RealNews

Government tries to keep branches unbroken

When the nation’s terror alert was raised to its second highest level on Feb. 7, government officials warned that terrorists might target the sites they missed Sept. 11. Tops on the list: the U.S. Capitol, widely believed to have been the target of United Flight 93 before it crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Just 10 days before the alert was raised, nearly all the nation’s leaders had crowded into the Capitol for President Bush’s State of the Union address. The presence of the president, vice president, Senate and House members, Supreme Court and Cabinet reminded Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., of what went through his mind at his first such event in 1981: A Soviet submarine off the coast could launch a nuclear warhead that would vaporize all three branches of the federal government in 13 minutes. ”I got very nervous. The whole government was there,” Specter recalls. ”It’s a real problem.” But 17 months after terrorists attacked Washington and New York, few changes have been made to ensure that the government could function if most of its members were killed or incapacitated. The House passed three minor rules changes in January; a ”Continuity of Government” commission is set to recommend more options next month to safeguard against chaos after a terrorist strike. Full Story

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