Aug 15 2013
Subversive, undercover infiltration has been a feature of American history from the start of the Revolutionary War. As such tactics have proven effective for the United States, one cannot help but wonder whether these same tactics are being used against us as well, and to what extent? Thus, rumors arise, and conspiracy theories feed the fire of misinformation. Theories that suggest a hostile take-over is imminent and implementation of martial law will soon erase our rights and freedoms. Many rumors have suggested that foreign troops will be deployed in the United States, and be at the ready for action when the country is weakened by natural disasters or distracted by major national events. These theories are not new phenomena, nor are they spawned out of thin air.
There were two separate Red Scares over the course of the first half of the 20th century, during which extreme suspicion and fear led to the belief that communists were infiltrating the military and government at every level, with Soviet and Chinese military forces ready to move whenever the central powers gave the word. Throughout the 1990s, groups claimed that the United Nations had troops training with the US military in preparation for the creation of One World Government. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, fear spread through rumors that multinational groups directed by the UN would sweep through towns and round up gun-owners to create FEMA concentration camps and officially start a police state. It is not surprising that this line of paranoia continues to this day, as distrust of government and suspicions of foreign interventions persists, and modern communication tools help spread intriguing rumors like wildfire.
One of the more recent stories concerns the proposition that Russia will be providing troops to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) handle security at “mass events” in the United States. The email text is lifted directly from an article that appeared at the following link: whatdoesitmean.com Sorcha Faal, who is an outlandish, sensationalist conspiracy theorist, started the email chain that has ended up in our box with a posting on his or her aesthetically displeasing, out-of-date website.
Stories put forth by Faal are considered ridiculous even by conspiracy theorists standards, which does not favor the credibility of this story. This original email chain led to other spin-offs of the story, which suggested that the Russian soldiers would be used to provide security at mass events in the US, described as large scale, high human density, and popular events such as the “Super Bowl, international summits,… and presidential inaugurations.” The basis of these presumptions is a meeting between US and Russian officials on June 25th, 2013, wherein a “deal” was made to exchange knowledge and resources for mass events. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones further publicized this meeting through his popular libertarian website infowars.com by suggesting that this agreement is a precursor to an exchange of 15,000 Russian soldiers for security purposes at those previously mentioned mass events.
This story became so popular and spread so rapidly because the idea of foreign troops being deployed on American soil understandably makes many American citizens uneasy. Moreover, the story proposed that it would be such a large number of soldiers deployed, and at premier American events, that any subscriber surely raised a red flag after simply reading the headline. Through the different versions of the story, a general theme exists that President Obama’s administration has requested 15,000 Russian soldiers for security support at times when Americans are most vulnerable and distracted, which implies that there are subversives currently working in our government agencies.
This story is referred to as a rumor for a very simple reason – it lacks verifiable proof. After doing some research, it appears that the purpose of this routine meeting between the US and Russia has been largely misconstrued. The Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense sent their minister for Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) to Washington, D.C. to meet with FEMA officials to discuss a potential exchange of experts in the event of a disaster that requires cooperation between the two countries. In other words, the partnership envisions the mutually beneficial sharing of experience, which shows that both nations have an interest in gaining supplemental expertise through observation opportunities with first responders and emergency managers. The official report on the meeting did not mention that an agreement had been reached to allow Russians to provide security on US soil, but rather noted that both nations want to study and learn about security at mass events from each other, which was the seed for the idea that became our conspiracy of interest. Furthermore, neither party in the meeting has authority to direct security personnel at the mentioned mass events, let alone armed soldiers. FEMA is a management agency, and EMERCOM is a civil defense ministry, both of which handle the consequences of natural disasters.
This story was fabricated and completely distorted a practical and diplomatic exchange of information. This sort of meeting is not a novel idea, but rather the seventeenth meeting of its kind since the creation of the U.S.-Russia Cooperation Committee on Emergency Situations in 1996. In regards to prior meetings, FEMA has stated the following:
“Unbeknownst to many, building and strengthening our partnerships with the international community is a large focus for us at FEMA. We are an increasingly global society, and the many disasters that have struck our friends and colleagues around the world [in recent years], from the horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the earthquake that struck New Zealand are a reminder that we are all in this together… We are part of the same team, and we will all be more resilient and well-equipped to deal with emergencies if we tap into each other’s knowledge, experiences and resources. We thank our Russian partners for joining us… and look forward to continuing to build this critical partnership.”
On July 2, a FEMA spokesperson explicitly stated that there will be “no exchange of security or military personnel” when asked about this internet-driven speculation. The United States holds such meetings and joins similar alliances with nations around the world in hopes of being capable of addressing any conceivable disaster situation. Learning the procedures other nations successfully employ in disaster situations can be beneficial to the United States in strengthening our resiliency. Russian troops will not be landing on our soil in the foreseeable future, but natural disasters surely will, and being prepared is no international conspiracy, but an exercise of sound judgment.