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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Rapid Deployment of New Programs 

Courtesy of our stalwart colleague C. Floyd: If you were puzzled by recent news reports of the $385 million contract awarded to Halliburton subsidiary KBR for the construction, within the U.S., of temporary detention centers, ostensibly to accommodate "an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space," you may find clarification in a new article by Nat Parry of Consortium News:
Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration’s domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,” Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

“I stand by this President’s ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,” Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat . . . .

[Journalist Maureen] Farrell
pointed out that because “another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge” of immigrants flooding across the border.

Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, “Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the
‘special registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo” . . . .

There also was another little-noticed item
posted at the U.S. Army Web site, about the Pentagon’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program “provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations.”

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a “rapid action revision” on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a “template for developing agreements” between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army’s labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a
federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to “establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him” and “make available … the services of United States prisoners” to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document’s posting – within the past few weeks –may just be a coincidence, the reference to a “rapid action revision” and the KBR contract’s contemplation of “rapid development of new programs” have raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency . . . .

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon’s
Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don’t seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2006, the U.S. Army’s top intelligence officer wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information.”

Drawing a distinction between “collecting” information and “receiving” information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that “MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime.” [See
CQ.com, Jan. 31, 2005]
We are sure we needn't tell you that Mr. Floyd's own thoughts on the subject are not, are never, without interest.

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