Last year, I ranted about the death of Posse Comitatus and the presence of an active-duty military unit inside the borders of the United States. If you missed these posts, come up to speed now – otherwise, you may not appreciate the full impact of what I’m about to tell you.
This active-duty military unit is US Army 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (otherwise known as the Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive Consequence Management Response Force or CCMRF – pronounced, strangely enough, “sea-smurf”). Last time I checked on the whereabouts of this brigade, they had returned home from Iraq (October 2008) to Fort Stewart, Georgia, which is their base.
I’ve now found them in Orlando, Florida. They’ve been on the move, toughing it out in ‘gator territory and running simulated exercises (the type that will give them very solid experience to react to social unrest rapidly and effectively). I’ve asked before why a highly experienced combat brigade has returned to the US – and is potentially giving the finger to Posse Comitatus if this brigade is going to be increasingly taking a role in domestic law enforcement (let us remind ourselves that the US Constitution limits the power of the Federal Government to use the military for law enforcement). To find out just how highly experienced this brigade is (they are known as “Rock of the Marne”) go here.
Of course, a Commander has been quick to state that the brigade is “…… not allowed to act in the place of law enforcement”. So they’ve been busy participating in urban search and rescue efforts along with local officials. Now let’s not lose sight of the fact that the CCMRF is a fully trained and experienced unit that has spent over 35 months in Iraq patrolling in “full battle rattle”. They are well used to confronting an enemy in a theatre of war – so why are they back in the States simulating search and rescue efforts? What are they going to be rescuing, searching for or getting control of?
Well, there’s a piece of US legislation I’m a tad concerned about. Representive, Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., (wasn’t this dude impeached?) has introduced to the House of Representatives a new bill, H.R. 645 – National Emergency Centers Establishment Act – which calls for the Department of Homeland Security to establish no fewer than six national emergency centres on military installations. These centres will be FEMA camp facilities on military installations. Let’s pause for a moment – why are national emergency centres being built on MILITARY installations??
The legislation says that no fewer than six will be built, which means any number can be built as long as there are not less than six of these centres. I urge you to read Section 2 of the Bill, because aside from saying the centres would be used to provide temporary housing, medical and humanitarian assistance in the event of a national emergency – s2(b)(4) states: to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Frankly, I think this could be interpreted as anything the Secretary of Homeland Security believes to be an “appropriate need”. I find the language of the Bill too broad and vague (perhaps purposely so?). So, let’s play with some ideas – if the Global Financial Hissy Fit causes social unrest, could these centres become detention centres or camps to throw unruly US citizens into? Since the FEMA centres will be standing on military soil, does this not mean that the military could potentially be involved in domestic/civilian matters (which of course is against the separation of powers)? Would political dissent be seen by the Secretary as an appropriate need to throw citizens into a camp or two? Giving such sweeping authority to one office or person is surely a dangerous challenge to civil liberties.
Worse, it seems that this Bill extends the Presidential power. As I read it, the Bill would give Obama the authority to declare an emergency and direct all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments WITHOUT consulting Congress.
Some observers are equating these centres to Nazi concentration camps (political strategist Mike Baker for example). Whilst I’m going to stop short of suggesting this, I am going to suggest we need to ask some serious questions. If we couple the CCMRF brigade training exercises with news about HR 645 – could we draw the conclusion that the US Government is preparing to curb impending mass civil unrest by reinforcing what Bush already started – the militarisation of civilian State institutions?
Once a person is detained in a FEMA facility in a national emergency, considering these new centres will stand on military soil, does this mean military law will apply? If so, there goes any recourse to civilian law and habeas corpus. Disturbing.
There have been rumours for some time that FEMA already has hundreds of fully operational camps staffed with guards and dogs. And in the middle of an economic crisis, the new centres will cost US $360 million just to get going.
Let’s also look at REX 84, which stands for Readiness Exercise 1984. Back in 1984 (what an Orwellian date!), FEMA and other Government agencies conducted a civil readiness exercise in the event of mass civil disturbance and protests. Basically, REX 84 tested FEMA’s ability to operate under martial law and was part of a Continuity of Government programme. I believe that REX 84 led to rumours of fully operational “concentration camps” in the US and most likely the rumours are also caught up in the immigrant detention centres Kellogg Brown and Roots (a subsidiary of Halliburton) started building in 2006. Here is a Google map of what people are increasingly calling the FEMA concentration camps. And here is a YouTube video showing one of the FEMA facilities.
I plan to look at all this in more detail but if the Bill is passed by Congress and a national emergency occurs in the US, then dear American readers, remember the words of Ronald Reagan:
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Opening Chicago press conference with acknowledgment of farmers’ need for federal assistance, August 12, 1986.
UPDATE: The American Civil Liberties Union is also asking questions – demanding information on military deployment within US borders.