- 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.
- "Senator," a smiling Gonzales
responded, "the President already said we'd be happy to listen to
- In less paranoid times, Graham's comments
might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both
ways ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while
seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should
have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.
- But 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 U.S. 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. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com
"Upside-Down Media" or below.]
- Detention Centers
- 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 U.S., or to support the rapid development
of new programs," KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]
- Later, the New York Times reported that
"KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department
for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of
a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention
space." [Feb. 4, 2006]
- Like most news stories on the KBR contract,
the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking
U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.
- "It's hard to believe that the administration
has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars,"
remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.
- Less attention centered on the phrase
"rapid development of new programs" and what kind of programs
would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding
5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these "new programs"
- Only a few independent journalists, such
as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration
might actually be thinking.
- Scott speculated that the "detention
centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration
were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration,
National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness
exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency
rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of
"uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into
the United States.
- 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."
- Labor Camps
- 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
- 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
- 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" has raised eyebrows about
why this sudden need for urgency.
- These developments also are drawing more
attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve
the Pentagon in "counter-terrorism" operations inside the United
- Pentagon Surveillance
- Despite the Posse Comitatus Act's prohibitions
against U.S. military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the
Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as
its role in domestic surveillance activities.
- The Washington Post has reported that
since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been
creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United
States. [Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2005]
- 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 2005, 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]
- This receipt of information presumably
would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging
in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent
violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program
of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.
- There also may be an even more extensive
surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional
committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed,
but he said he couldn't discuss the details without breaking classification
- Tice added that the "special access"
surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions
of Americans. [UPI, Feb. 14, 2006]
- With this expanded surveillance, the
government's list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.
- The Washington Post reported on Feb.
15 that the National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now holds
the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a four-fold increase since the
fall of 2003.
- Asked whether the names in the repository
were collected through the NSA's domestic surveillance program, an NCTC
official told the Post, "Our database includes names of known and
suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community
organizations, including NSA."
- Homeland Defense
- As the administration scoops up more
and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity
of Bush's definitions for words like terrorist "affiliates,"
used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people
- During the Senate Judiciary Committee's
hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, complained
that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees "have not been briefed
on the scope and nature of the program."
- Feinstein added that, therefore, the
committees "have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate
to al-Qaeda or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent
people) are in place."
- The combination of the Bush administration's
expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary
secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how
far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.
- A Defense Department document, entitled
the "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support," has set
out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an "active,
layered defense" both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document,
the Pentagon pledges to "transform U.S. military forces to execute
homeland defense missions in the U.S. homeland."
- The Pentagon strategy paper calls for
increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential
challengers before they threaten the United States." The plan "maximizes
threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."
- But there are concerns over how the Pentagon
judges "threats" and who falls under the category "those
who would harm us." A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence
Field Activity's TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.
- In December 2005, NBC News revealed the
existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 "suspicious
incidents" over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar
demonstrations that were classified as a "threat."
- The Defense Department also might be
moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part
of its overall war strategy.
- A secret Pentagon "Information Operations
Roadmap," approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "full
spectrum" information operations and notes that "information
intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly
is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa."
- "PSYOPS messages will often be replayed
by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,"
the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that "the distinction
between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S.
government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."
- It calls for "boundaries" between
information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not
outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.
- Similar to the distinction the Pentagon
draws between "collecting" and "receiving" intelligence
on U.S. citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long
as the American public is not intentionally "targeted," any PSYOP
propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.
- The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy
for taking over the Internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing
the Web as a potential military adversary. The "roadmap" speaks
of "fighting the net," and implies that the Internet is the equivalent
of "an enemy weapons system."
- In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council
on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration's perception
that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on
Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.
- "Let there be no doubt, the longer
it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more
we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news
informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what
is actually taking place," Rumsfeld said.
- The Department of Homeland Security also
has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with
- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the
department dispatched "heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from
the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq,
(and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans," reported
journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Noting the reputation of the Blackwater
mercenaries as "some of the most feared professional killers in the
world," Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater's presence in New Orleans
"raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men
trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate
- U.S. Battlefield
- In the view of some civil libertarians,
a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been
in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military
Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any non-citizen as an international
terrorist or enemy combatant.
- "The President decided that he was
no longer running the country as a civilian President," wrote civil
rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book Guantanamo: What the World Should
Know. "He issued a military order giving himself the power to run
the country as a general."
- For any American citizen suspected of
collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what's in store. In May
2002, the FBI arrested U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion
that he might be an al-Qaeda operative planning an attack.
- Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush
designated Padilla an "enemy combatant" and had him imprisoned
indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration
finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court
showdown the White House might have lost.
- But since the Court was not able to rule
on the Padilla case, the administration's arguments have not been formally
repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House
still asserts the right to detain U.S. citizens without charges as enemy
- This claimed authority is based on the
assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is
part of the battlefield.
- "In the war against terrorists of
global reach, as the Nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the
territory of the United States is part of the battlefield," Bush's
lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts. [Washington Post, July
- Given Bush's now open assertions that
he is using his "plenary" or unlimited powers as
Commander in Chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans
can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from
- As former Vice President Al Gore asked
after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to
fight the War on Terror, "Can it be true that any President really
has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is 'yes,' then under
the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can
on their face be prohibited?"
- In such extraordinary circumstances,
the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration
means by the "rapid development of new programs," which might
require the construction of a new network of detention camps.