"Emergency Management" in Seattle
by Frank Morales
CovertAction Quarterly, Spring / Summer 2000
On November 13, 1999, the Executive Director of the Chicago-based
Emergency Response and Research Institute (ERRI) issued a "worldwide
terrorism advisory" The advisory stated that ERRI was "monitoring
possible threats concerning an upcoming World Trade Organization
(WTO) meeting to be held in Seattle, WA at the end of November,
and the possibility of anti-capitalist street violence...."
Only a few months earlier, the Washington State Military Department
had received a request from Mayor, Paul Schell, City of Seattle,
"for consequence management resources in support of the World
Trade Organization Conference." At that time, the Military
Departments Emergency Management Division reported that "most
resources identified are beyond the capability of the State and
will be forwarded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
to be considered by the federal government."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is an "independent"
government agency set up to deal with "all types of hazards,"
including "internal disturbance (strikes, riots)," trains
and finances local "emergency operations" offices around
the country Its Region 10 office, which covers Washington state,
noted in a mid-October publication under the heading of "Terrorism,"
that while "the World Trade Organization preparation meetings
are still progressing at this point in time the security threat
at this meeting in Seattle is considered low," although it
noted that "some resources are being predeployed, especially
those relating to ESF 8, Medical." By November 1, the Seattle
protest had been updated to a "security threat." According
to the local FEMA office, the protest was designated a 'National
Special Security Event' by the National Security Council."
FEMA's Federal Response Plan (FRP), amended Public Law 93-288
(1988), provides legal authority for the federal government to
respond to all sorts of "emergencies," including those
that are "man-made.", FRP training utilizes 'special
extraordinary event exercises" simulating "regional
events such as large-scale civil disturbances." The FRP is
a work in progress and was last updated in April 1999 in a "Concept
of Operations" publication. Back in 1997, a "notice
of change" was issued by FEMA. The notice "adds a Terrorism
Incident Annex to the Federal Response Plan (FRP), which will
be used to implement Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39)."
According to the Terrorism Annex, PDD-39, United States Policy
on Counter terrorism, (classified), "discusses crisis management
and consequence management," and that while FEMA is to implement
a "consequence management" operation, "the FBI
as the Federal Lead Agency for crisis management," will manage
"predominantly a law enforcement response."
Two weeks before the WTO Conference, the FBI issued its own
alert regarding the Seattle protests. It stated that "the
threat of violent or destructive criminal activity-to include
individual and group acts of civil disturbance-is considered a
The FBI defines terrorism this way: "The unlawful use
of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate
or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment
of it, in furtherance ~f political or social objectives.'' Understandably
the FBI definition makes no mention of moral force.
In the crackdown in Seattle, civil disobedience had become
a terrorist threat.
RECLAIMING THE STREETS
By the time the china began to rattle in Seattle on the morning
of December 1, hundreds of highly visible Army National Guard
troops from the 81st Infantry Brigade hit the streets. The 81st,
which normally trains for combat, "recently requalified in
riot-control operations under a Guard-managed training program."
Following Mayor Schell's "Declaration of Civil Emergency,"
under authority of Seattle's Municipal Code Chapter 10.02, and
Governor Gary Lockes "Proclamation of Emergency" calling
out the troops, a full-scale "non-lethal" militarized
police assault was initiated. Its target: massive nonviolent civil
disobedience which had succeeded in making its point. The Guard
trained according to National Guard Regulation 50050, Civil Disturbance
Control Operations. Their "main mission involved patrolling
sidewalks and forcing demonstrators out of a 50-square-block no-protest
In addition to the "unarmed," "civilian soldiers,"
"more than 160 active duty military personnel" were
activated, "including a small number of Special Forces troops.''
The Joint Special Operations Task Force who were present in Seattle
are military "counter-terrorist," "crisis management"
specialists, designed for rapid deployment both here and abroad.
The JSOTF defines terrorism as both a law enforcement and national
According to CNN, they were in Seattle "largely to provide
expertise and assist in coordinating a federal response in the
event of a terrorist attack during such a high profile event.''
Special Forces "expertise" was passed on as a "force
multiplier" for the police and other state and federal forces
directly employed to suppress protest. The Seattle Police Department,
working with nearly two dozen law enforcement agencies, including
the FBI, SWAT commandos, the Washington State Patrol and the King
County Sheriff's Department, constituted a sizable force. With
the protesters penned in, the police unleashed their media friendly
arsenal of "abusable," "non-lethal weapons"
which, among other things, "break down the delineation between
military and police ,"
"Block by block, officers fired canisters of gas into
the crowds with a terrifying boom. Then they shot rubber bullets
into the backs of protesters even as they ran away''. A doctor,
who was assisting the protesters, stated that "we had reports
of many demonstrators winding up with seizures the next day"
He stated, "I did see penetration wounds. I did see people
bleeding. I did see teeth loss. I did see broken bones. There
were children present, there were families present. They were
firing upon families, mothers, grandmothers."
During the assault, several local hospitals "were tracking
symptoms of patients" who came to their emergency rooms,
"to see if there is a pattern that indicates any sign of
bio-terrorism," an effort the hospitals had "been working
on with the Department of Defense" for several weeks prior
to the demonstration."
Perhaps they were advised of the Joint Chiefs' admonition
that "non-lethal weapons shall not be required to have a
zero-probability of producing fatalities or permanent injuries.''
In any case, at a certain point the police ran out of gas. They
met up with a few federal agents at 1900 N. Loop Road, in Casper,
Wyoming, the headquarters of Defense Technology Corporation of
America. Once there, "six members of the Wyoming Air National
Guard lent a hand by flying 3,300 pounds of civilian riot control
munitions" back to Seattle. And the war continues.
Police State watch