Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal last week--in the middle of Asian-Pacific American History Month--posted a "Confession of Error" on the DOJ blog relating to mistakes the SG made during the Japanese-American internment cases at the Supreme Court.
In particular, Katyal confessed, the SG failed to alert the Court to the Ringle Report, issued by the Office of Navy Intelligence and finding that the "alien menace is no longer paramount," that "the large majority [of Japanese-born alien residents] are at least passively loyal to the United States," that only about 300 Japanese (both alien and U.S. citizens) might act as saboteurs or agents of the Japanese government, and that the most dangerous of those were already in custody. From the Confession:
But the Solicitor General did not inform the Court of the report, despite warnings from Department of Justice attorneys that failing to alert the Court "might approximate the suppression of evidence." Instead, he argued that it was impossible to segregate loyal Japanese American from disloyal ones. Nor did he inform the Court that a key set of allegations used to justify the internment, that Japanese Americans were using radio transmitters to communicate with enemy submarines off the West Coast, had been discredited by the FBI and FCC. And to make matters worse, he relied on gross generalizations about Japanese Americans, such as that they were disloyal and motivated by "racial solidarity."
For more on Japanese-American internment during WWII, including a trove of original sources, check out the National Archives Library Information Center on Japanese Relocation and Internment.