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As if on cue, Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to answer the sorts of questions raised in the Metro Times cover story, “In the Name of Patriotism” (Dec 5-11). Big John told the inquiring senators basically the same thing he told us during a press conference when asked about the constitutionality of recent Bush administration anti-terrorist tactics: “Our efforts have been crafted carefully to avoid infringing on constitutional rights, while saving American lives.”

Ashcroft also sent a message to those who dared question our government’s actions:

“To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against noncitizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.”

Asked what he thought about Ashcroft’s comments, Metro Times news editor Curt Guyette told News Hits: “Well, I guess this officially makes me an enemy of the state. Which means, according to an incentive clause in my contract, I’ll be getting a hefty three-figure bonus come year’s end. The really good thing is, if I can figure out a way to piss off the pope before January, I’ll be able to double that.”

Speaking of enemies of the state, a whole raft of lefty types will meet Friday to plan strategies and have a little fun. The event is the brainchild of activist Michael Whitty, who views it as “a rare opportunity to increase communication and friendship among diverse movements, causes and groups” working toward progressive goals. More than two dozen Detroit-area union activist, peace, civil rights and religious social-justice groups will participate in what Whitty envisions as an evening of socializing and brainstorming, with a little acoustic entertainment thrown in for good measure. The shindig’s being held at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church at Cass and Forest in Detroit, from 7 p.m. to midnight. For more info call Whitty at 248-594-7596.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette, Metro Times news editor. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail

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