Subject: FEMA & MARTIAL LAW
Dated : 19 Jan 91 18:32:29
From: Covert Action Information Bulletin, #33 (Winter 1990).
THE RISE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE: FEMA and the NSC
by Diana Reynolds
CIVIL SECURITY PLANNING
Since WWII, the U.S. government has had contingency plans in
preparation for a large scale disaster or attack. However, during
the last twenty-five years--beginning with civil unrest at the
height of the Vietnam War--the government's plans have
increasingly on focused ways of controlling political dissent.
On October 30, 1969 President Richard Nixon issued Executive
Order 11490, "Assigning Emergency Preparedness Functions to
Federal Departments and Agencies," which consolidated some 21
operative Executive Orders and two Defense Mobilization Orders
issued between 1951 and 1966 on a variety of emergency
In 1976 President Gerald Ford ordered the Federal Emergency
Preparedness Agency (FEPA) to develop plans to establish
government control of the mechanisms of productions and
distribution of energy sources, wages and salaries, credit and
the flow of money in American financial institutions in any
(heretofore undefined) "national emergency." This
Executive Order (EO 11921) also indicated that, when a state of
emergency is declared by the President, Congress could not review
the matter for a period of six months.
Even arch-conservative activist Howard J. Ruff was quick to point
out that, since the enactment of EO 11490, "The only thing
standing between us and a dictatorship is the good character of
the President and the lack of a crisis severe enough that the
public would stand still for it."
While Ruff thought a national emergency might be used to destroy
the free markets in the U.S. and take away the C.B. radios and
guns of Americans, was alarmed
for more rational and obvious reasons. In an editorial, the paper
repeated Ruff's warning:
"Executive Order No. 11490 is real, and only the lack of a
crisis big enough, a president willing enough, and a public
aroused enough to permit it to be invoked, separates us from a
possible dictatorship, brought about under current law, waiting to
be implemented in the event of circumstances which can be
construed as a `national emergency.'"
President Carter evidently did not share this concern and, in
1977, he signed Executive Order 12148 which created the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to replace the Federal
Emergency Preparedness Agency. This Presidential Directive
mandated an interface between the Department of Defense (DOD) and
FEMA for civil defense planning and funding.
When Ronald Reagan came to power he gave FEMA vastly expanded
executive emergency powers and appointed retired National Guard
General Louis O. Giuffrida as his "emergency czar."
Giuffrida's creation of contingency emergency plans to round up
"militant negroes" while he was at the Naval War College
caught the attention of then-Governor of California Reagan and his
executive secretary Edwin Meese III.
As Governor, Reagan called on Giuffrida to design Operation Cable
Splicer. Cable Splicer I, II and III were martial law plans to
legitimize the arrest and detention of anti-Vietnam war activists
and other political dissidents.
In 1971, Governor Reagan, with a $425,000 grant from the
Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, established
a counterterrorism training center--the California Specialized
Training Institute (CSTI)--and made Giuffrida its commandant.
Shortly after he assumed the directorship of FEMA in 1981,
Giuffrida had flooded high-level FEMA posts with friends from CSTI
and the military police, had created a Civil Security Division of
FEMA, and had established a Civil Defense Training Center in
Emmitsburg, Maryland--based on the CSTI model. By 1984, the
Center had trained one thousand civil defense personnel in
survival techniques, counterterrorism and military police
From February to July of 1982, President Reagan signed a series of
National Security Decision Directives (NSDD)--presidential
decisions on national security objectives--on civil defense
policy and emergency mobilization preparedness. While Reagan's
real U.S. civil defense policy is contained in the classified NSDD
26, some of the law enforcement and public safety provisions of
the policy are made public in NSDD 47. This National Security
Decision Directive provides for an intensified counterintelligence
effort at home and the maintenance of law and order in a variety
of emergencies, particularly terrorist incidents, civil
disturbances, and nuclear emergencies.
Reagan gave the National Security Council (NSC) authority over the
planning for civil defense policy with its expanded civil security
powers. He mandated the creation of a senior-level
interdepartmental board, the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness
Board (EMPB), and charged it with responsibilities for policy and
planning guidance, coordination of planning, resolution of issues,
and monitoring progress.
The members of the EMPB were the Assistant for National Security
Affairs (as its Chair), the DOD's Secretary of Defense for Policy,
the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and representatives
from 10 other federal agencies. FEMA provided the staff, support
secretariat and operational supervision for the EMPB and their
working group on civil defense. According to then Secretary of
Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, by February 1983, the EMPB had
prepared--and the President had approved--a national policy
statement on emergency mobilization preparedness.
Oliver North served on the EMPB, having been assigned there from
1982 to 1984 by former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane.
General Giuffrida was there too, providing operational
supervision. By forming the EMPB, Ronald Reagan made it possible
for a small group of people, under the authority of the NSC, to
wield enormous power. They, in turn, used this executive
authority to change civil defense planning into a military/police
version of civil security.
In January of 1982, FEMA and the Department of Defense issued a
joint paper entitled, "The Civil/Military Alliance in
Emergency Management" which specified many of the provisions
of Reagan's policy on emergency mobilization preparedness. This
document indicates that FEMA had been given
emergency powers to acquire resources from federal and state
agencies (including National Guard personnel) and the private
sector (banking, communications, transportation, etc.) "for
use in civil disturbance operations."
Apparently General Frank S. Salcedo, Chief of FEMA's Civil
Security Division and Giuffrida's former colleague at CSTI, wanted
more. In 1983, in a workshop at the annual meeting of the Academy
of Criminal Justice Sciences, Salcedo recommended expanding FEMA's
power further in the areas of survivability training, research on
imposing martial law, and the potential threat posed by foreign
and domestic adversaries. As he saw it at least 100,000 U.S.
citizens, from survivalists to tax protesters, were serious
threats to civil security.
Salcedo saw FEMA's new frontier in the protection of industrial
and government leaders from assassination, and of civil and
military installations from sabotage and/or attack, as well as the
prevention of dissident groups from gaining access to U.S. opinion
or a global audience in times of crisis.
"THIS IS ONLY A TEST, REPEAT..."
While improving capabilities to respond to civil security
emergencies was for the most part a planning activity with the
Reagan Administration, FEMA was also active in exercises to test
these plans. In 1981, FEMA and DOD began a continuing tradition of
biannual joint exercises to test civilian mo,bil,ization, civil
security emergency and counterterrorism plans using such names as
"Proud Saber/Rex-82," "Pre-Nest," and "Rex-84/Night Train."
The Rex-84 Alpha Explan (Readiness Exercise 1984, Exercise Plan),
indicates that FEMA in association with 34 other federal civil
departments and agencies conducted a civil readiness exercise
during April 5-13, 1984. It was conducted in coordination and
simultaneously with a Joint Chiefs exercise, Night Train 84, a
worldwide military command post exercise (including Continental
U.S. Forces or CONUS) based on multi-emergency scenarios operating
both abroad and at home. In the combined exercise, Rex-84 Bravo,
FEMA and DOD led the other federal agencies and departments,
including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the
Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Veterans
Administration through a gaming exercise to test military
assistance in civil defense.
The exercise anticipated civil disturbances, major demonstrations
and strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or
resource mobilization. To fight subversive activities, there was
authorization for the military to implement government ordered
movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels,
the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and
the imposition of martial rule.
Attorney General William French Smith finally became aware of the
abuses of the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board operating
under the NSC. He admonished McFarlane, Assistant to the
President for National Security Affairs, who theoretically chaired
the planning group. In a letter dated August 2, 1984, Smith
responded to a request by the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) to review, for form and legality, a draft Executive Order
revising the powerful EO 11490, assigning emergency preparedness
functions to federal departments and agencies. The Attorney
General said that apart from the legal review by the Office of
"...I believe that the draft Executive Order raises
serious substantive and public policy issues that should be
further addressed before this proposal is submitted to the
President. In short I believe that the role assigned to the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the revised
Executive Order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating
agency for emergency preparedness.
"This Department and others have repeatedly raised
serious policy and legal objections to the creation of an
`emergency czar' role for FEMA. Specific policy concerns regarding
recent FEMA initiatives include the abandonment of the principle
of `several' agency responsibility and the expansion of the
definition of severe emergencies to encompass `routine' domestic
law enforcement emergencies. Legal objections relate to the
absence of Presidential or Congressional authorization for
unilateral FEMA directives which seek to establish new Federal
Government management structures or otherwise task Cabinet
departments and other federal agencies.
THE FALL OF FEMA
Smith's letter signaled what seemed to be the beginning of the end
for FEMA and Reagan's Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director William Webster had
previously complained when FEMA's Director of Civil Security,
General Salcedo, had intruded into the FBI's domestic intelligence
jurisdiction under the rubric of counter terrorism. Salcedo was
forced to turn over to Webster some 12,000 names he had been
compiling on a list of potential threats to civil security.
Furthermore, it came to light that while FEMA had been expending
the lion's share of its energy and funding on building a civil
security infrastructure, it had neglected its authorized civil
defense role. On June 15, 1984, barely a month after Giuffrida
filed his glowing accomplishment report with Meese, Robert Guffus,
Inspector General of FEMA, wrote a draft report on FEMA's
Comprehensive Cooperative Agreements (CCA) (with states) in civil
He concluded that management actions were needed to improve the
effectiveness of programs with state and local governments. In his
review of the CCAs he found inadequate FEMA management control,
imprecise program guidelines and a lack of personnel resources.
Programmatic and financial weaknesses were a result of fiscal
mis-management, unclear assignment of responsibilities,
overlapping job descriptions, inflated training figures, and lack
of written procedures.
McFarlane removed North from the EMPB and assigned him to help
with conducting unconventional warfare in Nicaragua. Giuffrida
resigned in 1985 after a House subcommittee charged that FEMA was
being mismanaged, and it was publicized that Giuffrida had staffed
FEMA with his military/police cronies and had allowed $170,000 of
agency funds to be used to outfit a deluxe bachelor pad at the
Civil Defense Training Academy at Emmitsburg. He now operates a
security consulting firm in Washington, D.C. General Salcedo has
moved on to be Presidential Liaison to Veterans Organizations at
the Veterans Administration.
There is some debate about what happened to the plans for a civil
security emergency. There was a rumored joint investigation
conducted by the Defense Department and the CIA into the
unconstitutionality of planning for a civil security emergency by
several government agencies. Supposedly, the two investigators,
Special Forces Lt. Colonel Kvererdas and the CIA's William
Buckley, prior to his fatal Beirut assignment, destroyed the plans
and the exercise data.
Some believe that much of the planning was incorporated into Vice
President Bush's Report from his Task Force on Combatting
Terrorism which has inspired civil security contingency planning
at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service by an Alien
Border Control (ABC) Committee. The working group within the INS
was designing plans and programs regarding the control and removal
of alien terrorists, potential terrorist aliens and those "who
are likely to be supportive of terrorist activity within the
The most obvious resting place for the material is the National
Security Council. In 1987, Reagan signed another NSDD, number
259, which superseded both NSDD 26, the secret civil defense plan
of February 25, 1982 and the unclassified version dated March 16,
1982. Even though the 1987 version is shorter and more vague than
its predecessors, no significant changes are evident in civil
defense planning and programs from the 1984 EMPB scenarios.
Just before he left office, Reagan signed Executive Order 12656
which assigned new emergency preparedness responsibilities.
Reagan's final national security legacy to civil defense planning
puts the NSC clearly in charge. In Section 104, EO 12656 states
that the NSC is the principal forum for consideration of national
security emergency preparedness policy and will arrange for
Executive branch liaison with, and assistance to, the Congress and
the Federal judiciary on national security emergency preparedness
The Director of FEMA has now been promoted to advisor to the NSC
on mobilization preparedness, civil defense, continuity of
government, technological disasters, "and other issues, as
appropriate." The Director of FEMA is also authorized to
assist in the implementation of national security emergency
preparedness policy by coordinating federal departments and
agencies; as well as state and local governments. The exercise
program is to continue and plans and procedures "will be
designed and developed to provide maximum flexibility to the
President for his implementation of emergency actions."
On the same day that Reagan signed EO 12656 he also signed the
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 which provided yet another in a series
of get-tough-but-do-nothing drug policies produced by the Reagan
Administration. If and when the Anti-Drug Abuse Act fails--a
victim of underfunding and bureaucratic in-fighting--then
Executive Order 12656 could become an historic document in the war
THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE AND THE DRUG WAR
The U.S. government's proposed "war on drugs" is one such
case in which the U.S. government will have the authority to use
the national security apparatus to suppress civil liberties. It
may be the first opportunity to call into action the years of
planning and expense used to develop the emergency preparedness
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed in the final hours of the 100th
Congress, when incumbents were anxious to return to their
districts in order to campaign and when public opinion was calling
for drastic action in the war on drugs. The Act was quickly
drafted by congressional committees and private
consultants, then passed by Congress without the usual legislative
hearings and debate.
The Act broadly defines the programs, goals, guidelines and
appropriations for all the 58 federal departments plus the
thousands of state and local agencies involved in the national war
on drugs. Some provisions were made for drug education,
prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, but much of the text
focuses on the punitive measures to be taken by the government.
The anti-drug policy authorizes the use of the U.S. military to
assist in the drug war at home. If you live in federal housing or
if you reside in large urban areas such as New York, Boston, Washington
DC, or Los Angeles--where crime and addiction have
turned neighborhoods into combat zones--this Act will authorize
the military to fence off your streets, keep track of who comes
from and goes to your home, stop and frisk you, your friends and
family, and regularly inspect your home and belongings. If you or
anyone who visits you is suspected by the authorities of using,
selling or trafficking in any kind of illicit narcotic substance,
you can be evicted from your home whether your landlord is the
government or a private party.
The Act increases state powers in the areas of government
surveillance, intelligence gathering, and seizure of private property.
It authorizes regional intelligence sharing centers, which
not only compile statistics but provide contracts to states, local
criminal justice agencies, and non-profit organizations for
purposes of identifying, targeting and removing criminal
conspiracies and activities spanning jurisdictional boundaries.
The Justice Department is given the power to confiscate private
property and deny state and federal entitlement by decree. Once
caught, even casual marijuana users could be subject to the
confiscation of their homes, cars, and bank accounts. The
government seizure takes place through civil proceedings where the
burden is on the defendant to prove his or her innocence, unlike
the "innocent until proven guilty" due process guarantee
of criminal proceedings.
A NATIONAL DRUG CZAR
William Bennett, as the Director of the Office of National Drug
Policy, is an adviser to and voting member of the National
Security Council. It is here in the NSC that the ultimate drug
war could be fought. All it would take is a President determined
enough, a Congress pliant enough, and people desperate enough for
the drug war in America to be declared a national security
emergency. If and when that happens, the NSC--as part of civil
emergency preparedness--would be in charge of its implementation
under the guidance of the President.
A national security emergency would without a doubt decrease drug
use in America. The government would be authorized to increase
domestic intelligence and surveillance of U.S. citizens. State
security measures would be enhanced by restricting the freedom of
movement within the U.S. and granting the government authority to
relocate large groups of civilians at will. The U.S. Continental
Forces and a federalized National Guard could seal off borders and
take control of U.S. airspace, all ports of entry, and interstate
It was James Madison's worst nightmare that a
righteous faction would some day be strong enough to sweep away
the constitutional restraints, designed by the framers to prevent
the tyranny of centralized power, executive privilege and
arbitrary government authority over the individual.
These restraints, the balancing and checking of powers among branches
and layers of government and the civil guarantees contained in the
Bill of Rights would be the first casualties in a drug-induced
national security state with Reagan's civil emergency preparedness
Nevertheless, there will be those who will welcome the National
Security Council into the drug fray, believing that increasing
state police powers to emergency levels is the only way left to
fight America'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
Diana Reynolds is a Research Assocaite and Program Director at the Edward
R. Murrow Center, The Fletcher School, Tufts University. She is also an
Assistant Professor of Politics, Bradford College and a Lecturer at
Northeastern Univeristy. Research assistance for this article was provided
by Charles Haber.
Thanks to the staff of Covert Action Information Bulletin for providing the
disk for this article.
The original article contained 33 footnotes. To obtain the complete article
in print form, send $3.50 to: Covert Action Information Bulletin, PO Box
50272, Washington, D.C. 20004. Specify issue #33 (Winter 1990).
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