EP 48 “Raven Rock” The American Plan to Survive a Nuclear Strike
[GARETT GRAFF] That, to me, was one of the scariest things that I uncovered in the book. Was this (inaudible). The ideas that actually there is a very active constitutional debate over whether the speaker of the house of the president pro tem of the senate can actually ascend to the president.
[TODD DEVOE] I read this book called Raven Rock, and I heard about this– the book, actually, a little while ago, I heard on a podcast. And then– well, Brock Long said he was reading it and he recommends reading the book; I went and got it, I read it, I had to recommend reading the book. Those of us that are in emergency management, this really goes back to the beginnings of our time. As EM, it goes into a lot of what FEMA was and is, and there’s some really cool stories here. And as a guy who loves history, and a guy who’s been in emergency management for a long time, and one who teaches it, I learned a lot from this book. And I had Garett here with me, to talk about his book. So, Garett, welcome to EM Weekly.
[GARETT GRAFF] Thank you so much, I’m excited to be here.
[TODD DEVOE] What made you write Raven Rock?
[GARETT GRAFF] Raven Rock is the history, as you said, of the U.S. Government Doomsday plan. Sort of all of the weird things that would have happened during and after a nuclear attack, in New York’s government during the Cold War, and even, in many ways, up to the present day. I mean, this is still, in many ways, the plan for what would happen if we gotten ourselves in a nuclear restraint with North Korea or with Russia. And, as you and many of your listeners– now, the programs are generally known under the umbrella of continuity of government and continuity of operations, (inaudible) coup.
And I have covered national security in Washington for more than a decade, at this point, and I had bumped up against these plans time and again, during the times that I was covering people. You know, talking to people who have been evacuated to mountain bunkers outside Washington on 9/11; people who were part of the COG plans during the Obama administration. I flew, at one point, for a story with the first helicopter squad– US Air Force, which is Joint Base Andrews, and is one of the military units that sort of oversees the evacuation protocols for the US Government.
But what really got me interested, ultimately, in turning this into a book was in 2010, or 2011. I was at Washingtonian Magazine, where I was working then. And one of my colleagues brought a US Intelligence officer’s badge, that he had found on the floor of one of the subway parking garages, the metro in D.C. And my colleague said, you know, “Hey, this guy lost his badge, you covered this (inaudible), you can figure out how to get it back to him.” And so, I start looking at it, and then turn it over, and see that there are, on the back side, evacuation instructions. And then I get on Google Maps and start following it out from D.C. into Virginia, and out in West Virginia, ultimately. And I can see on Google Satellite that the directions end up on this mountain side in West Virginia, where this road runs up a mountain, and then there is a chain length fence and a guarded shack, and you know, about 50 or 100 yards further up the road, the road just disappears into the side of a mountain, behind these big, concrete, blast bunker doors.
Now, this was a facility that didn’t exist on any map, I had never heard of it, and I was like, “Wow! This is one of the COG bunkers that the government has built since 9/11.” Like, this is some of the new stuff that sort of has come into existence since September 11th. And that got me interested in sort of figuring out as much as I can about the modern plans, and then tracing the history back right to the start of the Cold War. And it sort of– you eluded, in your introduction, what emerged to me was this sort of much richer story, and much more interesting story, than I had originally imagined, about how really planning for these disasters, planning for a nuclear war, really fundamentally altered the US Government, the presidency, and in many ways, sort of created the modern world in which we live as Americans.
[TODD DEVOE] It really did. You know, it was amazing to see that transformation. I love the story in the book when you talk about Truman’s White House, where the piano comes crashing through the floor, and they used that as the opportunity to shell it and then make it into the bunker that we think of as today, with the situation rooms, and all that kind of stuff. And everything was done, though, under this secrecy. The Shell Corporation– not Corporation, but– I’m kind of (inaudible) this over here, but this is what it really is.
You know, and it’s funny, because they did it, realistically, in front of everybody, and these people either didn’t care or didn’t pay attention, or they were, “Ok, that’s odd, but whatever.” You know, you talk about it in the book as well, where the people around Raven Rock, I think it was, that they knew something weird was going on, but they just didn’t really investigate it. Was that because we were naive in the 50’s, or is it because we just did a better job of hiding our secrets in the plain sight?
[GARETT GRAFF] It’s a really good question, and I think that– so, there are a couple of different answers to it. So, you used the example there of Raven Rock. The name of the book, for the listeners who don’t know, is really the backed-up Pentagon. It’s the facility in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, that was built in the 1950’s, and really is the– you know, they hollowed down a mountain with a small free-standing city built inside. I mean, sort of the scale of these facilities, is really sort of unsizeable to most people, the idea that there’s a city inside of a mountain in Pennsylvania that can hold 3,000 people in the event of a surprise attack on the country, is really incredible.
But you know, they were a couple of factors going on after time that made it easier to keep these secrets. One was, you know, we were locked in– what American society really felt was an existential struggle against communism. I mean, this sort of titanic battle that we were in with the Soviet Union was something that affected almost every aspect of American life. So we– you know, people really took that secrecy very seriously, even if that happened to know it accidentally.
But then, sort of the other thing, which I think is sort of so interested in thinking about the way communications revolutions have changed and evolved. In many ways, the secret of the continuity of government program during the Cold War are a reflection of how hard it was for information to travel back then. That you could have, you know, these small communities around Washington, and Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, where people sort of more or less knew as an open secret that there were these government bunkers hiding away, and there were these mountain facilities. But that information was really hard to get out of those communities. I mean, there was sort of no internet, there was no Wikipedia, you know, there weren’t blogs.
And so, as long as the “mainstream media” wasn’t reporting on them, they stayed secret. And the sort of fascinating example of how even these things that were relatively common knowledge inside small communities just never went beyond those small communities, because the information was so hard to spread back then.
[TODD DEVOE] Right. There were no conspiracy blogs out there back then, right?
[GARETT GRAFF] Exactly.
[TODD DEVOE] You know, it’s funny, I remember watching one of the movies, a Mel Gibson movie, I think it was, where he was a conspiracy theorist, and he would have this little newspaper that he wrote, and it was hand typed and photocopied. I suppose those were sort of the early things, and maybe that stuff was floating around there, but no one ever really paid attention to those people because, you know, it wasn’t on the internet.
[GARETT GRAFF] Right.
[TODD DEVOE] So, you go into this thing, you start talking, realistically, about the history all the way up into the Cuban missile crisis. The plan was never really put to test. A couple of practice tests here and stuff like that, but not natural. So, am I wrong? Kennedy– was he the first one to really kind of implement the COG plan?
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah, so, there are sort of a couple of different eras of these plans, and they unfold through the Cold War. You know, one of the things that’s really hard to re-create and re-imagine at this point, is that really, it’s sort of the first decade of the Cold War, and there was the expectation in the United States that nuclear war could happen, but not be that terrible, that you were dealing with, you know, slow nuclear bombers. So, you would have 8, to 10, to 12 hours’ worth of warning. You were dealing with atomic bombs, not thermal nuclear hydrogen bombs. And you weren’t dealing with all that many bombs. You know, the Soviet Union had, you know, 60 to 80 atomic bombs.
And so, there was sort of the idea that the entire country should be prepared for nuclear war, but that nuclear war could be survivable. And so, you had– in a way that really is baffling to understand today, nuclear war is very much a part of daily American life. The US Government ran these big, massive drills, called Operation Alert through most of the 1950’s, where for the better part of the week, the government institutions would practice nuclear war. You know, the people would rush to fallout shelters, you know, the stock market would close, the buses in New York City would pull over and drop people off and hustle them into fallout shelters.
Dwight Eisenhower and his cabinet would disappear into these mountain bunkers, mountain facilities, at Mount Weather, which is sort of the main presidential executive branch bunker in Berryville, Virginia, about 80 minutes West of Washington, and would run sort of this practice nuclear war drill for like, three or four days. You know, the press would be there, reporting on it, and sort of the whole country would be drilling. I mean, it’s sort of crazy to think of the idea of the U.S. President now disappearing for three or four days to practice nuclear war. I mean, it’s so far removed from what our current thinking is.
[TODD DEVOE] Right.
[GARETT GRAFF] But then this nuclear war sort of worsens, and you have the switch from bombers to missiles, you have the switch from atomic weapons to thermonuclear weapons, and you have the weapons– sort of the number of weapons rise from a few score, and a few hundred to thousands, and ultimately, tens of thousands of warheads. Nuclear war becomes something that you just can’t ready for; that there is really no realistic expectation that nuclear war would be survivable for ordinary Americans, or that you could sort of prep for it in the way that we had in the 1950’s.
And so, the U.S. Government’s ambitions gradually strengthened over the course of the Cold War from these grand public national drills into this private set of exercises, the secret set of exercises, by the 1970’s and 1980’s, and even sort of up to present day, really, that involved entirely a narrow focus on ensuring that a small number of high-level government officials are able to be whiffed off to these bunkers, while the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.
[TODD DEVOE] You know, it’s kind of interesting in that aspect of it, that were, if you get the guy’s name and if you can fill me on, one of the guys you wrote about in the book was basically saying, “If a nuclear war occurred and the United States had two survivors and the Soviet Union had one, we won.” And that was sort of that mentality of that time, of total annihilation, it was the whole mad concept of, destroy it all, but if two people live, we win the war.
[GARETT GRAFF] Absolutely.
[TODD DEVOE] Yeah. And that seemed to shift a little bit, depending on who was in the administration, when it comes to it. And then, once we get into the idea that both sides go, “Only insane people would ever start a war.” And the Soviet Union felt the same way, it seems like we felt the same way, according to the book. Then we get into the 70’s with Carter and he sort of changes things. And it’s funny, because I actually got a little (inaudible) from some of the guys here at work, because I started talking about that Carter is more of a hawk than I thought he was. You know, and they’re like, “Nah,” you know? That kind of blew my mind, that he actually went back to the concept of, can we do survivability? Or can we do annihilation?
Tell me a little bit about that transformation between total annihilation of, “We’re going to blow everything up,” to “Maybe we can survive it,” back to where we are again where maybe we can survive it.
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah, as you said, part of what is so interesting about this is sort of these cycles that the U.S. Government runs through, these different ideas, and different approaches for how nuclear war might unfold. And you’re exactly right. I mean, one of the most surprising aspects of it, looking back now, is to realize that very few presidents do this much to push forward our nuclear capability, our nuclear readiness, as Jimmy Carter. Who we sort of think today as the sort of humanitarian hero in his post-presidency. But sort of relatively capitalist president himself.
We’ve sort of forgotten that actually Jimmy Carter was a nuclear officer himself. Really the only president we’ve ever had with first-hand experience with the nuclear arsenals. You know, he worked on nuclear submarines during his time in the Navy, and brought that approach to the presidency, and really much of what we think of as sort of the Reagan era hawkishness. The policies and the weapons systems, and the defense build-up in the 1980’s would really be gone under Jimmy Carter, and that he was, as you said, much more of a hawk than most people realize. And that he really pushed– unlike almost any other president, to make the continuity of government system something that was sustainable and implemented sort of programs like the “designated survivor,” to ensure that there is always someone ready to be president of the United States.
And that’s sort of one of these huge transformations that takes place over the course of the Cold War, and there’s a loss to most Americans. You know, we think of the president as the person that we elect on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. But the truth in the matter is, in the Cold War and the post-Cold War era, you have this idea of what is now known as the office of the presidency, that actually encompasses several hundred people. You know, you have the president, the vice-president, the speaker of the house, the president pro tem of the Senate, and then all of the cabinet officials.
But then each of (inaudible) line of succession. You know, there can be 15, 20, 25 people long to ensure you that there is sort of always someone ready to step into those cabinet jobs. And this was really sort of something that came about through the Cold War as time and space condensed to the point where we needed to have sort of instant access to the president, to the vice-president, and to anyone else who might be stepping into that nuclear authority that was known as the national command authority.
You know, as late as F.D.R’s presidency, when he went off to dedication of the Hoover Dam. His motor cave got lost in the canyons around Las Vegas, and he disappeared for the after. I mean, no one knew where he was, what had happened to him, where he might appear, how long he might be out of touch. And as late as 1945, when Harry Truman himself took over as vice-president, the vice-president didn’t receive any secret service protection. You know, he would sort of wander around Washington on his own, with the expectation being that sort of as long as you can get in touch with the vice-president, you know, within a couple of hours, or by the next day, that was sort of as quickly as the U.S. presidency needed to move back then.
Now we have this whole apparatus that we sort of– you know, the imperial toys of the presidency. Air Force One, Marine One, the Armored Motor Cave, are really tools to ensure that the president of the United States can launch nuclear weapons wherever he is. That he is in constant communication with the National Command authorities, with the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center. Even Raven Rock.
And the arrival, and even sort of the invention and the creation of the 25th amendment, the Constitutional amendment proposed in the 1950’s and 1960’s to bring about order to the ideas of presidential succession was an invention of the Cold War, to ensure that we always knew who was president of the United States. Because frankly, when you go back to history, in the first 150 years of the United States, there were more than 40 years when there wasn’t really anyone in line to take over the presidency because of the death of the vice-president, or resignation of the vice-president. And it was really sort of totally acceptable, you know, for the first 150 years of America, that that job stayed vacant in between elections. But then the nuclear command authority required us to suddenly have all of these procedures and communications systems to allow and ensure the succession of the US president.
[TODD DEVOE] That was a really interesting part about the book too, when you start about– I think it was Zachary Taylor, when he was the vice-president, and he sort of took over the role. And constitutionally, that might not have even been the right thing for him to do, and the vice-president wasn’t always going to necessarily be the next guy coming up. And when I found out I was like, “Wow.” And like I said, I’m pretty astute in history, I didn’t realize that was the case. And so, realistically, the concept of president, vice-president, and then the speaker of the House, is really a modern concept. And it still today, according to your book, isn’t really hammered out all the way through.
[TODD DEVOE] And so, realistically, the concept of president, vice-president, and then the speaker of the House, is really a modern concept. And it still today, according to your book, isn’t really hammered out all the way through.
[GARETT GRAFF] That, to me, was one of the scariest things that I uncovered in the book. Was this (inaudible). The ideas that actually there is a very active constitutional debate over whether the speaker of the house of the president pro tem of the senate can actually ascend to the president. It’s never been tested before, no less in authority on the constitution than James Madison, the man who wrote the constitution, says that the speaker of the house and the president pro tem of the senate cannot step into the leadership of the executive branch from the legislative branch.
And that actually, the rightful next person after the vice-president could be the secretary of state. That’s actually a very active area of debate right now. And so, you can sort of imagine chaos that would unfold if we ended up in a catastrophic scenario, where Paul Ryan is trying to ascend to the presidency, and Rex Tillerson steps out there and says, “Nope, I’m the next legal authority in the United States.” And unfortunately, you imagine that would not necessarily– that’s a drama that would play out in the courts, for sure, but not necessarily at the speed you would need for the decisions in a crisis. And that is sort of a very weird way you would end up with a (inaudible) officer at the Pentagon or Raven Rock, who just happens to be on duty that day, basically making a personal decision about whether it’s the speaker on the house of the secretary of state of the United States that they want to listen to at a very configuring nuclear launch orders.
[TODD DEVOE] Ok, so we go back to when Reagan was shot. And there’s a couple of really interesting parts about this that I picked up. Now, one, I do remember when, I believe, it was the secretary of state at the time, who stood up and said, “I am in control,” which really threw people out to a tizzy, thinking that there was a–
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah, Al Haig.
[TODD DEVOE] Al Haig, right. He said, “I’m in control.” And that kind of threw people out to a tizzy. And then, the second part about it was that Donald Reagan lost his codes. And the FBI took them. So, talk about that just a little bit.
[GARETT GRAFF] Unfortunately, it’s sort of newly relevant in the last couple of months, with North Korea, is we are sort of re-learning all of this history about nuclear launch protocols. But the nuclear football, which is the black briefcase that follows the president around, carried by a rotating staff of military aid, is never supposed to be very far from the president. You know, if the president gets on an elevator, the nuclear football gets on the elevator with him. When you see the pictures of him on the golf course, you know, the golf park motorcade is such that the third golf cart behind the president is the one with the military aid carrying the nuclear football.
And that football, though, is sort of a lot more boring than most people think. You know, we have this idea from pop culture that it’s like, a retina scanner, or a palm scanner, and that there is a big, red button that the president would hit. And the truth of matter is there is no button. What it is, is basically a telephone, and a series of binders with different war plans laid out. Sort of pre-selected, pre-designated war plans, that would sort of allow the president to glance down and pick from among a variety of options, to sort of figure out what kind of nuclear war he wanted to launch very quickly.
One military aid referred to it as a Denny’s menu. You know, it was basically a sort of point and pick, and that’s the type of nuclear war that you order up. And so, the president would get on the phone, and you would have– you know, there are all sorts of situational variations, but under a normal scenario, he would call the Pentagon, or he would call Raven Rock; he might directly call strategic command, the nuclear military command, and often Air Force Base in Omaha and Nebraska. And he would identify himself as the president. And in order to do that, he carries with him, the President carries with him, basically, a sealed index card, that is a code designed by the NFA, sealed inside plastic, that he would break open, and it would be a code that he would read off over the phone to the person on the other end of the phone.
And that’s known as the nuclear biscuit. And it has sort of a funny history, as long as nothing has gone wrong with it, which is, as you said, it was (inaudible) in Ronald Reagan’s clothes, following his assassination attempt in 1981, scooped up by the FBI as part of its evidence gathering into the shooting. And there was sort of a hustle between the White House and the FBI about getting it back. Bill Clinton actually lost his biscuit, for some period of time. A couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months. And they sort of only realized it, or he only admitted it, when they came around to rotate the codes and he didn’t have the old codes anymore.
And this sort of spilled the system today. And it’s part of what makes the system still interesting and so worrisome to people in the current political climate, why is this so controversial over the last year. Is that biscuit is all that a president needs to launch a nuclear war. There is no sort of check on the system, at the presidential level, to determine, “Is the president drunk? Is he high on drugs? Is he mentally balanced? Is there a legitimate reason for launching nuclear war?” Basically, there’s just that set of codes, and it is successfully authenticated that he is the legal president of the United States at that moment, then the nuclear missiles are supposed to launch. And it’s meant to be a very fast system. You know, from the moment that a president gives a launch order, the first missiles are supposed to leave their silos four minutes later.
[TODD DEVOE] Wow.
[GARETT GRAFF] There’s not a lot of time for second-guessing or further conversation after a presidential launch order. And as far as we know, going back through history, there has only been one time, and I tell this story in the introduction to the book, where the president’s launch authority has been attempted to be circumscribed. Which is, in the final days of Richard Nixon’s presidency, James Schlesinger, who was the defense secretary at the time, said later that he (inaudible) with the Pentagon, that if the Pentagon received any nuclear launch orders, they should check with Schlesinger or secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, before executing the launch orders.
And to be clear, there is no system for that. That was an entirely extra-legal procedure that Schlesinger tried to implement. And then actually, in the final hours of the Nixon presidency, without Nixon’s knowledge, the military took away the nuclear briefcase. Richard Nixon sort of went on to Marine 1, and then went on to Air Force 1 to fly home, while Gerald Ford was sworn in; that nuclear football didn’t travel with him. He had no keys to the nuclear arsenal anymore.
[TODD DEVOE] Right.
[GARETT GRAFF] In those final hours. And no one knew it at the time. And that was because there was sort of such fear around his state of mind, that he had been drinking heavily, he’d been despondent, he had actually even threated a group of Congressmen at one point, by saying, effectively, “I can go start a nuclear war anytime I want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” So, there was real fear that something weird might happen, and the system did its best to try to create an extra-legal system, to ensure that the president didn’t purposefully start an unnecessary nuclear war.
[TODD DEVOE] Like I said, these stories are really sovereign when you read through this book. And again, I recommend picking it up, it’s Raven Rock, pick up this book. Another story that I think is relatively new to us, we were all– most of us are aware that it occurred, was that 9/11 crisis that occurred.
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah.
[TODD DEVOE] And I found it interesting. This was the first time, recently, that the COG was put to test with this administration, with 9/11. And there were some serious flaws in there, but one thing that I found interesting was when (inaudible) put up in the air, and this is – my words – he was sort of kidnapped by the Secret Service, because they wouldn’t let him go back to Washington, even though he requested it. And there were times when he was completely out of communication. Walk me through that and what you learned.
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah. I mean, 9/11 is just a fascinating day in so many ways. But this story, as I tell in the book, of sort of how the continuity of government operations unfolded over the course of the day really stunned me. And some of that is, as you said, realizing how out of touch the president was for most of 9/11. You know, we think of 9/11 as such a modern moment. You know, as the beginning of the modern 21st Century. But really, it was an entirely different world in terms of communication technology.
You know, these were aids who were mostly relying upon pagers at that point. Air Force One had no satellite TV capability. And so, as the president was flying aboard Air Force One that day, as we remember, start of the day, at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida, reading to that classroom. And then he was put aboard Air Force One, it took off, and sort of spent the day flying over the Gulf of Mexico, then went to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, and then on to Offutt Air Force Base, in Omaha, before going back to Washington.
And for most of that time, Air Force One was only getting TV updates when they flew low over local TV stations. So, you know, sort of Jacksonville TV station over the Gulf of Mexico, and it was sort of coming in and out. And then they would sort of fly off towards the Tallahassee TV Stations, and then the Jackson, Mississippi TV Stations, and then on to the New Orleans one. And that the president was sort of actually less informed, over the course of the day, than the average American sitting at home, watching CNN.
And as you said, there was sort of a second drama playing out aboard the plane that day, that is so weird to understand, which is the extent to which the president really was torn between these sort of two different responsibilities of the job. To be the head of state, the person who sort of rallies the nation, the public state of reassurance; but then also the commander and chief, the head of the continuity of government, the head of the national command authorities, who needed to be protected and held away until the Secret Service and the military was confident that there weren’t more attacks coming.
And so, he gets aboard the plane in Sarasota. He is immediately pushing to return to Washington, and then basically, the Air Force and the Secret Service, who say, “Mr. President, we can’t take you back there. We got to keep you safe until we know that these attacks are over.” And he is immensely frustrated over the course of the day by being kept away from Washington. But ultimately, he did listen to his aids, the pilot of Air Force One, Mark Tillman; his Chief of Staff, Andy Card, at the moment. His Secret Service detail. And the military aid aboard the plane, all convinced him that he couldn’t actually return to Washington.
And you know, I talked to Coronel Tillman about this, and he said, “Thankfully, it never came right down to the president giving a direct order to return to Washington, because he doesn’t really know how that would have unfolded.” You know, as an Air Force coronel, you know, that’s his commander and chief; but his job, in that moment, is to keep the commander and chief safe. And that’s a very strange moment in the history of the continuity of government programs. But one that really has been sort of predicted since the earliest days, that presidents have sort of long understood in this world, that you can either stay secure or you can stay in command. And then often, those are actually directly opposed.
And so, when you look at people, like actually Jimmy Carter, who, as they sort of thought through how they would respond in an emergency, Jimmy Carter’s official plan was that he would die in the White House. That he would remain at the White House, he would not be evacuated, and that he would leave it to the vice-president to be evacuated, and that he would stay there, in command, right up until the last minute, to ensure that the U.S. Government had leadership until that final minute.
[TODD DEVOE] And that seemed to be the general consensus of all the presidents, right? That if something was going down, they were going to stay in the White House? All the way to Truman, right?
[GARETT GRAFF] And in fact, that was sort of the interesting moment. I mean, we sort of, as a country, we threw this nuclear false alarm with Hawaii a couple of Saturdays ago.
[TODD DEVOE] Right.
[GARETT GRAFF] But these nuclear false alarms actually happen with some routineness over the last 70 years on the internal side. You know, within government, they play out. And as you said, going right back to Harry Truman, when there was a false alarm that there were Soviet bombers on their way to Washington. Truman just stayed at his desk, working, with the expectation that it would be sort of other staff, and other personnel, who would be evacuated to sort of keep the country going afterwards. But that he saw his primary role as that figure head, remaining in control.
[TODD DEVOE] Does continuity of government work?
[GARETT GRAFF] It’s better than nothing, which is a little bit of some damning with faint praise. You know, these are plans that we absolutely need, it’s great that the government practices them, drills them, has exercises, tabletop and real-world to practice them. But I think one of the constants, when you look back through this history, is that there is almost no stance that most of these plans would have worked. And that in many cases, you know, they would have sort of failed or been hung up by very obvious challenges.
One of the most obvious ones, dating back, literally, to the first evacuation drill under Dwight Eisenhower is the plans don’t include people’s families. And so, no spouses, no children, and so, everyone in that moment would be forced to make this very deep and human choice about, do you leave your family behind, or do you follow your responsibilities to the government?
[TODD DEVOE] That shows off when you talk about the Supreme Court, where the Chief of Justice said, “I’m not leaving my life. I’m not going.”
[GARETT GRAFF] Exactly. Earl Warren sort of turned down, when he was Chief of Justice, the opportunity to participate in these plans, because he was like, “If Mrs. Warren isn’t coming, then I’m not going either.” And so, that’s one of those big questions that we just don’t know how that would unfold in the moment, is whether, and sort of how much, how many people would choose to remain with their families, rather than being evacuated as scheduled.
[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, I mean, there’s so much more on this book that we can get into. I mean, you talk about the private companies’ ZARS that we created, the idea that we’re going to be, basically, coming into a very fascist/communist type of government, overseeing every aspect of life after a nuclear war, to someday, maybe, get back to a constitutional government. And I thought that was really interesting, the sort of fact that we were on war, you know, the Cold War, but with a government that was doing (inaudible) we wanted them, they were going to do to protect us from that. You know, I found that really fascinating.
[GARETT GRAFF] Yeah. I mean, as you said, there’s an incredible amount of sort of unwind in these programs to sort of think through, and that was part of what just got me so interested in the subject, the deeper and deeper I got into it. Was realizing that the existential questions that these emergency management and emergency preparedness plans brought to the floor over the course of the Cold War.
[TODD DEVOE] And so, we’re coming here close to the end of your time. You know, this is a really good read, it’s called Raven Rock, by Garett Graff. You can get those in any of your normal book sellers. I highly recommend reading it. I got the Audible download, because I drive a pretty significant ride in to work, and I also bought the hard-back book.
[GARETT GRAFF] Well, thank you.
[TODD DEVOE] I really do recommend it. Yeah. Is there anything else you would like to share with us before we let you go?
[GARETT GRAFF] No, thanks so much for having me on!
[TODD DEVOE] No problem. And if you have anything else coming up, please, feel free to reach out, we’d love to have you on again.
[GARETT GRAFF] My pleasure.
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