Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Friday tore into fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who is considering a presidential run, for saying Americans "can't enjoy your civil liberties if you're in a coffin."
"I view that as a statement tantamount to political pornography. I think Mr. Christie should be ashamed of himself for saying that we have to choose between...respecting the privacy of the American people on the one hand, or a coffin on the other," Lee said on CNN Friday. "That's absolutely ridiculous. It's absurd."
Christie on Monday dismissed concerns about the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program -- which many argue violates constitutional privacy protections -- during a town hall in New Hampshire. While many Republicans share Christie's view, his clumsy wording quickly drew the ire of critics.
"The Founders made sure that the first obligation of the American government was to protect the lives of the American people, and we can do this in a way that’s smart and cost-effective and protects civil liberties," he said. "But you know, you can’t enjoy your civil liberties if you’re in a coffin.” (Emphasis mine.)
Lee first pushed back against Christie's on Tuesday during an appearance on MSNBC, calling on the New Jersey governor to retract his statement. But the Utah senators remarks Friday reached a new level of condemnation.
"If Mr. Christie wants to play a part in the national discussion regarding privacy and security, he should choose his words more carefully," Lee said. "I would ask Mr. Christie -- how lives has it saved? How many acts of terrorism have been thwarted simply because the NSA is collecting telephone data on [who] your grandmother calls?"