portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting oregon & cascadia

human & civil rights | prisons & prisoners

Secretive FEMA Camp Drill Running In Iowa

At first they came for the ....
Secretive FEMA Camp Drill Running In Iowa
Published on Wednesday, May 07, 2008.



Source: Rogue Government - Lee Rogers

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with other government institutions are currently conducting an 8-day anti-terror and disaster exercise from May 1st through May 8th called National Level Exercise 2-08 in the United States. We recently covered this exercise in great detail using press releases from FEMA and U.S. Northern Command as source material. We also raised the prospect of the government using this exercise as cover for a potential false flag terror attack. Considering the historical precedent of the government running drills on the day of the 9/11 attacks as cover for the actual operation, this 8-day long anti-terror and disaster exercise sparked some concern. According to the press releases from both FEMA and U.S. Northern Command, drills are slated to take place in Oregon, Washington State and in the Washington DC or mid-Atlantic area. With this in mind, it is incredibly strange to see reports from the Des Moines Register and the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier indicating that a secretive FEMA exercise is taking place in Waterloo, Iowa. According to these reports, the federal government has leased out the entire National Cattle Congress fairgrounds until May 25th for an exercise. Early reports indicate that a large number of mobile home-size trailers and generators have been moved on to the residence and that both FEMA and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are involved in this exercise. Considering the reported involvement of FEMA and ICE, the trailers and generators being moved in, as well as the secrecy around this particular exercise, this has all the hallmarks of a FEMA camp drill. The purpose of ICE being involved appears to be to round up illegal aliens so they can test the efficiencies of their processing procedures.
Reports of the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds being leased out until May 25th by the federal government first appeared in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier's report. According to their report, both large mobile home-size trailers and generators have appeared on the site. In addition, one of the board members of the National Cattle Congress stated that it was his understanding that FEMA was involved. An employee of ICE was also on site indicating that they must have some sort of involvement in what is happening.

The following blurb is taken from the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier's report.

Normal operations on the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds have been suspended for most of May as the federal government has leased out virtually the entire facility for a training exercise, NCC general manager Doug Miller said Saturday.

Miller said he could release few details. But activity on the NCC fairgrounds was apparent Saturday, as contractors installed massive generators adjacent to many buildings on the NCC fairgrounds and windows of many of the buildings were covered up, blocking views of any work going on inside. A number of large mobile home-size trailers also have taken up residence on the site in the past several weeks.

Miller said the federal government is leasing the fairgrounds through May 25 under an agreement approved by the NCC board. He and others close to NCC said no entity has leased out the entire fairgrounds for that long a period.

He said it is his understanding that access to the NCC fairgrounds will be restricted beginning Monday, except for next weekend's Cedar Falls High School prom at Electric Park Ballroom.

Miller said he has primarily been dealing with the U.S. General Services Administration on the arrangements, and that his physical facilities staff have been cooperating with federal officials on logistics and setup for the exercise.

Miller said that, other than GSA, he could not identify which agencies are involved in the exercise. But an individual on site Saturday who identified himself as an employee of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement referred inquiries to ICE officials in Minneapolis, who could not immediately be reached Saturday.

Miller also was referring inquiries to federal officials in Cedar Rapids, and NCC board member Tunis Den Hartog said it was his understanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency was involved.

The secrecy around this drill and the lack of any formal press release or announcement by the federal government on what is happening is incredibly disturbing. In fact, an ICE spokesman declined to comment on the drill and a news blackout has been imposed at the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds where all of this activity is taking place.

The following comes from the Des Moines Register's report.

Federal officials have imposed a news blackout at the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, where they have leased almost the entire property through May 25.

Tim Counts, a Midwest spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, declined to say Monday whether an immigration raid is pending that would use the fairgrounds as a detention center.

"ICE never talks about our investigative activity or possible future enforcement actions," Counts said. "Regarding the exercise in Waterloo, there is currently no publicly releasable information about that, so we aren't releasing any."

He declined to say whether the "exercise" involves training or an immigration enforcement operation.

"We expect that at some point there will be additional information available, but I can't speculate at what point that might be," Counts said.

The fact that officials from the federal government are being very secretive about what's happening here indicates that they are doing something they know people aren't going to like. Even the state Governor has been left in the dark about what's happening.

Below is another blurb from the Des Moines Register's report.

Representatives of Gov. Chet Culver and U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley said they had no information about what was happening at the Cattle Congress fairgrounds.

At Grassley's request, his staff called ICE officials on Monday.

"During the call, the ICE officials would neither confirm nor deny anything to Senator Grassley's staff," said Beth Pellett Levine, a Grassley aide.

The apparent involvement of FEMA and ICE indicate that the purpose of this exercise is to test their FEMA camp deployment apparatus using the round up of illegal aliens as a test case. Although there is no way of confirming that this is 100% the case, if there are round-ups of illegal aliens in this general area during the next few weeks, it will be pretty obvious at that point.

Regardless of the goals or aims of this drill, there is no questioning the fact that the federal government does not want to stop illegal immigration. The federal government is encouraging this problem so they can dissolve the borders between the three countries and form a North American Union between Canada, Mexico and the United States. With all of the hysteria surrounding the phony war on terror, it is ridiculous that the border has not been sealed which shows that the open border policy with Mexico is supported by the Bush administration. Since the vast majority of Americans want something done about the illegal alien problem, they will think that this is a great thing, but what they fail to realize is that these camps are not really for illegal aliens, they are for the average American.

Plans for government run concentration camps are well documented from Rex 84, the Army's Civilian Inmate Labor Program and the KBR built detention facilities. This looks like a continuation of this concentration camp agenda and considering that the government has refused to take real action to stop the illegal alien problem, why would they want to build a FEMA camp in the middle of Iowa to run a drill? The answer is simple, they are going to use the excuse of the illegal alien problem to setup the FEMA camp infrastructure which will be used to house the average Americans who protest what this corrupt and out of control government has been doing.

It is incredibly suspicious that the federal government would not openly announce this exercise and even go out of their way to ensure a media blackout of their activities. There is little doubt that this is part of their agenda to setup a large scale FEMA camp apparatus in order to house large quantities of American citizens. The Nazis used concentration camps to house and eventually exterminate the Jews and it is frightening to see that a similar infrastructure is now being setup in America.

 http://www.roguegovernment.com/news.php?id=8948

Death Camps or Sweatshops? 10.May.2008 04:32

questioner

 http://www.blinkx.com/burl?v=LUIEBfPq4jbQr6on1FdNwd8raD_OAhZ4JK5Yew
Auschwitz questioned. Zyclon B gas was used because of a lice epidemic.
The "Holocaust" was a case of fudged figures.

GW Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, mad a fortune from Nazi slave labor. The camps were there for money, not genocide. That is what we might expect if the FEMA camps become active.

As expected, this was a round-up of migrant workers. 12.May.2008 21:48

Not the ICE and not corporate media. Sue me.

Update: Crowd greets detainees at Waterloo
By NIGEL DUARA, WILLIAM PETROSKI and GRANT SCHULTE REGISTER STAFF WRITERS May 12, 2008



Postville, Ia. - Buses have begun arriving at the Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo after hundreds were detained in an immigration raid on a Postville meatpacking plant today.

Officials are not allowing media or others near the entrance. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have declined to say how many buses are being used in the raid on the Agriprocessors Inc. plant.

At least 300 people were arrested during the operation, the largest of its kind in Iowa, said Claude Arnold, a special agent with ICE.

The raid targeted people who illegally used other people's Social Security numbers and were in the U.S. illegally.

According to an affidavit, "Based on information thus far developed in the investigation, it appears, based on 2007 fourth quarter payroll reports, that approximately 76 percent of the 968 employees of Agriprocessors were using false or fraudulent social security numbers in connection with their employment."

The workers arrested so far were interviewed by agents with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Public Health Service. Public health officials were included to ensure that their humanitarian needs were being met, said U.S. District Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth.

Authorities have released 40 of the arrested employees "on humanitarian grounds" with supervision, pending further proceedings, Dummermuth said.

A total of 16 local, state and federal agencies, led by ICE, joined the investigation that began last October. Among them was the U.S. Marshals Service, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S.

Department of Agriculture, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Waterloo Police Department and the Postville Police Department.

Agents with ICE have received information about immigration violations at the plant over the past two years, according to a federal search warrant made public today. Authorities said they will release more details at another press conference tomorrow morning in Cedar Rapids.




The scene in Waterloo

Crowds outside the Cattle Congress complex in Waterloo continued to grow Monday evening. When the chained gates opened to admit a bus full of detainees at 8:15 p.m., the crowd of about 200 people screamed their support.

Waterloo Police Department Lieutenant M.W. McNamee told protesters that they had to move across the street to the sidewalk directly in front of the Cattle Congress grounds. "Unfortunately there's not a lot of area where you can be. This is not conducive to have a vigil," McNamee said.

Mario Basurto, project coordinator of El Centro Latinoamericano, said the protest was spontaneous and would last until 10 p.m.

Anonymous sources reported in raid warrants

According to search warrants, ICE agents interviewed a former plant supervisor - identified as "Source 1" - in November 2007, who told them that the plant employed foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe. Roughly 80 percent of those workers were living illegally in the U.S., the supervisor said.

"Source 1" told federal agents that some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant, and were bringing weapons to work. The supervisor confronted a higher-level manager about the drugs, and shortly after was fired.

The supervisors also described an encounter with the plant's human resources manager about three separate Social Security cards from different employees with the same number. The human resources manager "laughed when this matter was brought to her attention," the supervisor told federal agents.

In February 2008, a confidential informant identified as "Source 7," who has worked with federal agents in past immigration cases, detailed several incidents of alleged worker abuse at the plant.

The source, who was lawfully employed at the plant, told authorities that a floor supervisor duct-taped the eyes of an illegal Guatemalan employee and struck him with a meat hook. The blow caused no serious injuries.

"Source 7" asked the Guatemalan to report the incident, but the employee said doing so could jeopardize his job.

In another alleged incident, Source 7 said, a floor supervisor identified as a Hasidic Jew pushed another illegal employee because he did not like the way the employee was moving meat.

A plant employee identified as "Source 11" told authorities that he/she was hired without presenting employment documents or filling out any forms. The worker's first paycheck had a different person's name on it, which was then cashed at another part of the plant.

Undocumented workers were paid $5 an hour for their first three or four months on the job, the employee said, and then received a salary increase to $6 per hour.

Detainees will be processed at Waterloo

The Waterloo Cattle Congress grounds will serve as an intake center, said Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman from Miami who is at the Cattle Congress grounds.

The men will be housed at Estel Hall at the Cattle Congress, but the women will be housed at local jails, she said.

It's likely no one will be at Cattle Congress past Thursday, Gonzalez said.

Earlier today

Four Homeland Security buses with U.S. Immigration and Customs tags on them were at the Postville plant this morning.

The buses, along with a trail of SUVs and vans with Minnesota license plates, arrived at about 11:45 a.m.

Federal agents descended upon this northeast Iowa community at about 10 a.m. today to conduct an immigration raid at the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant.

The ICE agents entered the Postville plant to execute a criminal search warrant for evidence relating to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes, said Tim Counts, a Midwest ICE spokesman.

Agents are also executing a civil search warrant for people illegally in the United States, he said.

Immigration officials told aides to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley that they expect 600 to 700 arrests. About 1,000 to 1,050 people work at the plant, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

Chuck Larson, a truck driver for Agriprocessing, was in the plant when the agents arrived. "There has to be 100 of them," he said of the agents.

Larson said the agents told workers to stay in place then separated them by asking those with identification to stand to the right and those with other papers, to stand to the left.

"There was plenty of hollering," Larson said. "You couldn't go anywhere."
When asked who was separated, Larson said those standing in the group with other papers were all Hispanic.

ICE spokesman Harold Ort in Postville did not confirm or deny that anyone had been detained, but went on to say that the children of those detained would be cared for and that "their caregiver situation will be addressed."

"They were asked multiple times if they have any sole-caregiver issues or any childcare issues," Ort said.

He said the two helicopters circling the complex were there to provide EMT support and to watch out for the agents on the ground.

Jeff Schnerbach, a sub-contractor electrician with Viking Electric, said he was on break at 10 a.m. when "200 agents" stringed into the complex.

"They took our statements, asked us where we were from, asked for an ID and let us go," Schnerbach.


Early scene in Postville

Earlier this morning, a helicopter hovered over the scene, and a number of agents formed a perimeter around the Agriprocessors facility. Vehicles from ICE and at least eight cars and vans from the Iowa State Patrol were at the plant. There were also reports of two moving vans at the scene, along with an ambulance and two black Chevrolet Suburbans.

Counts declined to confirm where people who are arrested will be detained. Federal officials have leased the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, but they declined to explain last week whether the property was being prepared for use as a detention center.

Aides to Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, said they have been told that "hundreds" of arrests are expected because the action is more of an "investigation" than an immigration raid, and specific individuals are being targeted for arrest as part of the investigation.

Jeff Giertz, a spokesman for Braley, said immigration officials left the impression that the Cattle Congress site will be used mainly for processing of suspects rather than any long-term detention.

Counts said that each person being arrested would be questioned by ICE and by Public Health Service medical professionals to determine if they have humanitarian issues, including child care giver or medical issues.

"Those interviews will aid ICE in determining whether people will be detained or conditionally released on humanitarian grounds, pending their immigration court appearance," Counts said.

Counts described the events in Postville as a "single site operation." He said he was not aware of any other immigration raids being conducted elsewhere today.

Postville Police Chief Michael Halse said he did not know anything about the raid until 10 a.m. today.

Postville, on the border of Allamakee and Clayton counties, is a community of more than 2,500 people that includes natives of German and Norwegian heritage and newcomers who include Hasidic Jews from New York, plus immigrants from Mexico, Russian, Ukraine and many other countries.

The Agriprocessors plant, known as the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, is northeast Iowa's largest employer.

About 200 Hasidic Jews arrived in Postville in 1987, when butcher Aaron Rubashkin of Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood reopened a defunct meat-packing plant with his two sons, Sholom and Heshy, just outside the city limits. Business boomed at the plant, reviving the depressed economy while pitting the newcomers against the predominately Lutheran community.

A University of Iowa professor, Stephen Bloom, wrote a book, "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America," detailing what happened.

Workers and immigration advocates in Iowa began girding for an immigration raid last week after learning that federal authorities had leased Waterloo's Cattle Congress fairgrounds. Federal officials declined to explain their plans last week, but advocates worried the fairgrounds would be used as a detention center. That's what happened in December 2006, when federal agents took people apprehended in a raid at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Marshalltown to the Camp Dodge military base in Johnston.

The scene in Waterloo

In Waterloo, a helicopter cruised over the Cattle Congress fairgrounds about 12:45 p.m. as a group of about five reporters watched from a parking lot across the street from the main gate.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in black uniforms were posted at the gate and referred all reporter questions to Tim Counts, the spokesman.

A few touring coach buses were parked inside the gates, along with several ICE vehicles.

Retired University of Northern Iowa professor Rosa Maria de Finlay approached the gate to offer her interpretation services, but she, too, was turned away by an agent.
De Finlay said she has stopped by Cattle Congress repeatedly today, checking the grounds for signs that people were being detained there. She said she saw no buses enter.

"I think the money we're spending on all this is incredible. You and I will never know how much it costs. That money could be used for something else other than this crap, this nonsense," she said.

Register staff writers Jane Norman, Jennifer Jacobs, and Tony Leys contributed to this report.

READER FORUM: What do you think of federal immigration authorities coming to Iowa to target workplaces in search of illegal immigrants?

Do you know anyone involved in today's meatpacking plant raid in Postville? To share a story or news tip, e-mail Assistant Managing Editor Kathy Bolten at  kbolten@dmreg.com