Wednesday, January 15, 2003

David Neiwert had this to say in the comments below (worth retrieving as the thread was fast retreating):

Some comments:

Mark H: It's more than likely that the internment captured a few Japanese spies and thus prevented West Coast sabotage."

This is a smear and counter to historical fact.

The FBI and other authorities, for instance, seized a total of 2,592 guns, 199,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,652 sticks of dynamite, 1,458 radio receivers, 2,914 cameras, and 37 motion-picture cameras from the Issei whose homes and businesses they raided in the early hours after Pearl Harbor. But there was nothing indicating that any of these items were for anything other than personal use. As the Justice Department explained in its report: “We have not, however, uncovered through these searches any dangerous persons that we could not otherwise know about. We have not found among all the sticks of dynamite and fun powder any evidence that any of it was to be used in bombs ... We have not found a camera which we have reason to believe was for use in espionage.” After the war, an Army historian declared: “In fact, no proved instances of sabotage or of espionage after Pearl Harbor among the west coast Japanese population were ever uncovered.”

Indeed, federal authorities already had made the assessment that the Japanese posed no threat to the security of the nation. Some months before the war arrived, President Roosevelt had secured the services of Chicago businessman Curtis Munson in coordinating an intelligence report on Japanese in the United States. Munson’s report, delivered on Nov. 7, 1941, couldn’t have been more clear: “There will be no armed uprising of Japanese [in the United States] ... For the most part the Japanese are loyal to the United States or, at worst, hope that by remaining quiet they can avoid concentration camps or irresponsible mobs. We do not believe that they would be at least any more disloyal than any other racial group in the United States with whom we went to war.”

Moreover, military strategists at the War Department were well aware that the Pacific Coast was under no serious threat of being invaded or under any kind of sustained attack. General Mark Clark, then the deputy chief of staff of Army Ground Forces, and Admiral Harold Stark, chief of naval operations, both ridiculed the notion of any kind of serious Japanese attack on the Pacific Coast when they testified that spring before a Senate committee, though Clark (who had spent several years as an officer at Fort Lewis, Washington) did admit that the possibility of an occasional air raid or a sustained attack on the Aleutian Islands “was not a fantastic idea.” Secondarily, DeWitt’s clamorous appeals for devoting badly needed troops for the defense of the West Coast were dismissed by War Department officials who knew better; to the planners there, preparing an offensive army for operations in Europe and the Pacific, such requests were self-indulgent wastes of their time.

Finally, neither Gen. DeWitt’s Feb. 14, 1942, memorandum with the finding of “military necessity” that all persons of Japanese descent be evacuated, nor his Final Report (issued a year later; Assistant War Secretary John McCloy shortly had all copies burned because the report was a thick weave of racial stereotypes that would not pass legal muster, as McCloy’s later sanitized version ultimately did) cited a single piece of actual evidence of Japanese espionage or sabotage. What had happened, of course, is that DeWitt and every other public official on the coast had done their best to whip up hysteria about an imminent invasion among every person living on the coast. This created an enormous wave of political pressure to ship out the Japanese, even though J. Edgar Hoover himself thought it was a waste of time.

After the war, the FBI reported that some 14 people had been arrested in the United States during the course of the war for spying for Japan. None of them were Japanese.

Of course, my favorite rationale contained in DeWitt’s Feb. 14 memo: “... It therefore follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these are organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”

Paul Bird:

I agree that this is an area of concern, but I don't think it is necessarily intrinsically abusive provided that the threshold for what constitutes an enemy combatant remains high.

Actually, the courts have specifically deferred to the power of the executive branch to proceed just as it has. And the standards for what will determine who is an “enemy combatant” are being determined by the White House. Here is what Solicitor General Ted Olson told the Washington Post would comprise those standards:
"There won't be 10 rules that trigger this or 10 rules that end this. There will be judgments and instincts and evaluations and implementations that have to be made by the executive that are probably going to be different from day to day, depending on the circumstances."

I don’t know about you, but I am far from comforted.

Can you tell me for certain that this executive will not one day decide that antiwar protesters -- deemed “traitors” already in the popular press -- are worthy of the title “enemy combatants”?

If you can, then you have more confidence in him than I.

More to the point, I do not believe any president, regardless of party or skill, should be able either to wield such powers, nor should he be able to delegate them to as unaccountable an entity as the military.

Stuff in italics are people/quotes he's responding to.