Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a classified "scenario and drill" developed by the United States federal government to suspend the United States Constitution, declare martial law, place military commanders in charge of state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens who are deemed to be "national security threats", in the event that the President declares a "State of National Emergency". The plan states, events causing such a declaration would be widespread U.S. opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad, such as if the United States were to directly invade Central America. To combat what the government perceived as "subversive activities", the plan also authorized the military to direct ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels.
Rex 84 was written by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who was both National Security Council White House Aide, and NSC liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and John Brinkerhoff, the deputy director of "national preparedness" programs for the FEMA. They patterned the plan on a 1970 report written by FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida, at the Army War College, which proposed the detention of up to 21 million "American Negroes", if there were a black militant uprising in the United States. Existence of a master military contingency plan (of which REX-84 was a part), "Garden Plot" and a similar earlier exercise, "Lantern Spike", were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in an article in CounterSpy.
Transcripts from the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987 record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, Oliver North's attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the joint Senate-House Committee:
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.
- Non-Detention Act
- Posse Comitatus Act
- Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007
- Terrorist Screening Database
- No Fly List
- Smith, Christian (1996). Resisting Reagan: the U.S. Central America peace movement. University of Chicago Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-226-76336-1.
- Ross Gelbspan (1991). Break-ins, death threats and the FBI: the covert war against the central America movement. South End Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-89608-412-4.
- Peter Dale Scott (2008). The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press. pp. 183–184. ISBN 978-0-520-25871-6.
- Holly Sklar (1988). Washington's war on Nicaragua. South End Press. pp. 357–359. ISBN 978-0-89608-295-3.
- Ward Churchill; Jim Vander Wall (2002). The COINTELPRO papers: documents from the FBI's secret wars against dissent in the United States. South End Press. pp. 410–411. ISBN 978-0-89608-648-7.
- Miami Herald, 1987 July 5, "Reagan Aides and the Secret Government", free archived copies at http://www.scribd.com/doc/24621067/Reagan-Aides-and-the-Secret-Government-The-Miami-Herald-July-5-1987 and at http://cantankerousbuddha.com/reagan-aides-and-the-secret-government-the-mi and at http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=9877
- Ridenhour, Ron (1975). "Garden Plot and the New Action Army". CounterSpy.
- [Transcript from the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, New York Times, July 14, 1987]
- Diana Reynolds, "The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC," CovertAction Information Bulletin, issue #33 (Winter 1990).
- Donner, Frank (1980). The Age of Surveillance: The Aims & Methods of America's Political Intelligence System. New York: Alfred Knopf. p. 166. ISBN 0-394-74771-2.
- "Martial Law Concerns," Congressman Jim McDermott, House of Representatives, March 11, 2003
- Information about Operation Garden Plot, the larger operation of which Rex 84 was a part
- "Foundations are in place for martial law in the US," Ritt Goldstein, Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2002
- Chip Berlet, Right Woos Left, Discussion of Rex 84 conspiracy theories.