Property seizures in other countries are considered totalitarian. When they occur at the hands of the corporate-controlled U.S. government they are apparently condoned and even facilitated by the courts whose job it is to reign in this kind of abuse. The monopoly media, including “conservative” talk radio, is an information filtering system masquerading as “news.” They habitually conceal government land grabs and other privatization schemes like the current controversy in southeastern Colorado. The army is attempting to seize property, claiming they need extra land to better prepare the troops. What’s really behind this patriotic-let’s-help-the-troops endeavor? Call it what they will, land seizure is land seizure and violates the public trust.
What is it about Colorado and the military? In 1989, George H. W. Bush’s administration wanted to store dangerous radioactive waste at the Pueblo Army Depot but the state wisely objected. [i] Toxic waste disposal is no longer an unmanageable issue – well-connected arms manufacturers use it for bombs and bullets – kind of a double whammy – if the bullets and bombs don’t kill them, the lethal residue causes widespread cancer and horrific birth defects for future offspring of those who absorb, inhale or swallow the deadly dust. The Pentagon and their private contractors suppress the noxious nature of depleted uranium. Earlier, they didn’t tell troops about Agent Orange. And the citizens of Anniston, Alabama weren’t told about PCBs. [ii] There are thousands of such examples. The government consistently protects corporate profits rather than citizens.
Even though the Pentagon owns/occupies 31,700,692 acres in the U.S. and its territories and another 32,408,262 acres in foreign countries for a total of 64,108,954 acres, they claim to be strapped for a training area. The Department of Defense Base Structure Report (221 pages) dated September 30, 2006 (last report available) reveals that the Pentagon owns 577,519 structures worth over $712 billion situated on 86 bases in U.S. territories, 823 bases in foreign lands and 4402 military bases and/or military warehouses in the U.S. Their report boasts – “the Department of Defense remains one of the world’s largest ‘landlords.’” [iii] As a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, we have added at least 13 new military bases in the Middle East, ostensibly for the Global War of Terrorism (GWOT). The U.S. has literally surrounded Iran. There are about 63 countries with U.S. bases and thousands of U.S. military personnel (out of about 1.5 million) in 156 countries. [iv]
According to another report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, dated April 10, 2008, the army claims they need to restructure and rebuild which will require at least $190 billion for equipment through fiscal year 2013. [v] In 2007 alone, in order of rank, the Pentagon paid the following, often no-bid contracts: (1) Lockheed Martin Corp. $12,679,523,202; (2) Boeing Co. $7,300,000,000; (3) Northrop Grumman Corp. $6,821,000,000; (4) KBR Inc. (a spin-off of Halliburton) $5,517,070,621; (5) Science Applications International Corp. $4,412,146,628; (6) Raytheon Co. $4,068,752,346. [vi] Given these massive figures, one would justifiably trust that America is well-armed, impenetrable and protected.
However, trust is not a word that one would associate with any government function. There are “151 current members of Congress” who have personally invested millions of dollars in companies that have received large defense contracts. Some of those companies are probably listed above or in any of the other top 100 companies. This provides some evidence of why “our representatives” favor corporations; it pays better and that’s in addition to hefty campaign contributions. [vii]
Currently, the military (all branches) occupies 483,440 acres in Colorado. [viii] Fort Carson, an army post on 137,412 acres of range land located in southeast Colorado, is considered one of the world's premier locations to train and prepare soldiers for battle. [ix] The post had a total population of 10,566 in the 2000 U.S. Census and is located in both Pueblo County and El Paso County, Colorado. The census also revealed that there were 1,679 households and 1,620 families residing on base. There were 2,663 housing units. [x] During World War II, the base functioned as a prison camp for non-threatening German, Italian and Japanese-American citizens whose lands had been seized. [xi]
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was previously located one mile west of Fort Carson at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. NORAD provides selective response to air, missile, and space attacks over U.S. and Canadian airspace. A faulty system must have failed miserably on 9/11 because no one was reprimanded or fired for incompetence. But wait; there was an upgrade in 1987 at a cost of $968 million and another one by Lockheed in 1993.[xii] Lockheed also received NORAD upgrade contracts in April 1999. [xiii] Then after 9/11, the government spent about $700 million to upgrade the early warning systems at Cheyenne Mountain. [xiv] By March 2005, thanks to Lockheed, NORAD had a newly refurbished, $14-million state-of-the-art control room – NORAD now “includes a station that receives Federal Aviation Administration data, flight plans and access to 50 FAA radars and 20 air-traffic control stations. NORAD can even tune into commercial airline radios and listen to chatter about unruly passengers.”[xv] On July 28, 2006, it was announced that NORAD would relocate from Cheyenne Mountain to Peterson Air Force Base, also in Colorado. After the move, the government awarded another upgrade contract to Lockheed worth about $800 million. [xvi] Meanwhile the levees, the bridges and thousands of America’s roads are dangerously riddled with deepening pot-holes.
With the implementation of the Department of Defense’s Military Housing Privatization Initiative of 1996, [xvii] Fort Carson was selected as the Army’s model for the development of the privatization initiatives. [xviii] Privatization is the process of transferring ownership of resources and land from the public and private sector to fat-cat corporations who usually pay no taxes. [xix] Congress privatized the people’s money with the treasonous Federal Reserve Act of 1913, placing the control of money into the hands of international banking families who have deliberately debauched our currency. The FED, a private corporation and a complicit Congress, wishing to retain power and popularity, have spent America into bankruptcy – paid for by the people’s labor, land, resources and blood.
On February 10, 1998, the Defense Department, the enforcement arm of Wall Street [xx] notified Congress that they were transferring $15.82 million to the Fort Carson Family Housing Limited Liability Corporation, a division of J. A. Jones, a subsidiary of Philipp Holzmann AG, a Germany-based construction company that used concentration camp labor during World War II. The Fort Carson Family Housing Limited Liability Corporation of Charlotte, N.C. “won” this whopping contract worth more than $3 billion over the span of the contract. [xxi] See how much Philipp Holzmann AG and others were gifted just in 1999. Between October 1, 1997 and September 30, 2003, out of $900 billion authorized expenditures, Philipp Holzmann AG received pentagon contracts amounting to $1,723,275,972. “Half of all the Defense Department's budget goes out the door of the Pentagon to private contractors.” [xxii] Other funds, 25%, apparently cannot be accounted for.
The private corporation built 840 new single and multifamily structures and revitalized existing structures. Rent for these ‘privatized” units, now paid to the contractor is set at the soldier's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Philipp Holzmann AG also built and maintains the roads, day care centers, schools, parks, picnic areas – literally all the infrastructure. The 50-year contract came with a renewable option of 25 years. [xxiii] The new and refurbished housing would provide housing for a total of 2,663 Fort Carson military families. Additionally, the Department of Defense has other privatization projects worth billions. [xxiv]
Even before 9/11, expansion of the military as well as increased corporate take-over of public military facilities was part of the game plan. “Since 1997, Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) has directed each of the Services to develop an installation-level plan to respond to the growing need for quality affordable housing for military personnel by the year 2010. The Army's initial plan, completed in September 1998, called for the privatization of about 85,000 Army Family Housing (AFH) units over 5 years at 43 US locations.” The army’s billions-of-dollars housing privatization program is known as the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) and is worldwide. [xxv] See the entire program here, scroll down to view the full implications.
Located 150 miles southeast of Fort Carson is the Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). The $26 million dollar “purchase” was completed on September 17, 1983 through the government’s use of eminent domain. It was opened in the summer of 1985 to provide critical maneuver lands for larger units. [xxvi] The relocation of 11 landowners who refused to sell required an additional $2 million. Their land was acquired through the detestable process of condemnation, aided by the very people who are supposed to make us “secure in…our “houses.” [xxvii] [xxviii]
The government’s eminent domain power, the Takings Clause (or the Just Compensation Clause), is part of Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – …“nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”. This clause is not a positive power grant allotted to the government. Instead, it imposes a strict limitation on the government. The Constitution was designed to protect individual rights from an abusive government. The founding documents clarify that “the government’s only legitimate power is to secure the rights that are guaranteed to the people.” [xxix]
Just compensation means fair market value, moving expenses, and any “losses incurred while you establish yourself elsewhere.” “The victim must be ‘made whole’ meaning that he is economically no worse off as a result of the taking.” For decades, “public use” meant just that – use by the public. However, the Takings Clause has been “transformed and perverted. Today, ‘public use’ means ‘public benefit.’” [xxx]
The eminent domain floodgate of abuses opened early in the twentieth century with the 1936 New York City Housing Authority v. Muller case which forever changed American property rights – public use became public benefit. The court, ignoring private property rights and apparently biased against the poor, decided that “slum clearance” was a public benefit. This “sociological experiment” established an “acceptable means of perverting the Takings Clause.” This was a “front for violating private property rights to acquire land for their pet projects.” [xxxi]
This led to the despotic condemnation process which later enabled the Rockefeller (one of the Federal Reserve banking families) land grab of a thirteen-block tract of Manhattan which was unlawfully condemned in order to erect the World Trade Center Complex. Read about it here. The Port Authority issued tax exempt bonds which would completely fund the project. [xxxii] The Port Authority privatized the Center on July 24, 2001 for a fraction of its value by leasing it to Larry Silverstein’s private corporation – lucky for him that he heavily ensured them against terrorist attacks. [xxxiii]
In 1981, General Motors, another wealthy corporation, directed the government to condemn the 465-acre community of Poletown, a suburb or Detroit, Michigan so they could build an assembly plant. GM got their plant while “3,468 people were displaced and had their homes confiscated by the government. The Constitution’s public use requirement was intended to protect against just this sort of usurpation.” [xxxiv] One thousand residences, six hundred businesses and numerous churches were bulldozed. [xxxv]
About half of the land for The Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS) was seized through the condemnation process. “In 1983 the unwilling sellers were pretty much on their own, battling to hang on to their homes. They wrote letters and attended meetings for the procedurally required Environmental Impact Statement. But in the end they were just a handful of ranchers, forced to move off of their land by the power of the United States Army.” [xxxvi]
Victims of eminent domain rarely receive “just compensation” and often face endless litigation fighting for the constitutional rights the government is supposed to regularly protect. Private property abuse is rampant! According to the Castle Coalition, there were 10,382 governmental attempts to condemn private property in the last ten years. [xxxvii]
Apparently, because of the money-siphoning (626 billion dollars in 2007)[xxxviii] Global War of Terrorism, the Department of Defense wants to greatly expand the Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). In June 2007, the Army released the Phase I map identifying the first 418,000 acres they want to acquire. “When combined with the current 235,896 acres of training space there, the Piñon Canyon site would become the Army’s largest training ground.” [xxxix] The Army indicates that they want as much as 2.5 million acres, the entire southeast corner of Colorado because it simulates some of the terrain in Afghanistan and Iraq. [xl]
On May 3, 2007 Governor Bill Ritter signed Colorado House Bill 1069 withdrawing the state’s consent to the federal government in their quest to acquire land through eminent domain for their expansion of Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). [xli]
Constitutional statutes were designed to “protect the citizens against the abuse of power” by government agents. Unfortunately, a majority of elected officials have shirked their constitutional, decision-making responsibilities to highly-paid private contractors, who have taken over much of the government’s responsibilities. The problem is, these contractors are not covered by constitutional laws – therefore they are not culpable. Federal agencies do not exercise oversight, demand accountability or set performance standards for federal contractors. Effective Congressional investigations are rarely convened. [xlii]
This is a much bigger problem than the dedicated ranchers of Colorado. But for them, it is their life and their livelihood. The next time you are enjoying a hamburger or a steak (if you can still afford one), thank a rancher, the government didn’t produce it. If the government can target Colorado’s ranchers, they can target anyone! Oh and that land grab – it has nothing to do with training soldiers! Stay tuned for parts two and three.
[i] U.S. Seeks to Store Nuclear Waste at Army Bases to Save Plutonium Plant, By Keith Schneider, November 10, 1989
[ii] Monsanto Knew About PCB Toxicity For Decades
[iii] Department of Defense, Base Structure Report, FY 2007
[iv] U.S. Military Troops and Bases Around the World
[v] Restructuring and Rebuilding the Army Will Cost Billions of Dollars for Equipment but the Total Cost Is Uncertain, Highlights, April 10, 2008, United States Government Accountability Office, testimony before the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
[vi] Top 100 Federal Prime Contractors: 2007
[vii] Congress members invest in Defense Earn Millions From Companies With Military Contracts By Anne Flaherty
[viii] Department of Defense, Base Structure Report, FY 2007
[ix] Fort Carson
[x] Fort Carson
[xi] Fort Carson
[xii] Cheyenne Mountain Complex
[xiii] Spacecom Upgrades for the Future by Daniel Verton, April 8, 1999
[xiv] Military to Idle NORAD Compound Operations Will Move to Nearby Base, But Cold War Bunker to Stand Ready By T.R. Reid, July 29, 2006
[xv] Colorado Springs Independent, NORAD touts readiness Officials show off new control room, March 10, 2005
[xvi] Seabrook, MD--- Lockheed Martin Team Wins Primary Role on NORAD-USNORTHCOM Contract Vehicle, July 9, 2006
[xvii] The Residential Communities Initiative (RCI)
[xviii] Military Housing Privatization Initiative: A Guidance Document For Wading Through The Legal Morass by Capt. Stacie A. Remy Vest, and Chapter 169. Military Construction And Military Family Housing, Approved February 28, 2008
[xix] How to earn $3.5 trillion and pay zero taxes By David R. Francis, April 19, 2004
[xx] The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order by Michel Chossudovsky, pg 11
[xxi] Fort Carson Awards Housing Privatization Contract
[xxii] Outsourcing the Pentagon, Who benefits from the Politics and Economics of National Security? By Larry Makinson, March 31, 2006
[xxiii] Office of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Military Housing Privatization Initiative
[xxiv] Fort Carson Awards Housing Privatization Contract
[xxv] Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, Army Family Housing Master Plan, February 2003
[xxvi] Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS)
[xxvii] Bill of Rights
[xxviii] Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS)
[xxix] Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
[xxxii] Bonds: Port of New York Authority to Raise $100-Million by John H. Allen, The New York Times, February 28, 1968.
[xxxiii] Killing Several Birds With One Stone By Deanna Spingola, February 12, 2006
[xxxiv] Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
[xxxv] Landmark Eminent Domain Abuse Decision, July 31, 2004, John Kramer or Lisa Knepper
[xxxvi] Army Threatens the Seizure of Private Property by Doug Holdread, June 29, 2006
[xxxvii] Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
[xxxviii] The Worldwide Network of U.S. Military Bases by Prof. Jules Dufour, July 1, 2007
[xxxix] Squeeze over a Colorado canyon, October 29, 2007
[xl] Army Threatens the Seizure of Private Property by Doug Holdread, June 29, 2006
[xli] Ritter Signs Piñon Canyon , school safety bills, Rocky Mountain News, May 3, 2007
[xlii] Shadowboxer by Jason Peckenpaugh, 11/15/03 who was quoting The Shadow Government by Dan Guttman and Barry Wilner, 1976
April 21, 2008 Deanna Spingola has been a quilt designer and is the author of two books. She has traveled extensively teaching and lecturing on her unique methods. She has always been an avid reader of non-fiction works designed to educate rather than entertain. She is active in family history research and lectures on that topic. Currently she is the director of the local Family History Center. She has a great interest in politics and the direction of current government policies, particularly as they relate to the Constitution. © Copyright 2006 by Deanna Spingola Deanna's Web Site