by Geopolitical Monitor
January 10, 2008
1. Executive Summary
The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency has numerous
detainment camps throughout the United States. Some camps have been recently
constructed and/or renovated and are fully staffed.
The existence of the camps coupled with
Presidential Executive Orders giving the President and Department of
Homeland Security (of which FEMA is now part) control over ‘national
essential functions’ in the event of ‘catastrophic emergency’ have resulted
in concerns that the camps will be used to forcefully detain American
citizens for unconstitutional purposes.
2. Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA was created on April 1, 1979 pursuant to President Jimmy Carter’s
Executive Order 12127.
the Federal Insurance Administration
the National Fire Prevention and Control
the National Weather Service Community
the Federal Preparedness Agency
the Federal Disaster Assistance
Administration activities formerly carried out by the Department of
Housing and Urban Development
it also took over Civil Defense from the
Department of Defense, which was in charge of preparing citizens for
military attack 
In 1993 Bill Clinton turned the directorship of FEMA into a Cabinet position. In 2003 FEMA became part of the Department of
Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.
The stated purpose of FEMA is to,
“reduce the loss of life and property and
protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts
of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting
the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of
preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.” 
FEMA’s most notable large-scale
operation in recent times was in the aftermath of August 2005 hurricane
Katrina, which occurred along the north-central Gulf Coast, particularly
affecting New Orleans, Louisiana.
FEMA’s response to the disaster was widely
criticized due to a slow and inadequate response, blocking external private
and public assistance from individuals and groups including the Red Cross,
 banning photographs of the dead  and
confiscating reporter’s equipment  and homeowner’s registered
The 2006 Congressional report on FEMA’s handling of Katrina stated that it
"…a national failure, an abdication of the
most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," 
Some have criticized FEMA’s failure as being due to is focus on ‘civil
defense’ continuity of government and terrorism response programs to the
detriment of its natural disaster response readiness.
It is further alleged that hurricane Katrina was
used to test run of a continuity of government program, allowing FEMA to
rehearse rounding up and relocating large numbers of people to camps,
suspending their constitutional rights and militarizing the region 
with the help of private military contractors (mercenaries).
Black Water USA, a private security company, was
used in the aftermath of Katrina. 
3. Powers and
Preparations for a Declared State of Emergency
REX-84 and Operation Garden Plot
Readiness Exercise 1984 (REX-84) is an emergency response program involving
the implementation of martial law, the movement of civilian populations and
the arrest and detainment of segments of the population.
A rehearsal of the program was carried out April
5-13, 1984. It was led by FEMA and the Department of Defense and involved
the coordination of 34 other Federal departments and agencies. 
REX-84 was mentioned during the Iran-Contra
hearings  and publicly exposed by the Miami Herald on Sunday
July 5th, 1987. 
Similar large-scale emergency preparedness drills have taken place regularly
since then. The most recently announced, organized by NORTHCOM, are
scheduled for October 15-20.  Some assert that the drills
continue to include preparations for the suspension of the Constitution and
the implementation of martial law. 
Operation Garden Plot is a United States Army and National Guard program
under control of the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to provide Federal
military support during domestic civil disturbances. One example of the
program’s implementation was during the 1992 Los Angeles riots when US Army
and Marine forces were used in conjunction with the California National
In Los Angeles an Executive Order was made to
permit the use of the Federal army to uphold domestic laws pursuant to the
1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which places restrictions on the domestic use of
the military for law enforcement purposes. 
Recently, however, Section 1076 Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner
Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) has amended
The Insurrection Act (which also places limits on domestic military
deployment) to allow the Federal government to unilaterally take control of
state National Guards and position Federal troops anywhere in the country
during a ‘public emergency’. 
Throughout the 1960s numerous Presidential Executive Orders were issued
authorizing Federal agencies to take over essential functions in the case of
a declared emergency.
The powers include, among many others, the
authority of the Federal government to take over transportation
infrastructure including highways and seaports (10990), food resources and
farms (10998) and mobilize citizens into government supervised work brigades
On May 9, 2007 President
George Bush reasserted the role of the Federal
government during a declared emergency by issuing Executive Order NSPD 51/ HSPD-20.
The Order states that in the event of a
‘catastrophic emergency’ all ‘national essential functions’ may be taken
over by the Executive branch of government and the Department of Homeland
Security (including FEMA). 
4. Detainment Camps
Developments and Construction
In August 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft called for American
citizens who are deemed ‘enemy combatants’ to be detained indefinitely
without charge and independently of the judiciary. 
This legal position was upheld in the case of a
US citizen detained abroad by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a
January 2003 ruling. 
In October 2006 the Military Commissions Act was passed by Congress.
 The legislation applies to non-US citizens and permits
individuals labeled as ‘enemy combatants’ to be imprisoned indefinitely and
without charge. It also denies non-military tribunal judicial review of
detainment (Section 7), disregards international treaties such as the Geneva
Convention, and states that it is the President who defines what constitutes
torture (Sections 5 & 6).
In January of 2007 the American Civil Liberties Union released a report
based on documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act suit showing
that the Pentagon had monitored at least,
“186 anti-military protests in the United
States and collected more than 2,800 reports involving Americans in an
anti-terrorist threat database.” 
For some time FEMA has been renovating and
constructing new detention camps throughout the country.
In January 2006 Haliburton subsidiary KBR announced that it had been awarded an “indefinite
delivery" indefinite quantity contract to construct detention facilities for
the Department of Homeland Security worth a maximum of $385 million over 5
Little has been said about the
purpose of the detainment camps but when official comment has been made it
has stated that the camps are for the temporary detainment of illegal
Quantity and Locations
Citizens who are concerned about the purpose and potential use of the
detainment camps have documented and, when possible, filmed the detainment
A current estimate of the number of detainment
over 800 located in all regions of the United States with varying
maximum capacities.  If one includes government buildings
currently used for other purposes the number is far greater.
Video of renovated but empty detainment camps
has also been released.
5. End Notes
 Executive Order 12127--Federal Emergency
 Federal Emergency Management Agency. “About FEMA” April 1, 2007
 Federal Emergency Management Agency. News Release. “First Responders
Urged Not To Respond To Hurricane Impact Areas Unless Dispatched By
Authorities” 29 August 2005 http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470;
Rodgers, Ann. “Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 3 September 2005 <http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05246/565143.stm;
Zarend-Kubatko, Jill. “Disaster touches area residents” Valley Life. 2
September 2005 http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15147862&BRD=>.
 Editorandpublisher.com. “Journalist Groups Protest FEMA Ban on
Photos of Dead” 7
September 2005 http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001055768>.
 Gebauer, Matthias. “The Eye of the Hurricane” Spiegel Online
 Berenson, Alex and Timothy Williams. “New Orleans Begins
Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes” New York Times. 8 September 2005
 Cable News Network (CNN). “Report: Katrina response a 'failure of
Homeland Security secretary described as 'detached'” 14 February 2006
 Nimmo, Kurt. “Attacks on democratic rights, breaching legal
barriers: FEMA and
Katrina: REX-84 Revisited” Global Research. 11 September 2005 www.//globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=NIM20050911&articleId=929>.
 Scahill, Jeremy. “In the Black(water)” The Nation. 22 May 2006
 Reynolds, Diana. “The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and
the NSC.” Publiceye.org. 1990 <http://www.publiceye.org/liberty/fema/Fema_1.html>.
 “Suspension of American Constitution Oliver North.”
 Chardy, Alfonso. “Reagan Aides and the ‘Secret’ Government.” The
Miami Herald. 5 July 1987 http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/secret_white_house_plans.htm>.
 United States Northern Command. “Exercise Vigilant Shield ’08
slated for October.” 30 August 2007 http://www.northcom.mil/News/2007/083007.html>.
 Rogers, Lee. “NORTHCOM Plans 5 Day Martial Law Exercise.” Intel
Strike. 5 September 2007 http://intelstrike.com/?p=57>.
 Global Security. “Operation Garden Plot JTF-LAJoint Task Force Los
 Morales, Frank. “U.S. Military Civil Disturbance Planning:
The War At Home” Covert Action Quarterly, #69 Spring / Summer 2000.
 Morales, Frank. “Bush Moves Towards Martial Law” Toward Freedom. 26
October 2006 <http://www.towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/>.
 Anonymous. “FEMA Concentration Camps: Locations and Executive
Orders” Friends of Liberty. http://www.sianews.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1062>.
 The White House. “Presidential Directive NSPD 51, HSPD-20.” 9 May
 Turley, Jonathan. “Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision”
Los Angeles Times. 14 August 2002 <http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0814-05.htm>.
 Cable News Network (CNN). “Americans may be held as 'enemy
combatants,' appeals court rules.” 8 January 2003 http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/01/08/enemy.combatants>.
 The Library of Congress. Military Commissions Act of 2006. 17
October 2007 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:S.3930:>.
 American Civil Liberties Union. “ACLU Report Shows Widespread
Pentagon Surveillance of Peace Activists” Press Release. 17 January 2007
 Halliburton Public Relations “KBR Awarded U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Contingency Support Project for Emergency Support
Services.” 24 January 2006 http://www.kbr.com/news/2006/govnews_060124.aspx>.
Scott, Peter Dale. “Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention
Camps.” New America Media. 8 February 2006 http://news.pacificnews.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=eed74d9d44c30493706fe03f4c9b3a77>.
 Friends of Liberty “FEMA Concentration Camps: Locations and