Homeland Security: Vast New Detention Camps


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Homeland Security Contracts for
Vast New Detention Camps
PETER DALE SCOTT / Commentary / Pacific News Service 31jan2006

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 

Also see: FEMA Concentration Camps: Locations and Executive Orders - Friends of 
Liberty (undated) 3sep04

BERKELEY, CA ‹ 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 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

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 

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 

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 disorders.

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." go to: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdscott/index.html


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