WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul are tangling over the Patriot Act as they open a Republican presidential debate on national security.
Gingrich says he supports the anti-terrorism law that civil liberty activists object to for its powers. Gingrich says that the United States needs to use every power at its disposal to protect the country from another attack, such as a nuclear weapon.
Paul, a Texas congressman and a favorite of his party's libertarian wing, disagreed pointing to the Oklahoma City attack as a threat dealt with through criminal law.
“We dealt with it rather well with Timothy McVeigh,” the Texas congressman said, warning that the United States has become “willing to give up our liberties for our security.”
Paul also says that extending the act is akin to thinking police could prevent wife and child beating by putting an officer in every home. That is the same level of intrusion as the Patriot Act, he said
Terrorism, Paul said, “is a crime and we should deal with it.”
Offered the chance to respond, Gingrich said the Oklahoma City bombing showed criminal law was insufficient tool against terrorism.
“Timothy McVeigh succeeded,” he said.
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