Atelier N°15, article 30


Douglas Valentine :
© CovertAction Quarterly, N°74, Fall 2002


On July 26, 2002, the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Brown & Root Services, an engineering firm based in Houston, Texas, a $9,700,000 contract to construct a 204-unit Detention Camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Each of Brown & Root's modular steel units will measure 6 feet 8 inches long by 8 feet wide. A bed, toilet and hand basin with running water will be included in each cell. If all goes on schedule, work will be completed by October 2002.

Brown & Root will add the new cells to the existing Camp Delta facility, where the CIA and its military counterparts have been detaining and interrogating an estimated 564 Al Qaeda and Taliban "unlawful enemy combatants" since April 2002. It's uncertain, however, how many cells Brown & Root will ultimately build, as its contract is renewable over four years, and could total a whopping $300,000,000. This renewable contract does, however, imply that the CIA is planning to indefinitely detain many more so-called illegal combatants. And the number of captured terrorist suspects is certain to increase, as the eternal war on terror spreads from Afghanistan to the 60 countries designated by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as harboring suspected terrorists.

The Pentagon claims the Brown & Root contract was "competitively procured," but that's a flagrant lie, considering that Brown & Root is the engineering division of the Halliburton Company, where Dick Cheney served as chairman and CEO right after resigning as George l's Defense Secretary, up until he joined rampaging George Il's regime. During the years that Cheney served as Halliburton's CEO, the company received an estimated $2.5 billion in government contracts, and now that he's in the catbird seat, Halliburton's coffers will only continue to grow, as the scope of U.S. military action widens.

It is not just American money that's pouring into Brown & Root: The British Ministry of Defence paid Brown & Root, its fifth largest defense contractor, $410 million to supply large tank transporters to bolster England's imperial escapades.

Kickbacks occur in many ways, and our presidents and their political associates have always found ways to benefit from the wars they wage. Brown & Root, for example, financed Lyndon Johnson's election to the U.S. Senate in 1948, back in the days when political payoffs were strictly cash and carry. In return Johnson steered numerous defense contracts in its direction, enabling Brown & Root to pioneer Texas's ascent as America's preeminent military-industrial welfare state. During the Vietnam War, LBJ also made sure that Brown & Root received more than its fair share of lucrative contracts to build roads, airports, harbors, military bases, pipelines and barracks from one end of South Vietnam to the other. Those Vietnam contracts helped Brown & Root expand its operations around the world, and today it employs some 20,000 people and operates in more than 100 countries.

But there is something sinister about Brown & Root. Like its parent company, Halliburton-which, under Cheney, sold products and services to the Islamic Republic of Iran-Brown & Root has always been willing to skirt the edge to make a buck. Over the years Brown & Root has formed close relationships with the ClA and Special Forces: Wherever they go, Btown & Root is there, too, building facilities and providing cover for covert operations. Brown & Root does not admit it provides cover, but several individuals directly involved in such operations have made the assertion.1 Case in point: Brown & Root was in Macedonia in 1999, building barracks at a military base for some 700 U.S. troops, including the 10th Special Forces Group, for which it seems to have a special affinity.2

Brown & Root is a non-partisan, warmongering outfit and espionage arm of the CIA, and after Lyndon Johnson gave way to Richard Nixon, it received a contract to build prison detention facilities for the CIA on Con Son Island in South Vietnam.

The "tiger cage" scandal broke in 1970 when Donald Luce, a member of the World Council of Churches and an accredited newspaper reporter, led a congressional delegation to Con Son Prison, where the tiger cages were located. Con Son Prison was on an island in the South China Sea, and it was South Vietnam's largest holding cell for civilian prisoners-as many as 10,000 prisoners were held there with no legal rights, as part of the CIA's infamous Phoenix Program, with its grotesque An Tn "administrative detention" laws.

Originally known as the Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation/Screening Interrogation and Detention (ICOYSIDE) Program, Phoenix was a CIA-run computerized, management-by-objective driven counterinsurgency program that required its "coordinators" to neutralize (assassinate, imprison, or make to defect) 1,800 Vietnamese every month. Like the "unlawful combatants" being held at Guantanamo Bay, people arrested under the Phoenix Program were indefinitely detained until disposed of by military tribunals or "province security committees."

As Don Luce knew, remote Con Son Prison was the worst of the Phoenix detention facilities in South Vietnam. It was also a "re-education camp," and prisoners there were subjected to CIA psychological warfare operations, from the pro-government propaganda of the Bang Song theatrical company, to MKULTRA-type medical experiments. Most troubling of all were reports that death row inmates, peaceniks, draft dodgers, recalcitrants who refused to salute the South Vietnamese flag, and those who couldn't pay a big enough bribe to the Con Son commandant,  were kept in a facility known as the "tiger cages."

Doug Valentine's published work includes The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. He is currently working on The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics 1930-1968. He lives with wife A/ice in Loogmeadow, Massachusetti Contact the author at: <www.douglasvalentine. com>.