|Federal Emergency Management Agency|
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an independent disaster management agency that reports to the president of the United States. Although it has been frequently accused of being involved in conspiratorial activities by those on the far right of U.S. politics, FEMA’s official role is “to reduce loss of life and property and protect [America’s] critical infrastructure from all types of hazards through a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery” (FEMA 2002).
This means that FEMA plans for and deals with problems caused by such natural phenomena as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, as well as man-made disasters such as chemical spills, nuclear accidents, and fires.
It also has responsibility for emergencies created by war, terrorism, and other acts of civil disturbance. The agency has 2,500 fulltime employees, supplemented by over 5,000 standby reservists. FEMA’s headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., but it maintains regional and area offices around the country.
Many members of the American Patriot movement in particular, however, do not accept the official version of what FEMA does. For them the agency is a key part of a global conspiracy to impose a tyrannical and oppressive New World Order on the United States.
Believers in this conspiracy theory contend that less than 10 percent of FEMA’s staff are actually assigned to preparing for and dealing with natural disasters such as storms and earthquakes; the rest, it is argued, are involved in formulating plans to overthrow the Constitution and turn the United States into a military dictatorship. In 1992 the Liberty Lobby’s newspaper, the Spotlight, reported that blueprints for this dictatorship could be found in a top-secret safe in FEMA headquarters.
According to such members of the Patriot movement, FEMA is best understood as a “secret” or “shadow government” that is waiting to assume control of the United States once a presidential declaration of martial law has been made in response to either a sufficiently serious genuine national emergency or one that can be convincingly “manufactured.”
Examples of such an emergency are said to include the threat of imminent nuclear war, massive terrorist attacks, an outbreak of rioting occurring in several U.S. cities simultaneously, a series of natural disasters affecting a large section of the U.S. population, or a major environmental disaster.
Martial law having been declared, FEMA’s extensive emergency powers will then come into operation. Patriot groups argue that FEMA, acting under these powers, will be able to ignore all existing laws, move entire populations at will, arrest and detain citizens without a warrant and hold them without trial, seize property and food supplies, and even suspend the Constitution itself.
For the Militia of Montana, in such circumstances the “American people and all their belongings become chattel of FEMA, and the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces will be in absolute control of our country” (Militia of Montana).
Led by Gerald “Jack” McLamb, a retired police officer from Phoenix, Arizona, the Patriot organization Police Against the New World Order (PANWO) has further contended that the Los Angeles riots of 1992 were carefully planned by FEMA as a test to see how Americans would react to the imposition of martial law. According to PANWO the test worked out much better than New World Order “social planners” had expected. This was because very few citizens complained about the presence of army personnel on their city streets in the mistaken belief that they were there simply to restore order.
FEMA personnel are also said to fly many of the unmarked “black helicopters” operating around the United States in preparation for a United Nations takeover of the country; to be engaged in the construction of concentration camps for the imprisonment of U.S. dissidents; to be implicated in the abductions undertaken by visiting UFOs; and to be operating a secretive state-of-the-art monitoring installation in a hamburger processing plant in Salt Lake City where over 800 telephone numbers are monitored, with particular attention being given to companies engaged in the sale of guns and ammunition.
In 1998 the idea that FEMA allowed the White House to suspend constitutional government following a declaration of martial law was given widespread public exposure when it was expressed by one of the leading characters in The X-Files movie, Dr. Kurtzweil (Martin Landau).
The movie also made the case that FEMA was one of the principal agencies involved in covering up the alien genesis and human extermination project, a theme that had been a mainstay of the “mythology” aspect of the long-running television show of the same name. FEMA responded by suggesting that viewing its activities as part of a global conspiracy to hide the presence of aliens from the U.S. population was to seriously confuse the “true mission” of the agency (FEMA 1998).
FEMA was created under executive order by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. At this time it took over the activities of various other agencies such as the Federal Insurance Administration, the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration, and the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program. Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to the new agency from the Defense Department’s Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.
Some of the major disasters and emergencies FEMA has been involved in since its creation include the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979, the Loma Prieta earthquake in California in 1989, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The “true mission” of FEMA was brought into renewed focus by the September 11 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.
Under its director Joe M. Allbaugh, and in conjunction with the newly created Office of Homeland Security, FEMA was given new responsibilities for dealing with issues of national preparedness and homeland security in the wake of the attacks. This included training and equipping what FEMA calls “the nation’s first responders” in how to deal with weapons of mass destruction (FEMA 2002).