According to newly declassified government documents from the Cold War (thought they didn't call it that then), FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover submitted a plan in 1950 to the White House to suspend habeas corpus and arrest 1200 American citizens accused of being disloyal.
Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to "protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage." The F.B.I 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.
A lot of folks out there will say, "1950 was a long time ago and we've learned a lot since then. There's no way that could happen today!"
Bullshit. If you're Muslim and a suspected terrorist it already has. Jose Padilla was an American citizen and detained with no though to Constitutional rights and our media, our courts and our Congress rolled over to let it happen. Who knows how many other people it happened to, or is happening to? Even though he eventually got his time in court, a lot of people had to fight really hard to get that basic American right.
And what's happening now is even worse than what Hoover proposed. Hoover sent his plan up the line to use the Constitutional power given the President to suspend habeas corpus, but Bush and his cronies just did it without even invoking the Constitution! They just grabbed Padilla and tossed him in the brig with no lawyer, no court review, no contact with family. They think they can do it because the President is on their side, not the little fact that the Constitution is not doesn't bother them.
To the people who think that the J. Edgar Hoovers and Joe McCarthys are a thing of the past aren't thinking straight.
- If you are 58 years old then you were alive when Hoover proposed arresting Americans for thought crimes.
- If you are 35 years old you were alive when Hoover still ran the FBI and President Nixon announced he would not obey a Supreme Court decision supporting a subpoena.
- If you are 20 years old, you were alive when President George H. W. Bush pardoned Ollie North and his buddies for illegally selling weapons to Iran (remember them?) and using the money to overthrow the democratically elected if somewhat odious government of Nicaragua.
- If you are seven years old you were alive when a Presidential election was stolen by importing thugs from Texas to delay recounts by scaring ballot counters with protests and threats.
- If you are six years old you were alive when President George W. Bush's administration got the agreement from all but one telephone company to turn over your records illegally, then destroyed the one company -- Quest -- and its CEO when it refused to play along.
- If you are three years old you were alive when rich oil barons and right wing media outlet owners conspired to publish and push lies about a Presidential candidate to affect a presidential election.
- If you were born today, you will live through more horrific incursions on our rights by right wing and/or authoritarian forces in this country.
This has to stop, and there is only one way that's gonna happen: We have to stop it.
And if we don't stop it, then we have the same stain on our generation our parents have. Then it'll be up to our kids.
We can't let that happen.