Liberty on the rocks

Oct 17, 2001 at 12:00 am

As if we here at News Hits didn’t have enough to worry about (if a kindred spirit like the Sun tabloid is the target of some particularly virulent hate mail, can we be far behind?) we were exposed to some information this weekend that left us feeling more than a little queasy deep down in the pit of our collective stomachs. As the story in this week’s Metro Times points out, President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft are pushing legislation through Congress that will suspend many of the civil liberties that make us, well, American, in order to more easily spy on, interrogate and arrest suspected terrorists. As unsettling as that legislation is, what has the Hitters here feeling particularly ill is the fact that the administration gave U.S. House members mere hours to read the 200-page bill before it was adopted 337-79 on Friday.

According to U.S. Reps. John Conyers and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who attended a NAACP meeting Saturday at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to discuss the legislation, the situation made a mockery of democracy. “We got totally jammed on the process,” Conyers told the audience of about 150 people. Conyers and Kilpatrick warned of the severity of the situation and urged people to speak out. “If you give law enforcement unfettered power, they’re going to abuse it. You can bet on it,” Conyers said. Kilpatrick had harsher words. “Some people in Congress and the White House are taking advantage of this situation to take our country back to the days that we fought so hard to come out of. … We believe our civil liberties have been threatened and attacked. We have to be vigilant, or we will be attacked from within.”

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]