The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC
by Diana Reynolds
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
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 Legal Counsel,
"...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."
1. A STATE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY
2. CIVIL SECURITY PLANNING
3. MILITARY RULE
4. THE FALL OF FEMA
5. THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE AND THE DRUG WAR
6. ODDS & ENDNOTES
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