Fort Knox, an Impregnable Monument to Security Theater
By Michael O’Malley Oct 16, 2012 1:04 PM ET
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President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a similar trick when he authorized the construction of the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Roosevelt took the U.S. off the domestic gold standard in 1934. Although the nation remained on the standard in international exchange, the Gold Reserve Act made it illegal for private citizens to hold “monetary gold” — that is, coins or bullion. Banks had to transfer to the U.S. government any title to gold reserves they held, in return for dollars. Individuals could still own gold jewelry and keep their gold dental fillings, but anyone owning monetary gold had to sell it to the government.
In speeches explaining the change, Roosevelt paradoxically stressed the importance of gold reserves.“By making clear that we are establishing permanent metallic reserves in the possession and ownership of the federal government,” he told Congress in 1934, “we can organize a currency system which is both sound and adequate.” But the U.S. already had “metallic reserves” — the act had actually eliminated that gold’s legal function.
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So what’s in there? And, who owns it?
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