Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

December 1, 2012

Fact Check: Did FEMA create youth army?

DHS — 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.

FULL QUESTION

Tell me this is not true.

Homeland Security Graduates First Corps Of Obama's Brown Shirts — Homeland Youth

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.

FULL ANSWER

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."

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