Tags: Hanssen | May | Have | Revealed | Survival | Plans

Hanssen May Have Revealed Survival Plans

Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM

The new revelations may clarify why the President, on the day of the attack, did not hurry back to Washington, DC, but took steps to maintain the continuity of government if it was attacked.

Intelligence sources close to Paul Redmond, the new chief of the damage assessment group, said Hanssen was believed to have compromised "not billions but hundreds of billions" of dollars worth of highly classified information regarding "Continuity of Government" plans to the Soviets.

U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told United Press International that the "Continuity of Government" program dealt with the succession of political authority in the event of war.

Successors to the president were tracked at all times, said these sources. One system, the Central Locator System ensures that successors to the president are never in the same place at the same time. During the State of the Union address, one Cabinet member is still kept in a classified location in case of a disaster on Capitol Hill.

But according to John Pike, director of Globalsecrity.com, a major change of approach to the issue came in the 1980s. U.S. intelligence experts realized that even though they could be hardened, huge bunkers could not escape surveillance by Soviet satellite. There was also a rebellion against being "hunkered down and bottled up" in a fixed site, Pike said.

It was decided to use national parks or resort areas as sites from which to conduct nuclear retaliation measures. "It was a 'hide in plain sight' idea," he said.

The president and his advisors would be put in a regular van or all-terrain vehicle, followed by eighteen-wheeler trucks that would look like any other traffic on any American highway. Once they reached the special campgrounds in the national parks, they would enter a hardened site and operate from there, Pike said, and that several sites in the Shenandoah Valley were built up in the 1980s.

Paul Bracken, a political scientist at Yale who is an expert in nuclear command and control, corroborated this, saying that the new plans were part of "Presidential survivability" measures.

Pike and Bracken said the United States had gotten the idea from the Soviets who were discovered to be building all sorts of resorts and recreational areas along the Black Sea and in, or around Moscow. A former senior CIA official said that Yamantau Mountain, in the Urals, is clearly such a Russian site and work on it continues to this day.

Pike said he had heard that Hanssen had given the Soviets and Russian information about such plans and he wasn't surprised. Human intelligence sources would be the best way to develop information on this topic, he said.

According to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, the "Continuity of Government" programs dealt with the chain of succession in the civil authority in the event of war. According to one official, in the normal order of things: "If the president were to be killed, the chain of succession follows with the vice president, the speaker of the House, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and then through the cabinet secretaries in order of their creation: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, etc."

In the 1970s, "Continuity of Government Plans" involved two helicopter squadrons, one operated by the Marine Corps, Squadron HMX-1, which was on alert at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to a former squadron pilot.

In the event of an attack, a "souped-up" H-3 helicopter, followed by a heavily armed gunship, would have barreled in to land on the South lawn of the White House, taking the president and his advisors to huge bunkers called "wartime relocation centers."

A second squadron, HS-1, tracked presidential successors. The squadron would "swoop into area "where the presidential successors were going to be," land, and take them to safe-hardened bunkers or silos, this source said.

Both squadrons were based at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, on 24-hour, seven day alert, the former pilot said.

According to U.S. officials, one huge bunker, called Site 2, Ravenlock, was located near Camp David, Maryland. The other, Mt. Weather, was located on the West Virginia border.

"The deal was that any new cabinet member, within six months of being appointed, was to be actually picked up and flown to these sites to that they were familiar with the infrastructure," the former pilot said. "They were to know our faces and we were to know theirs."

The squadrons often did simulated passes over the sites to familiarize themselves, he said.

In the late 1980s, under President George Bush, the Continuity of Government label was changed to "Enduring Constitutional Government" measures.

According to Bracken, the National Security Reorganization Act set up a decentralized system consisting of primary and secondary command centers. Since major command centers could be easily destroyed by a Soviet ICBM attack, the attack would isolate the secondary centers from orders needed to launch retaliatory strikes against Moscow.

Only "the viable survival and functioning of a presidential command center" would enable the United States to retaliate. The presidential command center would also act as a brake on secondary command centers "pre-delegated" by the president to release nuclear weapons.

Bracken says that the identify of those who can pull the nuclear trigger is kept classified "to keep those elements from being targeted."

But he also said that the president has given nuclear weapons release authority to several commanders of the North American Air Defense NORAD system and to "six or seven three- or four-star generals."

U.S. intelligence officials told UPI that there used to be a flying Strategic Air Command Boeing 747 "Knee Cap" airborne command center that was in the air 24 hours a day, making it a difficult target for hostile missiles. The aircraft would fly an eight-hour shift and has a two-star general aboard. After eight hours, an identical plane would replace it.

That aircraft is currently grounded, these sources said but could be quickly reactivated.

There are other back-up systems still in existence, they said. One, is the Emergency Rocket communications System that are fitted with radios that keep a code to forces on the ground when launched, active until the early 1990s but easily reactivated, they said.

There is also the Post-Attack Command and Control System, a secret network of airplanes capable of launching a U.S. retaliatory strike in an emergency. These are believed to be still in existence. -- Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved. --

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The new revelations may clarify why the President, on the day of the attack, did not hurry back to Washington, DC, but took steps to maintain the continuity of government if it was attacked. Intelligence sources close to Paul Redmond, the new chief of the...
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Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM
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