Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Arbeit Mach Frei

(Via No Quarters)

" Arbeit Mach Frei"

Translation: "Work will set you free". These were the words the Nazis posted in iron at Dachau, where 30,000 were executed and an unknown number died of disease, malnourishment and abuse.

Now, fast forward a few years to 2006:

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.

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, company executives said. KBR, which announced the contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration agencies from 2000 to last year.

(This is from the NY Times; you'll need BugMeNot.)

Now certain Congresscreatures are up in arms over the Halliburton, with its sterling reputation of scrupulously charging only for work actually done, is getting the contract. That's all fine and dandy, but they're sort of missing the point. Let me draw your attention to this phrase:

...or for new programs that require additional detention space...

Now of course, these new programs are absolutely undefined. They could be anything. However, the size and location of these detention centers is fairly well defined:

A spokesman for the corps, Clayton Church, said that the centers could be at unused military sites or temporary structures and that each one would hold up to 5,000 people.

Now, in fairness, I should note that the camps will not be built until needed, and that a similar contract has been in place since 2000. But that contract was apparently only with agencies charged with immigration activities (although it was used to build temporary facilities for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina)--the new one is with Homeland Security, that lovely government entity comprised of the following old government entities:
  • US Customs Service
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Federal Protective Service
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • parts of the Animal and Plan Health Inspection Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (good ol' FEMA)
  • Strategic National Stockpile
  • National Disaster Medical System
  • Domestic Emergency Support Teams
  • National Domestic Preparedness Office
  • CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Countermeasures Programs
  • Environmental Measurements Laboratory
  • National BW (Biological Warfare) Analysis Center
  • Plum Island Animal Disease Center
  • Federal Computer Incident Response Center
  • National Communications Defense System
  • Energy Security and Assurance Program
and a new agency:
  • Transportation Security Administration
(By the way, all this is from DHS's web site. Fun place.)

Now I don't even recognize some of those names, but with the size of our Federal government these days, that doesn't surprise or concern me. What does concern me is what some of these agencies are tasked with, and the idea that one or more of them could have some new program that would involve mass detentions. As a pretty far out example, let's use the Federal Computer Incident Response Center. Can you picture them having camps built to house a sudden influx of script kiddies, porn downloaders, spammers and assorted other computer-related ner-do-wells?

Well, guess what--it could happen. All of those activities are illegal in whole or part, and all it would take is the President ordering a crackdown. "The Internet is in grave danger, and it's too big a part of our New Economy for us to take this danger laying down. A preemptive strike is in order before we wake up and find the Internet in smoking ruins. We must have a War on Script Kiddies, and I hereby order the Department of Homeland Security to strictly enforce our existing laws."

Will this happen? Probably not--I definitely hope not. But it's now just within the realm of possibility. That's what concerns me.

If you've been around the survivalist community long, you've seen the "black helicopter" and "UN concentration camp" discussions. Somehow, they don't strike me as being quite as funny just now.

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