Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yup: J. Edgar Hoover had a fetish for fascism

Some of my older friends and acquaintances who remember the "good ol' days" of COINTELPRO won't need much convincing of course. But for those interested, occasionally New Pravda is worthwhile, as this article detailing a bit of the history of Hoover's efforts to suspend habeas corpus (sound familiar, anyone?) and essentially hold thousands of individuals (many of whom were American citizens) as political prisoners.

We'll consider this a reminder as Wendell Phillips (Jan. 28, 1852) once stated that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Our current habeas corpus troubles have historical precedent, as the article makes plain, including Hoover's proposal in 1950 (lest we forget, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War as did his Confederacy counterpart Jefferson Davis, and Clinton dramatically restricted habeas corpus relief in the mid 1990s); and the idea of rounding and imprisoning those deemed "enemies of the state" go back at least as far as the Palmer Raids.

History may not repeat itself verbatim, but certain patterns seem to recur - including the pattern of those in power endeavoring to expand and abuse their positions of authority. Sometimes they succeed (at least for a time) as we've witnessed this century; sometimes they fail (Hoover's efforts to rid the US of inconveniences like habeas corpus ultimately fell short, although he certainly found plenty of other avenues for making dissent downright difficult if not hazardous). Being aware of those patterns is merely one form of vigilance needed to prevent additional repetitions.

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