Bush orders contingency plans for attack on Washington


2007-05-11 23:08:21

WASHINGTON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered the security agencies to prepare contingency plans for a "decapitating," surprise attack on Washington, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The order, stated in a formal national security directive, also assigned responsibility for coordinating such plans to the White House, according to the report.

The prospect of a nuclear attack on Washington without warning, whether smuggled in by terrorists or a foreign government, has been cited by many security analysts as a rising concern since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001.

The order makes it explicit that the focus of federal worst-case planning involves a covert nuclear attack against the capital, in contrast with Cold War beliefs that a long-range strike would be preceded by a notice of minutes or hours as missiles were fueled and launched.

"As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received," states the 72-paragraph order.

"Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions," the statement added.

After the 9/11 attacks, Bush assigned about 100 senior civilian managers to secretly rotate to locations outside of Washington for weeks or months at a time to ensure the nation's survival, a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing "continuity of operations plans."

Since then, other agencies including the Pentagon, the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA have taken steps to relocate facilities or key functions outside Washington.