Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps
Thu Aug 10, 2006 20:56

Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps

Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps

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 capabilities."

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

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.

A multimillion program for detention facilities will
greatly increase NORTHCOM's ability to respond to any domestic

Scott is author of "Drugs, Oil, and War: The United
States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina" (Rowman &
Littlefield, 2003). He is completing a book on "The Road to 9/11." Visit his
Web site .

By Alex Constantine