|Homan Square (The Guardian)|
It took one of the victims of Homan Square (the secret detention facility) to blow the whistle on it to the British newspaper The Guardian, which published its exposé this week. And now other detainees and their lawyers are coming forward to tell their own horror stories. You might call this the Bill Cosby Effect.
Officials and politicians proclaim themselves absolutely shocked that there could be a secret interrogation pen in the heartland of The Homeland. Spencer Ackerman, who broke the original story, writes:
As a second person came forward to the Guardian detailing her own story of being “held hostage” inside Homan Square without access to an attorney or an official public record of her detention by Chicago police, officials and activists said the allegations merited further inquiry and risked aggravating wounds over community policing and race that have reached as high as the White House.
Caught in the swirl of questions around the complex – still active on Wednesday – was (Rahm) Emanuel, the former chief of staff to Barack Obama who is suddenly facing a mayoral runoff election after failing to win a majority in a contest that has seen debate over police tactics take a central role.
Emanuel’s office refused multiple requests for comment from the Guardian on Wednesday, referring a reporter to an unspecific denial from the Chicago police. But Luis Gutiérrez, the influential Illinois congressman whose shifting support for Emanuel was expected to secure Tuesday’s election, joined a chorus of colleagues in asking for more information about Homan Square. “I had not heard about the story until I read about it in the Guardian,” Gutiérrez said late Wednesday. “I want to get more information, but if the allegations are true, it sounds outrageous.”Oh, please. Homan Square is just one of many go-to places for the ruling class to send noisy dissidents and undesirables while very important people are holding their NATO summits and other neoliberal meetups.
Take Nassau County in Long Island, New York. In 2012, during the Hofstra University pseudo-debate between the two male narcissists then running for president, two female Green Party candidates were hauled away to "a remote police warehouse" and kept shackled to metal folding chairs for eight hours, without charge. They weren't allowed phone calls or bathroom visits. They were detained so that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could safely simper back and forth over "binders full of women."
Although the illegal detention of Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala was widely reported at the time, there was no massive public outcry and definitely no demand from either legacy party for a Department of Justice probe into totalitarian police state practices. To the contrary: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were grateful that their charade of a debate was not interrupted by anybody asking about perpetual war, government surveillance, wealth inequality, mass unemployment and lack of prosecution of Wall Street fraudsters.
News of the incident spread quickly around the world via media coverage carried on ABC, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Democracy Now!, and many other channels, as well as via social media, trending on Twitter, for example, as far away as Egypt.
On her release, Dr. Stein said that, "It was painful but symbolic to be handcuffed for all those hours, because that what the Commission on Presidential Debates has essentially done to American democracy." Stein and Honkala were eventually released into the cold at 10:30pm. Police provided no advance notice of the release to campaign lawyers and staff, and did not allow the two candidates to make any phone calls.
Cheri Honkala called her incarceration, "extremely uncomfortable, but standard for what so many Americans face on a daily basis in our corrections system." Added Stein Campaign Manager Ben Manski, "These arrests and this treatment are outrageous and disproportionate; who do the police think they are protecting here?"Who do the police always protect? Police are merely functionaries of the ruling class. They protect and serve the very important people by suppressing dissent, culling the herd of the deliberately marginalized and disenfranchised, and keeping the world safe for anti-democracy.
Homan Square and its many secret clones are only temporary warehouses, way-stations for human beings destined for either formal prison terms or quick releases, depending upon the offense or on the politician who is in danger of being temporarily embarrassed.
There are now thousands of men, women and children being detained in longer term prisons known as immigrant "residential centers." Built by the Obama administration specifically to imprison refugees fleeing Central American poverty and violence, officials readily admit that these for-profit facilities were designed solely to "stem the tide" of undocumented migrants. People will think twice, they rationalize, about crossing the border once they find out that life in the Land of the Free is as hellish as Life in the Third World. The detention centers are rife with physical and sexual abuse at the hands of low-paid guards, as well as lack of medical care. They are gulags befitting any totalitarian regime ever dreamed up by a despot.
And what would an immigration "crisis" be without its disaster capitalism? Wall Street is profiting big-time from its investments in GEO, the Corrections Corporation of America, and Management and Training Corp. three of the private prison operators operating Homeland Security's "family-friendly" detention warehouses.
It seems, however, that the families enjoying the amenities have finally had enough of them. A riot broke out at a south Texas warehouse this week, after tenant complaints about the sexual abuse, the beatings, the lack of medical care went unheeded by the slumlord known as Uncle Sam. From Al Jazeera:
The uprising, or unrest, as prison officials called it, began early Friday at the Willacy County Correctional Center — operated by the privately held prison company Management and Training Corp. on behalf of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Management and Training's 10-year contract with the federal government is worth about half a billion dollars. The facility is about 40 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border in Raymondville, Texas, and has been nicknamed Ritmo, or Raymondville's Guantánamo, for its "crammed and squalid" conditions.
Two hundred inmates are packed into each Kevlar tentlike structure that serves as housing, with no privacy between beds or in the bathrooms, where toilets and showers are open without partitions, the ACLU said in a 2014 report titled "Warehoused and Forgotten.
Insects and spiders crawl through holes in the tents and bite detainees. Toilets frequently overflow, and the water was shut off for days in 2012 after it started to look yellowish-green, according to the report. Authorities gave inmates bottled water two days later.The riot, officials wryly noted, left the warehouse (euphemised by the government as a "Criminal Alien Requirement Prison") uninhabitable. The inmates were being transferred to friendlier Texas prisons, until the Homeland profiteers can extract more low-wage labor to generate more construction cash for themselves.
Meanwhile, in response to the ACLU lawsuit, a humane federal judge has finally ordered the Obama administration to stop its depraved practice of imprisoning women and children caught at the border. From the New York Times:
The ruling on Friday, by Judge James E. Boasberg of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, invalidates a central piece of the administration’s strategy to curb illegal immigration across the Southwest border.
During the influx of migrants last summer, the Department of Homeland Security started holding most women who came with their children in detention centers in Texas and New Mexico, to discourage others in their home countries from embarking on an illegal passage to the United States. The women and children were detained even after they had asked for asylum and passed the initial test to prove their cases, showing they had credible fears of facing persecution if they were sent home. Their petitions for release were routinely denied.(snip)
The imprisonment of political dissidents like the NATO summit protesters in Chicago and presidential candidates in New York who dared challenge the elite duopoly is also devised to send a clear message to all of us: get with our program, shut up, and be afraid. We can't send you back, but we can still make you disappear.Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson said the detention policy was devised to send a clear message to families in Central America, where most of the migrants were from: “If you come, it is likely you will be detained and sent back.”
I am waiting with bated breath for the Department of Justice to clamp down on the secret police black site in Chicago with one ill-fitting denture. I am waiting for the Obama administration to construct new "off the books" immigrant detention sites and call them Holiday Inn Expresses. I am also waiting for these stories of abuse to quickly fade into the ether, to be replaced by the usual infotainment and propaganda: Hillary breaking the glass ceiling, Obama urging equal pay for women while finding rape unacceptable on elite college campuses, and the latest domestic terrorists being conveniently caught "aspiring" to join ISIS, right before our shocked and awe-struck eyes.