[News] FBI Hoover wanted to jail 12,000 "disloyal" Americans
news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Dec 23 15:31:09 EST 2007
FBI's Hoover wanted to jail 12,000 'disloyal' Americans
Declassified papers reveal push to influence Truman
By TIM WEINER | New York Times
1:55 PM CST, December 22, 2007
Click here to find out more!
A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the
long-time director of the FBI, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus
and imprison some 12,000 Americans that he suspected of disloyalty.
Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days
after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans
in military prisons.
Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests
necessary to "protect the country against treason, espionage and
sabotage." The FBI would "apprehend all individuals potentially
dangerous" to national security, Hoover's proposal said. The arrests
would be carried out under "a master warrant attached to a list of
names" provided by the bureau.
The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for
years. "The index now contains approximately twelve thousand
individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven percent are citizens
of the United States," he wrote.
"In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation
suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus," it said.
Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has
been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush
administration's decision to hold suspects for years at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress
and the Supreme Court today.
The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended "unless
when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require
it." The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the FBI from 1924 to
1972, stretched that clause to include "threatened invasion" or
"attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory."
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued
an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects
indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges. In
September 2006, Congress passed a law suspending habeas corpus for
anyone deemed an "unlawful enemy combatant."
But the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of U.S. citizens to
seek a writ of habeas corpus. This month the court heard arguments on
whether about 300 foreigners held at Guantanamo Bay had the same
rights. It is expected to rule by next summer.
Hoover's plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of
documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The
collection makes up a new volume of "The Foreign Relations of the
United States," a series that by law has been published continuously
by the State Department since the Civil War.
Hoover's plan called for "the permanent detention" of the roughly
12,000 suspects at military bases as well as in federal prisons. The
FBI, he said, had found that the arrests it proposed in New York and
California would cause the prisons there to overflow.
So the bureau had arranged for "detention in Military facilities of
the individuals apprehended" in those states, he wrote.
The prisoners eventually would have had a right to a hearing under
the Hoover plan. The hearing board would have been a panel comprised
of one judge and two citizens. But the hearings "will not be bound by
the rules of evidence," his letter noted.
The only modern precedent for Hoover's plan was the Palmer Raids of
1920, named after the attorney general at the time. The raids,
executed in large part by Hoover's intelligence division, swept up
thousands of people suspected of being Communists and radicals.
Previously declassified documents show that the FBI's "security
index" of suspect Americans predated the Cold War. In March 1946,
Hoover sought the authority to detain Americans "who might be
dangerous" if the United States went to war. In August 1948, Attorney
General Tom Clark gave the FBI the power to make a master list of such people.
Hoover's July 1950 letter was addressed to Sidney W. Souers, who had
served as the first director of central intelligence and was then a
special national-security assistant to Truman. The plan also was sent
to the executive secretary of the National Security Council, whose
members were the president, the secretary of defense, the secretary
of state and the military chiefs.
In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law
authorizing the detention of "dangerous radicals" if the president
declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency
in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known
evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News