Preparing For Civil Unrest In America
Legislation To Establish Internment Camps On US Military Bases
by Michel Chossudovsky
The Economic and Social Crisis
The financial meltdown has unleashed a latent and emergent social crisis across the United States. What is at stake is the fraudulent confiscation of lifelong savings and pension funds, the appropriation of tax revenues to finance the trillion dollar "bank bailouts", which ultimately serve to line the pockets of the richest people in America.
This economic crisis is in large part the result of financial manipulation and outright fraud to the detriment of entire populations, leading to a renewed wave of corporate bankruptcies, mass unemployment and poverty. The criminalization of the global financial system, characterized by a "Shadow Banking" network has resulted in the centralization of bank power and an unprecedented concentration of private wealth.
Obama's "economic stimulus" package and budget proposals contribute to a further process of concentration and centralization of bank power, the cumulative effects of which will eventually result in large scale corporate, bankruptcies, a new wave of foreclosures not to mention fiscal collapse and the downfall of State social programs.
The cumulative decline of real economic activity backlashes on employment and wages, which in turn leads to a collapse in purchaisng power. The proposed "solution" under the Obama administration contributes to exacerbating rather than alleviating social inequalities and the process of wealth concentration.
The Protest Movement
When people across America, whose lives have been shattered and destroyed, come to realize the true face of the global "free market" system, the legitimacy of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the US administration will be challenged. A latent protest movement directed against the seat of economic and political power is unfolding.
How this process will occur is hard to predict. All sectors of American society are potentially affected: wage earners, small, medium and even large businesses, farmers, professionals, federal, State and municipal employees, students, teachers, health workers, and unemployed. Protests will initially emerge from these various sectors. There is, however, at this stage, no organized national resistance movement directed against the administration's economic and financial agenda.
Obama's populist rhetoric conceals the true nature of macro-economic policy. Acting on behalf of Wall Street, the administration's economic package, which includes close to a trillion dollar "aid" package for the financial services industry, coupled with massive austerity measures, contributes to precipitating America into a bottomless crisis.
"Orwellian Solution" to the Great Depression: Curbing Civil Unrest
At this particular juncture, there is no economic recovery program in sight. The Washington-Wall Street consensus prevails. There are no policies, no alternatives formulated from within the political and economic system. What is the way out? How will the US government face an impending social catastrophe?
The solution is to curb social unrest. The chosen avenue, inherited from the outgoing Bush administration is the reinforcement of the Homeland Security apparatus and the militarization of civilian State institutions. The outgoing administration has laid the groundwork. Various pieces of "anti-terrorist" legislation (including the Patriot Acts) and presidential directives have been put in place since 2001, largely using the pretext of the "Global War on Terrorism."
Homeland Security's Internment Camps
Directly related to the issue of curbing social unrest, cohesive system of detention camps is also envisaged, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.
A bill entitled the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act (HR 645) was introduced in the US Congress in January. It calls for the establishment of six national emergency centers in major regions in the US to be located on existing military installations.
The stated purpose of the "national emergency centers" is to provide "temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster." In actuality, what we are dealing with are FEMA internment camps. HR 645 states that the camps can be used to "meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security."
There has been virtually no press coverage of HR 645. These "civilian facilities" on US military bases are to be established in cooperation with the US Military. Modeled on Guantanamo, what we are dealing with is the militarization of FEMA internment facilities.
Once a person is arrested and interned in a FEMA camp located on a military base, that person would in all likelihood, under a national emergency, fall under the de facto jurisdiction of the Military: civilian justice and law enforcement including habeas corpus would no longer apply.
HR 645 bears a direct relationship to the economic crisis and the likelihood of mass protests across America. It constitutes a further move to militarize civilian law enforcement, repealing the Posse Comitatus Act.
In the words of Rep. Ron Paul:
"...the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough... Even though we know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt-based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next."
The proposed internment camps should be seen in relation to the broader process of militarization of civilian institutions. The construction of internment camps predates the introduction of HR 645 (Establishment of Emergency Centers) in January 2009. There are, according to various (unconfirmed) reports, some 800 FEMA prison camps in different regions of the U.S. Moreover, since the 1980s, the US military has developed "tactics, techniques and procedures" to suppress civilian dissent, to be used in the eventuality of mass protests (United States Army Field Manual 19-15 under Operation Garden Plot, entitled "Civil Disturbances" was issued in 1985)
In early 2006, tax revenues were allocated to building modern internment camp facilities. In January 2006, Kellogg Brown and Roots, which at the time was a subsidiary of Halliburton, received a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): "The contract, which is effective immediately [January 2006], provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs...
The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. (KBR, 24 January 2006, emphasis added)
The stated objectives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are to: "protect national security and uphold public safety by targeting criminal networks and terrorist organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities in our immigration system, in our financial networks, along our border, at federal facilities and elsewhere in order to do harm to the United States. The end result is a safer, more secure America"
The US media is mum on the issue of the internment camps on US soil. While casually acknowledging the multimillion dollar contract granted to Halliburton's subsidiary, the news reports largely focused their attention on possible "cost overruns" (similar to those which occurred with KBR in Iraq).
What is the political intent and purpose of these camps? The potential use of these internment facilities to detain American citizens under a martial law situation are not an object of media debate or discussion.
Combat Units Assigned to the Homeland
In the last months of the Bush administration, prior to the November 2008 presidential elections, the Department of Defense ordered the recall of the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team from Iraq. The relocation of a combat unit from the war theater to domestic front is an integral part of the Homeland Security agenda. The BCT was assigned to assist in law enforcement activities within the US.
The BCT combat unit was attached to US Army North, the Army's component of US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). The 1st BCT and other combat units would be called upon to perform specific military functions in the case of civil unrest: The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
Under the proposed withdrawal of US forces from Iraq under the Obama administration, one expects that other combat units will be brought home from the war theater and reassigned in the United States. The evolving national security scenario is characterized by a mesh of civilian and military institutions:
-Army combat units working with civilian law enforcement, with the stated mission to curb "social unrest".
- the establishment of new internment camps under civilian jurisdiction located on US military facilities.
The FEMA internment camps are part of the Continuity of Government (COG), which would be put in place in the case of martial law. The internment camps are intended to "protect the government" against its citizens, by locking up protesters as well as political activists who might challenge the legitimacy of the Administration's national security, economic or military agenda.
Spying on Americans: The Big Brother Data Bank
Related to the issue of internment and mass protests, how will data on American citizens be collected? How will individuals across America be categorized? What are the criteria of the Department of Homeland Security?
In a 2004 report of the Homeland Security Council entitled Planning Scenarios, pertaining to the defense of the Homeland, the following categories of potential "conspirators" were identified:
"foreign [Islamic] terrorists" ,
"domestic radical groups", [antiwar and civil rights groups]
"state sponsored adversaries" ["rogue states", "unstable nations"]
"disgruntled employees" [labor and union activists].
In June of last year, the Bush administration issued a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD 59- HSPD 24) entitled Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security. Adopted without public debate or Congressional approval, its relevant procedures are far-reaching. They are related to the issue of civil unrest. They are also part of the logic behind the establishment of FEMA internment camps under HR 645. .
NSPD 59 (Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security) goes far beyond the narrow issue of biometric identification, it recommends the collection and storage of "associated biographic" information, meaning information on the private lives of US citizens, in minute detail, all of which will be "accomplished within the law":
"The contextual data that accompanies biometric data includes information on date and place of birth, citizenship, current address and address history, current employment and employment history, current phone numbers and phone number history, use of government services and tax filings. Other contextual data may include bank account and credit card histories, plus criminal database records on a local, state and federal level. The database also could include legal judgments or other public records documenting involvement in legal disputes, child custody records and marriage or divorce records."
The directive uses 9/11 and the "Global War on Terrorism" as an all encompassing justification to wage a witch hunt against dissenting citizens, establishing at the same time an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across the land. It also calls for the integration of various data banks as well as inter-agency cooperation in the sharing of information, with a view to eventually centralizing the information on American citizens.
In a carefully worded text, NSPD 59 "establishes a framework" to enable the Federal government and its various police and intelligence agencies to: "use mutually compatible methods and procedures in the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of individuals in a lawful and appropriate manner, while respecting their information privacy and other legal rights under United States law."
The NSPD 59 Directive recommends: "actions and associated timelines for enhancing the existing terrorist-oriented identification and screening processes by expanding the use of biometrics". The procedures under NSPD 59 are consistent with an earlier June 2005 decision which consisted in creating a "domestic spy service", under the auspices of the FBI.
Working hand in glove with Homeland Security (DHS), the proposed "domestic intelligence department" would combine FBI counterterrorism, intelligence and espionage operations into a single service.
The new department operating under the auspices of the FBI would have the authority to "seize the property of people deemed to be helping the spread of WMD": They would be able to "spy on people in America suspected of terrorism or having critical intelligence information, even if they are not suspected of committing a crime." (NBC Tonight).