One sees this mentioned now and again in the blogosphere, but in these dark days of FISA-ignoring surveillance and so forth, one can always console oneself with the thought that things aren't as bad as they were during the Palmer Raids of the waning days of Woodrow Wilson's administration. Robert Farley's review of Kenneth Ackerman's Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, contains a good description of what went down. It should be appreciated, moreover, that these elements of the late Wilson administration have considerable continuity with the policies Wilson himself pursued when he was healthier and the country was coping with world war and the great influenza.

On the other hand, even at what was the peak (especially in terms of the breadth of violations) of civil unlibertarinism in America, I don't think you had top government officials arguing that what the country needed was the systematic application of torture.

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