Monday, October 10, 2016

Chapter Review: The Sabateurs: In a Time of War, the Laws Are SIlent

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

German trained saboteurs to invade the American coast and cause damage to American infrastructure during WWII.  These were generally men who had lived in America and knew the customs and language.  Some did not know what they were getting into.  George Dasch was one of them.  They really were not good learners, nor good spies.  That didn't seem to matter to the Nazis.  They were given specific targets, bridges, railways and factories.  They were headed to America, dropped off by submarine; two groups, four men to New York, Long Island, the other four to Florida.  A National Guard man came upon them as the landed.  They presented as fisherman, without fishing tackle.  The story didn't add up, when they threatened him, he let them go.  They had been given ample money to stay in rich hotels.  George did not intend to carry out sabotage, nor did Peter Berger.
George called the FBI and asked to speak to Herbert Hoover.  His call was handled as a crank call.  He traveled to Washington D.C. where he called the FBI and was put in contact with Duane Traynor to expose the entire operation.  He was sure he would be a hero.  He could take the money and live well.  However, after taking days to explain his case, George was arrested and imprisoned as a spy.  J. Edgar Hoover took credit for breaking the spy ring. The other men were all gathered.  George faced a military tribunal.  However his lawyer was able to appeal his case, George was an American, and entitled to a fair trial.  His case made its way all the way to the supreme court.  The military argued that in time of was, such laws could be suspended with regards to enemy combatants.  The Supreme Court sided with the government, and the military trials preceded.  Six of the eight spies were executed.  George was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Peter to life in prison.
However, even though the Supreme Court had announced its ruling, writing a opinion was harder.  It was not based on sound legal precedent.  Four of the justices were now doubting their ruling.  However six men had been executed.  The opinion, written by Chief Justice Harlan Stone was not written well, but they all signed it.  President Truman granted executive immunity to the two men, and they were shipped back to Germany in 1948.
This case was later used as precedent during the Afghanistan conflict for holding American Citizens as enemy combatants.
George John Dasch

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