A Brief History of US Concentration Camps

Wilkins, Brett

Publisher:  Counterpunch
Date Written:  21/06/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23724

An overview of ethnic cleansing and civilian concentration camps in the US starting with the Trail of Tears.




Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has ignited a firestorm of criticism, from both the left and the right as well as the mainstream media, for calling US immigrant detention centers "concentration camps." To her credit, Ocasio-Cortez has refused to back down, citing academic experts and blasting the Trump administration for forcibly holding undocumented migrants "where they are brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying." She also cited history. "The US ran concentration camps before, when we rounded up Japanese people during World War II," she tweeted. "It is such a shameful history that we largely ignore it. These camps occur throughout history." Indeed they do. What follows is an overview of US civilian concentration camps through the centuries....

Although prisoner of war camps are not included in this survey of US concentration camps, the open-ended global war against terrorism started by the George W. Bush administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States has seen a blurring of lines between combatant and civilian detention. According to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff for Bush-era secretary of state Colin Powell, most of the men and boys held at the Guantánamo Bay military prison were innocent but held for political reasons or in an attempt to glean a "mosaic" of intelligence. Innocent civilians were also held in military prisons, some of them secret, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Many detainees were tortured and died in US custody. Some of these men have been held without charge or trial for as many as 17 years, while some deemed too innocent to charge remain imprisoned at GITMO despite being cleared for release for many years.

Insert T_CxShareButtonsHorizontal.html here