James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another threat to American democracy

Probably the spookiest story working its way toward public awareness during the past few weeks is the story of the most recent – that we know of – Halliburton contract with the U.S. Government.

Under the contract, Dick Cheney's company may or may not build what amount to concentration camps to house...who?

Maybe illegal aliens, maybe natural disaster victims or maybe people on the Bush gang's enemy list.

The administration would sneer at that last possibility, of course, but those thugs also sneer at people who complain about their use of torture and critics of all the other crimes so far uncovered. What is clear is that the Bush has no intention of providing information on who might be imprisoned in the camps.

Like the majority of the really worrisome stories slowly coming to light, Halliburton's extremely lucrative new deal seems to have escaped the notice of most of the corporate news outlets or to have been grossly underplayed by those which did notice it.

The basic facts:

In January, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to build detention centers in the United States for the Department of Homeland Security.

KBR is the Halliburton subsidiary cited several times for failure to perform on contracts, for unsubstantiated billing and overcharging the U.S. Government for work done, or not done, in Iraq.

As the Hightower Lowdown noted, “'Detain,' of course is a euphemism for 'incarcerate' – or 'lock up.' And 'center' is a gentle term for 'prison.'”

The contract calls for an unspecified number of centers at unspecified locations, although a Corps of Engineers spokesman told the New York Times they “could be” built at unused military sites – or maybe not. However, it is specified that each of the unknown number of camps is to be built to hold up to 5,000 prisoners.

Corps officials said it put the contract out on bid but --aw, shucks – KBR was the only bidder. It is what is called an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contract. The $385 million is definite, however.

Various mouthpieces for the administration, the Corps of Engineers, Homeland Security and Halliburton have said that the centers are to be used to detain “an unexpected influx of immigrants,” or maybe for the housing of people in event of a natural disaster, or “for new programs that require detention space.”

No one will clarify, explain or comment further on “new programs.”

Oh...In case you missed this, too: Halliburton chairman and CEO David Lesar fairly crowed about the corporation's performance in 2005, “the best year in our 86-year history.” The company reported a net income of $2.4 billion for the year. Dick Cheney had nothing to do with the enormous growth in the company's wealth, or its super-favored status as a government contractor, of course.

Some advocates for immigrants said they fear the plan for the dentention centers indicates that the Bush government intends to round up illegal (or maybe not all illegal) immigrants in huge numbers and hold them, possibly for deportation. But a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said there aren't any plans for large roundups of illegals.

Some folks also have raised the specter of the unconstitutional imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. No one dares mention Nazi Germany, of course.

But, why would the Bushies decide to lock up large numbers of (undboutedly) brown-skinned people? And if the intended victims are not tens of thousands of mostly Latino immigrants, then who? Those are questions of immense importance, and everybody involved in this mystery is weaving and bobbing and refusing to answer.

Given the Bush mob's penchant for torture, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment and “special rendition,” it's insane not to be fearful. It's not paranoia, it's common sense.

(Sources: Hightower Lowdown, New York Times Online and several others.)