Herbert Yardley was a codebreaker during World War I and continued his efforts during the postwar era in the State Department’s “Black Chamber”. When intercepted messages to the Japanese delegates to the Washington Naval Conference were decrypted, the Americans knew how far they could be pushed in limiting their tonnage of capita ships. It was the equivalent of seeing your opponent’s hand in a poker game. The Japanese were pushed to the limit but they did cheat a bit.
The Hoover Administration reeked of rectitude and when Yardley informed the new Secretary of State of the wonderful accomplishments of the Black Chamber, the operation was shut down and Yardley had to find a new job. “Gentlemen,” Secretary of State Stimson said, “do not read each others mail.”
There are times when high moral principles define the pathway to defeat.
Fortunately for the Nation, there were other agencies interested in the content of ‘other gentlemen’s mail’ and we did not have to start from scratch in December of 1941.
Times have changed. Some of our most dangerous enemies are not nations but groups that are loyal to only themselves and their leadership.
During World War II, messages to and from enemy headquarters were regularly intercepted and decoded. Hoover’s Secretary of State had become FDR’s Secretary of War and he was not so fastidious about reading messages between strangers.
Are we to have a 1928 attitude about dealing with terrorists who might have life saving information. Liberal hack Gorelick put up her silly wall and it may have cost us dearly. We should use a confession squeezed from such as evidence in a court of law. Getting information is another matter, especially when the person being interrogated is not a soldier wearing the uniform of his nation’s military.
The Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.
We are dealing with subhuman scum rather than Gentlemen, but their apologists do not seem to know the difference.