For those that don’t already know, the decade of the 1980s produced some of the best motion picture experiences in human history. Granted, motion pictures occupy an extremely small slice of the totality of known human history; and also granted, being a child growing up during that same decade may contribute to at least some amount of cognitive bias, as well as general feelings of nostalgia. Arguments will no doubt surface to refute that claim, but I think that is a conversation for another time. And in a best-case scenario, it would be a time when the stakes don’t feel nearly as high as they do today.
As an American child of the ’80s, I have numerous fond memories of afternoons and evenings spent watching many of these cinematic masterpieces, thoroughly enjoying the spectacle of it all the while. If I were to start listing all the titles that come to mind, we could spend days discussing all the memories they might conjure up. But one of the movies that keeps coming to mind lately – and perhaps for a myriad of predictable reasons – is Red Dawn, written and directed by John Milius. For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular movie, I’ll do my best to sum it up in as few words as possible. In short, the United States is invaded by the Soviet Union and its allies; and the story follow a group of middle-America teenagers as they attempt to outwit the Communist intruders and liberate their community. And if you count yourself among those who haven’t seen it, track down a copy and give it a once-over. My brief synopsis does it no justice, and I think it mostly holds up after all of these years.
One of the reasons this movie likely stands out is the age I was when I first encountered it. As an average, red-blooded American male barely 10-years-old when the movie was released, it stood in stark contrast to much of the other entertainment offerings at the time – which were resoundingly light-hearted and generally humorous by comparison. Red Dawn was a very serious and realistic depiction of what an America under occupation by a totalitarian authority could look like, and many of those images were branded into my memory as I watched the movie over and over again. Kids do that, I have noticed; watch the same program repeatedly. And some adults, it seems, never outgrow this behavior.
Maybe it was the graphic violence that was portrayed in the movie, or maybe it was the realistic quality of the cinematography; whatever it was, this particular story embedded itself into my own psyche way back then, and still resurfaces at some of the most unexpected times, even today. But then again, maybe it’s not so surprising that these memories would appear when the news is relaying stories of detention camps from nations like Australia, Germany, and Canada – to name just a few – or outright planting stories to manufacture public consent. While we are being led to believe these are emergency measures being taken in response to an alleged pandemic that “nobody could have predicted” – even though at least one person is on record predicting it, more than once – the truth is that many governments all over the world have invested time and resources into developing contingency plans capable of handling widespread civil unrest during times of crisis. The United States is no exception.
The Best Laid Plans
On July 5, 1987, the Miami Herald published an article authored by Alfonso Chardy under the headline Reagan Aides and the ‘Secret’ Government. This article would be the general public’s introduction to the clandestine “continuity of government” preparations that would receive the codename designation of REX 84. According to Wikipedia, this codename was an abbreviation for Readiness Exercise 1984; a series of plans developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) – under the direction of the National Security Council(NSC) of the Reagan administration – for the purpose of detaining and housing large numbers of U.S. citizens deemed to be “national security threats” during a declared national emergency. Aside from mentioning that Congressman Jack Brooks referenced REX 84 and the Herald article during the Iran-Contra congressional hearings in 1987, Wikipedia – perhaps unsurprisingly – offers scant additional details.
Fortunately for us, thanks to the work of archivists and the magic of the internet, the original article is still available for reading in its entirety from almost anywhere in the world. The article identifies Lt. Col. Oliver North – one of the primary investigative targets of the Iran-Contra hearings – as the principal architect of the REX 84 plans. In the event of a national crisis – such as nuclear war, widespread violent political dissent, or public opposition to U.S. military action abroad – the plans are said to have called for the suspension of the U.S. Constitution, which would transfer federal government control from Congress and the executive branch to FEMA. The acting head of FEMA would then become the principal authority for the nation, and be responsible for appointing military commanders to run all state and local government operations under a unilateral declaration of martial law. Other than the events previously outlined as examples for invoking the execution of these plans, the term “national crisis” was never fully defined or codified within the language of the directives.
The article exposes the REX 84 program as but one of a number of activities being undertaken by what it called a “secret government-within-a-government,” a shadowy branch of the NSC that was not subject to public scrutiny or congressional oversight. At least, not until it came under inquiry from the U.S. Senate investigative committee in 1987. Col. North is alleged to have been at the head of this cabal, with its participants including former National Security Advisor William Clark, CIA Director William Casey, and Attorney General Edwin Meese. It was even reported that then President Reagan was at least partially aware of the activities of this group, and was purported to have approved of at least some the work they were doing.
Even with the revelations in the Herald article, the public was still only allowed to see the tip of this proverbial iceberg. Discovery of this group’s activities by the Senate committee during the Iran-Contra investigation revealed further details that would likely have been quite astonishing to the average American in 1987. According to a memo drafted by Senate committee chief counsel Arthur Lyman during the arms deal probe:
“After we establish that a policy decision was made at the highest levels to transfer responsibility for contra support to the NSC…, we favor examining how that decision was implemented. This is the part of the story that reveals the whole secret government-within-a-government, operated from the [Executive Office Building] by a Lt. Col., with its own army, air force, diplomatic agents, intelligence operatives and appropriations capacity.”
Or, to put it more simply: this branch of the NSC comprised an entire command-and-control apparatus that did not require the checks and balances of congressional approval to carry out its operations.
From Theory To Practice
Originally established by an executive order from President Jimmy Carter in 1979, FEMA began the practice of conducting large-scale readiness drills in 1982. In the process of creating the blueprint for what would become the REX 84 exercises, it is reported that Col. North worked closely with then FEMA administrator Louis O. Giuffrida, who ran the agency from 1981 to 1985. Giuffrida was already a familiar figure to President Reagan when he received the appointment to become the head of FEMA. Giuffrida had previously served under Governor Reagan for the state of California as part of the Specialized Training Institute – an agency whose stated purpose is to instruct state personnel in emergency management and readiness practices. One of the STI programs Giuffrida is credited with helping to advance was designed specifically for the purpose of training police officers in the use of “paramilitary tactics during civil disturbances.”
Keep in mind that this type of training was taking place in California during the 1970s, whereas today we are expected to believe that the militarization of local police departments started only after the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was signed into law in 1994. The martial law portion of the REX 84 program was purported to have been inspired by an internal FEMA memo, dated June 30, 1982, and originally attributed to a member of Giuffrida’s administrative staff – John Brinkerhoff. The interesting thing about this claim is the procedures outlined in that memo bear a striking resemblance to a paper which outlined methods for how to deal with a national uprising that was presented to the Army War College in 1970. That paper was authored by none other than the future FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida. In that publication, Giuffrida described a detailed plan for the marshalling and detaining of militant “American negros” to “assembly or relocation camps” in the event of a national uprising.
The real-world REX 84 ALPHA EXPLAN drills were conducted by FEMA as a civil readiness exercise from April 5th to the 13th in 1984. These drills were conducted in conjunction with a Department of Defense Joint Chiefs Exercise codenamed NIGHT TRAIN 84. In the combined exercises – REX 84 BRAVO – FEMA led the DOD and 34 other federal civil departments and agencies. Among those participating agencies were the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, the Treasury Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Veterans Administration. It is believed that the data collected from these exercises was eventually incorporated into then Vice President George Bush’s report from his “task force on combating terrorism” in 1986. This report would in turn become incorporated into the preparedness planning of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, under the pretense of preparing the agency for handling a massive surge of immigrants at the U.S. southern border. Sound familiar?
Redrawn And Redacted
REX 84 would ultimately evolve into a comprehensive operational umbrella for the overall Continuity of Government planning and preparation contingencies for maintaining order during a national crisis . Older contingency plans would become included under the banner of REX 84, like Operation Garden Plot – which was drafted after the L.A. Riots of the 1960s, and then activated during the L.A. Riots of the 1990s. Another sub-section of REX 84 was known as Operation Cable Splicer, which allegedly contained the planning for the orderly takeover of local and state government functions.
The plans created by North and Giuffrida were not only utilized as the framework for the live action exercises carried out by various federal agencies, they are also reported to have found their way into numerous Executive Orders that were eventually authorized and signed by President Reagan. These Executive Orders would allow for FEMA to lawfully commandeer many of the instruments of government authority in the event of a national emergency, as well as the most important public sector industries like communications, commerce, and transportation and logistics.
The presidents that followed Reagan would continue this work by further revising and reissuing those original executive orders to expand the authority FEMA would receive during a declared national emergency. The number of executive orders would continue to grow until 2007, when George W. Bush consolidated all previous orders into two directives: NSDP51 and HSDP20. These new Presidential Directives went largely unreported by the corporate media and unacknowledged by the U.S. Congress. Most of the text of these directives remains classified and unavailable for public or even legal scrutiny, so it is really anybody’s guess as to what new powers may have been granted in the event of a worst-case scenario for the entire country.
Around the same time these Presidential Directives were being created and ostensibly signed into law, independent websites began publishing a list of the locations of more than 800 “detention camps” around the United States that could be utilized by FEMA under REX 84. Some of these locations were former military bases that had been decommissioned and were sitting empty, and some of them were reported to be sections of currently operational military bases that could be repurposed. Others fell into a number of different categories, but all were reported to be located on known federal property. It is alleged that the majority of these locations are capable of housing 20,000 people each. The largest of these identified facilities – a mental health hospital outside of Fairbanks, Alaska – is said to be capable of holding up to 2 million detainees.
All According To Plan?
In the decades since the term REX 84 first bludgeoned its way into the public consciousness in that Miami Herald article, no small number of talking heads in the mockingbird media machinery have taken to the airwaves to assure us that our government would never do something as draconian as rounding people up and putting them into camps or other detention facilities. I mean – that’s just crazy conspiracy talk, right? It’s not like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published a proposal for separating “infected” individuals from their communities – or their own families and property – and isolating those individuals in designated quarantine zones for the greater good. Oh, wait a minute…
Given that we have already witnessed the government of Australia openly propagandizing the entire world in regard to their Howard Springs “Gold Standard” Paradise International Arrival Bungalows, which has already prompted multiple escape attempts during its short time in existence, is it really such a stretch of the imagination to think the U.S. government could resort to a similar strategy. The infrastructure needed for this type of plan is already in place, and indeed some of it is reported to have been around for decades.
While not quite in the same disarmed and defenseless position that many Australians find themselves in currently, Americans increasingly see themselves becoming targeted by their own government. As the internationally-focused “War on Terror” has proven to be essentially just a vehicle for the perpetual profiteering of the military industrial complex, and public sentiment in the country has shifted from largely patriotic to openly critical, the government seems to be more than willing to identify its own citizens as threats which need to be neutralized. Even conscientious parents now find themselves in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice simply for voicing their concerns at local school board meetings.
Maybe that is just how this chapter of history was naturally going to unfold anyway; or maybe it was according to a well-crafted plan executed over a long period of time. A plan the public was never supposed to know about from the beginning. Either way, it may be worth heeding the cautious words of John W. Whitehead as we witness members of the Oath Keepers being indicted for sedition:
“But be careful who you share this information with: it turns out that voicing concerns about the existence of FEMA detention camps is among the growing list of opinions and activities which may make a federal agent or government official think you’re an extremist(a.k.a. terrorist), or sympathetic to terrorist activities, and thus qualify you for infinite detention under the NDAA. Also included in that list of “dangerous” viewpoints are advocating states’ rights, believing the state to be unnecessary or undesirable, “conspiracy theorizing,” opposition to war, organizing for “economic justice,” frustration with “mainstream ideologies,” opposition to abortion, opposition to globalization, and ammunition stockpiling.”
In other words, it would seem that adhering to what have long been considered traditional American ideals has now become the position occupied by the enemy of the American government. And maybe that has also been a part of the plan all along. Like the images from that movie that blazed its way across theater screens so many decades ago, and burned itself into my own young mind in the process, I find myself wondering if Americans will wake up one day soon to members of their communities being hauled off to detention camps by their own government? Or maybe even a fate far worse that we haven’t even begun to imagine. And if they do, how will those witnessing it respond?
Let me know what you think in the comments. And keep your wits about you out there – there does indeed seem to be a war on.
“Look It Up, Check It Out”: REX 84 and the History of An American Conspiracy — wearethemutants.com
Will the “REX 84” Program Be Activated This Year? — metallicman.com
Australia’s COVID Concentration Camps: A Quick Rundown — thuletide.wordpress.com
Headquarters Emergency Relocation Team — wikipedia.org