First, a quick history lesson. Upon his ascension to the highest office in all the land, Ronald Reagan appointed one Louis O. Giuffrida Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Giufrida seemed an odd choice; FEMA deals primarily with disaster relief, whereas the new Director was a former General in the California National Guard. One would wonder what he knew about rebuilding after floods and tornadoes, but in the event, it was irrelevant.
The reason for Giufrida's appointment would come out eventually--as a high-ranking officer in the National Guard, the general had formulated several contingency plans for what was euphemistically referred to as "domestic counter-insurgency." Essentially, Giuffrida favored using American combat troops to round up individuals protesting, say, an American invasion of Nicaragua. These individuals would then be thrown into "detention centers"; until the "emergency"; was deemed over. Giuffrida's counterinsurgency plans followed him to FEMA.
Various executive orders by the Reagan White House--still in the Federal Register--granted the agency vast new powers. For instance, EO 10995 allowed FEMA to seize any and all "communications media"; EO 11000 gave FEMA the power to arrest any citizen and put them to work on various federal projects; EO 11051 let FEMA institute any new executive orders the felt necessary during a "national emergency." Perhaps worst of all, through Executive Order 11490, the president granted himself the right to declare such an emergency at any time, without consulting Congress or the American people. This would allow the president and FEMA to rule the country via outright martial law.
Perhaps the most troubling harbinger of things to come was Readiness Exercise 1984, or RX-84. In 1984, the military conducted an exercise, codenamed Night Train, a war game scenario dealing with, among other things, the invasion of war-torn Nicaragua by American troops. In conjunction with Night Train, FEMA conducted RX-84. This was an exercise for what FEMA now viewed as its main mission--the arrest of up to 100,000 American citizens deemed "national security threats," and their imprisonment, without trial, in one of the several detention centers scattered around the country.
Thankfully, before anything came of these plans, the heat came down on Giuffrida's fiefdom. Although infringing on the natural rights of man was all well and good, the agency was collecting intelligence on domestic "troublemakers" under the guise of counter-terrorism. This cut in on the FBI's territory, and that just wouldn't do. Attorney General William French Smith forced the matter, demanding FEMA turn over the intelligence it had gathered. In the end, Giuffrida turned over some 12,000 dossiers on political activists, survivalists, and tax protesters. This public scolding, along with a series of articles about the agency's abuses by investigative reporter Jack Anderson, lead to calls by some for change at FEMA. Finally, in 1985, when it was discovered that General Giuffrida had used $170,000 of the agency's funds to build himself a swinging bachelor pad in Emmitsburg, Maryland, he resigned in disgrace.
Throughout the late '80s and early '90s, FEMA returned to its original role--giving your tax dollars to idiots who should have bought flood insurance. However, since 9/11, the agency has made numerous disturbing moves to reassert its power.
A quick glance at the Department of Homeland Security will reveal that this isn't a new agency--it's just FEMA, with a greatly expanded mandate and a few other agencies grafted on. This will swell FEMA's ranks from 2,600 to 170,000 employees. What's worse, the Department of Homeland Security is slated to have more armed agents than any other domestic law enforcement group. The agency has now received the role it has always desired, as the catch-all guarantor of national security.
Furthermore, FEMA appears to be actively obscuring its position of prominence in the new order. Remember Operation TIPS? The program's website stated that it was "a project of the U.S. Department of Justice." This is an outright, bald-faced lie. According to research conducted by investigative journalist Ritt Goldstein, the funding and personnel for Operation TIPS lead straight back to FEMA. The Executive Branch, knowing that somebody would remember the abuses of the 1980s, deliberately hid the agency's involvement.
And perhaps most disturbing of all? In the summer of 2002, the conservative publication Newsmax reported FEMA was searching out qualified contractors for three $6 million dollar building projects. What's on the blueprints? Three "temporary cities," supposedly for use by Americans fleeing a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack. Of course, this was precisely the excuse given for Giuffrida's internment camps. Probably just a coincidence, right?