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by Stephen Lendman
Monday, Jul. 23, 2007 at 10:15 AM
NAFTA on steroids enforced with an iron fist
The Militarization and Annexation of North America - by Stephen Lendman
Besides the Bush administration's imperial aims and permanent war on the world, add the one at home below the radar. Its weapons include the WTO, NAFTA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, CIA, NSA, NORTHCOM, militarized state and local police, National Guard forces, paramilitary mercenaries like Blackwater USA, and all other repressive instruments of state power and control. They target the people of three nations slowly becoming one headquartered in Washington. That's the apparent aim of those in power here wanting one continent, "indivisible" minus old-fashioned ideas like "liberty and justice for all" we used to believe in when, as kids, we recited our "Pledge of Allegiance." They now have a whole new meaning. They're just words drummed into young minds hoping they'll still believe them when they're old enough to know better.
There may be a greater scheme for the planet ahead, but this article only focuses on what we know about and how it's unfolding so far. It has a name, in fact, several, but they all aim for the same thing - one nation, indivisible, where three sovereign ones once stood, headquartered in Washington.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) or "Deep Integration" North American Union
SPP was formerly launched at a March 23, 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas attended by George Bush, Mexico's President Vincente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. It's a tri-national agreement hatched below the radar in Washington containing the recommendations of the Independent Task Force of North America. That's a group organized by the powerful US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), and Mexican Council on Foreign Relations. It advocates greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups formed to devise non-debatable agreements that, when completed, will be binding beyond the power of legislatures to change. It's also taking shape without public knowledge or consideration.
From what's already known, SPP unmasked isn't pretty. It's a corporate-led coup d'etat against the sovereignty of three nations enforced by a common hard line security strategy already in play separately in each country. It's a scheme to create a borderless North American Union under US control without barriers to trade and capital flows for corporate giants, mainly US ones. It's also to insure America gets free and unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil, and in the case of Canada water as well. It's to assure US energy security as a top priority while denying Canada and Mexico preferential access to their own resources henceforth earmarked for US markets.
It's also to create a fortress-North American security zone encompassing the whole continent under US control in the name of "national (and continental) security" with US borders effectively extended to the far reaches of the continent. The scheme, in short, is NAFTA on steroids combined with Pox Americana homeland security enforcement. It's the worst of all possible worlds headed for an unmasked police state, and it's the Bush administration's notion of "deep integration" or the "Big Idea" meaning we're boss, what we say goes, no outliers will be tolerated, public interest is off the table, and the people of three nations be damned.
It's also the next step in what GHW Bush had in mind when he delivered his "Toward a New World Order" speech to a joint session of Congress on another September 11 in 1990. At the onset of the "crisis in the Persian Gulf," he said "We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment (offering) a rare opportunity to move toward....a new world order" free from "the threat of terror....and more secure...." He spoke of a "new world....struggling to be born....quite different from the one we've known." He masked his intentions in language of peace and the pursuit of justice while preparing for war on Iraq and the region that's gone on for over 16 years with no end in sight. A new Bush administration is bringing that "New World Order" to the North American continent. Unless it can be stopped, the streets of Boston, Baltimore and Buffalo may one day look like occupied Baghdad or Bogota when drug barons clash and Colombia's US-financed military and paramilitaries step in.
Establishing hard line security initiatives is key to making SPP's "deep integration" trade agenda work. It's being planned at a time of Washington's cooked up "war on terrorism" scheme unleashing imperial dreams not possible without the public traumatized enough to go along. Intended is a ramped up militarized police state of enhanced border and homeland security. It's based on the phony notion that doing business and protecting the national interest and public welfare require tough measures in place to secure them at a time of threatening global terrorism.
As outlandish as it sounds, the scheme is moving ahead toward implementation. It threatens Canadian, Mexican and US national sovereignty and priorities, and their people and ours are none the wiser about it. NAFTA is a glimpse of what's ahead. It's record in 12.5 years has been disastrous with huge numbers of job losses and growing insecurity in three countries. SPP guarantees more of the same on steroids with small businesses hurt as well. They continue being trampled by corporate giants they're no match for. Many go under or are bought out if they survive. They and working people aren't part of the SPP process, and their concerns aren't being addressed and are guaranteed to worsen as this initiative advances.
Its doing it at secret meetings like the one from September 12 - 14, 2006 in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It was co-chaired by three former high officials of the participating nations including a leading US cold warrior as Reagan Secretary of State, George Shultz. He has all the credentials SPP needs as a former Bechtel president and current board member also holding memberships at the hard right Hoover Institution and American Enterprise Institute, the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, and the Committee on the Present Danger military lobbying group.
They were part of a high-powered group of present and former government officials; top military-industrial complex representatives, Big Oil and other corporate executives; leading policy analysts; high-ranking military brass; and a single Wall Street Journal self-styled Latin American expert editorialist known never to let facts conflict with the state and corporate interests she represents. She's a frequent target of this writer, and by now likely knows it - Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
Except for O'Grady, no journalists attended, and no press releases followed the meeting with its carefully scripted agenda and controlled media blackout. Yet veteran Canadian publisher, author, activist and former political candidate Mel Hurtig managed to get hold of the attendee list and published it online. He also posted topics discussed including: "A Vision for North America" (but not a people-friendly one), "A North American Energy Strategy" (for US energy security at the expense of Canada and Mexico), "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration," and "Opportunities for Security Cooperation" (aka Pox Americana).
Washington dominates the planning at all meetings with its interests getting primary attention. Along with what's mentioned above, efforts are to create uniform business practices and standards, ease the flow of US products into Canada and Mexico, remove labor constraints, and eliminate unwelcome environmental standards or restrictions interfering with the primary consideration of profits.
Also on the agenda is getting Canada and Mexico to allow more privatization of state-run enterprises like Mexico's nationalized oil company, PEMEX, and eventually open up Canada's medicare health care system to private investment. The US can't negotiate this way with its western European, Chinese or Japanese trading partners but can easily pressure most developing nations to go along with policies harming their own people, and neighboring accommodating ones like Canada, so long as their elite leading players share the benefits.
In February, 2007, a set of SPP private sector priorities were laid out by the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) that serves as an official tri-national SPP working group. It was created at the March, 2006 second annual SPP summit in Cancun, Mexico. The group is composed of representatives of 30 giant North American companies, with powerful US ones like GE, Ford, GM, Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, Merck and Chevron running things the way Orwell described in "Animal Farm" where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
NACC's recommendations centered on "private sector involvement" being "a key step to enhancing North America's competitive position in global markets and is the driving force behind innovation and growth." It mentioned "border-crossing facilitation, standards and regulatory cooperation, and energy integration (with a top priority of) improving the secure flow of goods and people within North America." These issues and others were discussed above explaining what they're really all about, not the usual code language hiding their real purpose.
Without using the word, NACC stressed the importance establishing policies for maximum profits. Its report said "Every measure that adds to the cost or time to cross borders within North America is in effect a tax on enterprise, a tax on investment (fair taxes in both cases), or a tax on jobs (a slap at high wages) across the region, which ultimately results in incremental costs for the consumers in all three countries (untrue as cost savings accrue to bottom lines, not consumer pockets)." Also mentioned was the need to make the North American economy "work better (and strengthen) the security and well-being of citizens" without mentioning the "citizens" NACC has in mind are dominant corporate ones and the privileged only and doing it means hard line restraint on the public.
SPP wants "to cut red tape and give consumers better access to safe, less expensive, and innovative products" that only "red tape" can help assure. Regulations, it says "impede the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses in all three countries" except ones giving them a competitive advantage and even though regulations, in fact, serve (or should serve) to protect consumers, not harm them.
Recommendations in the report call for specific action in these sectors in the order the report listed them. It placed last the one of greatest importance, energy, but here's the order priority given: food and agriculture, financial services, transportation, protection of intellectual property rights and lastly energy integration specifically emphasizing Canada's vast oil sands that make its overall reserves second only to Saudi Arabia.
Canada aims to triple its oil sands production by 2015 to three million barrels daily to feed America's insatiable energy appetite these resources are earmarked for. Mexico's oil is also targeted, but the report hides NACC's aim for state oil company PEMEX to be opened to private investment saying only while the country is "blessed with abundant reserves, (it) faces major challenges in attracting capital" needed to realize their potential. NACC wants Mexico to "increase the competitiveness in (its) energy sector" without saying it wants it privatized so foreign investors can plunder them for profit.
It also wants governments and the private sector to "work together effectively in strengthening the competitive position of enterprises" in all three countries saying, in effect, end all restrictions on how we do business even if it harms your nations, people and environment. It made 50 total recommendations it wants mostly accomplished before the end of 2008 with some longer range ones targeting 2010. They cover the range of issues discussed above and specific ones listed below:
-- developing "national critical infrastructure protection strategies" with rules providing for legal protection;
-- enhancing emergency management and disaster planning;
-- implementing planned land clearance projects, meaning less for the people and more for corporate predators;
-- putting in place more business-friendly border security practices, meaning militarizing the border;
-- further simplifying NAFTA rules-of-origin requirements, meaning no restrictions on regional trade even for unsafe products;
-- simplifying the NAFTA certification process and requirements aiming at their total elimination;
-- ending the consumer-protective US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS);
-- removing regulatory standards and practices that impede trade even if doing it harms consumers;
-- working toward a goal of uniform global regulatory standards and practices regardless of the consequences or concern about national sovereignty;
-- easing cross-border tax burdens forcing consumers to pick up the difference;
-- cooperating in identifying common financial regulatory concerns, then work to eliminate them;
-- agreeing to unrestricted air cargo transport services between the US and Mexico;
-- completing a coordinated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Strategy aimed at protecting them and keeping their prices high;
-- developing an initiative against counterfeiting and piracy; and
-- collaborating on expanding the supply of highly skilled people in the energy sector throughout North America and building a model to be applied to other knowledge-intensive sectors such as financial services.
NACC denies what's pretty clear about about its aims. Saying its recommendations aren't meant to "threaten the sovereign power of any of the three countries," there's no doubt that's the central objective. It wants a North American Union headquartered in Washington with policies in place benefitting corporate giants at the expense of working people. They'll be hammered by greater job losses, fewer social services, and a loss of personal security under militarized police state conditions in the name of "national (continental) security" in the age of concocted global terror threats.
North American Future 2025 Project
This is another secretive effort with the same objective run by the US-based conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). It held closed-door meeting roundtables of Canadian business leaders in Calgary as part of a project by this name. CSIS former American political heavyweights are involved including Sam Nunn, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Harold Brown, William Cohen, Henry Kissinger and others. The agenda involves preparing a final report to the US, Canadian and Mexican governments by September 30 expected to recommend the benefits of integrating the three nations into a single political, economic and security bloc.
What's known has activist groups upset including the Council of Canadians and Coalition for Water Aid. They're protesting what they say amounts to a sub rosa effort for corporate interests to control Canada's huge fresh water supply, estimated at one-fifth of the world's total. They want Canadian energy and other resources, too.
LIke NACC, CSIS carefully states its aims in what it's made public so far, showing the goals of both efforts are the same. CSIS's North America Future 2025 Project is its research effort to help policymakers "make sound, strategic, long-range policy decisions about North America, with emphasis on regional integration." It cites "six areas of critical importance to the trilateral relationship: labor mobility, energy, the environment, security, competitiveness and border infrastructure and logistics." This is all familiar terminology to be discussed in "seven closed-door roundtable sessions (with) 21 (to) 45 individuals - with an equal number from each nation."
They kicked off in Roundtable I discussing "Methodology of Global and North American Projections" followed by each of the above listed six "critical" areas. Protesters are planning to be at the third trilateral SPP summit Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper will host August 20 and 21 in Montebello, Quebec. They'll target SPP overall as well as the Harper government's efforts to advance the corporate-friendly "Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement" (TILMA) as one more nail in the coffin of Canadian national sovereignty.
The agreement between Alberta and British Columbia took effect April 1, 2007 and mandates harmonizing regulations and standards between the two provinces, removing barriers to economic development. Saskatchewan is now being targeted to sign on as efforts advance overall for a borderless North America with schemes like TILMA being used as stepping stones along the way to achieve it. TILMA for all Canada will allow Canadian companies the right to challenge any provincial laws conflicting the NAFTA provisions.
SPP North American integration will go much further, of course, and Joseph Watson reported "Globalists to Formally Propose Merger of US, Canada (and) Mexico" in his July 5 Prison Planet web site article. In it, he says CSIS "political heavyweights" will formally propose a North American union to Congress at summer's end after the conclusion of their seven secret roundtable meetings to devise it. It will contain provisions explained above that spell doom for the sovereignty of the three participating nations. Their leaders want them to become one in service to corporate giants' strategy for greater profits at the public's expense. A further aim is to harmonize regulatory standards with the European Union (EU) in a new transatlantic economic partnership that moves things closer to corporate America's dream of a militarized borderless world run by them.
The North American SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO)
This is another organization set up to facilitate the designs of NACC and the North American Future 2025 Project for continental integration. It's a trilateral provincial, state and local government coalition aligned with the goals of corporate giants in three countries. As its name suggests, it aims to develop an international, integrated, secure superhighway running the length of the continent. If built, it would extend from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; and Windsor, Ontario, Canada through Kansas City, San Antonio and Laredo, Texas into Neuvo Laredo, Guadalajara, and the ports of Manzanillo, Colima and Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico.
It's planned to be a comprehensive energy and commerce-related jugular vein-sized artery for transportation, trade and strategic resources like energy. According to NASCO documents, DHS will be in charge of monitoring the entire system through high-tech sensors and trackers as a further step to securing the continent for business at taxpayers expense. This is part of the massive infrastructure planned for North American integration. If completed, it'll be a boon to business at the expense of the environment and working people throughout the continent, always the ones to lose from grandiose schemes like this one.
Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP)
Mexican President Felipe Calderon wishes to revive former President Vincente Fox's PPP that flopped but didn't die. It's a multi-billion dollar development scheme to turn Southern Mexico and Central America, all the way to Panama, into a colossal free trade paradise displacing indigenous people, destroying their culture and sacred corn, and harming the environment for profit. Fox earlier and Calderon now want to induce private investment by shamelessly handing over to them the region's natural resources, including its oil, water, minerals, timber and ecological biodiversity.
The idea is to rip into the area with new ports, airports, bullet trains, bridges, superhighways, 25 hydroelectric dams, new telecommunication facilities, electrical grids, and a new Panama Canal - for starters, with more development to follow. Also envisioned is opening the country's wildlife reserves for bioprospecting with a huge giveaway to giant seed, chemical and drug companies and connect everything with new highways linking Mexico to Central America and no doubt would connect to the proposed NASCO superhighway. The idea is to develop and facilitate business throughout the region - meaning indigenous people have to leave to make way for it, like it or not, which they don't and will fight it.
The area planned for development is enormous and so far stalled. It covers 102 million hectares with 64 million inhabitants in eight countries, few of whom will benefit from a naked scheme to exploit. It masquerades as infrastructure, private development and more without consent of the people the way it's always done. It's the reason the plan went nowhere so far. It's irrelevant to the poor, rural South who'll lose everything so corporate predators can take their land and livelihoods for private gain. They then want to sell back to the people what's already theirs like Chiapas' fresh water. It's 40% of Mexico's total and the reason Coca-Cola is dying to get hold of it. It would also destroy the last significant tropical rain forest in Chiapas' Montes Azules Integral Biosphere in the Lacandon jungle where the government wants to remove native Mayans from lands belonging to them.
Enter Felipe Calderon. On April 9, he held a one-day conference in Campeche, Mexico attended by the presidents of all Central American countries except Belize and Nicaragua, who sent their prime minister and vice-president respectively. Washington no doubt is pushing this scheme as it would be a development bonanza for US corporations if implemented and a huge opportunity for many others if ever completed.
Militarizing A Continent As A First Step
No nation is more militarized today than America. It spends more on national defense and homeland security than all other nations combined. Add to those budgets all others related to defense, still others for intelligence and covert actions, plus the net interest cost attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays and it totals over trillion for FY 2007 according to one analyst's estimate and heading way above that in FY 2008 if current budget proposals pass and become law which is almost certain.
Canada and Mexico are expected to share the load as part of Washington's "war on terrorism" and are doing it. Supporting Washington is central for Canada's Stephen Harper conservative administration. It includes adhering to the 2002 Binational Planning Agreement allowing US military forces to enter Canada on its own discretion, set up shop, and exercise authority over Canadians in their own country. Harper's more hard line than his predecessors. He believes Canadian political and business interests depend on it, and he's committed to serving them no matter how ordinary Canadians feel about it. He's submissive to Washington and has been massively ramping up military spending with plans to increase it over 50% above 2005 levels to .5 billion annually by 2010.
That's chump change by US standards but a major commitment for a nation traditionally spending at far lower levels. Canada faces no outside threat so spending hugely on its military, unlike in the past, defies tradition and public consensus favoring social spending that's being cut to pay for it. It's also contrary to Canada's traditionally eschewing militarism and foreign wars unlike its southern neighbor's thriving on them since the nation's founding.
Business interests, not national security or the public welfare, drive Harper's agenda. America accounts for 87% of Canada's exports, and Canadian businesses are closely allied with US ones. In many instances, it's as subsidiaries with US corporations owning 20% of Canada's non-financial sector, 33% of its oil and gas industry, and many Canadian defense companies linked to US ones as subsidiaries or in a sub-contracting capacity. Canada's influential Department of National Defense (DND), its new Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier and defence minister Gordon O'Connor are on board with Harper as well. They're committed to ramping up the nation's military spending and linking with America's "war on terrorism." It gives them more power to lock in even more as SPP advances and outlines a plan for it across the continent.
Mexico has its part to play as well. With threats and fear-mongering, it's using drug-related violence as a pretext for cracking down on simmering unrest wherever it surfaces with plenty of US military aid to do it. The scheme is to quiet and cow millions in the country opposing democracy, Mexican-style. It made National Action Party (PAN) Felipe Calderon president in a process decided before people ever voted last July 2 the way it's always worked in Mexican politics. It's got parts of the country, like Oaxaca, in open rebellion against its state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (known as URO).
It also made the country a tinderbox of discontent with growing numbers in it fed up with sham elections, decades of repression, deepening poverty and an entrenched system of privilege for the rich and powerful. Mega-billionaire Carlos Slim just passed Bill Gates by .6 billion to become the world's richest man in a country with the second largest number of billionaires in Latin America after Brazil and among the top ten in the world with the greatest number of them. The US tops all nations by a wide margin with far more in New York and Los Angeles alone than anywhere else.
Calderon to their rescue to make his own richer. He's got 30,000 troops stomping on the people and fighting Washington's wars on Mexico's streets and along its near-2000 mile northern border. He also has to protect state oil company Pemex after a series of July explosions attacked the company's gas pipelines in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. It affected 800 companies incurring losses of - 10 million a day and caused 5000 people to be evacuated from 20 surrounding communities.
A group called the Popular or People's Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility saying it demands release of two men detained unjustly in Oaxaca in May and held as political prisoners. The group's communique also said the attacks were part of a "national campaign against the interests of the oligarchy and of this illegitimate government (in power from the stolen 2006 election) that has been put in motion." It's another sign how polarized Mexican society is with those losing out in it striking back.
In the US, poverty is growing and the wealth disparity is unprecedented. However, things are much worse in Mexico. It has the world's fourth largest number of millionaires, but poverty's been rising since the 1970s, and since the mid-1980s the nation's poor have been reeling under the affects of IMF-imposed structural adjustment policies mandating large-scale privatizations and wage restraints. Then came NAFTA in 1994. It devastated millions of Mexicans, forced many north to survive, and may by one estimate eventually displace 10 million small farmers from their land (plus their families) into poverty assuring they'll head north in desperation.
Today nearly one-third of Mexicans live on or less a day, and millions can't afford basic needs like enough food, decent shelter and medical care when sick. It didn't help that Felipe Calderon allowed staple corn prices to skyrocket causing tortilla prices to spike by 50% in most regions devastating impoverished consumers. They can't afford the staple they rely on, and small Mexican corn producers are even less able to compete with subsidized imports that wasn't possible post-NAFTA.
These are the issues generating mass civil unrest and disobedience that simmer beneath the surface when they're not visible on the streets like in Oaxaca since last May, 2006. It's gone on in spite of harsh efforts to crush it violently with Federal Preventative Police (PFP) and military forces launched against it on the pretext of fighting drugs traffickers and terrorism.
Calderon's 30,000 Mexican troops are also in a third or more of the nation's states, civil rights are suspended and widespread abuses are reported because the military got a mandate to "use all necessary force to resolve disturbances and return peace to society." That's just a hint of what's coming across Mexico and the continent under full implementation of SPP that won't tolerate opposition and will crack down hard against it. Mexican law now allows it after passage of the draconian "International Terrorism Law" criminalizing dissent, calling it terrorism, and imposing harsh sentences for using "violence against persons, things, or public services that spread (enough) alarm or fear in the population....to threaten national security or pressure authorities to take certain determinations."
The press is also targeted with prohibitions against "publish(ing) or distribut(ing)....photos or images without the express consent of those featured," a condition impossible to meet. Social protests may be criminalized as well with resistance movements like the Zapatistas and Oaxacan Popular Peoples' Assembly (APPO) labeled terrorist organizations and their leaders subject to 40 year mandated prison terms if charged and convicted. And President Calderon wants Mexico's Congress to pass an amendment giving him constitutional powers to tap phones and search private residences without first obtaining court-ordered approval under any conditions he claims is "urgent."
Mexico's hard right Supreme Court of Nacional Justice (SCJN) is supportive. Last year it declared Mexico's military can aid police in cases of public security that can be anything the state says it is. The Court also ruled law enforcement officials need no court-ordered warrants to search and seize in "flagrant situations" that can also mean anything and that violates the American Convention of Human Rights adopted as Mexican law.
Then there's Calderon's war on drugs and the cartels that's, in fact, a war no different than Colombia's war on dissident resistance groups like the FARC and ELN. Like Plan Colombia, Washington has a similar one for Mexico, so call it what it is - Plan Mexico with tens of millions in funding, equipment and technology to back it up. Also call it US-supported and funded state terrorism in a grand scheme to militarize the country and crack down on dissent and resistance to authoritarian rule at the federal, state and local levels. It's partnered with Washington in its phony "war on terrorism" to maintain order, crush opposition and incarcerate anyone interfering or in the way.
US military elements already operate inside Mexico freely and covertly, and a 1994 Pentagon briefing paper, declassified under FOIA, hinted at a US invasion if the country became destabilized or the government faced the threat of being overthrown because of "widespread economic and social chaos" that would jeopardize US investments, access to oil, overall trade, and would create great numbers of immigrants heading north.
Plans are in place and are playing out to snuff out trouble before it spirals out of control, and the proposed US immigration bill was to provide funding for it through stepped up militarization. But even with the bill defeated, the money's coming and US forces will follow if needed. Congressional budgeting calls for millions in Mexican military aid and massive new border detention centers for up to 30,000 detainees for starters with two notorious ones discussed below already operating. What's planned on the border will also likely show up anywhere in all three SPP countries to defuse social discontent by disappearing a large new political prisoner population into black holes of repressive incarceration. That's SPP's promise and scheme to create police state North America making the continent safe for corporate interests by revoking ours.
Raymondville and Hutto Texas Immigrant Prison Detention Centers
The Willacy immigrant detention center at Raymondville, Texas, is oppressive enough to be called "Ritmo." It's run by the private for-profit MTC Corporation and is currently the largest immigrant prison in the country in the remote southern tip of the state. It cost million to build, is a "tent city," and is ringed by barbed wire and 14-foot high chain-link fences. It currently holds over 2000 immigrant detainees under repressive conditions including 23 hour a day lockdowns in 10 windowless hothouses. Entire families are incarcerated there, fed poor or insufficient food, given inadequate and delayed medical care, and treated inhumanely in unsafe conditions for extended periods lasting months.
Conditions overall are abusive, disciplinary punishment harsh, with detainees having to put up with no partitions or doors separating five toilets, five sinks, five shower heads and eating areas where some days detainees lack utensils and eat with their hands. Lights are kept on round the clock, clothing is inadequate, and on cold days detainees are kept outside for an allowed daily hour in short-sleeved uniforms with no warm protective clothing like blankets, sweat shirts or jackets.
The Hutto Residential Center is another immigrant detention center in Taylor, Texas currently holding around 400 prisoners including 200 children and infants. Few detainees here or at other immigrant prisons committed crimes or were charged with any, yet they're treated like criminals because they were forced here to survive NAFTA and DR-CAFTA inflicted job losses. They're victims of US repressive trade policies but are treated like criminals made to suffer retribution for exploitative state practices committed against them.
Post 9/11, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was passed establishing the repressive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and in March, 2003 its largest investigative and enforcement arm - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). It's charged with protecting public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist" threats to the country that include Latino and other desperate for work undocumented immigrants forced to come here to survive.
ICE was established to apprehend them at the border or hunt them down relentlessly once here. It has four integrated divisions, one of which is policing our southern border and conducting terror-raid undocumented immigrant worker roundups with those apprehended headed for abusive detention at facilities like Raymondville and Hutto. There and at other facilities like them, ICE-detained immigrants number around 28,000 on an average day with totals heading for 30,000 or more by year end.
Hutto is run by Corrections Corporation of American, the largest for-profit private prison operator in the country. It has 64 facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia with a capacity for incarcerating over 69,000 inmates. It's reputation is unsavory based on former prisoner accounts of severe abuse, inadequate medical and educational services, poor or noxious food and overall inhumane conditions including rat and roach-infested cramped centers, inadequate basic hygiene, rapes, beatings and deaths at their facilities.
The Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas houses immigrant detainees. It's particularly notorious for treating young children no differently than adults, including some too young to know where they are or why and older ones with no idea why they're detained at all. Conditions are made worse by abusive guards and uncaring officials.
The daily routine is stultifying and cruel. Families are awakened at 5:30AM and allowed 30 minutes to bathe and dress. They then get 20 minutes to eat food that's often poor quality, inedible, and/or inadequate. If children haven't finished in time, their food is thrown out and they're left to go hungry.
Following meals, prisoners are returned to their cells, aren't allowed out, denied sleep during the day, and forced to sit and endure boredom to pass the time. No books are allowed, and frequent head counts are taken throughout the day to assure no one escaped. Educational facilities for children are pathetically inadequate at one hour a day in which practically nothing is taught, and conditions and treatment overall are so bad the ACLU sued DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff on March 6 on behalf of 10 abused children at Hutto. The US District Court judge hearing the case, Sam Sparks, set an expedited trial date for August, agreeing with the plaintiff that detainee treatment at Hutto fails to meet federal standards.
Homeland Security Police State Justice for Everyone
Post-9/11, Muslims and Latino immigrants have been targeted by the Bush administration, falsely charged with terrorism and other crimes, and subjected to abusive harassment and persecution. They've been victimized by mass roundups, detentions, prosecutions and deportations the result of baseless claims they threaten national security. If full-blown SPP security measures are implemented, anyone challenging, or seen threatening, state authority may henceforth be subjected to similar harsh treatment. It's practically that way now, but expect lots worse ahead. The rule of law will be weakened or ignored, civil liberties and essential human needs further eroded, and state and corporate power tightened enough to be in full control.
Dissent no longer will be tolerated, and anyone seen as a threat in an age of a "war on terrorism" will be targeted, just as Muslims and immigrants are today. Preparations are in progress for mass detentions with Halliburton the beneficiary of a DHS contingency contract worth up to 5 million to build US-based detention centers. Their stated purpose is for "detention and processing" in case of an "emergency influx of immigrants....or to support the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion facilities (able to hold 5000 or more persons)."
This language provides cover for planned concentration camps targeting anyone for indefinite detention as a perceived enemy of the state or threat to national security any time henceforth. The idea is to have facilities ready in case martial law is declared for any reason. It might include the kind of major "terrorist" attack DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff practically signaled is coming later this summer to a Chicago Tribune editorial board July 10. ABC News also hyped the story citing a new FBI analysis of Al-Queda messages warning of "continued messages that convey their strategic intent to strike the US homeland and US interests worldwide (that) should not be discounted as merely deceptive noise." The rest of the corporate media jumped on the story as well to prepare the public for full militarization of the country if what Chertoff and a number of intelligence analysts believe is virtually certain ahead.
The Pentagon is ready if it comes with an action plan prepared in a DOD document called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." It envisions an "active, layered defense" both within and outside the US pledging to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the....US homeland." It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." It also "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."
These are ominous developments signaled with very dangerous language. It suggests the likelihood of an impending terror attack severe enough to warrant suspension of the Constitution followed by martial law. It means anyone may be considered a threat to national security and detained indefinitely with or without evidence to prove it. It further empowers the state, through the military, to act preventively through mass roundups and detentions. No one will be safe or spared if targeted and will be subject to police state justice granting them none.
A full-scale militarization of the country can be implemented any time on what a 1988 Reagan era Executive Order 12656 called any "national security emergency" defined as "Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States."
Other repressive legislation's already in place as well. Under Patriot and Military Commission Acts justice, constitutional rights are severely weakened, and we're all "enemy combatants" stripped of our habeas and due process rights, subject to indefinite detentions, denied our right to counsel and at the mercy of military tribunal justice with no right of appeal.
Welcome to North America's Security and Prosperity Partnership guaranteeing it to elitist interests by denying it to the people of three nations. They're to be parts of the new "united continent of America," or North American Union, run by dark forces in Washington that won't move out when a new president moves in January 20, 2009.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on The MicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.
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