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America, Dec. 7, 1941 to Oct. 1944, and Beyond

By Ed Apple

Would the military open fire on the people in the event of a revolution or an armed uprising by those who felt that tyranny had come to America. The answer is, some probably would.

About four years ago while studying my favorite subject, the history of the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, I read what could only be called an American tragedy. It was about what happened in Hawaii after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, the day of the attack, the territorial governor suspended the writ of habeas corpus, the Constitutionally protected right against false imprisonment and illegal detention. He also signed a martial-law declaration prepared by the Army Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, who, at the time of the attack, was the commanding General of the Hawaiian Department, declaring himself Military Governor.

An act of Congress had made Hawaii a territory and also made it possible for martial law to be declared in case of imminent threat of invasion. Under the martial-law declaration the military ordered a strict nightly blackout, and ordered the arrest of anyone carrying a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe. If the military saw any kind of light showing through your windows such as a radio dial or the burners on a stove, you could be jailed.

The military authorities set a 6 PM to 6 AM curfew. Only people on official business were allowed to travel between those hours.

450,000 intelligence reports were drawn up on Hawaiians. The islands were taken over by the military, who appropriated over 300,000 acres of land, ranging from pineapple plantations to school buildings and campuses.

Censorship was clamped down on the islands, something unknown on the mainland. All outgoing mail was censored, phone calls had to be in English so the military could eavesdrop. Letters that couldn't be censored by using scissors or blackout blocks were returned to the letter writer to be rewritten.

The paper money in Hawaii was destroyed and new bills were issued with letters HAWAII overprinted on them. Hawaiians couldn't make more than a $200 cash withdrawal in a month and couldn't have more than $200 in cash on them.

Everybody over the age of six had to have an ID card. No card? Chances were you'd go to jail. This was done to keep track of people.

Military courts tried thousands of cases whether they had anything to do with wartime security or not. If you were arrested you went before a military judge, most times without your lawyer. The judge listened to the charges and then issued a sentence. The sentence could not be reversed except by a pardon from the military governor. There were no appeals because there were no civilian courts; there were simply no appellate courts.

Champions of civil liberties fought the sustained martial law until a Federal Judge ruled in 1944 that continued military governing of Hawaii was no longer valid, rejecting the testimony of military officials that included Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Area.

The military ignored the Federal Judge and kept right on going as if nothing had happened. President Roosevelt finally had to step in and announced in October 1944 that martial law was suspended and reinstated habeas corpus.

In 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court, hearing appeals from Hawaiians convicted during the war ruled that the writ of habeas corpus should not have been suspended and that martial law did not allow the military to take over the civilian courts, even in wartime.

Flash forward 59 years. A congressional advisory panel has reported that there is a need for a national strategy to defend against terrorist attacks. Some of the plans would have Americans giving up their civil liberties.

According to a WorldNetDaily article written by Jon Basil Utley, Republican Virginia Gov. James Gilmore warns,

"The potential for terrorist attacks inside U.S. borders is a serious, emerging threat."

Gov. Gilmore

"is chairman of a congressionally mandated panel studying the changing threat to U.S. security and what kind of responses the nation will have to make."

Gov. Gilmore says a "truly national strategy" is needed. He wants to create a "National Office to Combat Terrorism" that would report to the President and be overseen by a joint congressional committee. Gov. Gilmore apparently doesn't realize that this is not 1941 and that WWII ended over 55 years ago. A number of groups are studying the implications that this "office" would have on American society and the way it's organized.

Juliette Kayyem of Harvard University's School of Government wrote a paper called "The Law of Catastrophic Terrorism." Saying "domestic preparedness must include legal preparedness," Kayyem's paper threw out civil liberties. She "complained" that outdated laws going back one or two hundred years (the Constitution) are almost never taken off the books because politicians are afraid to be seen as weak on terrorism.

The 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act brought up to date some old anticommunist laws to apply them to terrorists. It was followed by the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act of 2000. Broadly speaking, catastrophic terrorism (CT) is affected by the rules of war, a possible declaration of martial law by the president, the Bill of Rights and the laws of disasters which normally cover problems created by hurricanes and earthquakes.

Kayyem drew up a list of legal powers which authorities could seek and current laws which, in the opinion of disaster officials, prohibit or curtail necessary government authority, namely the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:

1) Seizure of community and private assets - including food, water, vehicles, as well as possible price controls on necessities.
2) Control of transportation terminals, including airplanes, railroads, trucks and buses."
3) Utilization of the military for civil control.
4) Control of access to communications, including restricting media access to damaged or threatened areas;
5) Legal issues relating to quarantine.
6) Reinterpretation of criminal-law constitutional standards for warrants and searches which should be made broader to allow for widespread surveillance.
7) Warrantless detention of individuals for short periods of time - something that is allowed now only for resident aliens.
8) Investigation of groups before the requirement of "reasonable suspicion" is met.
9) Granting broad state authority over corpses to perform autopsies relating to cause of death.
10) Ordering production of necessary goods; and
11) Ordering citizens to take medicines.

Some list, huh? Ms. Kayyem wants to tear up and throw away the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and turn America into a federal police state.

Soldiers/Marines could walk into your house and take your food and car. They could shut down airports, train stations, and bus stations. Soldiers/Marines could replace the cop on the beat. The Feds could shut down the phone company, and I can't wait for the press to squeal like pigs when they're told that they can't cover a disaster scene.

Panelists did say that it would be hard to control the Internet. Big surprise there, huh?

Stephen Dycus, a professor at Vermont Law School, said that the president could declare martial law, but that it was not clear if martial law would allow press controls or the closing down of offensive Internet sites in the U.S.

Tara O'Toole, deputy director of Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Bio-defense Studies argued against censorship, saying it would be vitally important for the government to have "credibility with the public."

Kayyem is the most anti-freedom of them all. She argues that

"censorship would be necessary to prevent mass hysteria and for efforts to control civilian exodus."

"Censorship would be necessary to prevent mass hysteria and for efforts to control civilian exodus."

Someone needs to tell Juliette that if a small nuke goes off in downtown New York or Los Angeles, or if people start dropping like flies, we will notice it and it will not take long for word to get around, what with news radio, the telephone and the Internet.

One has to wonder what "legal issues" there are to quarantine? Nice way to keep the press out of an area where the citizens have told the Feds to take a hike and are fighting back.

Regarding the autopsy provision, how would you like having your mom, dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, son or daughter being cut up without your having any say over the situation at all even though you saw mom or dad have the heart attack that killed them?

The one that is really amazing is the one about having the Feds ordering you to take your medicine, as if you're not smart enough to do it on your own. Especially after a terrorist attack!

Scott Stucky, general counsel of the Senate Armed Services Committee has said that the Posse Comitatus Act is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Mr. Stucky also said there was "solid legal authority to use the military for CT" (Catastrophic terrorism) even tough the military has "not trained for domestic [police] actions," which they have, Somalia and Bosnia being prime examples. There are not many officers, let alone enlisted men, who are well versed in the Constitutional laws that affect our freedoms, liberties and rights. Mr. Stucky is talking about crowd control and putting down an armed uprising or revolution.

As for the Internet, the panelists said the Feds would find it hard to keep the press quiet.

After knowing what happened in Hawaii during WW II and seeing the list above, would some American military commander fire on the American people? Yes. Somewhere, somehow, someone will get rattled or a situation will spin out of control and a shot will be fired. It will more than likely be the second "shot heard 'round the world."

The city I live in has a population of about 80,000 and it's somewhat conservative. It's a suburb of the second largest city in the country, Los Angeles. We could hypothetically put 8,000 to 10,000 people in the streets. 4,000 to 5,000 would be more realistic. The modern Army division has about 12,000 to 15,000 combat troops. Do the math.

We'll make 'em sorry they came to town.

I have but one answer for Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, Juliette Kayyem, Stephen Dycus, Tara O'Toole and Scott Stucky, That answer is a resounding NO!

I won't give up my God-given rights, terrorists or no terrorists.

Printer Version

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States; With a Preliminary Review of the Constitutional History of the Colonies and States before the Adoption of the Constitution [Boston, 1833].

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