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Friday, April 24, 2009

FDR and the Case of the Captured Enemy Combatants

From World Net Daily
Opinion by Ellis Washington.

FDR and the Nazi saboteur case
"I only wish President Bush and now President Obama would have taken the approach FDR took in the Nazi saboteur case, Ex Parte Quirin (1942), where in the midst of World War II eight Nazi terrorists were captured on the coasts of New York and Florida. After a summary trial in July 1942, six were summarily executed one month later after the Supreme Court upheld the jurisdiction of a U.S. military tribunal. FDR, though a liberal socialist, was decisive in quickly and summarily punishing Nazi spies. Hitler did not try that stunt again".
Here, courtesy of The History Channel are the basic facts of the case.
In June 1942, eight German saboteurs were delivered to the east coast of the United States via U-boats, with the intent to attack, destroy and terrorise. But they were apprehended almost immediately, and six of the eight were executed... From their training to the aftermath of their botched mission... [these]trained saboteurs doomed themselves through mistrust, conflicting allegiances, and betrayal.

The first group of four saboteurs left by submarine in May 1942 from the German base at Lorient, France, and on May 28, the next group of four departed the same base. Each was destined to land at points on the Atlantic Coast of the United States familiar to the leader of that group. Four men, led by George John Dasch, age 39, landed on a beach near Long Island, New York on 13 June, 1942. Accompanying Dasch were Ernest Peter Burger, Heinrich Harm Heinck, and Richard Quirin. On 17 June, 1942, the other group landed at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The leader was Edward John Kerling, with Werner Thiel, Herman Otto Neubauer, and Herbert Hans Haupt. Both groups landed wearing complete or partial German uniforms to ensure treatment as prisoners of war rather than as spies if they were caught.

The Trial
The eight were tried before a Military Commission, appointed by President Roosevelt. They were all found guilty and sentenced to death. Appeals were made to President Roosevelt to commute the sentences of Dasch and Burger. As a result, Dasch received a 30-year sentence, while Burger received a life sentence. The remaining six were executed by electric chair on 8 August, 1942. The eight men had been born in Germany and each had lived in the United States for substantial periods. Burger had become a naturalised American in 1933. Haupt had entered the United States as a child, gaining citizenship when his father was naturalised in 1930. Dasch had joined the Germany army at the age of 14 and served about 11 months as a clerk during the conclusion of World War I. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1927, and received an honourable discharge after a little more than a year of service. Quirin and Heinck had returned to Germany prior to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and the six others subsequent to September 11, 1939, and before December 7, 1941, apparently feeling their first loyalty was to the country of their birth. In April, 1948, President Truman granted executive clemency to Dasch and Burger on condition of deportation. They were transported to the American Zone of Germany, where they were freed.
A note from Radarsite: If ours is a nation founded on laws, and if these laws are founded on precedents, I offer the above article to acknowledge an important precedent in American jurisprudence. The very first objection raised by our pacifist/liberal Dems will most likely be that this was in a different time, under different circumstances. Obviously, this took place in a different -- and some would say, more exemplary -- time in our nation's history. But were the circumstances really all that different? Or, as I suspect, is it America that is different? In both cases we were viciously attacked, without warning, on our own soil by a ruthless alien power determined to defeat us. If anything, today's enemy poses an even greater existential threat to our nation.
How then do we explain the startling contrast between our ambivalent reactions to the horrors of 9/11 and the almost immediate display of visceral anger in response to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941; even though it could be argued that, though admittedly dishonorable and treacherous, the Japanese attacks were in fact a military attack against a military target, that actually resulted in less fatalities (2,403 compared to 2,986) than were incurred on 9/11—while virtually all of the 2,749 victims in New York City were innocent civilians. Where, we implore our leftist friends, is that righteous anger? What has happened to that steely resolve which we so courageously sustained throughout those terrible war years? How did we lose our way? And, most importantly, are we capable of regaining that 'steely resolve'? The travesty of the current trial of the captured Somali pirate in a NYC courtroom -- complete with ambitious defense attorneys, the impending release of enemy combatants from Gitmo, the Congressional investigations into allegations of torture of captured jihadis -- and a thousand more miserable examples answers the question, doesn't it?

Like it or not, we are at war, a war that our inexperienced and morally-conflicted new president and his leftist cabinet refuse to name or acknowledge.

But, today's Friday, and it's a beautiful day, and tomorrow's going to be even more beautiful. And I'm alive and breathing in the cool fresh air, and these days that's a major victory.
God bless America - rg