At the Thursday-night Republican presidential debate, moderator Megyn Kelly clashed with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on whether he believed law enforcement or prosecutors should use “profiling” in order to prevent terrorist attacks.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor and US attorney for the district of New Jersey before he was elected governor in 2008, said he didn’t think “profiling” was necessary — but tangled with the moderator over whether “profiling” could have prevented the December attack in San Bernardino, California.
Kelly asked Christie whether he thinks profiling could have prevented the massacre, in which two ISIS-inspired attackers killed 14 people at a San Bernardino County public-health facility.
“Neighbors of the terrorists said they did not report the couple to law enforcement prior to the crime because they were afraid that they would be accused of profiling,” Kelly said. “You said we should not profile. How do you square it with the San Bernardino case?”
Christie responded that profiling was unnecessary, and that it was possible to stop attacks “based on the facts.”
“What those folks knew was that these folks ahd weapons, they knew they were talking about trying to take our country and attack it,” Christie said. “That’s not profiling — that’s law enforcement.”
Kelly countered that the neighbors of the San Bernardino killers “didn’t know they were going to attack the country” and had only vague suspicions about what might have been in the works.
“Neighbors said they saw men going in and out of the garage, they saw packages getting delivered, they saw Muslims, and they did not think that was enough to call the cops. Do you?” she asked.
Christie didn’t give a clear answer. He argued that law enforcement could discover a plot in progress without having to resort to profiling, but added that citizens should still report anything that they individually believe to be suspicious or threatening behavior.
“Listen, I think that what people should do is use their common sense and the fact is let law enforcement make those decisions,” Christie said. “It’s not for them to make those decisions about whether something is legal or illegal or profiling or not. You see something suspicious you call law enforcement and let law enforcement make those decisions.”