Copyright FreeAmerica and Harry V. Martin, 1995
Some people have referred
to it as the "secret government" of the United States. It is not an
elected body, it does not involve itself in
public disclosures, and it even has a quasi-secret budget in the
billions of dollars. This government organization has more power than
the President of the United States or the Congress, it has
the power to suspend laws, move entire populations, arrest and detain
citizens without a warrant and hold them without trial, it can seize
property, food supplies, transportation systems, and
can suspend the Constitution.
Not only is it the most
powerful entity in the United States, but it was not even created under
Constitutional law by the Congress. It was a product of a
Presidential Executive Order. No, it is not the U.S. military nor the
Central Intelligence Agency, they are subject to Congress. The
organization is called FEMA, which stands for the Federal
Emergency Management Agency.
Originally conceived in the Richard Nixon Administration, it was
refined by President Jimmy Carter and given teeth in the Ronald Reagan
and George Bush
FEMA had one original
concept when it was created, to assure the survivability of the United
States government in the event of a nuclear attack on this
nation. It was also provided with the task of being a federal
coordinating body during times of domestic disasters, such as
earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Its awesome powers grow under the
tutelage of people like Lt. Col. Oliver North and General Richard
Secord, the architects on the Iran-Contra scandal and the looting of
America's savings and loan institutions. FEMA has even
been given control of the State Defense Forces, a rag-tag, often
considered neo-Nazi, civilian army that will substitute for the
National Guard, if the Guard is called to duty overseas.
The Most Powerful Organization In The United States
Though it may be the most
powerful organization in the United States, few people know it even
exists. But it has crept into our private lives. Even
mortgage papers contain FEMA's name in small print if the property in
question is near a flood plain. FEMA was deeply involved in the Los
Angeles riots and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in
the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the black helicopter traffic
reported throughout the United States, but mainly in the West,
California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado,
are flown by FEMA personnel. FEMA has been given responsibility for
many new disasters including urban forest fires, home heating
emergencies, refugee situations, urban riots, and emergency
planning for nuclear and toxic incidents. In the West, it works in
conjunction with the Sixth Army.
FEMA was created in a
series of Executive Orders. A Presidential Executive Order, whether
Constitutional or not, becomes law simply by its publication in
the Federal Registry. Congress is by-passed. Executive Order Number
12148 created the Federal Emergency Management Agency that is to
interface with the Department of Defense for civil defense
planning and funding. An "emergency czar" was appointed. FEMA has only
spent about 6 percent of its budget on national emergencies, the bulk
of their funding has been used for the
construction of secret underground facilities to assure continuity of
government in case of a major emergency, foreign or domestic. Executive
Order Number 12656 appointed the National Security
Council as the principal body that should consider emergency powers.
This allows the government to increase domestic intelligence and
surveillance of U.S. citizens and would restrict the
freedom of movement within the United States and grant the government
the right to isolate large groups of civilians. The National Guard
could be federalized to seal all borders and take
control of U.S. air space and all ports of entry.
Here are just a few
Executive Orders associated with FEMA that would suspend the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These Executive Orders have been
record for nearly 30 years and could be enacted by the stroke of a
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10990
allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10995
allows the government to seize and control the communication media.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10997
allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998
allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000
allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001
allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002
designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003
allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004
allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build
new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and
establish new locations for populations.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005
allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051
specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and
gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of
increased international tensions and economic or
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310
grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set
out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to
establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to
operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049
assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and
agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a
fifteen year period.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921
allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to
establish control over the mechanisms of production and
distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow
of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national
emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency
is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six
The Federal Emergency
Management Agency has broad powers in every aspect of the nation.
General Frank Salzedo, chief of FEMA's Civil Security Division
stated in a 1983 conference that he saw FEMA's role as a "new frontier
in the protection of individual and governmental leaders from
assassination, and of civil and military installations
from sabotage and/or attack, as well as prevention of dissident groups
from gaining access to U.S. opinion, or a global audience in times of
FEMA's powers were consolidated by President Carter to incorporate:
the National Security Act of
1947, which allows for the strategic relocation of industries,
services, government and other essential economic activities,
and to rationalize the requirements for manpower, resources and
the 1950 Defense Production Act, which gives the President sweeping powers over all aspects of the economy;
the Act of August 29, 1916,
which authorizes the Secretary of the Army, in time of war, to take
possession of any transportation system for transporting
troops, material, or any other purpose related to the emergency; and
the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act, which enables the President to seize the property
of a foreign country or national.
These powers were transferred to FEMA in a sweeping consolidation in 1979.
Hurricane Andrew Focused Attention On FEMA
FEMA's deceptive role
really did not come to light with much of the public until Hurricane
Andrew smashed into the U.S. mainland. As Russell R. Dynes,
director of the Disaster Research Center of the University of Delaware,
wrote in The World and I, "...The eye of the political storm hovered
over the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA became a convenient target for criticism." Because FEMA was
accused of dropping the ball in Florida, the media and Congress
commenced to study this agency. What came out of the
critical look was that FEMA was spending 12 times more for "black
operations" than for disaster relief. It spent $1.3 billion building
secret bunkers throughout the United States in
anticipation of government disruption by foreign or domestic upheaval.
Yet fewer than 20 members of Congress , only members with top security
clearance, know of the $1.3 billion expenditure by
FEMA for non-natural disaster situations. These few Congressional
leaders state that FEMA has a "black curtain" around its operations.
FEMA has worked on National Security programs
since 1979, and its predecessor, the Federal Emergency Preparedness
Agency, has secretly spent millions of dollars before being merged into
FEMA by President Carter in 1979.
FEMA has developed 300
sophisticated mobile units that are capable of sustaining themselves
for a month. The vehicles are located in five areas of the
United States. They have tremendous communication systems and each
contains a generator that would provide power to 120 homes each, but
have never been used for disaster relief.
FEMA's enormous powers can
be triggered easily. In any form of domestic or foreign problem,
perceived and not always actual, emergency powers can be
enacted. The President of the United States now has broader powers to
declare martial law, which activates FEMA's extraordinary powers.
Martial law can be declared during time of increased
tension overseas, economic problems within the United States, such as a
depression, civil unrest, such as demonstrations or scenes like the Los
Angeles riots, and in a drug crisis. These
Presidential powers have increased with successive Crime Bills,
particularly the 1991 and 1993 Crime Bills, which increase the power to
suspend the rights guaranteed under the Constitution and
to seize property of those suspected of being drug dealers, to
individuals who participate in a public protest or demonstration. Under
emergency plans already in existence, the power exists to
suspend the Constitution and turn over the reigns of government to FEMA
and appointing military commanders to run state and local governments.
FEMA then would have the right to order the
detention of anyone whom there is reasonable ground to believe...will
engage in, or probably conspire with others to engage in acts of
espionage or sabotage. The plan also authorized the
establishment of concentration camps for detaining the accused, but no
Three times since 1984,
FEMA stood on the threshold of taking control of the nation. Once under
President Reagan in 1984, and twice under President Bush
in 1990 and 1992. But under those three scenarios, there was not a
sufficient crisis to warrant risking martial law. Most experts on the
subject of FEMA and Martial Law insisted that a crisis
has to appear dangerous enough for the people of the United States
before they would tolerate or accept complete government takeover. The
typical crisis needed would be threat of imminent
nuclear war, rioting in several U.S. cites simultaneously, a series of
national disasters that affect widespread danger to the populous,
massive terrorist attacks, a depression in which tens of
millions are unemployed and without financial resources, or a major
Three Times FEMA Stood By Ready For Emergency
In April 1984, President
Reagan signed Presidential Director Number 54 that allowed FEMA to
engage in a secret national "readiness exercise"
under the code name of REX 84. The exercise was to test FEMA's
readiness to assume military authority in the event of a "State of
Domestic National Emergency" concurrent with the
launching of a direct United States military operation in Central
America. The plan called for the deputation of U.S. military and
National Guard units so that they could legally be used for
domestic law enforcement. These units would be assigned to conduct
sweeps and take into custody an estimated 400,000 undocumented Central
American immigrants in the United States. The
immigrants would be interned at 10 detention centers to be set up at
military bases throughout the country.
REX 84 was so highly
guarded that special metal security doors were placed on the fifth
floor of the FEMA building in Washington, D.C. Even long-standing
employees of the Civil Defense of the Federal Executive Department
possessing the highest possible security clearances were not being
allowed through the newly installed metal security doors.
Only personnel wearing a special red Christian cross or crucifix lapel
pin were allowed into the premises. Lt. Col. North was responsible for
drawing up the emergency plan, which U.S. Attorney
General William French Smith opposed vehemently. The plan called for
the suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government
over to FEMA, appointment of military commanders to
run state and local governments and the declaration of Martial Law. The
Presidential Executive Orders to support such a plan were already in
place. The plan also advocated the rounding up and
transfer to "assembly centers or relocation camps" of a least 21
million American Negroes in the event of massive rioting or disorder,
not unlike the rounding up of the Jews in Nazi
Germany in the 1930s.
The second known time that
FEMA stood by was in 1990 when Desert Storm was enacted. Prior to
President Bush's invasion of Iraq, FEMA began to draft new
legislation to increase its already formidable powers. One of the
elements incorporated into the plan was to set up operations within any
state or locality without the prior permission of local
or state authorities. Such prior permission has always been required in
the past. Much of the mechanism being set into place was in
anticipation of the economic collapse of the Western World.
The war with Iraq may have been conceived as a ploy to boost the
bankrupt economy, but it only pushed the West into deeper recession.
The third scenario for FEMA
came with the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King brutality
verdict. Had the rioting spread to other cities, FEMA would
have been empowered to step in. As it was, major rioting only occurred
in the Los Angeles area, thus preventing a pretext for a FEMA response.
On July 5, 1987, the Miami
Herald published reports on FEMA's new goals. The goal was to suspend
the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such
as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national
opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. Lt. Col. North was the
architect. National Security Directive Number 52
issued in August 1982, pertains to the "Use of National Guard Troops to
The crux of the problem is
that FEMA has the power to turn the United States into a police state
in time of a real crisis or a manufactured crisis. Lt.
Col. North virtually established the apparatus for dictatorship. Only
the criticism of the Attorney General prevented the plans from being
adopted. But intelligence reports indicate that FEMA
has a folder with 22 Executive Orders for the President to sign in case
of an emergency. It is believed those Executive Orders contain the
framework of North's concepts, delayed by criticism
but never truly abandoned.
The crisis, as the
government now see it, is civil unrest. For generations, the government
was concerned with nuclear war, but the violent and disruptive
demonstrations that surrounded the Vietnam War era prompted President
Nixon to change the direction of emergency powers from war time to
times of domestic unrest. Diana Raynolds, program
director of the Edward R. Murrow Center, summed up the dangers of FEMA
today and the public reaction to Martial Law in a drug crisis: "It was
James Madison's worst nightmare that a
righteous faction would someday be strong enough to sweep away the
Constitutional restraints designed by the framers to prevent the
tyranny of centralized power, excessive privilege, an
arbitrary governmental authority over the individual. These restraints,
the balancing and checking of powers among branches and layers of
government, and the civil guarantees, would be the
first casualties in a drug-induced national security state with
Reagan's Civil Emergency Preparedness unleashed. Nevertheless, there
would be those who would welcome NSC (National Security
Council) into the drug fray, believing that increasing state police
powers to emergency levels is the only way left to fight American's
enemy within. In the short run, a national security state
would probably be a relief to those whose personal security and quality
of life has been diminished by drugs or drug related crime. And, as the
general public watches the progression of
institutional chaos and social decay, they too may be willing to pay
the ultimate price, one drug free America for 200 years of democracy."
The first targets in any
FEMA emergency would be Hispanics and Blacks, the FEMA orders call for
them to be rounded up and detained. Tax protesters,
demonstrators against government military intervention outside U.S.
borders, and people who maintain weapons in their homes are also
targets. Operation Trojan Horse is a program designed to
learn the identity of potential opponents to martial law. The program
lures potential protesters into public forums, conducted by a "hero" of
the people who advocates survival
training. The list of names gathered at such meetings and rallies are
computerized and then targeted in case of an emergency.
The most shining example of
America to the world has been its peaceful transition of government
from one administration to another. Despite crises of
great magnitude, the United States has maintained its freedom and
liberty. This nation now stands on the threshold of rule by non-elected
people asserting non-Constitutional powers. Even
Congress cannot review a Martial Law action until six months after it
has been declared. For the first time in American history, the reigns
of government would not be transferred from one
elected element to another, but the Constitution, itself, can be
The scenarios established
to trigger FEMA into action are generally found in the society today,
economic collapse, civil unrest, drug problems, terrorist
attacks, and protests against American intervention in a foreign
country. All these premises exist, it could only be a matter of time in
which one of these triggers the entire emergency
necessary to bring FEMA into action, and then it may be too late,
because under the FEMA plan, there is no contingency by which
Constitutional power is restored.
Harry V. Martin with research assistance from David Caul