In chapter 9 of Miracles and Massacres, Glenn Beck’s latest book, we learn the story of Iva Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose, an American citizen whose life was ruined during World War II after she was prosecuted as a traitor in a political decision made by the U.S. government. One aspect of the story that was left out of the book was how Toguri’s pardoning in 1977 – the last act of President Gerald Ford’s administration, almost three decades after initially being charged as a traitor – came to pass.
In a Blaze Books exclusive, we spoke with Ronald Yates, a former Chicago Tribune journalist, who was responsible for publishing the exposés in 1976 that ultimately helped Iva Toguri gain her pardon, and one of only a handful of people who became a close personal acquaintance with Toguri in her later years. This is our final story in a series based on our interview with him. If you missed it, be sure to check out parts I, II and III.
The last part of our interview with Ronald Yates focused on the takeaways from Iva Toguri’s story. Given that these terrible events transpired decades ago, I asked Yates in his view what the lessons of the story were, and why they should be relevant to Americans today. His answer is reproduced in full below:
“One of the major lessons I always felt is, governments are very powerful entities and when they come after an individual like they did her, I don’t think there’s very much that an individual can do to withstand that kind of force. I think what it says is that not everything a government does is always correct. Not everything that government does is always in the best interests of its people. And of course that’s why we have the Constitution that we have, so you have this redress.
I never understood exactly why, and I think there had been an appeal process in the works, but it never got very far, because I think they were terrified that she would lose the appeal and they would deport her even though she was an American citizen. How can you deport an American citizen?
But you know once again, the government is a very powerful entity. And you know, when it decides to come after you, it’s going to come after you. Now not always, you might survive it once in awhile, but in this particular case, she didn’t have a whole lot going for her. She didn’t have any money. She was almost destitute. The man that worked with her, Wayne Mortimer Collins, did it really pro bono to help her, to defend her, and it didn’t work because she was convicted anyway.
So I think it’s a frightening thing to think that a government could be so vicious, and that a prosecutor like [Tom] DeWolfe could be so callous as to know that she was not guilty but to pursue her anyway and to get her convicted any way he possibly could because it was the political thing to do. That is a frightening thing and I think people need to understand that you can’t roll over, you have to fight it, you have to fight against these kinds of things, and Iva did her best, but it wasn’t enough. And the people around her did their best but it wasn’t enough.
And I think it tells you something about the machinations and the motivations of a government when it’s actually motivated only by politics. And that was the case in this case because it was an election year in 1948 and Truman wanted to make sure that people were not seeing him as being soft on traitors, etc., and so they went after her. Politics, whenever you have politics involved in a criminal case, anything can happen.