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Blackwater Pirates

Although I did appreciate the information about privateers (“Pirates of the Revolution,” June 2008), I fail to see any connection whatsoever between the American Revolution and our current situation in Iraq. Pirates are pirates. Hired guns are hired guns. For the life of me, anyone who believes in our Constitution cannot possibly view employees of Blackwater Worldwide as anything but “hired guns” who are, in fact, “operating outside the rules of conventional warfare.”

Albert G. McMullin

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Sugar-Coated Monument

Your article on “monumental controversies” (Chatter, June 2008) brought to mind a statue in Koloa, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. The statue memorializes the main ethnic groups that created the sugar industry between 1835 and 1995. The statue originally showed figures from these groups working together, but the figure of the Caucasian has been destroyed. Apparently this was a controversial monument for somebody, but the fact that the disfigurement showed racism against white people makes this a non-issue in today’s society.

Gerry Urban

Woodland, Wash.

The editors reply: The Koloa Sugar Monument was erected in 1985 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Koloa Sugar Mill. According to Jody Kjeldsen, executive director of the Poipu Beach Resort Association in Koloa, funding for the monument ran out before the last figure, a Caucasian, could be sculpted, and the monument was never completed.

Hoover’s Little List

I may have been on J. Edgar Hoover’s list of “individuals potentially dangerous to national security” (Findings, June 2008), even though I was a U.S. Army reservist and a veteran of World War II, unlike Hoover. I know that I was “listed” by the House Un-American Activities Committee. My threat was that I was an uncompromising defender of civil rights and liberties for all.

And, as the grandson of a Union Civil War veteran, I thank you for Stephen Budiansky’s article on the oppression of African Americans by some—but not all—Confederate veterans (“The Terror War to Crush Black Liberty,” April 2008).

John M. Pickering

Albuquerque, N.M.

Richard Gid Powers’ article about Hoover’s plan to arrest 12,000 Americans and suspend habeas corpus seems to belittle the concerns about civil liberties raised by the revelation that such a plan existed. It was not just a contingency plan, as Powers stated. It was an active policy with the arrest list waiting in every FBI field office and the jail cells ready for detainees. All Hoover was waiting for was an excuse—like “a threatened invasion” or “an attack on U.S. troops in an occupied territory.”

The kangaroo courts envisioned by Hoover, and the appeal process for the detainees, shows us the philosophical path taken in setting hearings for the prisoners in Guantanamo. Also, the 1920 Palmer Raids were not about arresting Communists; they were about busting labor unions and crippling the American labor movement. That’s why the left always hated Hoover. The country probably came closer to being a police state under Woodrow Wilson in 1920 than ever before in our history.

Dale Jennings

San Diego, Calif.


A photograph of President Harry Truman and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in the June issue was mislabeled. The photo was taken circa 1950, not in 1942.


Originally published in the August 2008 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here