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On February 4, Colonel Bendetsen addressed a lengthy memorandum to General Gullion, concluding that an enemy alien evacuation "would accomplish little as a measure of safety," since the alien Japanese were mostly elderly people who could do little harm to the American defense effort. Furthermore, their removal would inevitably antagonize large numbers of their relatives among the American-born Japanese. After considering the various alternatives that had been suggested for dealing with citizens, Colonel Bendetsen recommended the designation of military areas from which all persons who did not have permission to enter and remain would be excluded as a measure of military necessity. He rejected mass evacuation as unjustified by military necessity, but he insisted that "by far the vast majority of those who have studied the Asian assert that a substantial majority of Nisei bear allegiance to Japan; are well controlled and disciplined by the enemy, and at the proper time will engage in organized sabotage, particularly, should a raid along the Pacific Coast be attempted by the Japanese." He believed that this plan was clearly legal and recommended that it be executed via three steps: (1) issuance of an Executive Order by the President authorizing the Secretary of War to designate military areas; (2) designation of military areas upon the recommendation of General DeWitt; and (3) immediate evacuation from areas so designated of all persons to whom it was not proposed to issue licenses to re-enter or remain. Bendetsen assumed that, if military areas were established on the west coast in place of all Category A areas thus far recommended by General DeWitt, about 30,000 people would have to be evacuated. At the same time, Bendetsen's division drafted a proposal for applying the military areas scheme to the entire nation. [35]

Colonel Archer L. Lerch, the deputy provost marshal general, endorsed Bendetsen's proposals, commenting on the "deciding weakening of General DeWitt" on the issue of Japanese evacuation, which he considered "most unfortunate. He thought the plan for resettlement within California being worked out between DeWitt and state authorities savored "too much of the spirit of Rotary" and overlooked "the necessary cold-bloodedness of war." General Gullion presented a condensed version of Bendetsen's observations and recommendation to McCloy on February 5, noting that DeWitt had changed his position and appeared to favor a more lenient treatment of the American-born Japanese to be developed in cooperation with their leaders — a position he considered "extremely dangerous." A revision of his memorandum, with all reference to DeWitt deleted, became the provost marshal general's recommendation of February 6 to McCloy that immediate steps be taken to eliminate the great danger of Japanese-inspired sabotage on the west coast. Gullion advised that these steps should include the internment by the Army of all alien Japanese east of the Sierra Nevada, together with as many citizen members of their families as would voluntarily accompany them, and the exclusion of all citizen Japanese from restricted zones and their resettlement with the assistance of various federal agencies. [36]

On February 7, Colonel Bendetsen read General Gullion's memorandum to DeWitt, who expressed some enthusiasm for its recommendations but did not wish to endorse them without further study. That same day McCloy decided to send Bendetsen to the west coast "to confer with General DeWitt in connection with mass evacuation of all Japanese," a mission that would result in new and detailed recommendations from the west coast commander. [37]

In the meantime, the War and Justice departments were approaching an impasse over the area evacuations contemplated under the enemy alien control program. After agreeing informally to accept DeWitt's initial California recommendations, Justice officials balked at accepting the large Category A areas he recommended for Washington and Oregon, since they included the entire cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. The execution of this recommendation would have required the evacuation of about 10,700 additional enemy aliens and, as in the case of California, only about 40 percent of these would have been Japanese. By February 4, representatives of the Department of Justice, believing that they would have difficulty in supplying either the manpower or the internment facilities that large-scale compulsory evacuation would require, began to intimate that if there were any further Category A recommendations or if the evacuation of any citizens were to be involved, Justice would bow out and turn its evacuation responsibilities over to the War Department. [38]

At the same time, DeWitt was considering placing the entire Los Angeles area in Category A, because his air commander recommended Category A zones around 220 different installations that, when plotted on a map, virtually blanketed the metropolitan area. For similar reasons, DeWitt believed he might have to put all of San Diego in Category A. On February 7, he recommended the blanket Category A coverage of these two cities, and five days later he recommended that almost all of the San Francisco Bay area be placed in Category A. If all of General DeWitt's recommendations for Category A areas through February 12 were accepted, it would make necessary the evacuation of nearly 89,000 enemy aliens from areas along the Pacific coast — only 25,000 of whom would be Japanese. Although the concentration of the Japanese population near strategic points seemed to be sinister in itself in 1942 and was used by the War Department as one of principal reasons that made evacuation necessary, it is interesting to note that there was a greater proportionate concentration of German and Italian aliens near strategic points than there was of Japanese. General DeWitt's Category A recommendations would have affected nine-tenths of the west coast German alien population and nearly three-fourths of the Italian aliens, but less than two-thirds of the Japanese aliens. Thus, it appeared that DeWitt was counting upon the California state authorities to persuade the citizen Japanese to evacuate California's urban areas and other sensitive points along the coast. [39]

On February 9, Attorney General Biddle formally agreed to announce the Category A areas initially recommended for Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington as prohibited to enemy aliens by February 15 or 24, with the latter date applicable to those areas that had a considerable alien population. Biddle, however, questioned the necessity of forcibly excluding German and Italian aliens from those areas and wondered why entire cities had been included in Washington and Oregon and none in California. If all of Los Angeles County was going to be recommended as a Category A area, he stated that the Department of Justice would have to step out of the picture, because it did not have the physical means to carry out a mass evacuation of this magnitude. He concluded that the Justice Department was not authorized under any circumstances to evacuate American citizens. If the Army wanted that done in particular areas for reasons of military necessity, the Army itself would have to do it. [40]

As a result of the Attorney General Biddle's position, the War Department drafted a memorandum summarizing the "questions to be determined re Japanese exclusion" for presentation to President Roosevelt. After a conference with McCloy and General Clark about the alternative courses proposed, Stimson attempted to see Roosevelt. Although too busy for a personal interview, Roosevelt and Stimson spoke on the telephone. After Stimson described the situation to the president, he found that Roosevelt "was very vigorous about it." The president told Stimson "to go ahead on the line that I had myself thought the best." According to his diary, Stimson thought the best course of action at the time was to begin as quickly as possible with the evacuation of both citizen and alien Japanese from the vicinity of "the most vital places of army and navy production." [41]

In reporting Stimson's conversation with the president to San Francisco, McCloy told Colonel Bendetsen that "we have carte blanche to do what we want to as far as the President's concerned" and that Roosevelt had specifically authorized the evacuation of citizens. McCloy said that the president had recognized that there probably would be some repercussions to the evacuation of citizens, but that what was to be done had to be dictated by the military necessity of the situation, subject only to the qualification, "Be as reasonable as you can." McCloy also told Bendetsen that he thought the president was prepared to sign an executive order giving the War Department the authority to carry out any action it decided upon. [42]

The president's decisions as reported by McCloy provided impetus to the preparation of new written recommendations by General DeWitt with the assistance of Bendetsen. These final recommendations, entitled "Evacuation of Japanese and Other Subversive Persons from the Pacific Coast," were embodied in a formal memorandum for the Secretary of War dated February 13 that was sent to General Headquarters. Having estimated that the west coast was open to air and naval attacks as well as sabotage, but without suggesting that a Japanese raid or invasion would land troops on the west coast, the general set out his military justification for requesting the power to exclude all ethnic Japanese. General DeWitt's final recommendations differed from those he had already submitted under the enemy alien control program in only one important particular: he recommended the enforced evacuation by federal authority of the American-born Japanese (Nisei) from the Category A areas already recommended by him in previous letters to the Secretary of War. In the memorandum, DeWitt, undoubtedly influenced by the growing pressures of racial hysteria that were sweeping the Pacific states, stated in unequivocal terms the racist overtones that had come to shape military policy toward evacuation:

The area lying to the west of Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains in Washington, Oregon and California, is highly critical not only because the lines of communication and supply to the Pacific theater pass through it, but also because of the vital industrial production therein, particularly aircraft.

In the war in which we are now engaged racial affinities are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become "Americanized," the racial strains are undiluted. To conclude otherwise is to expect that children born of white parents on Japanese soil sever all racial affinity and become loyal Japanese subjects, ready to fight and, if necessary, to die for Japan in a war against the nation of their parents. That Japan is allied with Germany and Italy in this struggle is no ground for assuming that any Japanese, barred from assimilation by convention as he is, though born and raised in the United States, will not turn against this nation when the final test of loyalty comes. It, therefore, follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these are organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken. [43]

After DeWitt's memorandum was reviewed at a staff conference at General Headquarters on February 19, it was decided not to concur in his recommendations, but instead to recommend to General Mark Clark that only enemy alien leaders be arrested and interned. After conferring with Clark, General Headquarters on February 20 sent DeWitt's memorandum to the War Department through normal channels, with an endorsement that they were being "transmitted in view of the proposed action already decided upon by the War Department." The memorandum reached the provost marshal general's office "for remark and recommendation on February 24, the day after DeWitt received new instructions from the War Department that differed in many particulars from the recommendations he had submitted. [44]

In the meantime, on February 12 and 13, additional political pressures were brought to bear which favored mass evacuation. On February 12, Walter Lippman, perhaps the most influential columnist in the nation, published, from San Francisco, an article entitled "The Fifth Column on the Coast." Its major argument was for some kind of mass removal of Japanese, although the columnist laid out no blueprint:

. . . the Pacific Coast is in imminent danger of a combined attack from within and without. . . . It is a fact that the Japanese navy has been reconnoitering the coast more or less continuously. . . . There is an assumption [in Washington] that a citizen may not be interfered with unless he has committed an overt act. . . . The Pacific Coast is officially a combat zone. Some part of it may at any moment be a battlefield. And nobody ought to be on a battlefield who has no good reason for being there. There is plenty of room elsewhere for him to exercise his rights. [45]

On February 13, the Pacific coast congressional subcommittee on aliens and sabotage contributed to the growing pressures for mass evacuation by adopting recommendations that were forwarded to President Roosevelt with a covering letter signed by Congressman Lea on behalf of the entire west coast congressional delegation. The recommendations read:

We recommend the immediate evacuation of all persons of Japanese lineage and all others, aliens and citizens alike, whose presence shall be deemed dangerous or inimical to the defense of the United States from all strategic areas.

In defining said strategic areas we recommend that such areas include all military installations, war industries, water and power installations, oil fields, and refineries, transportation and other essential facilities as well as adequate protective areas adjacent thereto.

We further recommend that such areas be enlarged as expeditiously as possible until they shall encompass the entire strategic areas of the states of California, Oregon and Washington, and Territory of Alaska.

We make these recommendations in order that no citizen, located in a strategic area, may cloak his disloyalty or subversive activity under the mantle of his citizenship alone and further to guarantee protection to all loyal persons, alien and citizen alike, whose safety may be endangered by some wanton act of sabotage. [46]

On February 16, the president sent the letter and recommendations to Stimson with a memorandum that read: "Will you please be good enough to reply to Congressman Lea in regard to the enclosed letter.

The provost marshal general's office initiated a telegraphic survey among the corps areas commanders with a message on February 17. The communication read:

Probable that orders for very large evacuation of enemy aliens of all nationalities predominantly Japanese from Pacific Coast will issue within 48 hours. Internment facilities will be taxed to utmost. Report at once maximum you can care for, including housing, feeding, medical care, and supply. Your breakdown should include number of men, women, and children. Very important to keep this a closely guarded secret.

A follow-up letter explained that 100,000 enemy aliens would be involved, 60,000 of whom would be women and children, and that all were to be interned east of the Western Defense Command, "50 percent in the Eighth Corps Area, 30 percent in the Seventh, and 10 percent each in the Fourth and Sixth." [47]

Thus, by February 17, the rationale for removing the Pacific coast Japanese to areas east of the Western Defense Command rested on three principal reasons. First, since mid December, DeWitt had insisted that internment of enemy aliens ought to be outside his theater of operations. Second, some of the governments of the intermountain states had already indicated that they would not countenance any free settlement of the west coast Japanese within their borders. Third, an Army survey of existing facilities for internment in the five interior states of the Ninth Corps Area disclosed that they could not accommodate more than 2,500 people. [48]

The War Department's plan for mass evacuation took definite shape in a conference on February 17 attended by Secretary Stimson, McCloy, General Gullion, General Clark, and Colonel Bendetsen. Despite Clark's protest that any mass evacuation would involve the use of too many troops, Stimson decided that DeWitt should be instructed to commence an evacuation immediately and to the extent he deemed necessary for the protection of vital military and strategic installations. Following the meeting, it was determined that DeWitt should be allotted additional troops for evacuation purposes. [49]

That evening McCloy, General Gullion, and Bendetsen met with Justice representatives at the home of Attorney General Biddle. During the meeting, Gullion presented a draft of a proposed presidential executive order that would authorize the Secretary of War to remove both citizens and aliens from areas that he might designate. Biddle, who had opposed mass evacuation to this point, accepted the draft without argument, because President Roosevelt had indicated to him that this was a matter for military decision. After several more meetings between Justice and Army officials during the next two days, the executive order was presented to the president and signed by him late on February 19. [50] Executive Order 9066 was a sweeping, and unprecedented, delegation of presidential power to an appointed subordinate. Although its authority was used only against Japanese Americans, it was an instrument that could have affected any American. Based on a war powers act passed by Congress in 1918, the order empowered the Secretary of War and military commanders designated by him, whenever it was deemed necessary or desirable, "to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion The executive order Went on to authorize the Secretary of War "to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as my be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order." The designation of military areas in any region or locality were to "supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941," and were to "supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas." All executive departments of the government were directed to assist the military in carrying out any subsequent evacuation. There was no direct mention of American citizens of Japanese descent, but unquestionably the order was directed at those Americans. Several months later, when there was talk of the War Department using the executive order to move Germans and Italians on the east coast, President Roosevelt wrote Stimson that he considered enemy alien control to be "primarily a civilian matter except of course in the case of the Japanese mass evacuation on the Pacific Coast." [51]

On February 20, the day after Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, Attorney General Biddle sent to the President's personal attention a memorandum underscoring the government's new-found unity on this decision. The memorandum represented Biddle's capitulation to the military authorities regarding the need for mass evacuation of the Japanese and justified the executive order and its broad grant of powers to the military:

This authority gives very broad powers to the Secretary of War and the Military Commanders. These powers are broad enough to permit them to exclude any particular individual from military areas. They could also evacuate groups of persons based on a reasonable classification. The order is not limited to aliens but includes citizens so that it can be exercised with respect to Japanese, irrespective of their citizenship.

The decision of safety of the nation in time of war is necessarily for the military authorities. Authority over the movement of persons, whether citizens or noncitizens, may be exercised in time of war This authority is no more than declaratory of the power of the President, in time of war, with reference to all areas, sea or land.

The President is authorized in acting under his general war powers without further legislation. The exercise of the power can meet the specific situation and, of course, cannot be considered as any punitive measure against any particular nationalities. It is rather a precautionary measure to protect the national safety. It is not based on any legal theory but on the facts that the unrestricted movement of certain racial classes, whether American citizens or aliens, in specified defense areas may lead to serious disturbances. These disturbances cannot be controlled by police protection and have the threat of injury to our war effort. A condition and not a theory confronts the nation.

After the executive order was signed, there was no further disagreement at the highest levels of the federal government. The War Department stood behind its interpretation of the facts, and the Justice Department stood behind the laws which were the foundation of the executive order. [52]

On February 21, the day after Biddle sent the aforementioned memorandum to Roosevelt, the secretary of war, in accordance with the president's request, answered the congressional letter of February 13 by assuring the west coast delegation that plans were being developed for the evacuation of the Japanese from the Pacific coast. In consultation with the Department of Justice, War Department officials also prepared a draft of legislation that would put teeth into enforcement of the new evacuation program, but did not submit it to Congress until March 9. This draft bill became Public Law 503 after brief debate, passing by a voice vote in both houses on March 19 and signed into law by President Roosevelt on March 21. Three days later, the Western Defense Command issued its first compulsory exclusion order. [53]

Between February 18 and 20, McCloy, Gullion, and Bendetsen drafted instructions for General DeWitt to guide his actions in carrying out the provisions of Executive Order 9066. The plan for evacuation embodied in the War Department's directives of February 20 differed materially from the plan recommended by General DeWitt in his memorandum of February 13. The central objective of the DeWitt plan was to move all enemy aliens and American-born Japanese out of all Category A areas in California, Oregon, and Washington that the general had recommended through February 12. Although General DeWitt had repeatedly described the Japanese as the most dangerous element of the west coast population, he also made it clear as late as February 17 that he was "opposed to any preferential treatment to any alien irrespective of race," and that he wanted German and Italian aliens as Well as all Japanese evacuated from Category A areas. His plan assumed that all enemy aliens would be interned under guard outside the Western Defense Command, at least until arrangements could be made for their resettlement. Citizen evacuees would either accept internment voluntarily or relocate themselves with such assistance as state and federal agencies might offer. Although this group would be permitted to resettle in Category B areas within the coastal zone, General DeWitt clearly preferred that they move inland. [54]

On the other hand, the central objective of the War Department plan was to move all Japanese out of the California Category A areas first, and they were not to be permitted to resettle within Category B areas or within a larger Military Area No. 1 to be established along the coast. [55] There was to be no evacuation of Italians without the express permission of the secretary of war except on an individual basis. Although the War Department plan ostensibly provided that German aliens were to be treated in the same manner as the Japanese, it qualified this intention by providing for the exemption of bona fide German refugees. This qualification automatically stayed the evacuation of German aliens until General DeWitt could determine who among them were genuine refugees. The War Department plan contemplated voluntary relocation by all types of evacuees to the maximum extent possible, with internment as necessary outside the Western Defense Command. Another major difference between the two plans was related to DeWitt's recommendation of a licensing system for Category A areas. Neither Executive Order 9066 nor the War Department's directives of February 20 required or embodied a licensing plan nor did they specify when mass evacuation would begin, where evacuees would be confined, or who would be in charge of them. [56]

The two plans exhibited other differences. General DeWitt had recommended that before any evacuation all preparations should be complete, including "selection and establishment of internment facilities in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Corps Areas." At this time, the War Department was planning to put all internees east of the Ninth Corps Area, but its directives did not contemplate any postponement of evacuation until internment facilities were ready. General DeWitt also recommended the initial and separate internment of all enemy alien males over 14 years of age, until family units could be established in internment camps, while the War Department plan had no such provision. DeWitt's memorandum estimated that 133,000 people would be evacuated either voluntarily or by compulsion. A breakdown of this figure (based on his previous Category A recommendations) disclosed that his plan would involve about 69,000 Japanese (25,000 aliens and 44,000 American citizens), about 44,000 Italians, and about 20,000 Germans. The War Department planners apparently made no estimate of the numbers that their directives would involve, but eventually they did affect more than 110,000 Japanese residents — citizens and aliens — of the west coast states. [57]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002