THUS DOES the attorney general, John Ashcroft, characterize critics of his tactics in investigating terrorism and of the new authorities he has sought. Mr. Ashcroft's remarks were not off the cuff; he delivered them as part of his opening statement yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They explain perfectly why many people have concerns about his leadership in this uncertain time. It is the attorney general's function, or should be, to ensure that a lively debate over policy is protected -- even during wartime. Mr. Ashcroft instead challenges the patriotism of those who dissent.
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