September 26, 2009

War with Iran and the Internment of Arab-Americans

On September 23, 2009, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat down for an exclusive interview with Katie Couric hours before his planned address to the United Nations. Ahmadinejad spoke about his country's nuclear ambitions, Iranian protests, and his comments regarding the Holocaust (videos below).

On September 25, 2009, in a dramatic joint statement opening the G-20 economic summit, President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain demanded that Iran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions "or be held accountable" to an impatient world community (video above).

“All men in power ought to be mistrusted.”—James Madison

Detention Camps on American Soil

By John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute
Originally Published on April 24, 2006

Halliburton, the controversial Texas-based energy company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has focused much of its resources on securing lucrative government defense contracts in Iraq since the American invasion. These include the postwar construction of Iraq and responsibility for putting out potential oil-field fires.

However, recently Halliburton publicly announced that the Bush Administration had awarded a $385 million contract to its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, to build American detention facilities. Ironically, these facilities are not being built in discreet locations around the globe to house captured terrorists or even so-called “enemy combatants.” They are being built on American soil.

Although the government and Halliburton have failed to offer details as to where or when these domestic detention centers will be built, they have offered justifications for their future existence.
According to the government contract, these Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, as they are formally named, are being built to prepare for “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies such as “natural disasters.”
In other words, with such fluid language, these detention camps could be used for anyone—including political dissidents.

Paranoia, fear and the post-9/11 mentality obviously play into the perceived need for such camps. The anticipation is clearly for martial law.

Indeed, shortly after the Katrina disaster, President Bush called for more military involvement in American life. This development and many others like it should cause us to pause and seriously think about the American government’s movement toward martial law.

It is no secret that the government has had its fair share of dark, waning moments when confronted with obstructions to power and control. However, when met with such resistance, government leaders throughout American history have opted to suppress civil liberties. In fact, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established internment camps to involuntarily house Japanese Americans, in spite of their constitutional rights.

Despite the embarrassment of the Japanese camps, the move toward creating detention camps has continued. In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order that transferred many of the disaster relief agencies into one large agency known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As I’ve written before, in the 1980s and 1990s under President Reagan, FEMA, a relatively unknown agency, morphed into what some call a “shadow government.”

FEMA lost its identity as a federal agency focused on disaster relief to an underground agency dedicated to some of the nation’s most secret plans of countering civil unrest and ensuring the stability of power in government. In fact, as the Hurricane Katrina tragedy horrifically demonstrated, FEMA has essentially lost its identity and credibility as being a federal responder to natural disasters. The reason for FEMA’s miserable failure to respond quickly and efficiently during the hurricane isn’t that FEMA is inept. To the contrary, the agency is quite good on what it focuses its time, energy, money and resources.

Indeed, it was in the early 1980s, when FEMA began to shift its focus to secret government operations, that reports began to slowly surface describing secret military-type training exercises by the federal government. Under the name Rex-84, the government was secretly training a covert operation run by FEMA and the Department of Defense to train 34 federal agencies, including the CIA and the Secret Service, on how to deal with domestic civil unrest.

This government plan, revolving around FEMA, also included the creation of top-secret American internment camps. Although the precise number of these internment camps and all their exact locations are unknown to most, their existence is virtually undeniable. In fact, in addressing a question about the existence of civilian detention camps on August 29, 1994, former Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D-Tex.) stated:
“The truth is yes—you do have these standby provisions and the plans are here…whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism, evoke the military and arrest Americans and put them in detention camps.”
The proof goes further. Some have speculated that there are already between 600-800 “prison camps” in the United States that are fully operational and ready to receive prisoners. According to these claims, the internment camps, while already staffed and supported, are to be operated by FEMA should martial law ever be implemented. People have claimed seeing these camps in various discreet locations throughout America, describing inverted barbed wire fences and guard posts. An Internet search of “FEMA Internment Camps” reveals countless websites littered with pictures, descriptions and alleged proof of their existence.

These allegations are not limited to conspiracy theorists. In fact, they have become mainstream, even reaching our nation’s concerned government leaders. For instance, when Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) read a story widely circulated in the U.S. press in 2003 entitled “Foundations Are in Place for Martial Law in the United States,” he became so alarmed that he gave a speech (see below) on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the topic.

McDermott also discussed an article from the Detroit Free Press entitled “Arabs in U.S. Could Be Held, Official Warns,” which referred to a member of the Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans, pointing out that FEMA had already practiced for such an occasion. As McDermott proclaimed on the House floor:
“The reason I raise this issue is that I come from a State where in 1941 under executive order by the President, 9661, we rounded up all the Japanese Americans in this country and put them in internment camps. We have set in place the mechanism to do that again and we must not, we cannot sacrifice the Constitution in this rush to war that we are doing in Iraq.”
In the 1940s, the government used the term “espionage” as a scarlet letter to justify the internment of Japanese Americans, claiming they were potential dissidents. Today, we know that countless Arab Americans were swept up without due process immediately after 9/11.

"Iran's policies and attitudes show that we have never been seeking weapons of mass destruction."—Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's Foreign Minister, May 27, 2007

And just as we now know that the Bush Administration’s domestic spy program produces incredibly little in the form of valuable or legitimate information, the raids of the 1940s also produced little in the way of proof that Japanese Americans were plotting against the United States. And more generally, as post-9/11 paranoia and fear have paralyzed our sense of decency and respect for freedom due to international terrorism, Americans of the 1940s were gripped with a similar fear due to World War II.

Even our government’s shallow justifications are similar. Just like before, our government assures us that these camps would only be used for a hypothetical influx of immigrants. But can we trust the government?

Speech on 'Martial Law Concerns' By Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)

House of Representatives
Originally Published on March 11, 2003

Madam Speaker, I come to the House floor tonight to talk about an issue which I think is of grave concern to this country.

I recently read an article published in the Sydney, Australia, Morning Herald entitled "Foundations Are in Place for Martial Law in the United States."

The author is a man named Ritt Goldstein, an investigative reporter for the Herald, and he said that recent pronouncements from the Bush administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States.

When President Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua, he issued a series of executive orders which provided FEMA with broad powers in the event of a crisis, such as the violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a U.S. military invasion abroad. They were never used.

But with the looming possibility of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, recent pronouncements by President Bush's domestic security chief, Tom Ridge, and an official with the Civil Rights Commission should fire concerns that these powers could be employed or a de facto drift into their deployment in the future.

On the 20th of July, the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled "Arabs in U.S. Could Be Held, Official Warns." The story referred to a member of the Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans. FEMA has practiced for such an occasion.

Nucleur weapons "are against humanity, they are inhumane"... anyone who pursues them "is retarded politically."—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, May 25, 2009

FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling U.S. domestic unrest.

From 1982 to 1984, Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defense preparations. Details of those plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal. They included executive orders providing for suspension of the Constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the President and FEMA.

A Miami Herald article on the 5th of July, 1987 ("Reagan Aides and the 'Secret' Government"), reported that the former FEMA director's, Louis Guiffrida's, deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. The planning was said to be similar to one Mr. Guiffrida had developed earlier to combat a national uprising by black militants. It provided for the detention of at least 21 million American Negroes in assembly centers or relocation camps.

Today, Mr. Brinkerhoff is with the highly influential Anser Institute for Homeland Security. Following a request by the Pentagon in January that the U.S. military be allowed the option of deploying troops on American streets, the institute in February published a paper by Mr. Brinkerhoff arguing the legality of this. He alleged that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which has long been accepted as prohibiting such deployments, had simply been misunderstood and misapplied. The preface to the article also provided the revelation that the national plan he had worked on under Mr. Guiffrida was approved by Reagan and actions were taken to implement it.

By April, the U.S. military had created a Northern Command to aid homeland security. Reuters reported that the command is mainly expected to play a supporting role to local authorities. However, Mr. Ridge, the Director of Homeland Security, has just advocated a review of U.S. law regarding the use of military for law enforcement duties.

Disturbingly, and it just really should disturb people, the full facts and contents of Mr. Reagan's national plan remain uncertain. This is in part because President Bush took the unusual step of sealing the Reagan Presidential papers last November. However, many of the key figures of the Reagan era are part of the present administration, including John Poindexter, to whom Oliver North later reported.

At the time of the Reagan initiatives, the then-Attorney General, William French Smith, a Republican, wrote to the National Security Adviser, Robert McFarlane:
"I believe that the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised executive order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness. This department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to an emergency czar role for FEMA.''
Criticism of the Bush administration's response to September 11 echoes Mr. Smith's warning. On June 7 of last year, the former Presidential counsel, John Dean, spoke of America sliding into a, quote, "constitutional dictatorship,'' close quote, and martial law.

The reason I raise this issue is that I come from a State where in 1941 under executive order by the President, 9066, we rounded up all the Japanese Americans in this country and put them in concentration camps. We have set in place the mechanism to do that again and we must not, we cannot, sacrifice the Constitution in this rush to war that we are doing in Iraq.

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