The case of José Bueso Rosa demonstrates the lengths to which high White House and CIA officials were willing to go to protect an individual who fit the classic definition of a “narco- terrorist.” General Bueso Rosa was involved in a conspiracy to import 345 kilos of coke into Florida–street value $40 million. Part of the proceeds were to be used to finance the assassination of the president of Honduras. I think most people in this room would agree that a major cocaine smuggler and would-be international terrorist such as General Bueso Rosa should be locked up for life. But because this general had been the CIA’s and the Pentagon’s key liaison in Honduras in the covert war against Nicaragua, North, Clarridge, and others in the Reagan administration sought leniency for him. As North put it in an e-mail message U.S. officials “cabal[ed] quietly to look at options: pardon, clemency, deportation, reduced sentence.” The objective of our national security managers was not to bring the weight of the law down on General Bueso, but to “keep Bueso from…spilling the beans.” By the way, he ended up serving less than five years in prison–in a white collar “Club Fed” prison in Florida.
The plan would then lead to detaining large numbers of American citizens who the government labeled as a “national security” threat.
Written by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, NSC liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and John Brinkerhoff, the deputy director of “national preparedness” programs for the FEMA, the bill was based off a report written by the former FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida in 1970. The report proposed the detention of over 20 million “American Negroes” if there was an African American revolt in the United States. The Miami Herald reported in 1987 that all it took was a signature from Ronald Reagan himself and his Attorney General to make REX 84 happen.
”These camps are to be operated by FEMA should martial law need to be implemented in the United States and all it would take is a presidential signature on a proclamation and the attorney general’s signature on a warrant to which a list of names is attached.”
The Miami Herald also points to those who created REX 84 in having done so before the 1980 election. The Herald notes that they might have created an “October surprise” to sabotage the Carter presidency by negotiating with Iran to release the 52 hostages being held, in addition to stealing confidential briefing material before the October 28, 1980 Reagan/Carter debate.