I noticed this quote a little while back and put it on file:
The federal government has pumped cash into this new fight, spending more than $12 billion for homeland security research and development over the past four budget years. “Homeland security is probably going to be the government’s biggest employer in the next decade,” said Steven David, who directs the homeland security certificate program at Johns Hopkins University.
Colleges’ Hottest New Major: Terror
And now this news from May 5:
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., May 5 /PRNewswire/ — The Wackenhut Corporation’s physical security services have made the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s list of approved services for homeland security. It is the first and only contract security service provider in the U.S. to achieve this significant status.
I was kind of surprised at Wikipedia’s entry on Wackenhut which goes so far as to give the impression that 9/11 happened because Wackenhut wasn’t there.
During the 1980s Wackenhut was a leader in airport security but refused to compromise the company’s standards by cutting wages under pressure from airports and airlines. As a result, Wackenhut only protected four airports in the United States on September 11th.
Union-busting Wackenhut wouldn’t compromise standards? It wouldn’t cut wages? In what parallel universe? Shouldn’t we let the people at Eye on Wackenhut in on the secret, so they’ll cease and desist the talk of zip to zero standards and poor hiring practices? I guess everything I read about Wackenhut paying low wages and providing feeble or no benefits has been a smear campaign?
Wikipedia really doesn’t have much to say on Wackenhut and gives the impression Wackenhut has stepped out of the corrections industry completely, except for a mention of its association with Premier Prison Industries and SERCO in the UK:
Wackenhut is no longer involved in the private prison industry in the US. Wackenhut was involved in the operation of private prisons during the 1980s, but abandoned the market due to low returns on investment, what it viewed as excessive government regulation, and negative publicity affecting its other more profitable operations.
Yeah, well, stepped out of kind of and not really as we shall see.
Wackenhut has been around 50 years. It was formed in the 50s when the Cold War was chasing families to their fortified basements and fears of Communists hiding behind the duplicitous smiles of the neighbors meant the Church League of America must feed the ferrets.
In 1954, McCarthy convened the Army-McCarthy hearings which would prove his downfall, the Senate voting to censure him on December 2nd. According to John Connolly’s Inside the Shadow CIA, that same year, George Wackenhut, ex-FBI man, started “Special Agent Investigators”. The company, formed with 3 other former FBI agents, was a nice success, though there were internal problems and in 1958 Wackenhut Corporation was born.
No way, no how was Wackenhut going to let something like McCarthy’s censure get in the way of his right wing devotion to gathering information on suspected Communists and “subversive sympathizers”.
And selling it.
Indeed, Connolly notes this was one of the key’s of Wackenhut’s success.
According to Frank Donner, the author of “Age of Surveillance”, the Wackenhut Corporation maintained and updated its files even after the McCarthyite hysteria had ebbed, adding the names of antiwar protesters and civil-rights demonstrators to its list of “derogatory types.” By 1965, Wackenhut was boasting to potential investors that the company maintained files on 2.5 million suspected dissidents – one in 46 American adults then living. in 1966, after acquiring the private files of Karl Barslaag; a former staff member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Wackenhut could confidently maintain that with more than 4 million names, it had the largest privately held file on suspected dissidents in America.
Wackenhut was friends with the Church League of America which was formed in 1937 to oppose the New Deal, one of the oldest spy networks in the U.S. It is given as spearheading the use of religious propaganda to link communism with the antichrist. I guess kind of like religious propaganda is now used to link anyone who isn’t radical, right wing, republican, dominionist with the antichrist. Not to mention how the mission of radical, right wing, republicans has been to gut the New Deal.
I find on the internet a senior highschool paper (yes, senior highschool) that gives the following history of the Church League of America, offering as source Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others on the Fringe by John George and Laird Wilcox, published by Prometheus Books in 1982.
One contributor to the movement of the Christian Right has been Major Edgar C. Bundy who served as director of the Church League of America for 25 years. Founded in 1937 by George Washington Robnett, a Chicago advertiser, the Church League of America was created to accumulate and distribute information to implicate and blacklist suspected Communists, Marxists, and other leftist groups. Major Bundy, an Air Force intelligence officer from 1942 to 1948, possessed staunch anti-Communist sentiment…
Through its religiously affiliated establishment, the Church League of America attempted to link as many people as possible to Communism. The League searched numerous files, letterheads, newspaper clippings, petitions, and other written records in its attempt to connect as many individuals as possible with Communist treason. After subjects were entangled by accusations through either direct association or guilt by association, the League would meld politics and religion to deem that the Christian God viewed any form of Communism as blasphemy. Bundy spearheaded much of this frenzy, although his hysteria did not remain completely unnoticed. In 1954 The Chicago Sun Times revealed that brochures dispensed to the public by Bundyâ€™s Church League had been obtained from Harry A. Jung, a known fascist sympathizer.
Still, during an era of rabid McCarthyism, Bundy continued his social tirades throughout the 1950s…Finally, Bundy was forced to resign from the Church League in 1982 after it was revealed that he had engaged in homosexual relations with boys and young men who were Church League office workers or children of Church League members. Incidentally, Bundy himself had been a fervent denouncer of homosexuality as a dogmatic abomination in relation to church policy. Of course, homosexuality per se is neither a crime nor a sin; but the hypocrisy of Bundyâ€™s actions and words demonstrated his obvious false sense of values.
Stan Goff in his Counterpunch article Private Police and Public Perils, states the files on “subversives” went from CLA to Wackenhut and back to the CLA again:
CLAâ€™s central focus for many years seems to have been red-baiting the Council of Churches. It was the CLA that sold George Wackenhut 700,000 pages of files on â€œsubversives,â€ which CLA had gotten from Karl Baarslag, a former research director for Senator Joe McCarthy.
Since acquisition of the original dossiers from the CLA brethren, Wackenhut amassed almost 4 million dossiers on civil rights activists, antiwar protesters and â€œother derogatory typesâ€ over the years. When that practice came under legal scrutiny, Wackenhut found someone to babysit the dossiers; CLA.
When the Church League of America fell apart during the Reagan years, it shipped its treasured who’s who of “subversives”, all 7 million index cards and 200 file cabinets chock full of material, to the tender guard of Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University library, where they are said to have seen little use.
For the price of $150 the Church League of America used to, using their computerized files, look up a name for you. If you passed a background check.
Wackenhut grew and grew and grew.
To really grow it had to get past the Pinkerton Law which made it a crime for an employee of a private detective agency to do any work for the government.
In 1958 Senator Smathers noticed a loophole. His law firm set up a wholly owned subsidiary of Wackenhut which would provide not detectives but guards. It was then Wackehnut went Federal, winning its Cape Canaveral and Nevada nuclear-bomb test site contracts.
In 1959, tripling its business from 1958, it crossed the million dollar benchmark in revenues.
In 1966 Wackenhut became a publickly traded company and went international with the opening of its Caracas, Venezuela office.
William Corbett, who worked for the CIA for 18 years, told the US-based Spy Magazine, â€œFor years Wackenhut has been involved with the CIA and other intelligence organisations. Wackenhut would allow the CIA to occupy positions within the company [in order to carry out] clandestine operations.â€
He also said that Wackenhut would supply intelligence agencies with information, and that it was compensated for this â€œin a quid pro quo arrangementâ€.
Retired FBI agent William Hinshaw also told the magazine about Wackenhut’s ease in snaring lucrative governmental contracts as being governments’ way of â€œpay[ing] Wackenhut for their clandestine helpâ€.
â€œIt is known throughout the industry that if you want a dirty job done, call Wackenhutâ€, Hinshaw said.
They serve as the US division of the global corporation, providing uniformed security officers, Customs protection officers, building security, as well as training programs and consultation and investigative services.  (http://www.wackenhut.com/object.php?obj=1d0029) They have provided security for the Alaskan oil pipeline, US embassies around the world, and nuclear reactor sites.
Wackenhut Services Incorporated (http://www.wsihq.com/) is a subsidiary which handles security, law enforcement, “operations and maintenance”, facilities services management, fire suppression and prevention, emergency medical services, airfield management, operations and maintenance for federal, state and local government agencies.  (http://www.wackenhut.com/object.php?obj=25000c)
They provide security for nuclear facilities, a business entered into in 1978 through the acquisition of NUSAC, a Virginia firm that provided technical and consulting services to the nuclear industry.
They went into the prison business, made an industry of prison labor and cut drug rehab programs, counseling and educational services. And gathered some notoriety along the way.
Still, GEO (formerly Wackenhut in a GEO “was formerly” way of being formerly Wackenhut) seems to want to turn the tide of recidivism by giving its prisoners an opportunity at reform the blblical way, complete with bible degrees. The company’s programs page has:
When an offender changes his values system, he changes his behavior. Religious programming is an important element in offender rehabilitation. Nearly all GEO facilities have full-time chaplains who supervise and coordinate the religious program to ensure that all faiths have adequate opportunity and representation. By developing a close relationship with the community, GEO is able to recruit and train a large number of religious volunteers to provide for the offenders’ religious needs.
Additionally, GEO has expanded the religious program in two facilities to include a voluntary, faith-based, residential Bible college where offenders can earn a Bible degree through correspondence courses. We also work closely with the Kairos Ministry and other religious groups to provide expanded faith-based programs in other facilities.
Just thought you’d like to know.
9/11 was good for Wackenhut. A lot of people were locked up afterwards. Detainee-like. Following, in the first quarter of the year, Wackenhut’s US division had a 97% increase in profits.
Partners in Public Service, News from the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations, Spring 2002 newsletter had the following article on the merger, which notes how bed-cozy partners have just enough of a pillow talk barrier set up between Doris Day and Rock Hudson to tickle us with fancies of break-downs in propriety:
UK Competition Commission OKâ€™s Wackenhut Merger
The United Kingdomâ€™s Competition Commission has announced that the acquisition by Group 4 Falck of The Wackenhut Corporation is not expected to operate against the public interest. Group 4 Falck â€“ through its Global Solutions Ltd. subsidiary â€“ and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation â€“ through its joint venture with Serco, Premier Custodial Group Ltd. â€“ are the leading suppliers of transportation and custodial services in the U.K. The Wackenhut Corporation had a 57 percent ownership interest in Wackenhut Corrections. The Competition Commission considered whether the enlarged Group 4 Falck would be in a position to use its market power to raise prices or engage in anti-competitive practices in the provision of prisoner and immigrant custodial and transportation services. The commission concluded that the legal framework separating the companies and commercial factors will ensure Premiere Custodial Group Ltd. remains an independent competitor and will have the necessary resources to compete effectively. Wackenhut shareholders approved the merger on May 8, 2002. Group 4 Falck has announced its intention to sell its interest in Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, which continues to be traded separately on the New York Stock Exchange.
Oh no! Group 4 Falck was taking Wackenhut but not the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation? What was the poor abandoned stepchild, Wackenhut Corrections Corporations (the prison side of the Wackenhut security industry), to do?
Wackenhut Corrections (prison privatization) is now the GEO Group, having purchased its stock back from Group 4 Falck and going from a subsidary to an independent corporation. The following history is from the GEO Group website:
The GEO Group, Inc. was initially founded as a division of The Wackenhut Corporation in 1984 under the name of Wackenhut Corrections (WCC).
(Note: In 1984 Wackenhut broken $250,000,000 in sales.)
In April 1988, WCC was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of The Wackenhut Corporation.
(Note: In 1990, Wackhut broke the $500 million level in sales.)
WCC went public on NASDAQÂ® in July 1994 with an initial public offering of 2.2 million shares.
In January 1996, WCC executed a secondary offering of 2.2 million shares.
WCC listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in March 1996.
WCC’s stock split two-for-one in June 1996, creating 22 million outstanding shares.
(Note: In 1997, Wackenhut broke the $1 billion mark in sales.)
In April 1998, WCC was a co-registrant in the formation of Correctional Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust formed to capitalize on the growing trend toward privatization in the corrections industry.
(Note: The Corporaations revenues in 2001 topped $2.8 billion.)
In May 2002, Group 4 Falck, a Danish company, merged with The Wackenhut Corporation (TWC). As a result, Group 4 Falck became the indirect owner of 12 million WCC shares, or 57 percent of WCC’s common stock on an undiluted basis.
On April 30, 2003, WCC entered into an agreement to repurchase all 12 million shares of WCC common stock held by Group 4 Falck A/S, its 57 percent majority shareholder.
On July 2, 2003, WCC completed the sale of its 50% interest in Premier Custodial Group Limited (PCGL) to its former joint venture partner in the United Kingdom, Serco Investments Limited (Serco), thus providing WCC with the opportunity to pursue further growth.
On July 9, 2003, completed the repurchase of all 12 million shares of WCC common stock held of its former majority shareholder, Group 4 Falck of Denmark. This historic transaction transformed WCC from a corporate subsidiary into a truly independent company with full access to the capital markets and the ability to grow at its own pace.
On November 18, 2003, at a special meeting, WCC’s shareholders approved a change in the corporate name of WCC from “Wackenhut Corrections Corporation” to “The GEO Group, Inc.” The name change is required under the terms of a share purchase agreement signed by WCC on April 30, 2003 and Group 4 Falck. The name change became effective on November 25, 2003 upon the filing of an amendment to the company’s Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State in the state of Florida where the company is incorporated.
On January 21, 2004, The GEO Group (formerly listed as Wackenhut Corrections: WHC) started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under its new name and new ticker symbol: GGI.
On December 1, 2004, The GEO Group, Inc. established The GEO Group UK Limited’s Head Office near Reading, England to vigorously pursue new business opportunities in England, Scotland and Wales.
Private Security Revelations On Group4 and Wackenhut (Feb 2005) at Labournet calls it what it is :
Incestuous Relations: Group 4 Falck, Securicor, Geo Group Incorporated, Premier Custodial Group and Global Solutions are the leading names vying for contracts in the Criminal Justice market. With so many different companies there is an appearance of what free market advocates would describe as healthy competition. What actually exists is a complicated and ever changing set of unhealthy relationships. In 2002 Group 4 bought a 57% stake in the US based Security Corporation, Wackenhut. The US company bought back the stake in July 2003 (Prison Privatisation Report No 58 October 2003)) but their relationship with Group4 Falck remained cosy. In 2004 Group4 Falck announced it was considering a Â£200 million bid from Geo Group Incorporated for its subsidiary Global Solutions Limited. An apparent new comer, the company was none other than the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation rebranded in November 2003 for trade in the UK (Greg Dropkin) (Prison Privatisation Report No 59 December 2003). Wackenhutâ€™s interests included shared ownership of Premier Custodial Group with another company Serco. Following a legal battle and attention from the Competition Commission, Wackenhut sold its share to Serco (Prison Privatisation Report No 55 May 2003 and No 56 June 2003). Meanwhile, on 02/02/2004 Group4 became the worldâ€™s second largest security company announced its merger with Securicor (Bloomberg 05/03/2004).
In the meanwhile, in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay,
In September 2003 Wackenhut placed a classified advertisement in the Gazette â€˜â€™the authorised publication for members of military services stationed at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Baseâ€™â€™. After winning the contract for the security operation of the Migrant Operations Centre, they advertised for 20 posts including Custody Officers. (Prison Privatisation Report No 58 October 2003). Meanwhile Group4 are providing security services in Iraq (Prison Privatisation Report No 58 October 2003). As yet there are no reports of either company being involved in human rights abuses in Guantanamo or Iraq. However, both locations lack the legal rights enjoyed by citizens of Britain, the US and Australia. Furthermore, neither Guantanamo nor Iraq has a free press.
We have read about Wackenhut and its treatment of refugees: Outback Nightmares & Refugee Dreams , March/April 2003 issue. “When a few thousand men, women, and children sought asylum in Australia, the Welcoming Country responded with prison camps, tear gas, and forced relocation to distant island jails. “
We have read about Wackenhut and its treatment of seekers of asylum: Lost in the labyrinth: detention of asylum-seekers at Amnesty International.
Linda Kent, at Uncle Scam, says it’s American business as usual:
Just Like Slavery! Caged Humans as Profit-making Business Assets! Legal! Comes with Lobbyists! Crime is not the enemy! Run prisons as a business! Build your own private prisons and the state and US gov. will stock them for you — and pay you for it! Raid county and regional prisons for their prisoners! Create “ghost inmates”!All perfectly legitimate! Invest in this golden growth opportunity! Yes!!! Profit handsomely by the imprisonment of American humans! Live in the lap of luxury at the taxpayer’s expense off of the incarcerated men,women and children that are your assets! Sound like a Republican’s pipe dream? Wrong! Wackenhut Corrections (hereafter to be referred to as “Mister Wackenhut * “) is just such a business; even now Mister Wackenhut is turning an obscene profit on American prisoners and on poor tired huddled refugees in Wackenhut detention centers. You, an American citizen, can buy shares in this miserable human livestock! –on the New York Stock Exchange! It’s true!!!! In order for his business to be truly lucrative Mr. Wackenhut needs lots and lots and lots of prisoners: as many as he can steer into his private prisons.
And now, imagine this, the GEO Group (was Wackenhut, the way Wackenhut would eventually be GEO Group) may be coming to a psychiatric hospital near you! I dunno. Can anyone tell me why that makes me uncomfortable?? Prisons? Psychiatric hospitals? Bothers David Oaks of MindFreedom International, who puts it this way, “THE PRISON INDUSTRY & PSYCHIATRIC INDUSTRY ARE MERGING: The iron prison is merging with the chemical prison. Get ready for “Psych. Crime, Incorporated.”
MAY 6, 2005 –
PRIVATE PRISON OPERATOR WANTS TO RUN STATE HOSPITALS
The Texas State Employees Union today urged lawmakers to reject HB 3089 and its companion SB 1760, bills backed by a private prison operator that would require the state to privatize the operation of one of its mental health hospitals.
“Groups as diverse as TSEU, the Texas Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Advocacy, Inc. testified against both bills last week,” said Arthur Valdez, TSEU executive board member and program coordinator at the San Antonio State Hospital. “The only testimony in favor came from Atlantic Shores Hospital, a wholly owned subsidiary of Geo Group, Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections.”
Wackenhut Corrections was a high-flying prison corporation in the nineties, but scandals caused cancellation of a number of its contracts and its stock to plummeted. In 1999, Texas officials cancelled a Wackenhut contract to operate a state jail in Travis County after allegations were made and later proven true that guards forced inmates into having sex.
Within weeks of the Travis County investigation, a riot broke out that left one guard dead at a Wackenhut prison in New Mexico. Wackenhut subsequently re-branded itself as Geo Group, Inc. in 2003.
In 1997 when it was still Wackenhut, Geo Group began operating psychiatric hospitals. It has recently begun pursuing privatization opportunities. Geo Groupâ€™s subsidiary recently negotiated a deal with Florida to take over the state’s South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in Miami. The deal looks to be a trend setter that could foretell how the company would take control of a Texas state hospital.
The Florida deal is divided into three phases: in phase one, Geo Group will manage a staff of state employees at the Miami facility for about six months; in phase two, the company will assume full control and operations of the facility; in phase three, the company will design and construct a new facility that will be paid for with money raised from tax exempt bonds. The facility will be leased back to the state through a rent-to-own type of arrangement. Section paragraph h of both bill precisely describes this same mechanism. High priced lobbyists have been prowling the Capitol for the last year to secure passage of this bill.
“This arrangement is a give away to the company,” Valdez said. “While it appears that the company would hold the bond debt, the state would actually be making the payments through its lease payments. Essentially, the state would be building a new facility for the company and letting them operate for a profit and without risk.”
Geo Group has been quite up front about how it makes a profit at its prisons and hospitals. “They told Minnesota legislators at a public hearing that they pay their staff lower wages than the state does,â€ Valdez said.
Source: TSEU News Releases
So you better believe April 2004’s CNNMoney’s report that prison stocks are a sure thing, here today and here tomorrow.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – While a conversation with the words “company” and “crime” is sure to raise the hackles of any executive, some U.S. firms are finding that crime does pay.
Attracted by an expanding prison population and an overcrowded penal system, investors have sent shares of Corrections Corp. of America and Geo Group soaring over the last year. Both stocks now trade at or near multi-year highs.
“The prison population really never stops growing,” said Irving Lingo, chief financial officer with Corrections Corp. “Even if the growth rate slows, the real issue is that inmates are coming into systems that are already overcrowded.”
Throughout the last decade, the U.S. prison population has grown by 3.6 percent annually to 2.2 million people — or one in every 143 residents — at the end of 2002, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
That may be a scary statistic if you’re a student of sociology, but it points to a nice “customer base” if you’re Corrections Corp. or Geo Group.
Here today, here tomorrow
The U.S. prison population began to balloon in the early to mid 1980s due to a series of strict sentencing guidelines, including the controversial “three strikes” rule for repeat offenders.
The expansion rate started to cool as “there are only so many people willing to commit crimes,” explained Andrew May, analyst with Jefferies & Co. However, the recent surge in detention of immigration offenders picked it up again.
That’s right, don’t worry about “prison stocks” going flat. Cause it’s not just about prisons. It’s about detention of immigration offenders. It’s about post 9/11 detainees. Its’s about Iraqi prisons. It’s about Guantanamo Bay. It’s about the Wackenhut House detention centers for refugees. It’s about homeland security.
And now it’s about psychiatric hospitals.