Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reagan and Bush's Not-So-Secret War: Part Two

Only months after the Reagan administration took power, theNew York Times reported “Intelligence Groups Seek Power to Gain Data on U.S. Citizens.” Bill Casey, the new DCI, had given C.I.A. lawyers the task of drafting an executive order that would set aside most restraints on the agency’s domestic operations. As soon as it was finished, he signed a recommendation to the White House for its implementation, and he had the strong backing of another right-winger, Richard Allen, the National Security Advisor. In addition to opening the door to spying in the United States and on USD citizens, it deprived the Justice Department of its role in approving some covert operations. The story broke while Casey was out of the country, and Deputy Director Bobby Inman quickly disavowed the proposed executive order and had the backing of Ed Meese, a top Reagan advisor. However, right wing extremists within the administration would seek other means of accomplishing some of these goals. 1

The Reagan administration also laid plans to use FEMA to act against its political opponents. FEMA is a federal agency created by Executive Order 12148 (April 1, 1979). In the beginning FEMA was not funded by Congressional appropriations. There are all sorts of “conspiracy theories” about where the money came from. Some think that it is so loosely drafted that the agency could suspend the fedral constitution.

In the early years of the administration, Major Oliver North established a Crisis Management Center in the basement of the White House. That basement was where George H.W. Bush woulds manage intelligence operations during the Reagan years. North, NSC liason oto FEMA, assisted retired General Louis Giuffrida, FEMA director, 1982-1985 in developing a contingency plan for FEMA called”REX 84” for the surveillance of leftists, the declaration of a state of emergency, suspension of the constitution, and the governance of the united States. Giuffrida had been Reagan’s emergency planning chief in California, where he and Edwin Meese drafted plans for rounding up Black militants and peace advocates. Their plan was called “Operation Cable Splicere” and was a variant of the Army’s “Garden Plot.” As a graduate student in 1970, he wrote a detailed plan for incarcerating radicals and blacks in detention camps. He developed the California Specialized Training Institute for military commandos and police. A bit of a cowboy, he got himself deputized so he could carry a gun to work in Washington.

North and FEMA director Giuffrida also revised Operation Garden Plot, which dealt with civil disobedience and riots. Giuffrida had developed it initially to deal with an uprising of black militants, and it considered the possibility of rounding up 21,000,000 African Americans. .The revised Operation Garden Plot was actually implemented in Los Angeles during the civil unrest accompanying the Rodney King riots in 1987 and during some more recent anti-globalization riots . There was also “Operation Lasso,” a C.I.A. operation, designed to distribute guns among whites before an expected black riot.

The general installed a new telephone system at FEMA and forbade any personal calls. A record was kept of every number dialed. He seemed obsessed with terrorists and “radical environmentalists.” Henry Hyde, a ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, worked with North in developing the martial law governance plan. Major General Richard Secord had also spent some time at FEMA and had worked with these people on the martial law scheme.

In essence, the North plan would place government in the hands of FEMA and the president. The president received power to take over legislative and judi C.I.A.l functions. The North Plan called for FEMA to report directly to the president, but it had power to appoint military commanders and take over state governments. (Executive Order 11490). The plan was predicated upon Frank Carlucci ‘s NSC directive in 1981 that stated: “ Normally a state of martial law will be proclaimed by the President. However in the absence of such action by the President, a senior military commander may impose martial law in an area of his command where there had been a complete breakdown in the exercise of government functions by local authorities.'"

By then, FEMA already possessed many relocation centers where people could be kept, and the federal government has continued to build more up to the time of this writing. North thought it necessary to be ready to detain as many as 400,000 people. These facilities could also be used in the event of uncontrolled population movements across the Mexican border into the United States.

John Brinkerhoff, Giuffrida’s deputy, made the case for using troops in civil disturbanced and played a key role in planning for African-American disturbances. Today, he is with the Anser Institute for Homeland Security. Brinkerhoff told PBS in 2002: “The United States itself is now for the first time since the War of 1812 a theater of war. That means that we should apply, in my view, the same kind of command structure in the United States that we apply in other theaters of war.”

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