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The Necessary Evil of Preventive Detention in the War on Terror: A Plan for a More Mo ...

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The Necessary Evil of Preventive Detention in the War on Terror:

Preface

In 1950, twelve days after the start of the Korean War, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover created a plan “to apprehend and detain persons who are potentially dangerous to the internal security of the country” and detain them at federal prisons or military facilities.1 His plan would have detained approximately 12,000 individuals––97 percent of them American citizens––if the president declared an emergency situation and signed a proclamation that the mass detentions were needed to protect the country from treason, espionage and sabotage. Significantly, President Truman did not approve this plan of “preventive detention” and there is no evidence that any other president approved it subsequently.2

Before the Korean War, America experimented with various regimes of preventive detention to deal with national security threats. Examples include the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the Palmer Raids during World War I, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.