Custodial Detention Index

Custodial Detention Index

Custodial Detention Index (CDI) was based on a massive list of US residents compiled by FBI during 1939-1941, in the frame of a program called variously "Custodial Detention" and/or "Alien Enemy Control".

The Custodial Detention Index was a list of suspects and potential subversives classified as "A", "B", and "C"; the ones classified as "A" were destined to be immediately arrested and interned at the outbreak of war. Category A were leaders of Axis-related organizations, category B were members deemed "less dangerous", and category C were sympathizers. The actual assignment of the categories was however based on the perceived individual commitment to the person's native country, rather than the actual potential to cause harm; leaders of cultural organizations could be classified as "A", members of non-political cultural organizations could be rated "B", and "C" could be the individuals who donated to or expressed support for pro-Nazi and pro-Fascist organizations.

The program involved creation of individual dossiers from secretly obtained information, including unsubstantiated data and in some cases even hearsay and unsolicited phone tips, and information acquired without judicial warrants by mail covers and interception of mail, wiretaps, covert searches. While the program targeted primarily Japanese, Italian, and German "enemy aliens", it also included some American citizens. The program was run without Congress-approved legal authority, no judicial oversight, and outside of official legal boundaries of the FBI. A person against which an accusation was made was investigated and eventually placed on the index; it was not removed until the person died. Getting on the list was easy; getting off of it was virtually impossible. [] Dead link|date=July 2008

According to the press releases at the beginning of the war, one of the purposes of the program was to demonstrate the diligence and vigilance of the government by following, arresting, and isolating a previously identified group of people with allegedly documented sympathies for Axis powers and potential for espionage or fifth column activities. []

The list was later used for Japanese American internment.

Attorney General Francis Biddle, when he found out about the Index, labeled it "dangerous, illegal" and ordered its end. However, J. Edgar Hoover simply renamed it to Security Index. [] The Security Index itself was merged together with the Agitator Index and the Communist Index (itself renamed to the Reserve Index in 1960) to the Administrative Index (ADEX) in 1971, and discontinued in 1978, though the records are still kept as inactive at FBI headquarters and 29 field offices. [] []

ee also

* Japanese American internment

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