More facts about WWII Japanese internment | Letters | April 16
April 15, 2010 · Updated 5:07 PM
I have some more facts for Jim Olsen (“Review distorts ‘memorial’ facts,” April 9) concerning the egregious internment of American citizens in concentration camps during World War II.
First of all, “Magic” was an effort to intercept and translate coded communications between the Japanese Foreign Office and its diplomatic agents in the U.S. The intercepts yielded no evidence whatsoever that American citizens of any ethnic extraction were providing information about this country and its defenses to foreign powers.
What they do show, however, is that the Japanese Foreign Office sought disgruntled Americans of any ethnicity who might be relied upon for spying purposes should war break out.
Ironically, the Japanese Foreign Office preferred NOT using Americans of Japanese ancestry for data-gathering efforts because it believed such Americans would be immediately suspect.
No such “spy ring” was ever found to be operational in the U.S. The Magic transcriptions are unclassified and available on the Internet and in government archives.
Second, Executive Order 9066, is a black stain on this country’s history that time should never be allowed to remove. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was unalterably opposed to it and strongly counseled her husband not to sign it.
But war hysteria, decades of festering racial bigotry, and poor government leadership in both Congress and the White House combined into the perfect storm, making E.O. 9066 possible.
In 1980, the U.S. Congress created the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. In 1982, the commission issued “Personal Justice Denied,” finding that E.O. 9066 had been a terrible error and that the U.S. owed apologies and financial compensation to its victims as partial payment for their unwarranted suffering. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush concurred with the commission’s recommendations and carried them out.
The lesson to be learned from E.O. 9066 is priceless. Let’s hope that the Bainbridge Island Memorial becomes a living, teaching instrument to prevent us from ever again scrapping constitutional rights of a segment of Americans. Nothing justified putting innocent American citizens in concentration camps. Nothing excuses it.
The people who participated in the process at all levels, from government officials who carried it out to the neighbors who watched it happen silently, should be ashamed. It must never happen again. Never!