- FEMA: The Secret Government
by Harry V. Martin with research assistance from David Caul
- see more on FEMA here
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
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 Administrations.
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 grew 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, many
people don’t 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 bypassed.
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.
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 crisis."
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 production
facilities; 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. 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 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 activities 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 trial.
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 environmental disaster.
Three times FEMA has stood by ready for emergency In April 1984, President
Reagan signed Presidential Directive 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 take into custody an estimated 400,000 undocumented
Central American immigrants in the United States who would be interned at 10
detention centers set up at military bases throughout the country.
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 plan also advocated the rounding up and transfer to "assembly
centers or relocation camps" of a least 21 million American Blacks 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 set up operations within any state or locality without
the prior permission of local or state authorities. Much of the mechanism
being set into place was in anticipation of the economic collapse of the
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.
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.
Intelligence reports indicate that FEMA has a folder with 22 Executive
Orders for the President to sign in case of an emergency. The crisis, as the
government now sees 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 Reynolds, program director of the Edward R. Murrow Center, summed up
the danger of FEMA today and the public reaction to Martial Law in a drug
"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 (sic)."
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 suspended.
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.
Copyright FreeAmerica and Harry V. Martin, 1995
Clinton's Executive Order 12919 (The Idaho
Observer, May, 1997) gives the president the power to declare an emergency
which instantly gives FEMA the authority to take control of the things
listed in this article. EO 12919 is just one more clue that should tell
Americans what "our" federal government has in store for all of
us.—The Idaho Observer, website:
- Ph. 208-777-7888; fax 208-777-2032
P.O. Box 1806, Post Falls, ID 83877
(Somewhat abridged. All underlines are by Midnight Herald for emphasis.)
- Here are a few EXECUTIVE ORDERS associated
with FEMA that would suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These
Executive Orders have been on record for nearly 30 years and could be
enacted by the stroke of a presidential pen
(not subject to congressional review).
- The USA has been in such an emergency since
- #10990 allows the government to take over all
modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.
- #10995 allows the government to seize and
control the communication media.
- #10997 allows the government to take over all
electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals, public and private.
- #10998 allows the government to take over all
food supplies and resources, public and private, including farms and
- #11000 allows the government to mobilize
American civilians into work brigades under government supervision; allows
the government to split up families if they believe it necessary.
- #11001 allows the government to take over all
health, education and welfare functions and facilities, both public and
- #11002 designates the Postmaster General to
operate a national registration of all persons: men, women and children, for
- # 11003 allows the government to take over all
airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
- #11004 allows the Housing and Finance
Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds,
designate areas to be abandoned as "unsafe", and establish new
locations for populations.
- #11005 allows the government to take over
railroads, inland waterways and storage facilities, public and private.
- #11051 specifies the responsibility of the
Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all EOs into
effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or
- #11310 grants authority to the Department of
Justice to enforce the plans set out in EOs, 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 the President.
- #11049 assigns emergency preparedness function
to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative EOs issued
over a fifteen year period.
- # 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 MONTHS.
The USA PATRIOT Act Was Planned Before
Jennifer Van Bergen
r u t h o u t | 20 May, 2002
people do not know that the USA PATRIOT Act was already written and ready to go
long before September 11th. Recent criticism of Bush's admission that he had
received warnings only weeks before September 11th has made it more important to
understand the origins of the USAPA.
USA PATRIOT Act - the so-called "Uniting and Strengthening America by
Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of
2001," a.k.a. the USAPA -- was enacted in the immediate wake of 9/11,
riding a wave of fear that spread over the nation. This Act has caused much
concern amongst civil rights advocates. The Administration, however, responded
to such concerns by calling critics unpatriotic. Now, the White House has had a
similar response to critics of Bush's recent admission of early warnings.
House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday: "I think that any time anybody
suggests or implies to the American people that this president had specific
information that could have prevented the attacks on our country on September
11, that crosses the lines."
Cheney came out on Thursday with the statement that Democratic criticism of
Bush's handling of pre-Sept. 11 terror warnings was "thoroughly
irresponsible." Cheney added an ominous remark to his "Democratic
friends ... that they need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage
by making incendiary suggestions."
McKinney responded: "If committed and patriotic people had not been pushing
for disclosure, today's revelations would have been hidden by the White
House," she says. "Ever since I came to Congress in 1992, there are
those who have been trying to silence my voice. I've been told to "sit down
and shut up" over and over again. Well, I won't sit down and I won't shut
up until the full and unvarnished truth is placed before the American
Minority leader Dick Gephardt said: "Our nation is not well served when the
charge of 'partisan politics' is leveled at those who simply seek information
that the American people need and deserve to know."
following Democratic criticism of Bush's admission, came the weekend news that
the White House now anticipates an even terrorist greater attack on American
soil. Intrepid investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, best known for his
reports claiming government's prior knowledge of 9/11, states that Fox TV
cancelled his Saturday appearance on the Geraldo Rivera Show due to these
may be mere coincidences. Time Magazine just released a lengthy article by
Michael Elliott, "How the U.S. Missed the Clues," in which he states:
"Last summer the White House suspected that a terrorist attack was coming.
But four key mistakes kept the U.S. from knowing what to do."
the Administration could have anticipated 9/11 or not, the proponents of the
USAPA were waiting to go long before that day. Similar antiterrorism legislation
was enacted in the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which however did little to prevent
the events of 9/11, and many provisions had either been declared
unconstitutional or were about to be repealed when 9/11 occurred.
X. Dempsey and David Cole state in their book, "Terrorism & the
Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National
Security," that the most troubling provisions of the pre-USAPA
anti-terrorism laws, enacted in 1996 and expanded now by the USAPA, "were
developed long before the bombings that triggered their final enactment."
is the former assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and
Constitutional Rights and Deputy Director at the Center for Democracy &
Technology, and Cole is professor of law at Georgetown University and an
attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
back at the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, Dempsey and Cole declare that "the
much-touted gains in law enforcement powers" under that Act, "produced
no visible concrete results in the fight against terrorism." They add that
the principles espoused in the Act "were shown in case after case to be
both unconstitutional and ineffective in the fight against terrorism." And
importantly, the authors comment that the United States government has not shown
that the expanded powers it has asserted in the USAPA are necessary to fight
and Cole trace the origins of the national security trend back to the
"intolerant approaches of the 1950s," when association with Communist
or anarchist groups was made a ground for exclusion and deportation. Congress
removed the guilt by association law in 1990, but it was revived only six years
later by law enforcement proponents in the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, immediately
following the Oklahoma City Bombing.
specifically, however, Dempsey and Cole show that it was the Reagan
Administration which initially proposed some of the most troubling provisions
which eventually became part of the USAPA. When Reagan proposed these
provisions, Congress rejected them on constitutional grounds. The first Bush
Administration then made similar proposals, which were again rejected by
lawmakers. Congress twice refused to enact the secret evidence provisions
proposed by Bush I. (Indeed, just prior to 9/11, Congress was about to pass a
law repealing the secret evidence provisions of the 1996 Antiterrorism Act.)
troublesome provisions proposed by Reagan and the first Bush included the
resurrection of guilt by association, association as grounds for exclusion or
deportation, the ban on supporting lawful activities of groups labeled
terrorist, the use of secret evidence, and the empowerment of the Secretary of
State to designate groups as terrorist organizations, without judicial or
the Reagan and Bush proposals and one-sided hearings, there was broad-based
opposition to such legislation. According to Dempsey and Cole, "several
members of the House Judiciary Committee, both Democrat and Republican,
questioned the need for the legislation." Lawmakers repeatedly asked why
new legislation was needed and how it would help. Administration witnesses
literally refused to answer lawmakers' questions, finally causing Representative
John Conyers to exclaim, "I've never seen this much law created as a result
of prosecutions that we agree worked very effectively!"
legislation languished and seemed headed for defeat," say Dempsey and Cole.
Until Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City bombing, for which there exists a significant body of evidence of
a shadow government operation, was used as justification for the enactment of
the very provisions lawmakers had previously found most constitutionally
in the resulting 1996 Antiterrorism Act, although it had nothing to do with
terrorism at all, was Republican Senator Orrin Hatch's long-sought provision to
limit the right of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is the procedure whereby a
person convicted by a state court can challenge that conviction in a federal
court. The thing is, terrorism cases are brought in federal, not state, courts.
"Senator Hatch wanted to make it more difficult for federal courts to order
retrials of prisoners where state courts had violated the U.S.
Constitution," according to Dempsey and Cole.
USAPA clearly furthers the goals of making it more difficult for anyone to
review or appeal government wrongdoing. It allows for indefinite detention of
suspected (not "proven") alien terrorists, without probable cause of a
crime, without a hearing or an opportunity to defend or challenge the evidence
against them, when they have not even been proven to be a threat and have
already established a legal right to remain here. The only process allowed the
suspected alien is the "right" to go to federal court and sue the
government for its actions.
USAPA expands the Secretary of State's power to designate terrorist groups
without any court or congressional review and allows for secret searches without
probable cause. Dempsey and Cole state that these changes "go far beyond
what was needed to respond to terrorism." Indeed, they point out that in
many instances, "the changes are not limited to terrorist investigations at
all, but apply across the board to all criminal investigations."
good example of the kind of change brought about under the USAPA, which
illustrates the underlying and pre-existing agenda of its proponents, is section
218, which amends a single phrase in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA). The purpose of FISA was to allow intelligence agencies to gather
information about foreign powers without the restrictions imposed on them by the
Constitution. The reasoning for this was that the purpose of foreign
intelligence gathering is not to detect crimes but to gather information about
FISA, when an agent wanted to obtain authority to conduct electronic
surveillance or secret physical searches, a designated official of the executive
office had to certify that "the purpose" for the surveillance was to
obtain foreign intelligence information. Section 218 of the USAPA modifies that
clause so that intelligence gathering need not be "the purpose," - in
other words, it need no longer be the primary purpose, -- but may be only
"a significant purpose" of the surveillance.
means that if an official can certify that obtaining foreign intelligence is a
significant purpose of a surveillance action (the other purpose clearly being
criminal investigation), he can avoid the requirement that he first show
probable cause of criminal activity. It means the FBI, the CIA, or any other
intelligence agency, can surveil you without probable cause, as long as they say
the surveillance has something to do with a foreign intelligence investigation
of some sort (which may otherwise not even involve you directly).
courts have consistently refused to "second guess" FISA surveillance
certifications, there is effectively no judicial review of such activities. This
small change has enormous ramifications. For all practical purposes, the section
218 USAPA amendment of FISA allows government to completely avoid Fourth
Amendment probable cause requirements for searches and seizures of American
citizens (not just immigrants).
Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress notes: "From the
beginning, defendants have questioned whether authorities had used a FISA
surveillance order against them in order to avoid the predicate crime
1980, the 4th Circuit court stated in the landmark case of U.S. v. Truong Dinh
Hung that "the executive should be excused from securing a warrant only
when the surveillance is conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence
reasons." Another circuit court declared in 1991 that "the
investigation of criminal activity cannot be the primary purpose of [FISA]
other words, courts have pretty consistently thrown out intelligence information
gathered under FISA where it has been established that foreign intelligence
gathering was not the primary purpose of the surveillance.
is clear that intelligence agencies have wanted to change this law for some
time. It is clear that they have been frustrated by the "primary purpose
rule." However, it is not merely the result of intelligence agency wishes
or a matter of history that this restriction has now been overridden. History
shows that Congress has consistently resisted enacting these types of changes.
History also shows that the Reagan and Bush I Administrations repeatedly
attempted to push such laws through. Oklahoma City proved that only a
"real" terrorist attack would convince Congress.
it is obvious that the proponents of this amendment know it is an end-run around
the Fourth Amendment. They have had many years to think about it and have
repeatedly shown their willingness to enact carefully crafted, unconstitutional
laws. They know the amendment allows intelligence to conduct criminal
investigations on American citizens without adherence to basic constitutional
protections. Furthermore, under the information sharing provision of section 203
of the USAPA, information gathered in this way can now be shared with other
intelligence and law enforcement agencies, for whatever uses they want.
significantly, it is clear that the events of 9/11 gave the proponents of this
amendment the opportunity they needed to slip it by Congress.