• Bolivia Crisis 2019 Explained

    In an election plagued with irregularities that seeded public distrust in the electoral process and fears that democracy was falling to autocracy, chaos reigns king across Bolivia… with perhaps some outside help. 

    Evo Morales, is the first indigenous president in a country that is majority indigenous, has overseen an economic transformation since his first term, and has overall done a fair job lifting thousands out of poverty and introducing social programs across Bolivia. Morales was initially barred from running for a fourth term by constitutional term limits. Opposition and party allies alike strongly advised Morales to avoid seeking the fourth term and allow alternative candidates to run for the sake of peace and progress. He instead pushed a referendum to abolish term limits, which was decisively voted against.  Despite the results of the referendum and calls for him to gracefully step aside Morales chose to run with approval from the Supreme court which some allege he stacked in his favor prior to the referendum.

    The election was carried out on October 20 and is divided into two counts the TREP and the official count. To win the first count, candidates need to obtain at least 50% of the vote, or 40% and win by 10% points over the second highest candidate. The TREP is a quick count so that on election night, some results are released quickly to media and add confidence in the legitimacy of the election. Amid the results of the first count, Carlos Mesa, the main challenger to Morales began to falsely and publicly claim he had already advanced to the 2nd round, based on incomplete TREP results. Whether he did this deliberately to instigate post election chaos or delegitimize the process is currently unknown. When the TREP count reached 83% of the vote counted, the electoral authority held a press conference reporting the results, Morales 46% and Mesa 38%, a difference of 8% percentage points indicating a 2nd round for an official count could be started. The electoral authorities stopped the quick count and declared the election could proceed to the 2nd round, the official count, prior to the election they had publicly pledged to move to the 2nd round when more than 80% of the quick count had taken place, so stopping the TREP was not a surprise or unexpected.

    Despite the TREP quick count not being a determining factor in choosing the presidential winner, the U.S. led Organization of American States (OAS), inexplicably condemned the electoral authority prior to a proper audit of the vote and demanded the TREP to be restarted. The OAS which observes elections has been recommending and implementing these types of ‘Quick Count’ and ‘Official Count’ systems across South America.  However it has proven not to be a reliable nor neutral instrument in the past, often pushing U.S. interests and overturning elections in favor of Right Wing governments willing to exploit natural resources to U.S., Canada linked corporations. As was the case in the 2010 Haiti election which was overturned in favor of a U.S. friendly leader who has ransacked the country ever since, leading to an explosion of anti corruption and pro democracy protests in 2019.

    Under pressure from the U.S. led OAS the electoral authority restarted the TREP vote, which was legally shut off according to official procedure, when the vote resumed 96% of the votes had been counted, and Morales had jumped to a lead of 47% to Mesa’s 37%, giving Evo Morales a clear victory over his opponent in the TREP vote. However it must be noted, and world wide media absolutely missed or failed to mention, whether deliberately or maliciously… the TREP quick count does not determine the presidential winner, the official count does. But by then it was too late, candidate Mesa and world wide media outlets quickly echoed electoral fraud leading to nationwide civil unrest and mutiny. For nearly 20 days before President Evo Morales announced his resignation, as a result of a military coup d’etat and targeted violence against government ministers and their families, thousands of elements of civil society from differing backgrounds and political ideologies organized across Bolivia to decry what they viewed as electoral fraud. Police nationwide retreated to their headquarters in every major city often joining electoral fraud protests while wielding firearms and occasionally burning indigeinous iconography and flags. Ministers and other government officials began to hand in their resignations due to threats against their lives, families, and homes from mobs and unknown assailants. Left wing and Right wing mobs have taken to the streets to attack each other and blame one another for unverified extreme acts of violence and murder, which foreign and domestic commentators online quickly distribute to satisfy their own political narratives.

    Amid the turmoil and risk of civil war in order to obtain stability in Bolivia, President Evo Morales requested the OAS to audit the election, which investigators found to have irregularities; upon the official confirmation of possible fraud Evo Morales then proceeded to call for a redo of the election with brand new electoral authorities and outside observers, but no mention of his resignation. Hours later the military forced Morales to step down in a coup d’etat which western media cynically rephrased as ‘asked to step down’ despite the reasonable and appropriate call for a new election by the newly deposed Morales.

    Evo Morales and other government officials have now fled to Mexico the last bastion of the Latin American Left, a luxury Morales supporters cannot afford, the National Assembly must now set up an interim government and call an election within 90 days. Meanwhile the country slowly burns from within; a fire built up under decades of right wing resentment, government disregard for the constitution, a binary left vs right civil society, and foreign manipulation in the international not so secret resource war between China, the five eyes, and the EU for Bolivia’s vast Lithium reserves. Lost in the OAS unleashed insanity, the TREP didn’t even matter and the official count, the real election, had yet to take place.

  • The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment

    This article was originally published by Alexander Reid Ross, author of the book ‘Against The Fascist Creep. The author would like to thank Professor Wayne Wakeland of Portland State University for his assistance with the development of Figure 3. . Republished here for educational purposes. Originally published on the SPLC here which took it down after coming under legal pressure.

    During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.” Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

    The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

    Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

    Red and brown polarities

    As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

    Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov, along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

    As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

    After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Reportnamed Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

    The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium, Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

    This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

    The Syria connection

    The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

    As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site, 21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotesantisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

    Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

    Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

    The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

    Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

    Multipolar propaganda

    According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

    Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybkoand Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with theSyria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

    A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

    With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

    During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

    The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

    “Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

    Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

    This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

    Highway to the Grayzone

    Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

    Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

    “If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

    Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

    Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimesand helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminatingDamascus’s water supply.

    When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

    Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

    While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

    Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

    Right uses left

    Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

    The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

    As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

    A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

    The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

  • Make America Genocide Again: concentration camps, corruption, and the fall of a nation

    Genocide and Ethnic cleansing do not happen overnight nor in secret, it is a very public and open process that often takes place after years and even decades of preparation and normalization before it is carried out. This can be identified early on through public acts of state violence or policies targeting unwanted or undesired groups followed by an increase of racist, misogynistic, or nationalist rhetoric becoming mainstream and widespread throughout a country.  People tend to view or understand news events as being a collection of independent stories or information that do not correlate. While others erroneously believe genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and corruption are problems exclusive to disadvantaged nations. This deceptive illusion of safety is a death trap that imperils society’s ability to assure human rights are upheld and impairs democracy. To prevent or halt the spread of these crimes we need to thoroughly comprehend how they came to be and who to hold accountable for these actions.

    “Beware of your contribution to the growing banality of evil lest you yourself become a cog in the machinery of terror.”

    Heather Marsh, Oxford Union, Whistleblowing Panel, 2018.

    The United States currently has a minimum of one refugee concentration camp per state throughout the U.S. mainland. Meanwhile, deportations are reported to have declined while ICE raids nationwide have risen by 40% in 2017. “What our data reveals is a shadowy network of government facilities, subcontractors from the prison-industrial complex, ‘nonprofit’ administrators paid over half a million dollars a year, and religious organizations across the country that, together, prop up the immigrant detention machine. Immigrant detention is a multibillion-dollar business and it’s happening in our own backyards.” researchers at Torn/Apart stated.

    Concentration camp (noun): a place in which large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution. -Oxford English Dictionary

    How We Got Here

    In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990 was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. A reform of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that increased total overall immigration; and allowed 700,000 immigrants and refugees to migrate to the U.S. yearly through 1992–1994 and 675,000 per year after that. When signing the bipartisan measure into law, President George H.W. Bush stated that the act “recognizes the fundamental importance and historic contributions of immigrants to our country.”

    In 1996, the U.S. Congress in a complete reversal from 1990 passed several laws that curtailed immigrants’ rights signed by President Bill Clinton. These included the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The aggressive 1996 laws passed under then-President Bill Clinton’s administration significantly expanded the number of people including green card holders into being detained and expelled from the United States for minor infractions.

    In 2002, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks the George W. Bush Administration restructured 22 federal agencies and 170,000 federal employees into the Department of Homeland Security. This included the Immigration and Naturalization Services, under the Justice Department, and the United States Customs Service, part of the Treasury Department which were fused into Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and United States Customs and Border Protection.

    In 2003, ICE announced operation Endgame, which publicly set as its goal the 100 percent expulsion of all “removable aliens.” After the creation of DHS and ICE, the budget for immigration enforcement doubled from $6.2 billion in 2002 to $14 billion in 2018. Since the creation of the DHS, the U.S. federal government has spent an estimated $324 billion on immigration enforcement. According to the Detention Watch Network, the “average daily population of detained immigrants increased from approximately 5,000 in 1994, to 19,000 in 2001, and over 39,000 in 2017.”

    In 2005, President George W. Bush made it his Administration’s policy to deny the Flores Protections to refugee children traveling with their parents. The Bush administration chose to incarcerate hundreds of families for months at a time at the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center near Austin, Texas. Legal filings of a federal lawsuit brought against the Bush Administration describe young children forced to wear prison jumpsuits, to live in dormitory housing, to use toilets exposed to public view and to sleep with the lights on, and refused access to appropriate schooling. The George Bush Administration settled the suit with a promise to improve the conditions at Hutto however they continued to deny that children in the family detention were entitled to the Flores Protections. The Hutto concentration camp now holds refugee women and was previously implicated in widespread sexual abuse in 2018.

    In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the first federal contracts on the construction and management of U.S. concentration camps. Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company formerly run by the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was given a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary ‘immigration detention centers’ by The Army Corps of Engineers. Halliburton was previously accused by U.S. federal auditors overcharging the U.S. government by at least $2.7 billion in reconstruction contracts in Iraq and of being aided by connections in obtaining contracts.  The contract with the Corps of Engineers was originally drafted to run for one year, with four optional one-year extensions worth millions. Officials of the corps said that they had solicited bids and that Kellogg Brown & Root was the only company showed to them.

    The Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville, Texas. (Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

    In 2008, two major private prison corporations emerged as the main corporate beneficiaries of immigrant detention policies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) now know as CoreCivic and GEO Group. Between 2008 and 2014, CCA spent $10.5M lobbying on issues related to immigrant detention and immigration reform; $9.7M, 61% of total private prison lobbying expenditures, lobbying directly to the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee. GEO Group was also lobbying on immigration and immigrant detention issues, spending $460,000 between 2011 and 2014.

    In 2009, during a growing decline in undocumented immigration, Senator Robert Byrd, then Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and former high ranking member of the Ku Klux klan; added the following regarding ICE detention budget into the DHS Appropriations Act of 2010: “…funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds.” This directive was interpreted by ICE as a mandate to contract for and fill more than 34,000 detention beds daily. The mandate essentially required a U.S. government agency to fulfill a quota in benefit of private concentration camp operators granted bloated government contracts. Which has further shaped ICE from acting less as law enforcement but more as mercenaries for private industry. However ICE later publically denied that they interpreted this directive as a quota, despite holding at least 40,000 people in concentration camps daily ever since.

    In late 2009, President Obama reversed the Bush Administration policy on family detention; abolishing it at Hutto and leaving only a small facility in Pennsylvania to house refugee families in exceptional circumstances. For all other refugee families, the Obama Administration returned to a policy of release to await trial. However, when a surge of refugees from Central America allegedly began, President Obama quickly reinstated the Bush-era policies and announced plans to resume family detention.

    In 2013, President Obama’s administration spent nearly $18 billion on immigration enforcement approximately 24 percent higher than collective spending for the Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, FBI, and Drug Enforcement Administration. President Obama also increased ICE funding and expanded their presence in communities, terrorizing populations with daily mass raids across the United States, which led to roughly 3 million deportations. The Obama Administration also enhanced ICE’s sweeping powers to surveil violating the privacy of not only immigrant and refugee communities, but US citizens as well as there was no legal oversight provided over surveillance operations.

    In 2014, President Obama expanded ICE’s capacity to detain families, which mostly targeted women and children who were rounded up and placed inside private concentration camps pending their asylum cases. Where many of them suffered physical and sexual abuse, torture, and inhumane conditions at hands of private operators, CBP, and ICE agents.  The Obama Administration also granted an unprecedented $1 billion contract to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which details were not disclosed to the public.

    In 2015, after severe media and congressional scrutiny, the Obama Administration released most of the women and children, some of which had been locked up for almost a year. On May 13, 2015, Sally Yates was confirmed as the new Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the second-highest-ranking position in the DOJ. During her confirmation hearing, when questioned by then-Senator Jeff Sessions if she would disobey a president’s unlawful orders she responded that she would have an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution; and to give independent legal advice to the president. Upon entering service, she authored the policy, known as the “Yates memo”, prioritizing the prosecution of executives for corporate crimes.

    By August of 2016, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced DOJ plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective than those run by the government. The goal was “reducing and ultimately ending our use of privately operated prisons.” She instructed officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the scope of the contracts.’

    In 2016, Corporation of America (CCA) now known as CoreCivic and GEO Group stocks began to collapse after the Sally Yates DOJ announcement. Facing economic uncertainty, despite being paid $20 million a year by the US Government; after the abrupt DOJ decision to no longer uses their services CCA (CoreCivic) and Geo Group both began to pour extravagant amounts of money into lobbying U.S. Presidential candidates the Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republican Donald Trump. A later lawsuit in 2017, revealed that In August and November 2016, GEO Group, illegally donated a total of $225,000 through a subsidiary to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super-PAC.

    In 2017, upon entering office President Donald Trump fired then-acting attorney general Sally Yates after she defied an illegal travel ban on prominently Muslim countries. Yates was replaced by Dana Boente who only served for a few months before abruptly resigning and was subsequently replaced by Jeff Sessions. Less than two weeks after being sworn in then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the Obama-era DOJ memo set by Sally Yates; that set a goal of reducing and ultimately ending the DOJ’s use of corporate private prisons. Coincidently enough at the time, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a stockholder of both CCA (CoreCivic) and Geo Group, who saw their stocks soar due to this action, although some argue that this isn’t subject to conflict of interest.

    Systematic Abuse

    From the start of the United States misguided and well-funded effort to prevent refugees, undocumented migrants, and other groups from entering or passing through the country. There has been a trail of abuse and horror committed by the involved government agencies and private contractors that continues today.

    The abuses committed by the state and its contractors against men, women, and children prominently from Central America and elsewhere seeking refuge and asylum range from: murder, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape & sexual abuse; and last but not least persecution due to their racial, national, ethnic, or cultural identities. And a series of other inhumane acts that intentionally cause great suffering, or serious injury to body or mental or physical health.

    The restriction of medical care, restriction of sanitary utensils, and the widespread use of solitary confinement (torture) are also practices used by U.S. agencies and contractors at concentration camps. Guards place refugees in solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons, such as getting sick, being mentally ill, pushing for proper medical care or speaking to journalists. U.S. federal data from 2013 showed that 300 people were held in solitary confinement daily in 50 of ICE’s detention centers. One victim Ayo Oyakhire, a 50-year-old, man was tortured in solitary for 45 days, gained 20 pounds, and experienced intense psychological terror. When he filed a formal complaint against the abuse, he had been submitted to, ICE declared it was justified and deported him to Nigeria.

    The United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez has stated that solitary confinement should be banned and that solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment. According to an ICIJ investigation, it identified 187 cases in which a refugee was held for more than six months. In 32 of those cases, the refugee was confined to solitary for a year or more. ICE refugee death reports found that at least 13 refugees who died in ICE custody had spent time in solitary, in some cases up to the time of death. In eight of those deaths, ICE later determined that rules for putting refugees in isolation and procedures for caring for them were not followed, according to agency documents.

    ICIJ Report, ‘Thousands of Immigrants Suffer In US Solitary Confinement ‘, 2019

    Some ICE concentration camps such as Adelanto Detention Facility in California, run by the GEO Group, and Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, run by CCA (CoreCivic) practice the crime of enslavement. In a 2017  lawsuit filed against CCA (CoreCivic), the private prison contractor is accused of violating human trafficking laws and employing a deprivation scheme to force refugees held at Stewart to work for cents on the hour. It also threatened to punish them through solitary confinement or by cutting necessities if they refuse to work or encourage others to refuse as well. CCA (CoreCivic)’s and Geo Groups abuse and exploitation of detained refugee and immigrant’ labor as part of its profit-making schemes constitute slavery. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, “slavery … in all [its] forms shall be prohibited,” and that no one, including detained refugees, immigrants, or prisoners, “shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor”.

    In 2019, it was revealed that roughly 9,500 agents out of the 19,437 existing agents in the agency were part of a secret facebook hate group. The group mocked or promoted refugee and migrant deaths or killings, child abuse, concentration camps, rape, misogyny and hate speech. U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost was also found to be in the group and accused of being a participant. A very small mixed sample of inhumane acts committed by the state, especially against children, are listed below; and compiled by the ACLU in 2018 from firsthand witness accounts collected in official complaints against CBP agents.

    • Stomped on a child
    • Subjected a child to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed”
    • Hit a child’s head with a flashlight
    • Used a stun gun on a boy, causing him to fall to the ground, shaking, with his eyes rolling back in his head
    • Verbally abused children, calling them dogs and “other ugly things”
    • Lifted a child by the neck and pushed him against a glass structure
    • Kneed a child twice in the stomach
    • Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice.
    • Threw two other minors on top of a child.
    • Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement (torture) in a small, freezing room.
    • Pulled a child to a standing position by his hair, yelled profanities at the child, and threw the child to the ground, where the side of the child’s face hit a rock.
    • Kicked a child in the ribs.
    • Tased a child, causing him to fall on the ground; Border Patrol agent then kicked child in the back while telling child to get up.
    • Ran over a child with patrol vehicle, and then punched the minor on head and body several times.
    • Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.
    • Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth.
    Pro Public Report, ‘ Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border ‘, 2018

    In 2008, According to legal filings of a lawsuit against concentration camp contractor, Shiloh Treatment Center, refugee children in U.S. custody are experimented on and subdued with powerful psychiatric drugs. Shiloh Treatment Center is owned and operated by the same entity that previously owned Daystar Treatment Center. Where staff are known to have murdered at least four children, forced developmentally disabled children to fight for snacks, filled with sexual abuse allegations; and was allowed to operate for 17 years.

    An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Texas Tribune found nearly half of the $3.4 billion paid to private contractors dealing with young refugee children in a 4 year span went to those with serious allegations of mistreating children. The drugs given to children rendered them unable to walk, afraid of people and wanting to sleep constantly. The lawsuit reveals how one child was prescribed a cocktail of 10 different medications, including the antipsychotic drugs Latuda, Geodon and Olanzapine, the Parkinson’s medication Benztropine, the seizure medications Clonazepam and Divalproex, the nerve pain medication and antidepressant Duloxetine, and the cognition enhancer Guanfacine. As a result of that lawsuit, ICE agreed to allegedly stop the practice.

    In 2017, ICE petitioned to destroy all records of refugee and migrant in-Custody deaths, sexual assault, and other detainee files that may expose the agency to accountability. According CIVIC, there were 14,693 reported incidents of sexual and physical abuse in U.S concentration camps from 2010 to 2016; across all DHS agencies for the same period there was over 33,000 complaints with only 1% of complaints investigated.

    In 2019, it was revealed that the U.S. federal government received more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse of refugee children held in concentration camps between 2014 and 2018. These crimes increased under the Trump administration’s illegal “zero tolerance” policy, policy, which makes family separation state policy, it should be noted that this is a violation of the United Nations Genocide Convention. Congressman Ted Deutch who released the document said at least 154 claims of sexual assault of refugee children are against facility staff members and that “This works out on average to one sexual assault by HHS staff on an unaccompanied minor per week.” It was noted that allegations did not include HHS staff but private prison contractors “I will make that clarification. It doesn’t make what happened any less horrific,” Congressman Deutch responded. .

    Case For Genocide And Crimes Against humanity

    On April 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump passed the “zero tolerance” policy targeting refugees and immigrants which drew the ire of human rights activists and groups worldwide. Notably drawing condemnation from the United Nations Rights Chief which stated “The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” and issued a call on the United States to immediately put a stop to the policy, and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Facing international pressure on June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order pretending to end family separations at the U.S. border despite the ‘official end’ of the family separation policy, hundreds of children continue to be illegally separated from their parents and guardians in concentration camps.

    On March 2019, the United States government reported to a judge that since that time 300 children had been seperated triggering another United Nations condemnation on the treatment of refugees and family seperation. On June 2019 in a request for further funding, DHS officials reported that a record 60,000 children had been detained within 40 days. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform reported on July 2019, that over 700 children have been separated from their parents after the policy’s official end. It is estimated that as many as five children are being separated and placed in US refugee concentration camps per day. In August 2019 the ACLU revealed that at least 900 children had been removed from their families, in some cases without clear documentation to track them to reunite them with their parents and families.

    Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Mass Murder are all internationally recognized legal concepts that fall under different categories and subsections of international law. The actions and policies implemented by the United States under President Trump’s administration targeting refugees and immigrants are in direct violation of the United Nations Genocide Convention under Article ll in subsections b, c, and e.

    Article II In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 

    (a) Killing members of the group; 

    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 

    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 

    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    The United States refugee concentration camps and mass deportations are also in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement under international law, which dictates refugees cannot be denied entry nor returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. States have a legal obligation to ensure practical and human rights-based protection mechanisms are in place. This principle applies to all migrants and refugees at all times, irrespective of status. The torture, physical abuses, sexual abuses, and excessive detainment time in unsanitary conditions documented by multiple legal and media sources that refugees have experienced inside U.S. concentration camps constitute as Crimes Against Humanity, under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in subsections c, d, e, f, g, h, i,  k. 

    For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack. 

    (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; 

    (c) Enslavement; 

    (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

    (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; 

    (f) Torture; 

    (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; 

    (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; 

    (i) Enforced disappearance of persons; 

    (j) The crime of apartheid;

    (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.


    Those responsible for the atrocities committed by the United States under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security and the contractors it employs, in particular, GEO Group and CCA (Core Civic) must be held accountable for the international crimes committed against refugees and migrants over the last three decades. The Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations and other characters involved in government or industry who are implicated in the funding, planning, practice, propaganda, or cover-up of these atrocities need to be subject to an international and national criminal investigation.

    In the absence of membership to the International Criminal Court, an alternative must be created that compliments national criminal courts within the United States, as it was done with the Malabo Protocol for example. As for the United Nations, an independent investigative body must be created to record witness and victim testimony and identify the individuals, companies, and networks directly implicated in these atrocities. Those who are found to be implicated in these crimes must be subject to international sanctions, asset recovery, and international arrest warrants.

    Their nation is the international intelligence community and the politicians and corporations who can afford to pay them. This is not national security. It is a mafia protection racket available to the highest bidder.

    Heather Marsh, Oxford Union, Whistleblowing Panel, 2018.