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Maine Senate Rejects Bill That Would Have Closed Intelligence Sharing 'Fusion' Center

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Ed Morin
Maine Public
Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck, seen in this file photo when he was Portland's Police Chief.

The Maine Senate has rejected a measure that would have abolished the Maine Information and Analysis Center, also called a “fusion center," that allows for quick sharing of information between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

It did so on Monday, just hours after the House voted to approve the bill, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Fusion centers across the country, including Maine's, have been under scrutiny from critics who allege they spy on participants in political demonstrations and other average citizens for no reason.

An opponent of the bill, Democratic Sen. Susan Deschambault of Biddeford, says the Maine Information and Analysis Center is part of a valuable national network that shares information on terrorists and criminals.

"We would weaken the entire safety net by eliminating a critical piece of the nationwide network," she says.

However, opponents had said the center has abused its authority and duplicates what other agencies, including the FBI, are already doing.

They argue that the money used to support the center could be better used to bolster enforcement of Maine laws.

"A US Senate report in 2012 concludes Fusion centers produce intelligence of uneven quality, often times shoddy, rarely timely," said Sen. David Miramant, a Camden Democrat.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.