Harold Ickes, one of Roosevelt's top men, despised the racially-discriminatory policy of Executive Order 9066 and, as Secretary of the Interior, was aghast that he would have a role to play in it. He called the Relocation Centers, "fancy-named concentration camps," described them as "both stupid and cruel," and told the president that the camps were "turning thousands of well-meaning and loyal Japanese into angry prisoners." Roosevelt replied that he regretted the military necessity of the relocations. (T.H. Watkins, Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold Ickes, 1874-1952, 1990, pp. 792-793)
In truth, and as I wrote in a previous blog post, the country would have been better off requesting help from Japanese Americans on the west coast. For those who might think this naive, they would do well to remember what did happen when we requested help from Japanese Americans, for example, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This was a volunteer Army unit that earned "9,486 Purple Hearts, 21 Medals of Honor and an unprecedented eight Presidential Unit Citations." The Japanese American Museum in San Jose explains one of their wartime actions: "Perhaps the most famous of the 442nd accomplishments was the heroic rescue of the Texas 'Lost Battalion' which had been caught behind enemy lines. In a ferocious battle, the 442nd suffered over 800 casualties (including 184 killed) to rescue 211 members of the Texas battalion."