As U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie Approved Warrantless Tracking Of Suspects Using Cell Phone GPS

While serving as a U.S. attorney during the Bush administration, Christopher Christie, now a Republican candidate for Governor in New Jersey, tracked the whereabouts of citizens through their cell phones without warrants. The ACLU obtained the documents detailing the spying program from the Justice Department in an ongoing lawsuit over cell phone tracking.

While the documents reveal 79 such cases on or after Sept. 12, 2001, they do not specify how many of the applications were made during Christie’s tenure. Christie served as U.S. attorney from Jan. 17, 2002 through November 2008. ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump noted:

Tracking the location of people’s cell phones reveals intimate details of their daily routines and is highly invasive of their privacy. The government is violating the Constitution when it fails to get a search warrant before tracking people this way.

The new revelations about the cell phone tracking program under Christie is yet another example of the warrantless spying programs authorized under the Bush administration. Previous programs approved without a court order or warrant have included the secret program to monitor radiation levels at over 100 Muslim sites and the NSA spying program on the phone and e-mail communications of thousands of people inside the U.S. These programs run contrary to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids “unreasonable searches” and sets out specific requirements for warrants, including “probable cause.”

During his tenure as U.S. attorney, Christie also awarded his former boss, John Ashcroft, a $28-52 million dollar no-bid contract to “monitor a large corporation willing to settle criminal charges out of court.” Former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach blasted the decision, saying that awarding a no-bid contract “suggests other political things, and that seems to me to be as wrong as it can be.” Christie also doled out “a multi-million-dollar, no bid contract to an ex-federal prosecutor who declined to criminally prosecute Christie’s brother on stock fraud charges two years earlier.”

Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, declined to comment on the cell phone spying program “due to pending litigation.”