Recent pronouncements from the Bush Administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States.When president Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a “crisis” such as “violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad”. They were never used.But with the looming possibility of a US invasion of Iraq, recent pronouncements by President George Bush’s domestic security chief, Tom Ridge, and an official with the US Civil Rights Commission should fire concerns that these powers could be employed or a de facto drift into their deployment could occur.On July 20 the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled “Arabs in US could be held, official warns”. The story referred to a member of the US Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans. FEMA has practised for such an occasion.FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest. From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal.They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA.A Miami Herald article on July 5, 1987, reported that the former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida’s deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. The plan was said to be similar to one Mr Giuffrida had developed earlier to combat “a national uprising by black militants”. It provided for the detention “of at least 21million American Negroes”‘ in “assembly centres or relocation camps”.