On the heels of superstorm Sandy, the Discovery Channel plans to air a documentary Sunday delving into the government’s top-secret plans and facilities set up for a Doomsday scenario.
At one time, these plans almost singularly existed with the possibility of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union in mind. Today, the threat of a terror attack like 9/11, a cyber attack from abroad, an attack on the power grid or an extraordinary natural disaster have all been added to the list.
Among the experts Discovery tapped for “America’s Doomsday Plan” is Marc Ambinder, author of the soon-to-be released “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.” As a political and national security reporter he has often written for various outlets about “Continuity Of Government”—the name for the procedures the U.S. government has in place so it can continue to operate during a catastrophic event. The plans include securing the president and other high-level officials in a plane or in bunkers, and ensuring government agencies can continue to operate through a set of command centers.
“I’m incredibly fascinated by this, not just because it’s a secret,” says Ambinder. “But it’s also an incredibly important part of history that we know little about. And what we do know is shrouded in conspiracy theories.”
Many of these theories hinge on the belief the government’s Doomsday scenario includes plans for an extralegal, military government that would take over in times of chaos, as well as suspend the Constitution. Ambinder says he found no evidence of this, but concedes many details remain classified. Skepticism is rife, too, because of the plan’s estimated annual budget of $5-6 billion, despite being designed for a very rare event.
The documentary also sheds light for the first time on details of the Doomsday plan under past administrations.
During the Reagan administration, for example, new bunkers were opened up for the president and secret exercises ramped up for his cabinet members. Much of the focus at that time, says Ambinder, was on “what would happen with the nuclear codes.”
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