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Commentary: Chris Christie, National Security Poseur

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington on Dec. 3. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington on Dec. 3. (Susan Walsh/AP)
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The news media has anointed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey as the man to watch in New Hampshire. He was recently boosted by the state’s biggest newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader. “Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times,” the paper's editorial said.

The newspaper’s record of endorsement success is spotty at best. It backed onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 2012, Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 and businessman Steve Forbes in 2000.

As is true for the other governors in the GOP presidential race, Christie has no military or diplomatic experience. But he has used New Jersey’s proximity to the World Trade Center to pose as an “expert” on 9/11 and national security. He was appointed a federal prosecutor by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001 and leaves the impression that his first day on the job was Sept. 11, 2001.

In fact, he didn’t actually take office as U.S. attorney until several weeks later. He often says, “I’ve convicted terrorists.” His biggest case was that of Hemant Lakhani, a small-time, 70-year-old hustler sent to jail, as Salon magazine pointed out, “for buying a fake missile from a fake arms dealer to be delivered to a fake terrorist group at an airport Hilton.”

Lakhani was so pathetic he tried to pay for the missile with a personal check. Reason magazine, which examined the case thoroughly, declared that it was “a tale of ineptitude, entrapment, and bureaucratic self-perpetuation, starring very young U.S. attorney Christopher Christie.” (A 2005 This American Life story on the case can be heard here.)

At the Republican Jewish Coalition last week Christie declared after San Bernardino, “For the first time since 9/11 I think we’re going to have to confront the loss of American life on American soil to terrorist conduct.”

Christie must have forgotten about the Boston Marathon bombs planted by the Tsarnaev brothers and the Fort Hood, Texas, rampage where Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 12 people and wounded 31 others.

Christie didn’t recall that just this July radicalized Jordanian Mohammad Abdulazeez sprayed a military recruiting center at a strip mall with an assault rifle, then drove seven miles to kill a sailor and four Marines, and wounded two more people, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He told those at the Republican Jewish Coalition that once he heard about San Bernardino, “As a former prosecutor, from the time I began to watch the events unfold last night, I was convinced that was a terrorist attack.”

The news that two people dressed in camouflage, carrying assault rifles, driving a black Jeep with the windows blacked out, entered a social service agency and began shooting randomly and were soon identified on TV as having lived and traveled in the Middle East must have tipped off the terrorism expert Christie.

Dan Payne is a Democratic political analyst and a regular contributor to WBUR Politicker.

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Dan Payne Twitter Democratic Political Analyst
Dan Payne is a Democratic political analyst for WBUR.

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