It’s pretty convenient for rounding up citizens the state considers dangerous, James Bovard observes:
In the 1940 Census, the Census Bureau loudly assured people that their responses would be kept confidential. Within four days of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Census Bureau had produced a report listing the Japanese-American population in each county on the West Coast. The Census Bureau launched this project even before Congress declared war on Japan. The Census Bureau’s report helped the US Army round up more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans for concentration camps (later renamed “internment centers”).
Until a decade ago, the bureau denied any improper role in the internment. Two researchers in 2000 provided so many smoking gun documents that the bureau finally admitted some culpability. But it proudly declared that it had never provided the names and addresses of specific Japanese-Americans to law enforcement or the military.
In 2007, a study by those researchers, William Seltzer of Fordham University and Margo Anderson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, proved that the Census Bureau gave the Secret Service the names and addresses of all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Washington, D.C., area during World War II. The bureau responded by insisting that this was ancient history. While the disclosure may have been dated, the bureau’s deceit lasted for more than 60 years and undermines its credibility. And we do not know how many other census confidentiality violations have yet to surface.
In 2003-04, the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security with a massive cache of information on how many Arab Americans lived in each ZIP Code around the nation, and which country they originated from. Such information could have made it far easier to carry out the type of mass roundup that some conservatives advocated. But the Census Bureau denied it had done anything wrong in providing such information.