The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC

by Diana Reynolds


Smith's letter signaled what seemed to be the beginning of the end for FEMA and Reagan's Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director William Webster had previously complained when FEMA's Director of Civil Security, General Salcedo, had intruded into the FBI's domestic intelligence jurisdiction under the rubric of counter terrorism. Salcedo was forced to turn over to Webster some 12,000 names he had been compiling on a list of potential threats to civil security.

Furthermore, it came to light that while FEMA had been expending the lion's share of its energy and funding on building a civil security infrastructure, it had neglected its authorized civil defense role. On June 15, 1984, barely a month after Giuffrida filed his glowing accomplishment report with Meese, Robert Guffus, Inspector General of FEMA, wrote a draft report on FEMA's Comprehensive Cooperative Agreements (CCA) (with states) in civil defense preparedness.

He concluded that management actions were needed to improve the effectiveness of programs with state and local governments. In his review of the CCAs he found inadequate FEMA management control, imprecise program guidelines and a lack of personnel resources.

Programmatic and financial weaknesses were a result of fiscal mis-management, unclear assignment of responsibilities, overlapping job descriptions, inflated training figures, and lack of written procedures.

McFarlane removed North from the EMPB and assigned him to help with conducting unconventional warfare in Nicaragua. Giuffrida resigned in 1985 after a House subcommittee charged that FEMA was being mismanaged, and it was publicized that Giuffrida had staffed FEMA with his military/police cronies and had allowed $170,000 of agency funds to be used to outfit a deluxe bachelor pad at the Civil Defense Training Academy at Emmitsburg. He now operates a security consulting firm in Washington, D.C. General Salcedo has moved on to be Presidential Liaison to Veterans Organizations at the Veterans Administration. There is some debate about what happened to the plans for a civil security emergency. There was a rumored joint investigation conducted by the Defense Department and the CIA into the unconstitutionality of planning for a civil security emergency by several government agencies. Supposedly, the two investigators, Special Forces Lt. Colonel Kvererdas and the CIA's William Buckley, prior to his fatal Beirut assignment, destroyed the plans and the exercise data.

Some believe that much of the planning was incorporated into Vice President Bush's Report from his Task Force on Combatting Terrorism which has inspired civil security contingency planning at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service by an Alien Border Control (ABC) Committee. The working group within the INS was designing plans and programs regarding the control and removal of alien terrorists, potential terrorist aliens and those "who are likely to be supportive of terrorist activity within the U.S."

The most obvious resting place for the material is the National Security Council. In 1987, Reagan signed another NSDD, number 259, which superseded both NSDD 26, the secret civil defense plan of February 25, 1982 and the unclassified version dated March 16, 1982. Even though the 1987 version is shorter and more vague than its predecessors, no significant changes are evident in civil defense planning and programs from the 1984 EMPB scenarios.

Just before he left office, Reagan signed Executive Order 12656 which assigned new emergency preparedness responsibilities. Reagan's final national security legacy to civil defense planning puts the NSC clearly in charge. In Section 104, EO 12656 states that the NSC is the principal forum for consideration of national security emergency preparedness policy and will arrange for Executive branch liaison with, and assistance to, the Congress and the Federal judiciary on national security emergency preparedness matters.

The Director of FEMA has now been promoted to advisor to the NSC on mobilization preparedness, civil defense, continuity of government, technological disasters, "and other issues, as appropriate." The Director of FEMA is also authorized to assist in the implementation of national security emergency preparedness policy by coordinating federal departments and agencies; as well as state and local governments. The exercise program is to continue and plans and procedures "will be designed and developed to provide maximum flexibility to the President for his implementation of emergency actions."

On the same day that Reagan signed EO 12656 he also signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 which provided yet another in a series of get-tough-but-do-nothing drug policies produced by the Reagan Administration. If and when the Anti-Drug Abuse Act fails--a victim of underfunding and bureaucratic in-fighting--then Executive Order 12656 could become an historic document in the war on drugs.







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