted, Christie was nowhere near this cautious on the subject of supposed “torture” tactics by American interrogators in the War on Terror even despite his appointment by the Bush administration to serve as a United States attorney.
“I cannot believe, given the history of this country, that no matter what the threat to our country that we would forsake our protection of liberties to the extent that we would advocate torture as a way of getting evidence,” Christie said in 2002.
If Christie believed that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation was not as thorough as it needed to be in order to come to the politically fraught conclusions it reached, it would have been advantageous for him to say as much. Considering the number of sources making this same contention, Christie would not have been in bad company. If, however, Christie is predisposed to agree with the findings of the SSCI’s report, he should have made the time to be briefed on its conclusions within the first 24 hours of its release.
For all purposes, the 2016 presidential cycle has begun, and neither Christie nor any other prospective Republican candidate can afford to allow the press to cast them as ill-prepared on matters as critical as the prosecution of the War on Terror.
As The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti observed, Christie “needs to be briefed on national issues and say where he stands. Quickly.”
Continetti’s right. The vetting has already begun.