The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC

by Diana Reynolds
 

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 network.

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 highways. 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 unleashed. 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 democracy.



Table of Contents & Introduction

1. A STATE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY

2. CIVIL SECURITY PLANNING

3. MILITARY RULE
       3b.  "THIS IS ONLY A TEST, REPEAT..."

4. THE FALL OF FEMA

5. THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE AND THE DRUG WAR
        5b. A NATIONAL DRUG CZAR

6. ODDS & ENDNOTES 

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