Monday, December 24, 2007

Manifesto Joe's Great Moments In Conservative History, Chapter 6: J. Edgar Hoover Proposed Mass Arrests

By Manifesto Joe

Fellow Murkans, you can thank whatever gods may be for the feisty soul that was Harry S. Truman. If the schlump we have in the White House now had been there in 1950 ...

The New York Times reports:

A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans whom 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 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.

Harry Truman was far from a flawless decision-maker -- the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing countless civilians, looks pretty damned bad in hindsight -- but we can thank his ghost for this one.

Hoover went on to worse things over the next 22 years, until his long-overdue death ended his 48-year dictatorship over the bureau. This from Wikipedia:

In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute Communists. At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO. This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party, and later such organizations such as the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s SCLC, the Ku Klux Klan, and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations. Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.

Hoover was on the verge of being fired by a succession of presidents, of both parties. More from Wikipedia:

Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson each considered firing Hoover but concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great. Richard Nixon twice called in Hoover with the intent of firing him, but both times he changed his mind when meeting with Hoover.

In addition to having been considered a national hero in the 1930s gangbusters era -- he had been put in charge of the newly created bureau in 1924, at age 29 -- Hoover was said to have amassed files over decades that contained potentially damaging information about many powerful people. So, the old bulldog was left to lord it over his fiefdom until he croaked at age 77.

I won't go very much into the widespread speculation about the sex life, or lack thereof, of lifelong bachelor Hoover. He had one very close male companion, but whether it went beyond being good buddies is pretty much tabloid material. I will spare his soul that, hoping that the commonly envisioned brand of eternal torment would be enough.

But Americans can be genuinely grateful that a nightmarish convergence of power didn't take place. It's been bad enough watching Bush and Cheney plotting "policy" with the likes of Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Ashcroft and others. Hoover and Bush, together, would have forged the executive branch from Hell. And then, in the Senate, there was this fellow named McCarthy ...

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


dr sardonicus said...

See, this shit's been going on forever. At least back in the day we had some elected officials who genuinely respected the rights of Americans and were willing to stand up to the bastards.

Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Hey Manifesto! Merry Christmas! I hope you have a great day.