Rumors, FEMA and the Future
THE ROAD TO HEART MOUNTAIN?
Rumors, FEMA and the Future
(C) 1998 by Claire Wolfe
In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, sending
more than 110,000 people to relocation camps. Most of the internees were
U.S. citizens. They were transported from temperate climates to the
wind-wracked deserts of California, Arizona and Wyoming. The property
left behind was legally looted by their neighbors. They were shut within
barbed-wire enclosures and bare, tar-paper barracks all for the crime of
having Japanese ancestry.
To this day, there are Americans who defend this internal
saying, "It was for their own good," or "They weren't like us. They were
loyal to their own kind." The camps, they say, were necessary.
The question is Is it about to happen again? Does the U.S.
have plans to round up some other group of citizens and lock them into
bitter internment "for the duration" of some future emergency?
The Internet is rife with rumors. The most persistent one says
political dissidents will be targeted this time.
Skeptics dismiss the tales as so much conspiracy-mongering, and even
some conspiracy buffs warn against pursuing the stories. One said to me,
"That way lies madness. If you find out there are camps, no one will
you. And if there are camps, and you come too close..."
Some rumors do seem preposterous. In the way of urban legends,
who've "seen the camps being built with their very own eyes" are usually
nameless friends of friends. Other reports might have perfectly innocent
explanations. An acquaintance shouted breathlessly down the phone that
seen, "Barbed wire! High walls! And guard towers!" being built at Ft.
in Washington state.
Well, yes, I thought. You would see those things being built on a
military base, wouldn't you?
But the reports won't go away. Even where they're shaky on
they express an intuitive truth about the federal government's view of
There's nothing new in that federal opinion.
Shortly after the original internment camps closed, J. Edgar Hoover
conceived a plan called "Security Portfolio," which would have enabled
President to declare a national emergency, suspend the Constitution, and
thousands of people into prison with no trials and no habeas corpus
It was the beginning of the Cold War against Americans.
Two years later, Congress approved the Security Act of 1950, which
contained an emergency detention plan. Reportedly, Hoover was furious at
plan's "mildness," and continued with more Draconian schemes of his own.
Security Act remained in force for more than 20 years. G. Gordon Liddy
reminisces openly about the days when his job in the FBI included keeping
tabs on potential internees. Once every three months, Liddy checked the
whereabouts of the political agitators on his list so the government
round them up reliably if need be.
During the unrest of the 1960s the federal government again made
contingency plans for possible mass roundups of "militants."
Now, unrest stirs anew, and we see this a leaked memo from C. Dean
Rhody, Director of Resource Management for the Department of the Army,
Enclosed for your review and comment is the draft Army regulation on
civilian inmate labor utilization and establishment of prison camps on
installations. The draft regulation is the compilation of all policy
[sic], Civilian Inmate Labor Oversight Committee policy decisions, and
lessons learned to date. The new regulation will provide the following:
a. Policy for civilian inmate utilization on installations
b. Procedures for preparing requests to establish civilian inmate
programs on installations
c. Procedures for preparing requests to establish civilian prison
The draft plan once attached to the memo has never surfaced. But
Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas admitted in an interview, "The truth
yes, you do have these standby provisions... whereby you could, in the
stopping terrorism... invoke the military and arrest Americans and put
An agency of control
Whatever agency builds the camps, the rumor mill knows who will
them: FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA, they say, will
become dictator of America in a future "emergency." It will hold absolute
power over the infrastructure, productive capacity, and citizenry of the
country. Whether FEMA will ever do this is an open question. That it has
been granted the (unconstitutional) authority to do so is fact.
FEMA was established entirely by presidential orders an
unconstitutional process itself. Congress offered no advice, consent or
objection. The agency became official when Jimmy Carter signed Executive
Order 12148 in 1979, but the concept behind FEMA flowed from the minds of
John F. Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon.
Kennedy signed a series of orders granting the federal government
power to seize a variety of private or local functions in event of
Nixon consolidated and enlarged these powers in 1969 with EO 11490.
Gerald Ford later signed EO 11921 which, in the words of Dr. Henry
Kliemann, political scientist at Boston University, "... was understood
FEMA to mean that one day they would be in charge of the country. As
bureaucrats saw it, FEMA's real mission was to wait, prepare, and then
over when some `situation' seemed serious enough to turn the United
into a police state."
Once Carter made FEMA official, Ronald Reagan far from the lovable
bumbler he's pictured in retrospect gave the agency a distinctly
military slant by appointing as its head General Louis Guiffrida.
Among other qualifications, Guiffrida had written a paper advocating
the declaration of martial law in response to black militancy. His plan
could have sent millions of blacks to relocation camps. He also wrote:
Martial rule comes into existence upon a determination (not a
by the senior military commander that civil government must be replaced
because it is no longer functioning, anyway.
Nevertheless, in the public and media mind, FEMA is simply a helpful
though sometimes slow-moving service organization. It shows up after
earthquakes and floods to rescue stranded puppies. It parcels out money
communities can rebuild.
Maybe. But FEMA isn't, and never has been, an agency to aid average
FEMA's chief but largely secret mission has always been "Continuity
of Government." Its job is to make sure that federal control continues at
all costs. This has led to construction of dozens of secret underground
bunkers, capable of sustaining life for the select few allowed into them.
has led to FEMA budgets in which millions are allocated to disaster
while billions go to unspecified "other purposes." And that's not to
the unknown sums in black-budget appropriations the agency receives via
For many years, FEMA denied the existence of its primary bunker,
Weather in West Virginia. Even after admitting it was there, they would
never disclose its purpose even to their ostensible bosses in Congress.
1975 hearings, retired Air Force General Leslie W. Bray, director of
predecessor, the Federal Preparedness Agency, stonewalled a U.S. Senate
subcommittee, insisting, "I am not at liberty to describe precisely what
the role and the mission and the capability that we have at Mount
r at any other precise location."
However, it's an open secret that an entire parallel and unelected
government is headquartered at Mount Weather, ready to take over the
in an emergency.
Disturbing as this may be to some, most Americans would probably
comfort in the belief that government any government would continue in
But what is an "emergency"? According to Carter's order, it is
accidental, natural, man-caused, or wartime emergency or threat thereof,
which causes or may cause substantial injury or harm to the population or
substantial damage to or loss of property."
In other words, an emergency is anything the president or the
of FEMA declares it to be. Because to the professionally paranoid,
even civil disagreement can be a threat.
It's worth noting that, in the same 1975 hearings at which the
failed to learn the purpose of Mount Weather, Senators did learn that:
....the facility held dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans. [Senator]
Tunney later alleged that the Mount Weather computers can obtain millions
pieces of additional information on the personal lives of American
simply by tapping the data stored at any of the other ninety-six Federal
The subcommittee concluded that Mount Weather's databases "operate with
if any, safeguards or guidelines."
And that was during the ancient history of computer power!
Bill Clinton has "modernized" FEMA and elevated it to a
department. Under his crony-appointee James Lee Witt, FEMA has
insinuated itself into the doings of local governments, pushing them to
zoning ordinances and even conducting a SWAT-style raid on a county
when agency officials suspected misuse of flood control funds.
These are odd roles for a federal emergency management agency.
But what about those camps?
Clinton also signed Executive Order 12919, which authorizes any FEMA
department head "...to employ persons of outstanding experience and
without compensation" in event of emergency.
And where might these FEMA-commanded slaves, and other political
internees, work and live? According to Roland C. Eyears:
[FEMA] operates widely dispersed, newly constructed detention facilities
which might be mistaken for hospitals. How curious that such activity has
become common at closed military bases. Many include rail spurs in a time
when there are no legitimate commodities with the bulk and weight which
would justify rail hauling.
Unfortunately, Eyears offers no proof of his assertion. But the
don't die. There is this, from the Internet:
At a dinner following a gun show... [in 1994], a friend introduced me to
trucker... ...The trucker said that for several years, he'd been making
deliveries to a military base in Montana. According to him, the base was
of those that was supposed to have just been closed. Yet, he said, he'd
several deliveries there in just the previous few months. The only
difference, he said, was that prior to the "closing" he'd drive on to the
base, be directed to a warehouse a few miles away, and would unload at a
loading dock. Now, he said, he was being met at the gate and not allowed
drive onto the base.
Yes, it's another "friend of a friend" story. However, it's no rumor
that Congress has on several occasions proposed to convert closed
bases into prison camps. C. Dean Rhody's memo lends credence to the idea
that camps are under construction now.
Have FEMA and its partners in the Defense Department simply done it
using some of those black-budget billions?
FEMA bureaucrats may be tempted by the prospect of unlimited power.
standing army, which the founders of the country so passionately warned
against, is casting about for something to do. By profession, both groups
have a mindset that envisions danger everywhere.
Propaganda keeps Americans in fear of "terrorism." Anyone who speaks
out against government abuse is branded an "extremist," a "hate-monger,"
even a potential terrorist. The demonization is eerily evocative of what
Jews and Japanese-Americans endured long ago. It could happen.
But the skeptic still asks, "Where's the proof?"
The road to Heart Mountain
In December 1997, another Internet memo landed on my desk. It listed
two dozen allegedly "verified" sites where FEMA labor camps were being
built - right now. One camp, the memo said, was at "Hart [sic] Mountain,
northern Wyoming, renovated WWII Japanese-American special internment
We were going to be in that area on a business trip...
So there we were on that January day, my Significant Other and I, our
bumping over wind-sculpted ice as we followed a local's instructions to
"look for the old smokestack on the bluff."
We leave Highway Alt. 14 and plow uphill on County Road 19. We rise
onto the bluff where the camp was built. And the wind continues to howl
across nothing. A fallow beet field. A realm of snow.
To the right, far away, sit four crumbling buildings, all that
of a city-sized prison. Other structures were sold and hauled away years
To the left, a small forest of plaques lies under heaps of white. We
get out and brush snow off the plaques. We find years of testimony to
and regret. We find honor for the young men who fought for the country
despised them. We find words of useless repentance etched in stone after
Later, we plod through six inches of untracked snow, across the
sagebrush plain, to the derelict buildings. According to a map on one of
plaques, these are part of an old administration complex. They're
but curiously untouched by vandals. Doors still swing easily and windows
hold fragments of glass. The interior walls, though crumbling, are still
institutional green. Next to a disused chimney, a hinged box holds a
50-year-old supply of kindling. And Charles looks up and finds, caught
a light fixture, a scrap of wallpaper as bright in this dry climate as it
must have been in 1942. Green leaves and red roses.
But there's nothing here to renovate. And the only new buildings are
far away prosperous farms pr ofiting from land the internees made
There's certainly no plank-and-barbed-wire concentration camp
to receive another group of demonized Americans. No U.N. troops standing
guard. No FEMA bureaucrats waiting to implant biochips in incoming
There's nothing human at Heart Mountain. The ghosts themselves have
Yet, as we turn to begin the long, bleak drive back to Montana, I
help but remember that the federal government housed them all in barns
those tens of thousands of Americans as it waited for the camps to be
hammered together. Troops rounded them up and took them to fairgrounds
before the camps were ready. All it requires to turn a fairground into a
prison is a few cots, while they wait for something more permanent. All
took to provide the wartime permanence of Heart Mountain was two months
And we, of course, have something America didn't have in World War
dozens of demilitarized military bases scattered all around the country -
barracks, barbed wire, checkpoints and all. Waiting.
I feel silly having pursued a chimera down the Wyoming winds. But at
the same time, I don't feel safe. Or free. The camps may no longer stand
the cold deserts of Wyoming or the shimmering deserts of Arizona. But
re there. In the executive orders. In the plans. In the memos. In the
of those with a will to control.
It's a will that has swelled through 50 additional years of
power. A will that will burn children and shoot mothers and say the
innocents were to blame for their own destruction. A will that engineers
survival of government while treating free people as resources or
Next time, I fear, wind and loss won't be our worst punishments.
For more information on FEMA:
FEMA: The Secret Government," by Harry V. Martin
Executive Orders: Bonfire for the Constitution"
FEMA: Blueprint for Tyranny," by Roland C. Eyears
And for the official, sanitized view, FEMA's own web site:
Claire Wolfe is the author of the books:
101 Things To Do `Til The Revolution
$15.95, (Order Number 94281)
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