US Martial Law and Domestic Detention Camps

In the event of civil insurrection or physical resistance to U.S. government policies, the official machinery is now in place for swift containment of areas of insurrection by U.S. military forces, to include the various State National Guards, Special Forces and Military Police units.

It is to be stressed that while these plans, which have been maturing since the Reagan Administration and are now fully functional, are only contingency plans. It would require a Presidential Order to activate them.

When President Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a “crisis” such as “violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad”. They were never used.

But recent pronouncements by Bush’s now-retired domestic security chief Tom Ridge and an official with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission should fire concerns that these powers could be employed or a de facto drift into their deployment could occur.

On July 20, 2002, the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled “Arabs in US could be held, official warns”. The story referred to a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans. FEMA has practiced for such an occasion.

FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest. From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defense preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal. They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA

A Miami Herald article on July 5, 1987, reported that the former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida’s deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. The plan was said to be similar to one Giuffrida had developed earlier to combat “a national uprising by black militants”. It provided for the detention “of at least 21 million African-Americans” in “assembly centers or relocation camps.”

Currently, Brinkerhoff is with the highly influential Anser Institute for Homeland Security. Following a request by the Pentagon in January 2002 that the U.S. military be allowed the option of deploying troops on U.S. streets, the institute in February 2002 published a paper by Brinkerhoff arguing in defense of the legality of this. He alleged that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which has long been accepted as prohibiting such deployments, has simply been misunderstood and misapplied. The preface to the article also provided the revelation that the national plan he had worked on, under Giuffrida, was “approved by Reagan, and actions were taken to implement it”.

By April 2002, the US military had created a Northern Command to aid Homeland defense. Reuters reported that the command is “mainly expected to play a supporting role to local authorities.” However, Ridge, the Director of Homeland Security, has just advocated a review of U.S. law regarding the use of the military for law enforcement duties

Disturbingly, the full facts and final contents of Reagan’s national plan remain uncertain. This is in part because President Bush took the unusual step of sealing the Reagan presidential papers, to specifically include the documentation on the declaration of martial law in the United States and its implementation, after he took over the presidency in November 2001. However, many of the key figures of the Reagan era are now part of the present administration, including John Poindexter, to whom Oliver North later reported.

At the time of the Reagan initiatives, the then attorney-general, William French Smith, wrote to the national security adviser, Robert McFarlane: “I believe that the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised Executive Order exceeds its proper function as a co-coordinating agency for emergency preparedness … this department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to an ’emergency czar’ role for FEMA.”

Criticism of the Bush Administration’s response to September 11 echoes Smith’s warning. On June 7 2002, Nixon’s former presidential counsel John Dean spoke of the U.S. sliding into a “constitutional dictatorship” and martial law as a result of the September 11, 2001 events.

In a revealing admission the Director of Resource Management for the U.S. Army confirmed the validity of a memorandum relating to the establishment of a civilian inmate labor program under development by the Department of the Army. The document states, “Enclosed for your review and comment is the draft Army regulation on civilian inmate labor utilization” and the procedure to “establish civilian prison camps on installations.” Cherith Chronicle, June 1997.

Under President Bush’s “National Strategy For Homeland Security”, FEMA will be placed under the Office of Homeland Security. Both Homeland Security and the Department of Defense planned to participate “in homeland security training that involves military and civilian emergency response”, provoking comparison to Rex-84. And now, the Bush administration is moving to give FEMA disturbing new responsibilities.

Earlier, President Bush had ensured there would be no current FBI/FEMA conflict, mandating that FEMA work closely with the DOJ (of which the FBI is part), creating what Bush called a “seamlessly integrated” network. With this bond between FEMA and the DOJ, the Administration effectively voided the inter-departmental checks which stopped FEMA’s earlier abuses.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA “will continue to change the emergency management culture from one that reacts to terrorism, to one that proactively helps communities and citizens avoid becoming victims”. Paradoxically, FEMA’s prior debacle was a direct outgrowth of its pursuit of proactive methods, its attempt to legitimize the assumption of extraordinary powers under the very cloak of “counter terrorism”.

Civilian internment camps or prison camps, more commonly known as concentration camps, have been the subject of much rumor and speculation during the past few years in America. Several publications have devoted space to the topic and many talk radio programs have dealt with the issue.

However, Congressman Henry Gonzales (D, Texas) clarified the question of the existence of civilian detention camps. In an interview the congressman stated, “the truth is yes – you do have these stand by provisions, and the plans are here…whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism…evoke the military and arrest Americans and put them in detention camps.”

Currently (December, 2004), President Bush and Homeland Security have authorized preliminary studies for the rapid construction of a National Detention Center Program-controlled series of detention centers, to be added to the existing 600 units now in place

The Department of Homeland Security is consulting with an Israeli company, Israeli Prison Systems, Ltd. for the expedited construction of modular internment camps‘ Interment Camps’ generally located in rural and relatively uninhabited areas throughout the Continental United States and Alaska. .

A Brief History of U.S. Civilian Internment Camps

The concept of mass internment camps was implemented during the decade of the 1930’s when the idea was either integrated into national security planning or put to actual use in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the United States under Roosevelt.

On August 24, 1939, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover met with President Franklin Roosevelt to develop a detention plan for the United States

On August 3, 1948, J. Edgar Hoover met with Attorney General J. Howard McGrath to form a plan whereby President Truman could suspend constitutional liberties during a national emergency. The plan was code-named “Security Portfolio” and, when activated, it would authorize the FBI to summarily arrest up to 20,000 persons and place them in national security detention camps. Prisoners would not have the right to a court hearing or habeas corpus appeal. Meanwhile, “Security Portfolio” allowed the FBI to develop a watch list of those who would be detained, as well as detailed information on their physical appearance, family, place of work, etc

Two years later Congress approved the Internal Security Act of 1950 which contained a provision authorizing an emergency detention plan. Hoover was unhappy with this law because it did not suspend the constitution and it guaranteed the right to a court hearing (habeas corpus). “For two years, while the FBI continued to secretly establish the detention camps and work out detailed seizure plans for thousands of individuals, Hoover kept badgering…[Attorney General McGrath for] official permission to ignore the 1950 law and carry on with the more ferocious 1948 program. On November 25, 1952, the attorney general…caved in to Hoover.”

Congress repealed the Emergency Detention Act of 1950 more than twenty years later in 1971. Seemingly the threat of civilian internment in the United States was over, but not in reality. The Senate held hearings in December, 1975, revealing the ongoing internment plan which had never been terminated. The report, entitled, “Intelligence Activities, Senate Resolution 21″, disclosed the covert agenda. In a series of documents, memos and testimony by government informants, the picture emerged of the designs by the federal government to monitor, infiltrate, arrest and incarcerate a potentially large segment of American society.

The Senate report also revealed the existence of the Master Search Warrant (MSW) and the Master Arrest Warrant (MAW) which are currently in force. The MAW document, authorized by the United States Attorney General, directs the head of the FBI to: “Arrest persons whom I deem dangerous to the public peace and safety. These persons are to be detained and confined until further order.” The MSW also instructs the FBI Director to “search certain premises where it is believed that there may be found contraband, prohibited articles, or other materials in violation of the Proclamation of the President of the United States.” It includes such items as firearms, short-wave radio receiving sets, cameras,

propaganda materials, printing presses, mimeograph machines, membership and financial records of organizations or groups that have been declared subversive, or may be hereafter declared subversive by the Attorney General.”

Since the Senate hearings in 1975, the steady development of highly specialized surveillance capabilities, combined with the exploding computerized information technologies, have enabled a massive data base of personal information to be developed on millions of unsuspecting American citizens. It is all in place awaiting only a presidential declaration to be enforced by both military and civilian police.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Directive 58 that empowered Robert McFarlane and Oliver North to use the National Security Council to secretly retrofit FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to manage the country during a national crisis. The 1984 “REX exercises” simulated civil unrest culminating in a national emergency with a contingency plan for the imprisonment of 400,000 people. REX 84 was so secretive that special metal security doors were installed on the FEMA building’s fifth floor, the center of the project, and even long-term officials of the Civil Defense Office were prohibited entry. The ostensible purpose of this exercise was to handle an influx of refugees created by a war in Central America, but a more realistic, and well-documented, scenario was the detention of rebellious American citizens.

Under “REX” the President could declare a state of emergency, empowering the head of FEMA to take control of the internal infrastructure of the United States and suspend the constitution. The President could invoke executive orders 11000 thru 11004 which would:

2- Draft all citizens into work forces under government supervision.
3- Empower the postmaster to register all men, women and children.
4- Seize all airports and private and commercial aircraft.
5- Seize all housing and establish forced relocation of citizens.

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Also see:
FEMA and Rex 84 Programs

The Voice of the White House August 2, 2004

Detention Camps for US Citizens

Gov’t Admits Concentration Camps Plan

Concentration Camps USA

Concentration Camps Update