ce399 | research archive: (anti)fascism

Abuses of Census Data: From Counterinsurgency to Genocide (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 10/02/2012

Abuses of Census Data : From Counterinsurgency to Genocide

Homeland Security and Arab Americans

The Census Bureau has provided specially tabulated population statistics on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including detailed information on how many people of Arab backgrounds live in certain ZIP codes.

The assistance is legal, but civil liberties groups and Arab-American advocacy organizations say it is a dangerous breach of public trust and liken it to the Census Bureau’s compilation of similar information about Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The tabulations were produced in August 2002 and December 2003 in response to requests from what is now the Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security. One set listed cities with more than 1,000 Arab-Americans. The second, far more detailed, provided ZIP-code-level breakdowns of Arab-American populations, sorted by country of origin. The categories provided were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian and two general categories, “Arab/Arabic” and “Other/Arab. ”

Christiana Halsey, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, said the requests were made to help the agency identify in which airports to post signs and pamphlets in Arabic. “The information is not in any way being used for law enforcement purposes,” she said. “It’s being used to educate the traveler. We’re simply using basic demographic information to help us communicate U.S. laws and regulations to the traveling public.” [ ! ]

But critics of the information sharing said general demographic snapshots could be derived without such detailed information and that the ZIP-code-level data with its breakdowns of ancestral origin seemed particularly excessive because for all of the groups only English or Arabic need be used.

“The real question is to Homeland Security,” said Samia El-Badry, an Arab-American member of the Census Bureau’s decennial census advisory committee. “What are they hiding? Why do they need this?”
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the data sharing was particularly harmful at a time when the Census Bureau is struggling to build trust within Arab-American communities. “As this gets out, any effort to encourage people to full compliance with the census is down the tubes,” Mr. Zogby said. “How can you get people to comply when they believe that by complying they put at risk their personal and family security?”

In 2000, the bureau issued a formal apology for allowing its statistical data to be used to round up Japanese-Americans for internment during World War II.

Lynette Clemetson
The New York Times

full article:


Census Records and The Third Reich

Only after Jews were identified — a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately — could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation.

In every European nation the Third Reich conquered, they immediately scoured the census records, then sent the data back for cross-tabulation and processing in Germany on IBM Hollerith punchcard machines.

Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.

(A guest contributor provided the above book excerpt / article)

Black, Edwin
IBM and the Holocaust : The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation New York, NY, U.S.A.: Crown Publishing Group, Incorporated, 2001.


Phuong Hoang / The Phoenix Program

A census, if properly made and exploited, is a basic source of intelligence. It would show, for instance, who is related to whom, an important piece of information in counterinsurgency warfare because insurgent recruiting at the village level is generally based initially on family ties.

…a census is an effective way of controlling large numbers of persons. Thus, while CIA paramilitary officers used their covert Census Grievance Program to gather intelligence in Viet Cong controlled villages, CIA police advisers were conducting a census program of their own…

…the National Police in 1962 initiated the Family Census program, in which a name list was made and a group photo taken of every family in South Vietnam. The portrait was filed in a police dossier along with each person’s political affiliations, fingerprints, income, savings, and other relevant information, such as who owned property or had relatives outside the village, and thus had a legitimate reason to travel. This program was instrumental in identifying persons who could be blackmailed into working in their villages as informers. By 1965 there were 7,453 registered families.

Through the Family Census, the CIA learned the names of Communist cell members in government-controlled villages. Apprehending the cadre that ran the cells was then a matter of arresting all minor suspects and “softening them up” until they informed.

Excerpt From “Chapter 5: PICS” in The Phoenix Program, Douglas Valentine (NY, Wm Morrow, 1990)


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