GUEST STARRING…

Starting in January, TheNation.com will host some of the most incisive, cutting-edge political bloggers in a new rotating guest blog,

Passing Through

, featuring frequent posts by experts on economics, the environment, youth culture, the Middle East and more. First up is

Jessica Valenti

, a 29-year-old writer from New York and founder of the nationally celebrated blog

Feministing

. Jessica writes regularly for the Guardian and Salon and is the author of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, released last spring by Seal Press. She is also a co-founder of the

REAL Hot 100

, a campaign that highlights the important work that young women are doing across the country. Look for Jessica’s posts starting January 3 and continuing until the end of the month–at which point she’ll pass the baton to a soon-to-be announced fellow blogger.

KRISTOL BALL:

The war in Iraq may have cost 3,900 US soldiers their lives, destroyed America’s reputation abroad and turned

George W. Bush

into one of the most unpopular Presidents in history, but it has proved curiously beneficial to one group of people: the pundits who promoted it. Nobody has been rewarded more generously than

William Kristol

, editor of

The Weekly Standard

, neocon extraordinaire and, now, weekly columnist for the

New York Times

. Some might imagine that slavishly endorsing the lies of the Bush Adminis­tration might tarnish the credibility of a commentator on foreign affairs. But Kristol, who before this had been a columnist at

Time

magazine (which declined to renew his contract) and who is a regular fixture on the TV pundit circuit, is the latest proof to the contrary. What might have inspired the Times to sign him up? The paper’s owners apparently felt that having one neoconservative op-ed columnist who supported the war,

David Brooks

, was not enough. And they apparently felt in a more forgiving mood than the man they chose to hire.

In 2006 Kristol suggested that the Justice Department should prosecute the Times for reporting on a secret Bush Administration program to monitor international banking. In 2003 he dismissed the paper of record as “irredeemable,” something his own reputation, clearly, is not.   EYAL PRESS

HOOVER’S ROUNDUP:

Twelve days after US troops were sent to fight in a faraway country, the FBI suggested to the President that thousands of people be rounded up and detained as “potentially dangerous” to national security. Almost all of them were citizens, and the FBI also proposed that the President suspend habeas corpus to make the roundup constitutional. The President, however, was not George W. Bush, and the war in question was not the “war on terror”–it was the Korean War.

The plan was outlined in a 1950 letter from FBI Director

J. Edgar Hoover

to an assistant to President

Harry Truman

. As first reported by Tim Weiner of the New York Times, Hoover’s letter was included in the latest volume of the State Department series Foreign Relations of the United States, released December 22. Hoover told Truman that the FBI had spent “a long period of time” creating a list of “approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States.” He called for “permanent detention” of these 12,000 people in order to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” (The names of targets were not included in the recently declassified material.)

What would such a roundup look like? Now we know: Hoover was concerned about making sure his plan would hold up in court. The way to do that, he wrote, was to get the President to issue a proclamation that “recites the existence of the emergency situation and that in order to immediately protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage the Attorney General is instructed to apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous to the internal security.” In order for that to be legal, the President’s proclamation would suspend habeas corpus. Then Congress would pass a “joint resolution” supporting the roundup, and the President would issue an executive order to the FBI to go to work. Hoover’s other concern was where to jail 12,000 people. So many of those on the list lived in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco that prisons there would not have been big enough to hold all of them; for the suspects in those cities, Hoover proposed “detention in Military facilities.”

The 1950 plan has some striking parallels to

George W. Bush

‘s policies today. After 9/11, as Weiner explained, Bush “issued an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges.” In 2006 Congress passed a law formally suspending habeas corpus for anyone named by the President as an “unlawful enemy combatant.” The Supreme Court is reviewing that law this term.

There are significant differences, however, between the 1950 plan and our present “war on terror.” Hoover’s plan required “a statement of charges to be served on each detainee and a hearing to be afforded the individual within a specified period.” And President Truman ignored the FBI proposal; he never went to the Supreme Court to argue that habeas corpus did not apply to people detained as threats to the country.   JON WIENER

FOREIGN LANGUAGES:

How out of touch is the Republican Party with the rest of the world? One of its leading presidential candidates,

Mike Huckabee

, so badly fumbled questions in the aftermath of

Benazir Bhutto

‘s assassination that reporters subjected him to days of pop geography quizzes. Huckabee wrongly asserted that the assassination could impact continued martial law in Pakistan (it had already been lifted); that Afghanistan lies to the east of Pakistan (that would be India) and that there are “more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border” (try the Philippines, Korea, China and Vietnam first). Huckabee also said that unrest in Pakistan is reason to build a fence along the US-Mexico border. Meanwhile, the GOP presidential candidate who has most consistently diagnosed our country’s foreign policy blunders–

Ron Paul

–has been barred from Fox News’s next GOP forum.