What is FEMA?
Simple disaster management in the public interest?
Or something else more in line with their legacy?


By Sander Hicks
for INN Report, Free Speech TV

This was Sander Hicks' debut television journalism feature story for INN Report. It was broadcast on the Dish Network, at 6 PM on Friday, March 28, 2003.

Produced by Tom Kylie,
Line-Produced by Lenny Charles
Edited by Will Walkerstreet

Today's INN Special Investigation focuses on FEMA,  the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an organization originally chartered to handle government aid in the event of natural disasters. However, our report shows that FEMA has a history of assuming powers outside of its official mandate. During the Reagan administration, it was criticized for plans to suspend the Constitution and impose martial law in  the event of "national crises," such as, "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad."

In an era of diminishing civil liberties, INN asks, who is FEMA today, and who elected them?


FEMA's precursor was the California Specialized Training Institute, a counterterrorism training center started by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971. Reagan inaugurated the idea of utilizing the military and law enforcement to combat dissent. He hired retired National Guard General Louis O. Giuffrida to design Operation Cable Splicer. The Cable Splicer plans were martial law proposals to legitimize the arrest and detention of anti-Vietnam war activists and other political dissidents. At the Army War College in 1970, Guiffrida had written a proposal that advocated the roundup and transfer to relocation camps of at least 21 million "American Negroes" in the event of a national uprising.


in 1979, under President Carter, FEMA was officially created with a single stroke of a pen by Executive Order 1-2148.  However, Ronald Reagan elevated FEMA to intelligence agency status by giving the National Security Council authority over the planning for civil defense policy and security. Reagan created a senior-level interdepartmental board, the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board,or EMPB, a precursor to the cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security. The EMPB was charged with coordinating plans for civil security.

Oliver North enters the story here. He first was a mid-level White House military attaché assigned to carry the "Nuclear Football" the briefcase  that can control the unleashing of a US nuclear attack. But from 1982 to 1984, North was assigned by National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane to work on the EMPB. Former General Louis Giuffrida was at EMPB as well. According to Covert Action Quarterly- "By forming the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board, 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 domestic control.

 While at EMPB, North revised contingency plans for dealing with nuclear war, domestic insurrection and massive military mobilization.

Giuffrida and North worked to refine and implement Operation GARDEN PLOT, a plan to suspend the Constitution, in the event of a national crisis, such as, widespread internal opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. GARDEN PLOT was actually implemented during LA's Rodney King Riots in the form of street curfews as well as in recent anti-globalization protests.


In 1983, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, FEMA's General Frank S. Salcedo recommended expanding FEMA's power even further. 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 as the protection of industrial and government leaders from assassination, and the protection of civil and military installations from sabotage or attack. Notable for stations such as this one, Salcedo warned against dissident groups gaining access to U.S. opinion or a global audience in times of crisis.

FEMA and the Department of Defense began a continuing tradition of biannual joint exercises to test civilian  mobilization, civil security emergency and counterterrorism plans. The Rex-84 Alpha Explan (Readiness Exercise 1984, Exercise Plan), showed that FEMA lead 34 other federal agencies, including CIA, FBI, and US Treasury, in a massive civil readiness exercise. It was conducted in coordination with "Night Train 84", a worldwide military command post exercise, based on multi-emergency scenarios operating both abroad and at home.

The exercises envisioned that the previously mentioned 100,000 U.S. citizens, labelled "national security threats" would be rounded up and thrown into concentration camps.


FEMA came into direct conflict with the FBI, whose Director William Sessions forced Giuffrida to turn over more than 12,000 political dossiers FEMA had assembled on dissidents.

The FBI's power struggle with FEMA necessitated damage control. Attorney General William French Smith finally reined in the abuses. He publicly admonished Robert McFarlane, in a letter on August 2, 1984, "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."

He also protested, "the expansion of the definition of severe emergencies to encompass `routine' domestic law enforcement".

This public chastisement necessitated a cleaning of house. FEMA Inspector General Robert Guffus discovered largescale waste and dysfunction in his investigation. It's Federal programs with state and local governments were badly coordinated. Personell suffered from imprecise program guidelines, a lack of resources, fiscal mis-management, unclear assignment of responsibilities, overlapping job descriptions, inflated training figures, and a lack of written procedures.

To top it off, FEMA head Louis Giuffrida was discovered to have spent $170,000 of agency funds to outfit a deluxe bachelor pad at the Civil Defense Training Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was forced to resign in 1985.

Louis Giuffrida had run FEMA since 1981. He played a major role in the transformation of FEMA from a public disaster management aid to an extension of the military intelligence state. Yet today, Louis Giuffrida is not mentioned on the FEMA.gov website official "History" of FEMA.

After the scandal, National Security Director Robert McFarlane quietly removed North from the EMPB and assigned him to help with conducting unconventional warfare in Nicaragua. North became overseer of a new wing of the State Department dedicated to molding public opinion, the "Office of Public Diplomacy." He released disinformation on the Sandinista regime in Nicauragua including a leak that the Soviet Union was shipping MiG fighter jets to the Sandinistas, a story that later proved false. North supervised the "black operations" that funded the Contras through narcotics trading and illegal arms sales to Iran, in violation of Federal law.

Oliver North is today a "journalist" for cable television's Fox News, but not everyone views Oliver North as a "hero." In August of 94, Judge James L. Berry of Clarke County Circuit Court, in Virginia  refused to re-issue North a carrying permit for a concealed weapon, citing his conviction for obstructing Congress during the investigation into the Iran-contra affair. The judge reasoned, "This court is unable to ignore his convictions for crimes based on moral turpitude, even though his convictions were later overturned."

What is FEMA's role today? Simple disaster management in the public interest as per their website? Or something else more in line with their legacy?

In the months immediately after 9/11, between 1,200 and 2,000 Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants were detained and held in secret. Although most have been recently released, the government refused to divulge the names of detainees, how many were held, and how many deported.

On August 14, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft was  called a "menace to Liberty" by Jonathan Turley, in the Los AngelesTimes, for announcing his desire for camps for US Citizens who are "enemy combatants ."

Let's take a second and look at a little background information. What is Ashcroft's history with civil liberties in a pluralistic society? The same man who is chipping away at the Bill of Rights endorsed and supported the pro-slavery, pro-white, pro-Confederacy magazine Southern Partisan in 1998. Southern Partisan has published praise for Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, as well as "super hero" Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK. In an interview with them Ashcroft said, "Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots.... Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more."


In Summer of 2002, FEMA published a bid request for qualified construction companies to compete for contracts for three $6 million projects to create temporary cities that can house massive populations in the event of a disaster.

Published on conservative website Newsmax, this news was dismissed by FEMA Spokesman Chad Kolton as "totally bogus." But when challenged by the publishers on the phone, Kolton confirmed the essence of the story. The camps and temporary cities are being planned, to be built in 2003.

But Newsmax.com makes the mistake of taking FEMA at their word, when they report that  the creation of sprawling temporary cities to handle millions of displaced persons, is just a benevolent effort to become prepared for the massive displacement of an urban population in the event of a terrorist attack. Any serious student of FEMA knows that there have been plans to impose martial law and round up 100,000 U.S. Citizens who dissent from a program of permanent war.

What plans does FEMA really have in mind? INN Report says look at FEMA's history. Past is Prologue.