Q: Did the Department of Homeland Security create a “standing army of government youth” known as FEMA Corps.
A: No. FEMA Corps is a civilian operation within AmeriCorps, a federal community service program. FEMA Corps prepares and responds to disasters. Its members, ages 18 to 24, carry no weapons.
Tell me this is not true.
Homeland Security Graduates First Corps Of Obama’s Brown Shirts – Homeland Youth
Monday, October 15, 2012 18:51
October 7, 2012. Vicksburg . The federal government calls them FEMA Corps. But they conjure up memories of the Hitler Youth of 1930’s Germany . Regardless of their name, the Dept of Homeland Security has just graduated its first class of 231 Homeland Youth. Kids, aged 18-24 and recruited from the President’s AmeriCorp volunteers, they represent the first wave of DHS’s youth corps, designed specifically to create a full time, paid, standing army of FEMA Youth across the country.
On September 13, 2012, the Dept of Homeland Security graduated its first class of FEMA Corps youth, aka the Homeland Youth. Image courtesy of DHS.gov.
On September 13, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security graduated its first class of FEMA Corps first-responders. While the idea of having a volunteer force of tens of thousands of volunteers scattered across the country to aid in times of natural disasters sounds great, the details and timing of this new government army is somewhat curious, if not disturbing.
DHS raising an armed army
The first problem one finds with this ‘new army’ is the fact that they are mere children. Yes, 18 is generally the legal age a person can sign a contract, join the military or be tried as an adult. But ask any parent – an 18, 20 or even a 24 year-old is still a naïve, readily-influenced kid.
The second problem with this announcement and program is its timing. Over the past two years, President Obama has signed a number of Executive Orders suspending all civil and Constitutional rights and turning over management of an America under Martial Law to FEMA. Also in that time, domestic federal agencies under DHS, including FEMA, have ordered billions of rounds of ammunition as well as the corresponding firearms. Admittedly, these new weapons and ammunition aren’t to be used in some far-off war or to fight forest fires in California , but right here on the streets of America.
Strange Armored Fighting Vehicles
Individuals around the US have begun reporting the site of strange, new, heavily-armed FEMA fighting vehicles. What would a disaster relief agency like FEMA need with 2,500 brand new GLS armored fighting vehicles? According to the agency’s own mandate, as well as President Obama’s recent Executive Order, the answer is ‘population control’ during a time of Martial Law.
One set of images made available by Rense.com shows trailer after trailer carrying these new DHS and FEMA armored fighting vehicles, complete with machine gun slots. They’re labeled with the usual backward American flag and the title, ‘Homeland Security’. Below that and the DHS logo, it also reads, ‘Immigration & Customs Enforcement’. Joining those markings, the black vehicles with white lettering also display ‘POLICE/RESCUE’ on one side and ‘Special Response Team’ on the other.
DHS & FEMA armed fighting vehicles. Images courtesy of Rense.com.
FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino gave the keynote address at the ‘Induction Ceremony’ for the inaugural class of FEMA Corps members. According to the DHS website, ‘Corps members assist with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities, providing support in areas ranging from working directly with disaster survivors to supporting disaster recovering centers to sharing valuable disaster preparedness and mitigation information with the public.’
Serino describes what the first FEMA Corps class has accomplished so far, as well as where they’ll be going next:
‘Yesterday, we welcomed 231 energetic members into the first ever FEMA Corps class. The members just finished off their first month of training with our partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and are one step closer to working in the field on disaster response and recovery. They will now head to FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness to spend the next two weeks training in their FEMA position-specific roles. Once they complete both the CNCS and FEMA training, these 231 dedicated FEMA Corps members will be qualified to work in one of a variety of disaster related roles, ranging from Community Relations to Disaster Recovery Center support.’
A standing army
Unlike most local disaster response teams who are volunteers, training periodically and only showing up when there’s a disaster, the FEMA Corps will be a paid, full time, standing army of government youth. FEMA Deputy Administrator Sarino goes on to explain, ‘The new members, who range in age from 18-24 years old, will contribute to a dedicated, trained, and reliable disaster workforce by working full-time for ten months on federal disaster response and recovery efforts.’
In closing his announcement of the first graduating class of FEMA Corps Youth, Sarino describes his and the agency’s vision of the future, one where ‘FEMA Corps sets the foundation for a new generation of emergency managers’.
DHS arms itself
As we detailed in the August 28 Whiteout Press article ‘History of DHS Ammunition Purchases’, federal emergency management agencies are looking more and more like a military army every day.
The federal government’s procurement website actually lists DHS’ requests for bids to supply it with ammunition and military weaponry. All of the orders listed in the above article, including the orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition, are publicly available at http://www.fbo.gov/.
One look at a chart of DHS ammunition purchases over the past decade reveals a drastic spike in orders of bullets recently, totaling in the billions of rounds. Other charts available online show a similar drastic spike in the purchases of accompanying weaponry by the Department of Homeland Security.
What is the US federal government preparing for? And why does it feel it needs an army of brainwashed youth, millions of guns, thousands of armored fighting vehicles and literally billions of rounds of ammunition, just to provide relief to the American people during a natural disaster? Any historian will tell you it sounds more like the arming of the Hitler Youth than an army of first responders fighting forest fires and hurricanes.
A few readers sent us this email, which dresses up conspiracy theories with unrelated photographs and selected snippets from a government press release.
The gist of the email is that the federal government is stockpiling bullets, instituting martial law and arming youths in President Barack Obama’s army of “Brown Shirts” — none of which is true.
The email attributes the source of the information to an article on www.itmakessenseblog.com. The site’s “We Believe” page claims that “Left wing progressives have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Party.” It also says: “modern liberalism and progressivism may still both support many of the same Socialistic, Communistic or Maoist policies.”
The email’s link to the article is broken. And the site no longer carries the article. But the blog has published other pieces that similarly warn of Obama’s ” ‘brown shirt’ brigades” or “civilian national security force.”
This email is the most recent incarnation of a claim we debunked in 2008 and 2010. The conspiracy theory stems from a 2008 speech that then-candidate Obama gave in Colorado. He talked about building up “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as our military force.
But the doomsayers leave out the context: Obama was proposing strengthening civilian programs such as the State Department’s foreign service, the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Not surprisingly, this latest claim describes FEMA Corps, a new unit of AmeriCorps, as an “army.”
‘Army of Government Youth’?
The email says the Department of Homeland Security created a “paid, full time, standing army of government youth.” And the email quotes — correctly — from a DHS press release announcing FEMA Corps’ first graduating class. But that’s about all the email gets right.
It contains a photo of young persons dressed in blue uniforms and holding air-soft guns, replicas that fire plastic pellets and are identifiable by their federally required orange tips. That’s the first sign this is no “standing army.”
And the photo comes not from DHS — as the email claims — but from a 2009 New York Times article. The story is about a law enforcement education program that is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America and has nothing to do with FEMA Corps.
The Law Enforcement Exploring program teaches crime-fighting skills to persons between the ages of 14 and 20 who are considering a career in law enforcement. The Times profiled a southern California chapter that partnered with U.S. Border Patrol and local police. They simulated a raid on a marijuana field, which the newspaper photographed.
FEMA Corps, on the other hand, is a civilian operation for persons between the ages of 18 and 24. It is a unit within AmeriCorps, a community service program.
FEMA Corps, which will grow to 1,600 members, is solely devoted to preparing for and responding to disasters. Corps members work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which dispatches them to disaster areas. They recently helped Hurricane Sandy victims in Long Beach, N.Y., registering them for federal assistance.
They do not carry guns — much less travel in armored fighting vehicles. In fact, the AmeriCorps handbook, which applies to FEMA Corps, prohibits members from possessing firearms or any other weapon.
The email, nonetheless, attempts to connect FEMA Corps to an overblown claim about the government’s recent ammunition purchases.
The email cites a “drastic spike” in the Department of Homeland Security’s bullet purchases and asks: “What is the US federal government preparing for?” The email also claims that “federal management agencies are looking more and more like a military army every day.”
DHS has indeed ordered hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition. But there is less here than meets the eye. And that’s according to the National Rifle Association and the office of Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
The Department of Homeland Security recently contracted to buy up to 450 million rounds over the next five years. But DHS was making a first-time bulk order for all of its law enforcement agencies to save money. Those agencies include the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement, among many others.
The NRA describes the assertion as “incendiary.” It says the suggestion that the Obama administration is “preparing for a war with the American people” displays “a lack of understanding of the law enforcement functions carried about by officers in small federal agencies.” The NRA, which is no fan of the Democratic president, concludes that “there is no need to invent additional threats to our rights.”
Update, Feb. 14, 2014: The Government Accountability Office definitively shot down claims of a “drastic spike” in Homeland Security’s ammunition purchases. In a January 2014 report, the GAO said Homeland Security’s annual ammunition purchases have declined every year since fiscal year 2009, dropping from 132.9 million rounds in 2009 to 84.4 million in 2013.
‘Martial Law’ Malarkey
The email also links FEMA Corps to the false claim that Obama issued executive orders that institute martial law and give unchecked powers to FEMA.
As we’ve written before, Obama’s orders do no such thing. He issued one executive order that exercised his office’s power to prepare the nation for an emergency.
Since the Korean War, Congress has granted the president the authority to make sure national resources — such as the food supply and various industries — will be available to meet national security needs in times of war and other emergencies. That power is granted under the Defense Production Act, a law that dates to 1950 and must be reauthorized by Congress every few years. (The act expires in 2014.)
Like presidents before him, Obama issued an order updating the resources covered under that act while delegating authority over those resources to various federal departments and agencies. For example, the order authorizes the secretaries of Defense and the Interior “to encourage the exploration, development, and mining of strategic and critical materials and other materials.”
The order doesn’t institute martial law. It doesn’t even mention FEMA.
– Ben Finley
Press release. “Welcome to the FEMA Corps Inaugural Class.” Department of Homeland Security. 14 Sept. 2012.
U.S. Code, 2003 Edition. “15 U.S.C., Title 15, Chapter 76, Section 5001, penalties for entering into commerce of imitation firearms.” 2003.
Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More.” The New York Times. 13 May 2009.
“Program and Resource Guide for Adult Leaders.” Law Enforcement Exploring program. July 2011.
“AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Partnership.” About AmeriCorps. Accessed Nov 2012.
“FEMA Corps FAQ’s.” FEMA. 20 June 2012.
Stilts, Josh. “Sandy victims helped through FEMA Corp by Pittsfield man.” The Berkshire Eagle. 18 Nov 2012.
“AmeriCorps NCCC Memeber Handbook.” AmeriCorps. Jan 2011.
“Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Buy Ammunition.” National Rifle Association Institute for Legal Action. 17 Aug 2012.
Doran, Kevin. “DHS Buys in Bulk to Save You Money.” Office of U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. Accessed Nov 2012.
Finley, Ben. “Obama’s Executive Orders.” FactCheck.org. 25 Sept 2012.
Jackson, Brooks. “Obama’s ‘National Security Force.’ ” FactCheck.org. 11 Nov 2008.
Novak, Viveca. “Obama’s ‘Private Army.’” FactCheck.org. 7 April 2010.
Obama, Barack. Executive Order 13603. 16 Mar 2012.