MIAMI -- Lt. Col. Oliver North helped write a plan in 1982 to suspend the Constitution and place the country under martial law in the event of a national crisis, The Miami Herald reported.
The plan, outlined in a June 30, 1982, memo obtained by the Herald, was a revised version of contingency plans for dealing with nuclear war, insurrection or military mobilization, the newspaper reported in its Sunday editions.
It proposed a scenario calling for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law.
North, who was assigned to the National Security Council in late 1981, was FEMA's contact with the NSC and helped the agency draw up the plan, the Herald reported.
The proposal was written as part of an executive order or legislative package that President Reagan would sign and hold within the NSC until a crisis arose.
The proposal alarmed Attorney General William French Smith, who wrote to Robert MacFarlane Aug. 2, 1984, stating his objections and urging a delay in signing the directive.
'I believe that the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised Executive Order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness,' Smith wrote. 'This department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to the creation of an 'emergency czar' for FEMA.'
The Herald said it was not clear whether the executive order was signed with the proposed martial law plans. Congressional sources said they believed Reagan did sign an executive order in 1984 that revised national military mobilization measures to deal with civilians in a crisis.
The memo outlining the martial law provisions of the contingency plan was written by John Brinkerhoff, deputy to then FEMA director Louis O. Guiffrida. The martial law provisions resembled a 1970 paper Guiffrida wrote in which he proposed such actions in the event of a national uprising by black militants.
The Herald also reported Saturday that several Reagan advisers formed a parallel government behind the Reagan Administration to carry out activities that extended beyond the sale of arms to Iran and aid to the Nicaraguan rebels now under investigation. North was said to be the center of the group.
The role of top-level officials and Reagan are not clear, and there appears to have been no formal directive for the advisers' activities, the newspaper said.
Other figures in the network were Attorney General Edwin Meese, former national security adviser William Clark and the late CIA Director William Casey. The Herald said Meese referred private citizens to the NSC where they could be screened for soliciting support for the Contras, but beyond that his role is unknown. It was under Clark that North began to gain influence in the NSC.
The Herald said that among the advisers' activities were:
-A 1985 visit to Libya by William Wilson, who then was U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, to meet with Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
-Altering surveillance routes to follow Soviet ships.
-Launching spy aircraft on secret missions over Cuba and Nicaragua.
-A 1981 proposal to provide aid to rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government.
-Dissemination of information about Nicaragua that cast it is a threat to the United States, particularly a 1984 news leak that Soviet-made MiG jet fighters were on their way to Nicaragua. Surveillance pictures show that the Soviet ship in question was carrying helicopters, not MiGs.