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FBI director Hoover proposed mass arrests in 1950, report says

FBI director Hoover proposed mass arrests in 1950, report says

Former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover proposed imprisoning 12,000 Americans in 1950 and suspending their right to habeas corpus because they were "potentially dangerous," the New York Times said in a report yesterday.
Hoover, who ran the top law enforcement agency for decades, presented his plan to president Harry Truman 12 days after the start of the Korean War in a letter to a top White House national security aide, according to newly declassified documents cited by the Times.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation chief wrote that his agency would use a "master warrant" to "apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous" to national security based on an index of names compiled for years.
Hoover suggested Truman justify the mass jailings "to protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage," said the declassified letter, which was posted on the newspaper's Web site.
There was no sign that Truman or his successor in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower, endorsed any aspect of Hoover's plan.
Since his death in 1972, historians have portrayed Hoover as having often abused his authority, violated civil liberties and overstated the threat of subversion.
His proposal for mass arrests in 1950 included suspending habeas corpus, or the right of detainees to challenge the legality of their imprisonment.
The principle, which dates back centuries, is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution but has become the subject of debate in recent legal battles over the detention of suspects held as part of the U.S. "war on terror."
U.S. President George W. Bush's administration and the former Republican-controlled Congress have denied the right of habeas corpus to suspects held indefinitely at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Supreme Court has ruled U.S. citizens cannot be denied the writ of habeas corpus and is expected to rule this year on whether about 300 foreigners held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo enjoy the same rights.
Hoover also proposed that those arrested, mostly U.S. citizens, would be held in federal prisons as well as military bases in "permanent detention."
The prisoners would have the right to a hearing before a board comprised of a judge and two citizens but the hearings "will not be bound by the rules of evidence," he wrote.
Hoover's plan was part of a collection of Cold War-era documents published by the State Department, covering intelligence matters from 1950 to 1955, the paper said.


Updated : 2021-06-24 04:24 GMT+08:00