The Hollowing Ring of Rights Now Lost: Hoover, Habeas Corpus and the Malignancy In DC

There comes a time where the echoes of history begin to take on a most alarming toll, like the sounding of a gong announcing the approach of an ominous new enemy just like a previously-defeated old foe.

This is that time. Put on your tinfoil hat for a trip down memory lane, and follow me…

Crossposted from ePluribus Media 2.0, because one can never have enough foil and recycling is good for you. Also available in orange.

On Friday, the State Department declassified a new batch of cold-war era documents that detailed a plan by J. Edgar Hoover to detain thousands of Americans — Americans who comprised a list of approximately 12,000 citizens illegally, requiring the suspension of habeas corpus.

Hoover had wanted Truman to declare the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage,”


“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the writ of habeas corpus.”


All apprehended individuals eventually would have had the right to a hearing under Hoover’s plan, but hearing boards comprised of one judge and two citizens would not have been bound by the rules of evidence.

Hoover’s crazy plan was, of course, never implemented by Truman, and no-one else was crazy enough to do anything like that ever since…until the Bush Administration came up with the Military Commissions Act.

Of course, the lists today would be much larger, given the lackadaisacal (some might say “broad-brush”) approach toward declaring anyone to be a terrorist if the person or persons attempt to interfere via protest with the government’s intended activities. Where would such a large portion of the population be held? Well, that could be a really difficult question…


    • GreyHawk on December 23, 2007 at 3:46 am

    Congress may doom us to repeat the McCarthy Era

    That makes this all even more scary, IMO.

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