Nettime — Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps

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Here’s an article from Pacific News Service:
Americans, check out what the departing Bush team is leaving
behind for you. – BH
Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps
News Analysis/Commentary, Peter Dale Scott,
New America Media, Feb 08, 2006
Editor’s Note: A little-known $385 million contract for
Halliburton subsidiary KBR to build detention facilities for
“an emergency influx of immigrants” is another step down the
Bush administration’s road toward martial law, the writer says.
BERKELEY, Calif.–A Halliburton subsidiary has just received
a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland
Security to provide “temporary detention and processing
The contract — announced Jan. 24 by the engineering and
construction firm KBR — calls for preparing for “an
emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid
development of new programs” in the event of other
emergencies, such as “a natural disaster.” The release
offered no details about where Halliburton was to build
these facilities, or when.
To date, some newspapers have worried that open-ended
provisions in the contract could lead to cost overruns, such
as have occurred with KBR in Iraq. A Homeland Security
spokesperson has responded that this is a “contingency
contract” and that conceivably no centers might be built.
But almost no paper so far has discussed the possibility
that detention centers could be used to detain American
citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law.
For those who follow covert government operations abroad and
at home, the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver
North’s controversial Rex-84 “readiness exercise” in 1984.
This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary “refugees,”
in the context of “uncontrolled population movements” over
the Mexican border into the United States. North’s
activities raised civil liberties concerns in both Congress
and the Justice Department. The concerns persist.
“Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after
the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly
dissenters,” says Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst
who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the U.S.
military’s account of its activities in Vietnam. “They’ve
already done this on a smaller scale, with the ‘special
registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim
countries, and with Guantanamo.”
Plans for detention facilities or camps have a long history,
going back to fears in the 1970s of a national uprising by
black militants. As Alonzo Chardy reported in the Miami
Herald on July 5, 1987, an executive order for continuity of
government (COG) had been drafted in 1982 by FEMA head Louis
Giuffrida. The order called for “suspension of the
Constitution” and “declaration of martial law.” The martial
law portions of the plan were outlined in a memo by
Giuffrida’s deputy, John Brinkerhoff.
In 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision
Directive 188, one of a series of directives that authorized
continued planning for COG by a private parallel government.
Two books, James Mann’s “Rise of the Vulcans” and James
Bamford’s “A Pretext for War,” have revealed that in the
1980s this parallel structure, operating outside normal
government channels, included the then-head of G. D. Searle
and Co., Donald Rumsfeld, and then-Congressman from Wyoming
Dick Cheney.
After 9/11, new martial law plans began to surface similar
to those of FEMA in the 1980s. In January 2002 the Pentagon
submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American
streets. One month later John Brinkerhoff, the author of the
1982 FEMA memo, published an article arguing for the
legality of using U.S. troops for purposes of domestic security.
Then in April 2002, Defense Dept. officials implemented a
plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new
U.S. Northern Command (CINC-NORTHCOM) for the continental
United States. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called this
“the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command
system was set up in 1946.”
The NORTHCOM commander, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
announced, is responsible for “homeland defense and also
serves as head of the North American Aerospace Defense
Command (NORAD)…. He will command U.S. forces that operate
within the United States in support of civil authorities.
The command will provide civil support not only in response
to attacks, but for natural disasters.”
John Brinkerhoff later commented on PBS that, “The United
States itself is now for the first time since the War of
1812 a theater of war. That means that we should apply, in
my view, the same kind of command structure in the United
States that we apply in other theaters of war.”
Then in response to Hurricane Katrina in Sept. 2005,
according to the Washington Post, White House senior adviser
Karl Rove told the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux
Blanco, that she should explore legal options to impose
martial law “or as close as we can get.” The White House
tried vigorously, but ultimately failed, to compel Gov.
Blanco to yield control of the state National Guard.
Also in September, NORTHCOM conducted its highly classified
Granite Shadow exercise in Washington. As William Arkin
reported in the Washington Post, “Granite Shadow is yet
another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related
to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of
mass destruction. It allows for emergency military
operations in the United States without civilian supervision
or control.”
It is clear that the Bush administration is thinking
seriously about martial law.
Many critics have alleged that FEMA’s spectacular failure to
respond to Katrina followed from a deliberate White House
policy: of paring back FEMA, and instead strengthening the
military for responses to disasters.