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Kudos for Conyers

News Hits salutes U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit) for challenging U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s assault on the Constitution. The congressman wrote Ashcroft last week condemning the use of secret proceedings after Conyers was denied access to the detention hearing of Ann Arbor resident Rabih Haddad. The Lebanon native co-founded the charity Global Relief Foundation, which the government says is linked to terrorism, and froze its assets last month. Haddad, who is a pastor and member of the Michigan Islamic community, has been detained and jailed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service since Dec. 14.

“When the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee — the committee having oversight responsibility for our immigration laws and our courts — is not permitted to attend such a hearing in our court system, it seems to me that something is very wrong with the system of justice in America,” wrote Conyers.

While last week’s hearing took place, Conyers stood outside the court with about 200 protesters.

INS Judge Elizabeth Hacker denied Haddad’s release on bond, saying he poses a danger to society because he owns a hunting rifle and is a flight risk, according to Haddad’s attorney, Ashraf Nubani. The government has reportedly given no reason for detaining Haddad; Nubani says Haddad has overstayed a tourist visa.

Asked what he will do if Ashcroft ignores his letter, Conyers chuckled and told News Hits, “I will send out the congressional U.S. Marshals to pick him up.” And he will do it in secret, Conyers chided. “I don’t want him to have an advantage over pastor Haddad.”

Ann Mullen contributed to this week’s News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at cguyette@metrotimes.com or

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