FEMA concentration camps
|Some dare call it
|What THEY don't want
you to know!
FEMA concentration camps (also FEMA death camps and just FEMA camps) exist in the mind of a particularly loopy bunch of conspiracy theorists who believe that mass internment facilities have been built across the continental United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in preparation for a future declaration of martial law (or similar nefarious ends).
The camps allegedly come complete with barbed wire fences straight out of World War II, boxcars for moving people around, and plastic coffins for burying them. (Why not just burn the corpses Nazi-style? Is FEMA concerned about its greenhouse gas output?)
While FEMA facilities exist, they usually consist of storage and temporary-housing locations. The number of FEMA facilities is far lower than conspiracists would have you believe, and FEMA itself is a bumbling bureaucratic nightmare. If this is the New World Order, at least it'll be quite inept at being Orwellian.
What is FEMA?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a United States government agency tasked with the effective management of major emergencies within the country, including ensuring the continuity of government during a large-scale disaster such as a nuclear war. It provides federal relief to areas afflicted by natural disasters, and has drawn a great deal of criticism for its face-palming incompetence in doing so, which is largely a result of its being used as a dumping-ground for political lackeys too important to ignore (but not important or dangerous enough to make Secretary of State) than of any incompetence of the members themselves.
FEMA was originally a weird bureaucratic anomaly — set up by a series of executive orders (1978-1979) rather than by an act of Congress. In 2002, it was finally codified into law and made a component of the Department of Homeland Security. As well as providing large-scale emergency-management, FEMA is also the largest flood-insurer in the United States, mainly because most private insurance companies don't offer flood-insurance since it is generally expensive.
FEMA has been the focus of a great number of nutbar conspiracy theories, documented below.
Exact claims about the purpose and nature of the camps vary from one crank to another. Here are some favorites:
FEMA, naturally, is the shadow government which will run the show after the puppet government dissolves through a series of executive orders issued by the President. The idea that FEMA could pull off such a masterstroke is surprisingly widespread — especially considering the agency's massive display of incompetence during Hurricane Katrina way back in 2005.
FEMA supposedly has the power to declare martial law and to round up half a million American citizens (fewer than one percent) into concentration camps (the subject of this article). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control actually do have the power to intern large numbers of citizens pretty much immediately as needed. (And they'd even have a better cover story).[note 1]
Conspiracists like to back up the "shadow government" narrative by noting that Mount Weather, FEMA's headquarters in Virginia, is a sort-of spare Washington, D.C. (in case the real one gets nuked) — and the purported location of the US Shadow Government.
Taking our guns!
A common supposed motivation for FEMA camps is to allow the evil UN to take away everyone's guns. Given that 1 in 4 Americans own at least one gun, how this would be an efficient method whatsoever is anybody's guess.
North American Union / One-World Government
What use could FEMA camps possibly have? Why not use them to detain dissenting US citizens after the consolidation of the North American Union in preparation for the establishment of a one world government (or New World Order).
Straight up genocide
They are concentration camps, after all.
Imminent world-ending disaster
This theory, at least, assumes that FEMA is kinda-sorta a good actor. FEMA is in on the know: a looming disaster will render most of the world unusable and billions will die. Thankfully, FEMA will be there to keep America chugging along!
Unfortunately for those seeking a unified fascist one-world government, FEMA is not your guy.
There are several videos purporting to show footage of the camps, as well as shots of ominous-looking fences and webpages listing locations of over 800 camps, allegedly all fully guarded and staffed full-time despite being completely empty. The intrinsic implausibility of people simply being able to walk up to the sites of heavily-guarded camps that the dystopian fasci-state wants to keep secret, videotape them, walk away unmolested, and disseminate the videos without any consequences, is apparently not considered, even though it flatly contradicts the central premise of the conspiracy theories in question.
In addition to the implausibility of such a massive conspiracy being kept relatively well hidden (the sheeple haven't woken up yet, have they?), the evidence is damaged by the fact that the videos and pictures actually depict everything from National Guard training centers to Amtrak repair stations to North Korean labor camps. (Hell, when FEMA actually did lock up Katrina survivors in a trailer park and refuse to let them speak to the media, both the local news and FAIR reported on it.)
A recent claim is that House Resolution 645 from 2009's 111th Congress authorizes the creation of FEMA concentration camps. There really is a H.R. 645, and a careful reading of the bill shows that they are making camps and that FEMA is involved. However, anyone with reading comprehension beyond the average third grader will notice that the bill is to authorize the creation of refugee camps for humanitarian assistance and temporary housing after disasters (and "other appropriate uses"), and that FEMA is only involved in the sense that the locations of the camps are set up along FEMA's districts. Furthermore, the camps for practicing responses to national disasters are with coordination between federal, state, and local authorities. The reason you don't have private access to the camps is that they're on military installations, which are generally not open to the public. Not scary.
Proponents of FEMA camps tend to take one of two perspectives when it comes to Google Earth.
- The first side asserts that they've found tons of concentration camps on Google Earth. If you believe this is the case, please see Is That a FEMA Camp?
- The second side believes there are no FEMA camps on Google Earth, because Google is in league with the government to cover up their existence.
A common tactic used as "proof" of FEMA camps is to quote mine bills that have the words "FEMA" and "camps" in the same paragraph, and zoom in to the point you can only see the quote-mined sentence. This applies to all instances this happens, not just FEMA Camp bills: If they cite the bill, look up the bill, and read it yourself to see the context. If they don't cite it, then the bill either doesn't exist, or they don't want to be embarrassed by the quote-mined sentence when some sheeple comes in.
So far, the only flaw in this otherwise brilliantly executed conspiracy was the mistake of publicly advertising jobs to work at the camps. It's always the small details the conspirators slip up on.
The FEMA camp conspiracy theory has been alluded to by Republican leadership candidate Michele Bachmann, though she did not say FEMA. Glenn Beck, who to his credit later backpedaled and hosted a debunking segment featuring a guest from Popular Mechanics, promoted the theory as well. Still, the theory remains popular among the survivalist community and the militia movement, and there's no shortage of adherents on the Internet.
The idea that the US government is planning to intern masses of people has some history, and is not just limited to the far-right. In the 1980s, opponents of Ronald Reagan's Central America policy on the far-left thought that FEMA was planning a mass roundup of them just before the imminent U.S. invasion of Nicaragua. (See Rex 84 below.) Barely skipping a beat, it became a theory on the right-wing black helicopter/militia circuit in the '90s, among Alex Jones followers and truthers in the 2000s, and by the more insane opponents of the Obama administration.
Real-life internment plans
During the early years of World War II in the years 1939 to '41, the FBI did maintain lists of "subversive" people, collated from files on political activists and immigrants. These people were divided into three groups: "A" for those to be arrested immediately upon outbreak of war or other hostilities, "B" for those deemed less dangerous, and "C" for enemy sympathizers. The attorney general of the time, Francis Biddle, found out about the lists and deemed them "dangerous" and "illegal". J. Edgar Hoover, however, just covered up their existence and continued the program under another name, telling his agents to just not mention it.
Readiness Exercise 1984, or Rex 84 for short, was a "scenario & drill" created under the Reagan administration by Oliver North and FEMA deputy director John Brinkerhoff. Throughout the Reagan administration, the black ops of the US military and intelligence agencies effectively ran wild, especially in Latin America, where Reagan's aggressive intervention many times verged on intentional genocide by right-wing "death squads" with CIA backing. In this violent environment, the "scenario" described in Rex 84 is rather disturbing. It called for the rounding up and preemptive detention of human rights & anti-war activists, as well as Latino immigrants.
The ironic part about Rex 84, which many wingnuts seem not to grasp, is that the program was targeted against civil rights groups, anti-war groups, organized labor, immigrants, and minority communities in support of hegemonic, capitalist, right-wing American business interests (see Allen Dulles). FEMA camps are not, as conspiracy theorists would have it, some grand plot against conservative American patriots; rather, the only administration to seriously consider interning dissidents was planning on doing so against the sorts of left-wing activists that the American far-right despise the most (next to the federal government, the NWO, and the "international bankers", that is).
Internment in the past
There has been one time in America's history when the government did send its own citizens to internment camps. During World War II, about 110,000–120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated from the West Coast to internment camps in the interior of the country, on the grounds that they would act as a fifth column against the American war effort. Privately, many white farmers on the West Coast also viewed it as a way to get rid of their Japanese competitors. This incident is often brought up by those who claim that the government has the will to do it again (occasionally claiming that some of the planned FEMA camps are renovated Japanese internment centers), neglecting to mention the fact that the backlash against internment very quickly sapped that very will.
In the 1830s, the US also deported many Native Americans of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations) from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to the "Indian Territory" in what is now Oklahoma, in what has come to be called the Trail of Tears, one of the most notorious episodes in the American Indian Genocide. Notably, this happened despite the Supreme Court explicitly declaring the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to be unconstitutional. A similar, albeit smaller-scale, episode occurred with the Navajo tribe's "Long Walk" in the mid-1860s from their homeland along the Arizona-New Mexico border to Bosque Redondo, a reservation/internment camp in southeastern New Mexico. In this case, fortunately, the Navajo were able to successfully reclaim most of their land, albeit only after experiencing a massive loss of life. Despite the atrocities done in both instances, they weren't US citizens at the time.
- America Under Siege
- Targeted Individual
- Black site
- Black Helicopter
- Bubba Effect
- Guantanamo Bay
- Japanese American internment
- Serco Group
Want to read this in another language?
- FEMA Camps, Skeptic Project
- List of all FEMA Camps, Skeptic Project
- FEMA concentration camps? The militia good times are rollin' again by Dave Neiwert
- The Evidence: Debunking FEMA Camp Myths
- Autistic Skeptic: This website was the original website that debunked FEMA camps on such a large scale. The current author, Jeffrey Newell, has created and moved to a new blog, The Saiyan Skeptic, which is now his main debunking blog.
- See the Wikipedia article on FEMA camps conspiracy theory.
- It's for your health and safety! (This may explain why COVID conspiracy theories caught on so easily.)
- Executive Order #12127 (Carter would have probably been able to pass it in the legislature.)
- National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA
- Popular Mechanics – Debunking FEMA Camp Myths
- As did FAIR.
- The full text of the bill can be found here.
- A website dedicated to debunking the so-called location to every camp in the world and anything else related to this conspiracy theory.
- URGENT !!! CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTATION REVEALS HORRIFYING GOVERNMENT PLOT !!! - YouTube
http://web.archive.org/web/20131019181601/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zh-9EFaAbY"This video is private"
- "Why is National Guard recruiting for 'internment' cops?", WorldNutDaily
- Crooks ans Liars: Michelle Bachmann warns of politically correct re-education camps for young people
- Video and transcript of Beck's show debunking FEMA camps.
- FBI Index
- Noam Chomsky: Ronald Reagan's Secret, Genocidal Wars | Alternet
- Foreign policy of the Ronald Reagan administration § Latin America
- Rex 84