Tonight’s State of the Union address is a great time to examine America’s secret presidential succession and post-Apocalypse plans. Interest in this “mega-issue” has spiked since the U.S. recently and curiously reissued “modified” recommendations to citizens in case of nuclear attack.
Do the Feds know something we don’t? The answer, of course, is “always.” The reality, however, is that these recommendations are most likely part of a regular reiteration of policy rather than a response to any specific threat. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
President Obama certainly is prepared tonight, and not just to deliver his address. One of his Cabinet members— this year it’s Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development—will not be in attendance at the U.S. Capitol.
Instead, as tonight’s “designated survivor,” he will be hiding out in the proverbial and secure “undisclosed location” in case a catastrophe destroys or disables the President and the rest gathered in the House chamber.
And, no, that location will not be, as some wags suggest, at the bar at The Palm, toasting his 45th birthday, which was yesterday.
Donovan will be protected as though he were president and have possession of America’s nuclear launch codes contained in the legendary attaché case known as “the football.”
The plan is to ensure continuity in the line of government should the president, vice president, Speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate die in any catastrophic event.
In Tom Clancy’s novel EXECUTIVE ORDERS, catastrophe strikes when a 747 jumbo jet crashes into the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union. In my own novel, THE WAR CLOUD, a twin nuke-and-cyber attack hits Washington and suddenly thrusts the secretary of Education, Deborah Sachs, into the presidency and war.
So how does the “official” line of presidential succession work once the country has gone beyond the 25th Amendment and has to run through the Cabinet?
The line of succession follows the dates when the Cabinet departments were created. That puts the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, for example, ahead of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Here’s the official list of presidential succession:
1. Vice President of the United States
2. Speaker of the House
3. President pro tempore of the Senate
4. Secretary of State
5. Secretary of the Treasury
6. Secretary of Defense
7. Attorney General
8. Secretary of the Interior
9. Secretary of Agriculture
10. Secretary of Commerce
11. Secretary of Labor
12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
14. Secretary of Transportation
15. Secretary of Energy
16. Secretary of Education
17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18. Secretary of Homeland Security
How this really works, however, can get interesting.
If, as in THE WAR CLOUD, the FEMA Central Locator system can’t find any survivors among the first 15 in line within the Cabinet, then the secretary of Education becomes the pick and is sworn in.
But what if the Speaker of the House, for example, suddenly emerges from the rubble and like Alexandar Haig says he’s in charge? Too late. The rule is that once sworn in, that person remains the president.
More fascinating still is who comprises the National Command Authority or NCA beyond the official, Constitutional line of succession. Who is the NCA? And what “doomsday” protocols are in place to ensure the survival of the United States of America?
We’ll explore “the Doomsday plan,” or Federal Emergency Plan D as it’s dramatized in THE WAR CLOUD, over the next few weeks until President’s Day. Without spilling any specific state secrets, the posts will help you know more about America’s post-Apocalypse plans than 99 percent of the American public.