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The 2010 WCRB Report on the American Government is a WCRB report on the continuation of the US government after President Ronald Reagan left America for Australia. It is based in part on the internal investigation by the Congress of the nation recently claiming to be the successor of the United States of America. The nation, part of an alliance of American nations known as the North American Union, is made up of parts of five former US states in the American Great Plains. Some are calling the documents claiming to be from the executive branch of the former US government of 1983 a blueprint for a "shadow government" of unelected bureaucrats. The Congressional report, though, clearly reveals the nature of these plans.
A Continuity of Operations Plan (or Continuity of Government Plan) has been a part of government operations since at least the Cold War, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower provided (via executive order) various measures designed to ensure that the government of the United States would be able to continue operating after a nuclear war. These plans were classified for many years, partly under the assumption that knowledge of these plans would enable the Soviet Union to more effectively launch a nuclear attack. In addition, these plans were censored to prevent an uproar among the American public, who (proponents feared) might panic after the revelation that the government was planning for its own survival in a terrifying post-nuclear war environment.
Consequently, throughout the United States there were elected officials designated by executive order to be "in control" of operations in the case of national disaster of such a magnitude that the entire government as seated in Washington was destroyed. The aim of the network was the continued existence of the national entity known by law as "The United States of America." Known only to the president, his cabinet, and the leadership of Congress, this network represented trusted executives of key states as well as military personnel stationed in secure locations that were sure to survive the most severe nuclear attack.
Executive Order 12148 was an executive order enacted by President Jimmy Carter on July 20, 1979 to transfer and reassign duties to the newly formed agency, known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), created by Executive Order 12127. The order combined several federal agencies tasked with emergency preparedness and civil defense spread across the executive departments into a unified entity that was established as an independent agency, free of Cabinet interference, with authority as the lead federal agency in a presidentially-declared disaster.
Details of the plan, though, were left secret to the public, and to much of Congress. This caused some rancor among libertarians, but even conservatives warmed to the idea of having a "back-up" plan in case of full scale nuclear destruction. As the cold war "heated up" the contingency plan for the preservation of the constitution and the assets of the USA (including its gold and other stored commodities) was communicated to all pertinent officials. State and major civic governments, along with facilities and towns in areas, especially on the Great Plains, perceived by the government as being more likely to survive, being far removed from the prime population centers of both coasts, received encoded instructions sealed separately from the decoding information. These instructions were to be opened only on the confirmation of the dissolution of the official government of the United States. There was to be no option to "cease to exist" apart from the legal means provided by the constitution.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, individual officials in the military, assigned to duty within the bunkers inside mountains of the Rockies, were responsible to confirm that the orders were legitimate by producing video and audio records of the last communications with the sitting president reading the directives aloud.
Contact With Reagan
Deep within Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado, is America's worst kept secret - the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). These facilities, among other things, relayed messages picked up by radar and satellite directly to the "nuclear footballs" held by military aides to the president and vice president of the United States. The commander of NORAD on September 25, 1983 was General James V. Hartinger, USAF. Hartinger was called "Doc" by his family due to his recent honorary doctorates from Norwich University (in VT) and the University of Akron (OH). However, he was seldom seen by family and friends in Ohio, for his "home" was under a mile of rock known as Cheyenne Mountain.
Though off duty on the week ends, the General was always on call. The afternoon of the 25th had been spent visiting friends in Colorado Springs. However, he had returned to the base at 5:15 pm and was in his quarters getting ready for supper when the red alerts sounded. Having failed to respond to a false alarm in his first days at his post, Hartinger knew that he would face far too much flack if the Strategic Air Command (SAC) failed to respond this time as well. At 5:42 pm he was in the control room giving the order to launch all of America's bombers and then sought confirmation from both Alaska and Canada. At 5:45 he was on the "Hot Line" to President Reagan.
Within minutes, he was assured that the president and the vice president were fleeing the two most likely targets on the east coast - New York City and Washington, DC. He also knew that he was inside what was the number one target of all! The mountain was secure from destruction, of that he was sure. But as to whether communications would continue after that, all bets were off. Though fiber optics led to relay stations buried well below the surface in all directions - toward Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and other capitals and major military bases - there was no guarantee that these stations would not also be within blast zones not nearly as protected as Cheyenne Mountain. Even as Reagan was talking to Hartinger, the text of his inaugural address was being faxed to the General's secretary. At the same time, fax machines in Torrington, Wyoming, had received instructions containing the details for saving the US government from obliteration, encoded numerically to the text of Reagan's speech. Other emergency command posts around the country also received the fax, but most of these were never retrieved by anyone who knew what the gibberish meant.
At 6:15 pm, CST, the lights flickered as the mountains auxiliary power went online. Satellite information indicated that a nuclear bomb had exploded at 120 miles above Colorado - almost exactly overhead. The only thing this could mean was that the first strike was by electromagnetic pulse -- two of them, if the figures Hartinger had read were correct. He only hoped that the similar tactic of the US missile a full 300 miles above the Ural Mountains would disrupt a second volley of Soviet missiles. At 6:34 pm (18:34 CST or 1:34 UTC) the mountain shook and a deafening roar reverberated off of every wall of the facility. Power switched from auxiliary to battery and computers powered down to a minimum load. All communication with the outside world had been cut off. Within minutes, though, the technicians were working on getting things back to working order. The calculations had been correct, the base had survived a direct hit on the surface. It would be six months, however, before anyone left their underground home.
On March 21, 1984, an antenna was erected on the eastern slope of Cheyenne Mountain. The workers had exited via tunnels that had run a total of five miles out from the center of the underground complex. The radiation was still very high, but their protective gear allowed for up to four hours a maximum exposure before permanent damage. It only took about forty minutes to erect the antenna. General Hartinger was overjoyed to be able to communicate once again with his Commander-in-Chief. Reagan, it turned out, had found cover at the "Storm Shelter," their codename for Mt. Weather - a bunker that had been spared destruction. The President was overjoyed to hear his friends voice, but was noticeably depressed as he confirmed the survival of the government. There was doubt in Reagan's voice as he went over the options available. "If all else fails," he said, "get the message to the government at Torrington," were the last words that he said in the closed circuit video conference recorded that day.
Formation of the PUSA
While the military officials were working to dig out from under the fused rock in Colorado, the governments of all but one state in the area had been dissolved. From the temporary capital of Wyoming in Torrington the governor had been in touch with president Reagan occasionally as shortwave messages were able to bounce off of a disrupted and chaotic ionosphere. Contingency plans had been set in place to rebuild the state government, but the plans for the federal government were still in the hands of others. Reagan's intentions, it seemed, had been to get back in touch with key officials "after the dust cleared."
By March of 1984, though, things had changed. The US government was relocating to Australia due to the chaos that had ensued in the six months that followed the "one day war" that had changed the world. When President Reagan was lost at sea between Hawaii and Australia, the new administration of George Bush had taken measures he and his advisers had deemed was more prudent than physically supporting a "dying continent" (as some close to Bush had heard him call the contiguous 48 states). Trouble in Hawaii and Alaska - internal and external - quickly drew all the attention of the US government, renamed the American Provisional Administration, to attempt to keep the peace in those outposts of the USA.
The officials from Cheyenne Mountain, in finding only a state government in Torrington, made a strategic decision to "wait and see" about the organization of official government agencies in the states. Attempts to reach the president had failed after he had flown out of Mexico, leaving the contingency plans on hold. As far as they knew, Reagan was still in charge. It was not until the remnants of the states had fought off the Lakota in 1989 that an audience with Wyoming's governor was sought. From those meetings, the plans for a "Provisional United States" were drawn up. The government was "provisional" until such a time that the United States Government in Australia reclaimed its place over the affairs of the states.
Declaring A New America
Even with the revision of the United States Constitution in 1991, the full import of what was happening was not known by most of the governments involved. Hope was held out that there would be contact with the government in Australia as to some schedule of a return of jurisdiction. Ray Hunkins, the new president of the convention, and then the nation, had little knowledge of the infrastructure available to reconstruct the historical United States of America.
By the time that communications were restored to Mexico and through them to Australia, the "stop gap" government of George Bush had failed. When Hunkins had left office in 2001, the government had begun to take steps to reclaim the official name of "the United States of America." Now with nine states (two being new Native American states, and two being made up of the remnants of the old state of Idaho), the official status of neighboring territories had come to light. The Lakota occupied parts of the Dakotas, Utah was now a Mormon dominated self-supporting nation, and the Navajo nation had claimed much of the "four corners" region to the southwest. Survivors in Texas had organized a state called "West Texas" which had become somewhat isolationist.
The prospects of adding states to the nation were slim. The association with the surrounding states, including some in Canada, had formed what some were calling a "nation" known as the North American Union. This Union was known in some parts of the world as "the new United States" with little or no knowledge of its member nations. Because of this confusion, the office of the President, with the authority of the Congress, acquired a fully restored jet and enough quality fuel to reach a safe air port in Mexico. From there, in October of 2010, the president and key staff members flew to Australia via Peru. Armed with irrefutable evidence of their authority from the former government, President Allard had been able to establish a strong legal claim to the remnants of the nation known to history as the United States of America.
What the rest of the world thought of this "revelation," though, would prove to be a much more controversial than anyone in Torrington or Jervis Bay had ever imagined.
Across North America, from Canada in the northeast to Mexico to the south, the word spread as quickly as the tattered communications networks could spread it. Debates in state houses and on the streets of survivor states as small as Antlers, Oklahoma (pop. ~ 12,000) to relatively large powerhouse like Virginia (pop. est. 1,900,000). The smaller places, just recently even knowing of the existence of large survivors, are inclined to rejoin the United States for a sense of security if nothing else. All across the former domain of the former United States, though, there have developed nation-states that have become autonomous, leading many to disavow any connection with what had once been the "greatest country on earth."
Even within the North American Union, the largest political alliance in North America, which has the USA as a member, there is much dissent to the disclosure that their neighbor might have an eye on their lands. Native American nations to the west and east have challenged the legality of the new Constitution. Border nations which now contain portions of both the former US and Canada wonder what is to become of the "American portion" of their domain.
Mexico and Canada ("Remainder Provinces") have challenged the announcement from Torrington at the League of Nations, but the voice of former President George H.W. Bush seems to have persuaded most of the council members that the restored nation is legitimate. Because of invitations and overtures to former states to rejoin the United States, however, political pressure is mounting at LoN headquarters to deny any formal recognition of the USA that comes with prospective membership. Expected resistance from the Siberian government appears to be galvanizing support in the ANZC, though member states of Hawaii and Alaska have been approached as to prospective statehood in the USA.
The Nordic Union, with its close ties to Canada, remains neutral as to a potential renewal of its NATO partner. Though it is doubtful that the USA will ever gain much of a presence in the north Atlantic, overtures in Florida and the Virgin Islands are making that assumption less sure. As in the Pacific, the nations and alliances in Europe wonder if an enlarged USA will be a help or a hindrance to what has become a far different world than that which Reagan knew.