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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

About Those Detention Centers

posted by on October 18 at 13:15 PM

One thing about working for an alt-weekly: For better or worse, you end up much closer to the fast-beating pulse of the paranoid left. The LaRouchies tend to think you’re convertable, the 9-11 conspiracy theorists flood you with emails, and, more recently, the secret detention center worriers beg you to expose the Bush/Halliburtion plan to round up “unpatriotic” Americans en masse.

I have no idea if the detention center fears are well-founded or not, but as a service to our worried readers, who have been posting about this in the comments for some time, I offer this story from the sometimes-accurate lefty news service TruthOut.

Recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.

Top US officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by “news informers” in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs,” KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]

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Conspiracy or not, the fact that the Pentagon thinks this is a good use of money is one more distressing news item on the pile.

Posted by Noink | October 18, 2006 1:41 PM

Speaking of, it's worth mentioning that Bush signed Habeas corpus into obsolescence yesterday!

Posted by Nick | October 18, 2006 2:04 PM

It does sound crazy, doesn't it? A few years ago, I wouldn't have believed it. Now, after the Military Commissions Act of 2006 legalized kidnapping, disappearances, torture and removed the right to challenge imprisonment in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and 4th and 8th Amendments, I think that the Republicans are capable of anything. They claim it only applies to foreign nationals, but they don't exactly have a record of following the Constitution or International Law, do they? In fact, the US is now officially a state sponsor of torture.

This is so weird. It sounds like tin foil hat territory, but it's political reality. I never thought I’d see the day when the President demanded the right to torture, a new low for our country, and Congress gave it to him. Is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?

You have to wonder at one point in Nazi Germany that they reached the point of no return and escape for Jews and other target groups like homosexuals became impossible. The German citizens who were rounded up were in such a state of denial that they voluntarily walked into the camps and gas chambers, at least at first, because no one believed that their government or soldiers would treat people that way.

One thing that's oddly comforting is that they couldn't organize mass round ups in the US today even if they wanted to. The military seems to be on the brink of collapse between Afghanistan and Iraq, so putting down some homegrown lefties for purely ideological reasons seems unlikely, not to mention the effect it might have on the economy. Plus the fact that the Bush Administration and their cronies at Halliburton and KBR are totally corrupt and incompetent virtually guarantees that the $385 million will just disappear down the rabbit hole into somebody's pocket like the billions that are missing from the failed reconstructions of Afghanistan, Iraq and the Gulf Coast.

If camps are set up, they’ll probably round up journalists and political figures like in China, for example. It’s not like Americans are going to stop watching Survivor (or Project Runway) and raise a fuss.

Posted by Andrew | October 18, 2006 2:17 PM

Two follow up questions:

1) Given what we know now, exactly what would Bush have to do to be impeached at this point?


2) When does a story move out of the realm of tin foil hat crazy into journalistic reality?

Posted by Andrew | October 18, 2006 2:45 PM

I don't know. On the one hand, yes it's scary. But on the other hand, what if it's just old-fashioned graft, which is just infuriating and depressing?

I refer you to the $75 million dollar Iraqi "police academy" that was so poorly constructed it had to be torn down.

Posted by Don't know what to think.... | October 18, 2006 2:55 PM

PS. Sinclair Lewis published a book in 1935 called "It Can't Happen Here" that basically states that all you have to do to introduce fascism to the USA is call it patriotism and stupid assholes will fall all over themselves to vote for it.

Posted by Andrew | October 18, 2006 3:59 PM

Does anyone else think the water in this pot is starting to get kind of ... warm, or is it just me? It seemed nice and cool when they put us in it...

Posted by One of the Frogs In the Pot | October 18, 2006 4:06 PM

When Punishment Park first debuted in the early 1970s, some audience members weren't sure whether the movie was a documentary or not. It was a movie in which the US convicts individuals for their political speech in tribunals run by John Birch-style citizen patriots. The tribunals were based on the Chicago 8 trial, and used the threat of years in prison to coerce domestic political prisoners into life-or-death war games (in "punishment park") that train police officers to suppress domestic unrest. The movie's distributors pulled the plug after a week in SF and NYC, largely for political reasons, and it was only re-released on DVD recently. It's an amazing movie-- as fiction, but also as a kind of cultural commentary.

Posted by wf | October 18, 2006 5:46 PM


Instead of name-calling, why not do a little investigation of some of the unanswered questions surrounding the 9/11 attacks? There are plenty of us who aren't at all used to being called "conspiracy theorists" but have noticed that the official conspiracy theory is full of holes.

And I'm not suggesting that you pick a few of the crazier theories and shoot them down while ignoring the more sensible ones (ala Popular Mechanics under its new leadership). Spend a few minutes poking around http:// and then tell us whether we're crazy to question the Bush administration's story.

Posted by Eli's favorite person in the world on Oct. 3, 2005 | October 18, 2006 6:18 PM

Also, doesn't the recent act specifically reference leftist groups but not right-wing militias? I haven't gotten bored enough to read federally dehydrated legislation recently, but I think that's a key "creepy point" about the possible designation of Americans as enemy combatants.

Posted by Wesley | October 18, 2006 11:50 PM

Re #3 above:
"If camps are set up, they’ll probably round up journalists and political figures like in China, for example."

Bye bye, Dan. Nice knowin' ya.

Posted by SeattleExile | October 19, 2006 10:10 AM

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