SF Chron: US Detention Centers real


Richard Moore


Rule by fear or rule by law?
Lewis Seiler,Dan Hamburg
Monday, February 4, 2008

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any 
charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers,
is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian 
government whether Nazi or Communist."
- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal 
government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide 
swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without 
legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of 
immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid 
contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build 
detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The 
government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of 
railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport 

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a
Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of 
"all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about 
these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to 
taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new 
programs" require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in 
nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of 

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the 
Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to 
invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is 
now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease
outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President 
determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state 
officials cannot maintain public order."

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 
2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who 
donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations,
or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret 
trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential 
Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of 
what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president
determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to 
do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could 
include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to 
launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on 

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way 
to expand the domestic "war on terror." Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the 
lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to "examine and report upon 
the facts and causes" of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, 
then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues 
from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of 
terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat 

A clue as to where Harman's commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise 
Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who "engage in sit-ins, civil 
disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights" as 
terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, 
anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace 
demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters ... the list goes on and on. 
According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the 
names of roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by 20,000 
per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency 
plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power under any 
circumstances. The people must not allow the president to use the war on 
terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.

Lewis Seiler is the president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a 
former congressman, is executive director.

This article appeared on page B - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

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