Sunday, February 22, 2009

Upstart State Senator Threatens to Inflame Border Crisis; Fox News Sensationalizes the Situation

In response to a series of stories, one of which is featured below on Fox News, upstart Texas State Senator and radio talk show host Dan Patrick (R-7th District/Houston) [pictured at right] appeared on Fox News with the notoriously obnoxious Glen Beck, presuming to speak for the people of Texas.

His appearance was regarding the law enforcement and military responses he is proposing in the event of a refugee crisis in northern Mexico, a possible crisis -- some say remote -- resulting from the violent clashes between Mexican federal forces and paramilitary hirelings of the Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (Gulf) drug cartels. Patrick's paranoia is based on the possibility that the violence will spread into Texas along with thousands -- some project a million -- refugees. But his zeal may be driven by "campaign contributions."

If we look closely into those contributions we find first of all a strong backing from the broadcast industry. Looking further we see a number of possibly hidden contributors bunched within lobbying groups. Looking within the list of the lobbyist's clients, we find the private prison corporations Civigenics and The GEO Group as well as the lobbyists who represented them. Both prison contractors have significant interests in Texas with multiple contracts for the detention of foreign nationals held for immigration violations.

But really, who can look inside a man's heart and know what his motivations are?

It should be noted that Dick Cheney maintains an $85-million investment in private prisons, specifically The GEO Group, via The Vanguard Group. It is for that reason that a South Texas district attorney, every bit the showman wanting to make a point, convinced a grand jury to indict the then Vice President, Richard Cheney, for the murder of a foreign detainee. A district judge ordered the charges dropped.

Cheney and the Privatization of Prisons

Indeed, in the opinion of some, Sen. Patrick is exploiting not only the dire situation on the Mexican border; but also the fear and prejudice of many south Texans -- all for his personal political gain and that of his financial backers. The notoriously xenophobic and Christian nationalist Lou Dobbs, who calls himself an "independent populist," would love this guy, a guy who supported Mike Huckabee in his run for the Republican party's presidential nomination in 2008. Isn't it funny how the most "religious" of "patriots" can get mixed up with Zealot Party interests. Erik Prince of Blackwater, as well as Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes immediately come to mind. George Bush doesn't count; he was faking it.

It is not surprising that Fox News is up to its usual sensationalizing for the cause of militarist excitation -- and those of their corporatist sponsors. Here is a news link to his appearance on FoxNews with the ever obnoxious Glen Beck, along with a script of the dialogue and the accompanying video of the interview.

Feb. 10: Police officers guard two vehicles in which suspected members of a crime gang are taken after being shown to the press in Mexico City.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 By Joshua Rhett Miller for Fox News
As drug cartels continue to terrorize Mexico, Texas officials are planning for the worst-case scenario: how to respond if the violence spills over the border, and what to do if thousands of Mexicans seek refuge in the United States.
Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said a multi-agency contingency plan is being developed, and it will focus primarily on law enforcement issues, including how to handle an influx of Mexicans fleeing violence.
"At this point, what we're focusing on is spillover violence," Cesinger told FOXNews.com Thursday. "The immediate concern, if any, would be that."

Unfortunately, the plan does not include any contingency in response to a possible influx of refugees if the "crisis" becomes chaotic. The only contingency seems to be that refugees will be held in the many detention centers in Texas contracted to private prison companies for the detention of foreign nationals.

This would mean a boon for private prison contractors like The GEO Group. No doubt, they are already licking their chops. Unfortunately, The GEO Group, as well as others, have a sorry record in the state when it comes to the humanitarian treatment of their detainees. One detention center scandal near Austin in 2007 involved maggot-contaminated food fed on the cheap to families of detained migrant workers. Two-hundred foreign detainees, including staff, fell sick with food poisoning after eating spoiled food served on the cheap at The GEO Group's Tacoma, Washington detention facility in 2007.

Often, the medical treatment provided by private contractors is poor at best, given their focus on the "bottom line." Beginning December 22, 2008, medical neglect involving mysterious deaths led to two riots in as many months at the GEO facility in Reeves County [pictured left] near the Mexican border. The Texas ACLU is currently pressing for an investigation.

In 2007 at their Val Verde detention facility there was a GEO scandal involving the mysterious deaths of three foreign nationals whose bodies were spirited out of the country to their countries of origin. Despite that Texas law requires an autopsy in such circumstances, their bodies were deported before autopsies could be conducted. The excuse was given that the law does not apply in cases involving foreign nationals, a claim that is telling in itself. Obviously, there were allegations of a cover-up that required the complicity of contract monitors and top GEO Group officials in Boca Raton, Florida, at company headquarters -- right there in the neighborhood with other CIA storefronts, of which their parent company, Wackenhut Corrections, was one.

Ongoing child abuse and neglect at the Coke County Juvenile Facility run by GEO caused such a uproarious scandal that it led to an organizational purge of the Texas Youth Commission. The GEO Group lost its contract with Coke County, but thanks to their cadre of deep pocketed lobbyists, GEO continues to operate in Texas despite scandal after notorious scandal.

Given the history of mismanagement and abuse in Texas detention centers, A military response to an influx of refugees -- especially if the job is left to the infamously abusive Border Patrol -- one which includes confinement of refugees in concentration camps like those run by The GEO Group, is egregiously short on the humanitarian responsibilities we share as good neighbors. It is incumbent upon Texas leaders to at least design a humanitarian response if they have become so concerned, as they appear to be, that a crisis may be imminent.

The last thing we need right now is the Texas National Guard showing up in the border region profiling its cowboy spurs, testosterone, steroid inflamed muscles and their knuckle heads.

There are even chain email letters circulating in the region by someone suspected to be associated with the Minutemen vigilante group, a "citizen's militia" that has been "guarding" the Mexican border because, as they claim, the federal government fails or refuses to. They stand on the Second Amendment and their raison d'ĂȘtre is undoubtedly the playing of patriot games, "Butt-Weizer" in hand, games that facilitate the acting-out of their vile bigotry. Indeed, with right-wing paramilitary groups such as these pressing for some action on the border, the potential for spreading violence and chaos is exacerbated exponentially. The original material for these chain letters can be found on RevolutionRadio, an extremist rant station that apparently loves Dan Patrick, one of their own.

Notwithstanding the threat of looming financial collapse of Western governments, including that of Mexico, which raises the potential for migration on its own, and with the projected flight of refugees from civil chaos caused by the military escalation against the drug cartels along the U.S. border -- something which the Mexican people have endured for an extended period of months now -- it is irresponsible and inhumane to think solely in terms of military contingencies. But leave it to Texas leaders and a Texas Homeland Security director who has already attempted to inflame passions by falsely claiming that the drug cartels are being trained by Middle Eastern terrorists as well as smuggling their jihadists across our southern border. The truth is that the most ruthless of the drug cartel's paramilitary men were originally trained in the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, but that hasn't stopped the Air Force from deploying unmanned drones and sky blimps to film the action of nap-sack carrying migrant workers sneaking into Texas in the dead of night to pick cantaloupe in the Pecos River Valley.

The article continues:

More than 5,300 people were killed in Mexico last year in connection to criminal activity, and some experts predict things will get worse. Along with Pakistan, Mexico was identified in a Department of Defense report last year as a country that could destabilize rapidly.
If that were to happen, officials are concerned that the drug violence could cross the Rio Grande into southern Texas.
Cesinger said the plan currently does not address a potential flood of refugees, though "It may be something that comes into consideration."
"Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere's equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "That would clearly require a military response from the United States."

Then, a chilling statement was made, one that, given the history of treatment of foreign nationals in United States detention centers, to say nothing of Guantanamo, Bagram, the Salt PitAbu Ghraib, raises great concern among the humanitarian minded who are aware of the abusive treatment of foreign detainees who are simply held as " or illegal aliens," a classification that has become a grossly pejorative label for human beings who are more respectfully referred to among the more enlightened minded as "migrant workers and their families." Research has shown that migrant workers have far lesser crime rates than the general American population.

Our record in Texas is especially dismal:

Some lawmakers in Texas have begun questioning how to deal with a potentially massive influx of Mexican citizens.
"Do you strengthen the borders so people cannot get in by the thousands every day, or do you create detention centers where people are held until their status is determined?" asked state Sen. Dan Patrick. "This is a potential refugee problem..."

Apparently unbeknown to arch-conservative and upstart State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) above, the detention centers have already been built. It is common knowledge. It is also well know that migrant workers are being exploited by private prison contractors who detain them for months on end drawing fees for "bed days" with little regard for the food they eat or the medical treatment they require.

Crimes against humanity are being committed under our very noses. God forgive us. And God forgive me for blogging a Fox News article.

~*~

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