Paul: Christie has 'learning problem' when it comes to encryption

Paul: Christie has 'learning problem' when it comes to encryption
© Getty Images

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday took a shot at rival Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, saying there is a "learning problem" when trying to explain the benefits of encryption to the New Jersey governor. 

During an interview with Yahoo News about technology and politics, Paul said his White House would make sure the public continues to have access to encryption technology to prevent the government from snooping.  

ADVERTISEMENT

"Without question," Paul responded. "And then some will respond and say: 'What about terrorists? Does that mean you don't care about terrorists?' And I've tried to explain this to the governor of New Jersey on the stage, but I think I'm having a little bit of a learning problem, learning curve — that you can use the Fourth Amendment and still get terrorists." 

The more libertarian minded Paul has tangled with Christie, a former U.S. attorney, periodically over the past few years about the debate over surveillance and security. 

The two got into a shouting match during the first Fox News debate in August about the issue. Paul argued Christie fundamentally misunderstood the Bill of Rights, while Christie shot back by saying there is a difference between pursuing terrorists and "blowing hot air" during a Senate hearing.

Both candidates have been polling far below the front-runners, with 2 to 3 percent support. Christie actually failed to qualify for the main stage at the last Fox Business debate because he couldn't cross the polling threshold. 

Paul argued in the Yahoo interview that surveillance and security is not an "either/or" problem. He said the government can become overwhelmed with all the information it is collecting, rendering it useless.

During the interview, Paul reiterated that he would not pardon Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs.

Still, Paul said Snowden did a service to the country, adding that he had sympathy for him as a whistleblower. 

"Would there be no penalty? No, I think there probably has to be some," Paul said. "Even he would end up accepting some if he could come home. And I have suggested, somewhat flippantly, that he and [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper could share a cell together, maybe then they'd learn a little bit more from security and liberty."

Asked directly if Snowden should face prison time, Paul said: "I don't know the exact answer."