DeWine extols Patriot Act in visit to Louisville
The Canton Repository
G. Patrick Kelley
The ability of British intelligence to thwart a terrorist plot shows the need for strengthened law enforcement, according to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine.
DeWine, R-Cedarville, who is running for a third term against U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, R-Lorain, visited H-P Products here Thursday, and used the opportunity to back what has become controversial legislation.
The Patriot Act, passed overwhelmingly by both the Senate and House following 9/11, gave law enforcement expanded authority, but since has come under fire as an infringement on civil liberties.
"It's absolutely essential so we can go after terrorists before they commit crimes," DeWine said. "It's worked very well. It's been one of the key tools that we've used against terrorists."
DeWine said his stance on the Patriot Act is "the defining difference between myself and Sherrod Brown."
The Brown camp took that as an attack. "Of course Mike DeWine would try to make this election about one vote -- he wants Ohio voters to forget the rest of his 30-year record," said Brown spokesman Ben LaBolt.
LaBolt said DeWine ignored administration intelligence failures and did nothing about cuts to Homeland Security grants to Ohio, CIA operations, first responders and port security.
DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik said LaBolt is clouding the issue. "With Congressman Brown's shameful 14-year record on national security, it's understandable why he is trying to change the subject," Seitchik said.
He said Brown has voted to cut intelligence funding and against giving law enforcement the tools needed to combat terrorism.
DeWine told H-P workers the Patriot Act knocked down barriers between the CIA and FBI, so they are now allowed to communicate when one is gathering intelligence and the other is investigating the same person for a crime." What we've seen in Great Britain is just an example of what good intelligence and good law enforcement will do," he said.
"The best homeland security is stopping these guys before they do it."
DeWine also said the Patriot Act's broadening of wire tapping authority is crucial. "You've got to know what the bad guys are doing," he said. "If al-Qaida is calling into the United States, we'd better be listening."
DeWine is a member of four Senate committees, among them the Intelligence Committee, which is the only one that meets behind closed doors. He probably spends 40 percent to 50 percent of his time on Intelligence Committee work, he said.
"The world fundamentally changed after Sept. 11," DeWine said. "What I've been informed of today -- this was a very serious plan for attack. They were very sophisticated about it."