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Bryson Crash Reveals Threat of Headless Government

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the not-that-they-use-their-heads-much-anyway dept.

United States 308

Hugh Pickens writes "According to Business Week, the traffic accident that left U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson unconscious and alone in his bashed-up Lexus on June 9 raises questions about why the 10th official in line to succeed the president was left so vulnerable. It also highlights potential gaps in security for senior U.S. government officials, who receive varying levels of protection. 'They lost track of him,' says James Carafano, a terrorism scholar at the Heritage Foundation. 'Post 9/11, that's a bit of a head scratcher.' Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who are high in the line of succession and have national-security responsibilities, are provided protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but other federal officials, even in cabinet-level positions or other top posts, often travel without the security details that even a big-city mayor or state governor would be provided. Threats to cabinet-level officials aren't overblown, says Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who has urged that the government revamp its succession plans and says a nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government. 'The lack of interest in continuity may stem from the same reasons some smart people refuse to create wills, even though failure to do so leaves behind horrific messes for their loved ones,' writes Ornstein. 'Yet the threat is real. Our leaders' failure to establish plans to ensure that our Constitution survives is irresponsible.'"

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308 comments

Go FUCK yourself (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417747)

Go stick your dick in a meat grinder, Steve.

You fucking asshole.

Re:Go FUCK yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418255)

steve who

Why would anyone care? (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#40417757)

Why would a psychopath or narcissist care about someone who will have his power when he is dead?

Re:Why would anyone care? (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | about 2 years ago | (#40417863)

"threat of headless government." like zombies? That's a threat! good thing i have my shotgun/flamethrower at hand.

Who gives a shit (5, Funny)

PNutts (199112) | about 2 years ago | (#40417759)

It's the Secretary of Education we have to protect. So say us all.

Re:Who gives a shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418003)

came to say this goramit.

Really 10th in line? (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#40417765)

Clearly we narrowly escaped what would have been a disaster for our entire nation. Hyperbole much? Gee wiz

Re:Really 10th in line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417793)

If only we could have more than 10...if only.

Re:Really 10th in line? (5, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40417901)

Ya really. Aside from cabinet officials, you then have members of both legislative houses, theoretically the courts etc. Even the military.

It's not like leadership wouldn't emerge, and if enough top level people just got killed you're mostly banking on whomever takes over to actually go ahead and still have future elections and so on, regardless of how exactly succession officially works.

If you start spending huge amounts of money protecting every member of congress, every member of the senate, every senior cabinet member every assistant cabinet secretary, the courts, and then all of their immediate families etc. etc. etc. you're starting to look at billions of spending, and you start getting into serious questions about their ability to live lives relatively normally in fear of rare events.

Sure a nuclear bomb blowing up a capital city (london paris washington etc.) would be more than a little problematic, but in that situation you can't even assume that the 2nd person in line to the throne/presidency is going to still have their mental faculties even if they are otherwise alive and physically uninjured. In that case someone will have to improvise leadership until order can be restored, assuming such a concept is even still relevant.

Re:Really 10th in line? (5, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | about 2 years ago | (#40418001)

We have a ridiculously long line of succession that we shouldn't be worried.

President
VP
Speaker of the House
President Pro Tem of the Senate
15 cabinet secretaries, starting with the Secretary of State

Really, you just need to protect the top 3-4, unless there's a particular threat to another one (Clinton as SoS gets special protection as a former first lady, for example). It would be nearly impossible to knock out the first 20. And if they did, the House would immediately elect a new Speaker, who would be elevated to president by being speaker. So really after that you get all the ranking members of the majority party. It's not worth worrying about.

Re:Really 10th in line? (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#40418075)

Here is the trick it is a representative democracy. you can kill them all (nuke DC during the state of the union address) the states can then hold elections to repopulate the federal government.

Which is how it was done the first time around.

The people generally don't need the federal government. it is symbolic but isn't necessary. The police, fire , even national guard are all funded from STATE coffers. As long as every state government doesn't collapse too it wouldn't take more than a year to completely rebuild the federal government.

Re:Really 10th in line? (5, Interesting)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#40418119)

During the State of the Union address there is always at least one official fairly high in the line of succession who does not attend the speech and stays in an undisclosed location specifically because of this issue.

Re:Really 10th in line? (5, Interesting)

Darth_brooks (180756) | about 2 years ago | (#40418249)

I remember reading (Apocryphal story alert.) that the Postmaster General (or Secretary of Veterans Affairs) was usually selected for this job, and they loved it. Usually it was an excuse to have a nice party offsite for the staff, but occasionally it meant a trip on Air Force One.

Re:Really 10th in line? (2)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#40418257)

You mean the undisclosed location Biden blurted out the location of as being under the white house? Uh oh...

Re:Really 10th in line? (5, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40418381)

There is a hardened bunker under the whitehouse. That's not exactly secret, but there are numerous others. There's a major centre in Pennsylvania, NORAD command etc.

The raven rock facility (in Pennsylvania but on the border with maryland) was revealed in 2004 as where cheney spent most of the latter bit of 2001 hiding out. Blame (sort of) time magazine for that one. I'm not sure it was actually much of a secret where the facility was.

Biden actually disclosed that there's a bunker in the vice presidents house in D.C. Which again, isn't a huge surprise. You'd have expected there to be bunkers of varying quality in official housing, and on various military bases and command and control centres.

 

Re:Really 10th in line? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#40418169)

Do you realize just how much coordination and effort an election takes without any catastrophes?

Re:Really 10th in line? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40418273)

A fair bit. The states have shown themselves capable though with a considerable degree of corruption from both major parties.

Re:Really 10th in line? (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40418355)

The people generally don't need the federal government. it is symbolic but isn't necessary. The police, fire , even national guard are all funded from STATE coffers. As long as every state government doesn't collapse too it wouldn't take more than a year to completely rebuild the federal government.

Well millions of people need the federal government, to pay for social security, medicare, medicaid defence etc. But most, if not all of what the federal government does day to day is executed by civil servants and can mostly plod along on its own. Without the top echelon of federal officials you just need to replace the officials.

The federal government in the US actually outspends all the states combined by a more than 2:1 margin (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/fed_spending_2012USrn). It roughly breaks down as 3.8 Trillion federal, 1.4 trillion state, and 1.7 trillion local.

So ignoring your implied fantasy about the role of states, you're right that eliminating a bunch of elected officials doesn't actually change much day to day in how the government operates since any decisions they make take time to implement, and are implemented by people who would presumably not be wiped out. And if all of the people who would implement government policies are gone too you have more serious problems than a line of succession.

Other countries manage elections on much shorter time scales than the US, and can pull off an election on 5 or 6 weeks notice, the US by virtue of having fixed election dates hasn't tried to to that, but you could easily have an election within 8 weeks from any arbitrary date if you were so inclined.

Re:Really 10th in line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418085)

But hey, spending billions would be good for the economy, right? Maybe we should create a special class of notable people - those running things and their immediate relatives, and they could all have a basic level of armed security provided to them all time at the expense of the peasantry.

Re:Really 10th in line? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40418375)

Hyperbole much? Gee wiz

Oh, c'mon - now you're just pissing on AEI's latest little fear party.

Accidents! Nukes! Be Afraid! Donate here!

wth? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417777)

Where do you draw the line? The president and VP are protected, and normally not in the same location. I dont think we are concerned with the 9th+ people in line for presidency in the event that someone manages to pick off all of the others.

I think the concerns are unfounded.

BETTER QUESTION !! WHY WAS HE DRUNK !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417781)

This ain't Russia, you know !!

lose track of all of them (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417783)

We would be better off if we could lose track of all those in line to succeed the president, and the president himself too.

And, all the congress critters.

And, the corrupt supreme court.

Time to refactor our government. Bonus, if it can be done without bloodshed.

Re:lose track of all of them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417843)

We would be better off if we could lose track of all those in line to succeed the president, and the president himself too.

And, all the congress critters.

And, the corrupt supreme court.

Time to refactor our government. Bonus, if it can be done without bloodshed.

Umm, why?

Re:lose track of all of them (5, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 2 years ago | (#40417877)

Because we're supposed to be a civilized nation that doesn't kill people for difference of political opinion?

Re:lose track of all of them (5, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#40418025)

civilized nation that doesn't kill people for difference of political opinion

lol

Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (4, Interesting)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | about 2 years ago | (#40417785)

A book by Tom Clancy, from well before 9/11, which involved most of the US government being wiped out when a plane is crashed into the capitol building during a ceremony that put almost the entire legislative and executive branches in the same building. Was sort of interesting (horrifying?) to see that sort of attack played out a few years later, albeit without the coordination to hit that much of our government in one swoop.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (2)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | about 2 years ago | (#40417797)

Links with info for folks interested in the book I mentioned:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt_of_Honor [wikipedia.org]

http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a94clancybook [historycommons.org]

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#40418333)

Debt of Honor has the actual attack, but it's really only in the last several pages of the book. Executive Orders [wikipedia.org] was the book that dealt with the aftermath.

My favorite line from the book is that Jack Ryan is registered as an Independent--not Republican or Democrat. "That's like asking what 2+2 is and finding out the answer is 'chartreuse.'"

I'm pretty sure that's also where the line, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact" came from.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40417801)

Well that worked out pretty well, all things considered. We just need Jack Ryan and we're golden!

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#40418061)

I would love if we had a Jack Ryan-esque candidate. I would vote for him in a heartbeat. Either him or Harrison Ford's character from Air Force One. It's a shame how fictional presidents always seem better than our real ones.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418127)

Maybe it's because they don't actually have to govern or anything.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418247)

One word: Meteorgeddon

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40418265)

Depends. Early Jack Ryan, or crazy-nutso hardline-conservative Jack Ryan, from when Clancy went off his meds?

I used to be a big Clancy reader, but I haven't really kept up. I read the newest one a few months ago, and I was shocked at how much he'd turned it into his own political fantasy. He (or his ghostwriters) pack it with strawmen and the "good guys" are just *loved* by *everyone* who isn't one of those strawmen.

Let's just look at the story. Spoiler alerts, obviously.

A terrorist leader who is /totally/ not Bin Laden gets captured by an illegal, unofficial special forces group (which is a whole rant in itself) and basically dropped off in front of a US jail, Batman-style. The astoundingly stupid President makes a big show out of giving him a trial; his defense attorney is an ACLU hippie woman (whose breasts Clancy devotes a few too many sentences to), and even then this entire subplot is being orchestrated by an ex-Soviet still-Communist media mogul. Jack Ryan, running to be the second president to serve non-consecutive terms, makes it a major campaign issue that he will not give not-Laden an open trial, getting a standing ovation after declaring in a debate that his first act as President would be to ship him off to Gitmo for a secret military trial.

Meanwhile, Ryan's son is off being part of the aforementioned spec-ops group, which operates not just beyond international law, but actually completely without the knowledge or even authorization of the current US government. Let me say that again - a secret group of heavily-armed people who operate completely alone, their only connection to any sort of authority being the bank safe full of blank (but signed) presidential pardons, who fund themselves by tapping into the CIANSA data link and using the data for insider trading, and whose goals are to kill any terrorist threat to America, again, without *any* sort of oversight.

Anyways, Junior's subplot is mainly about a rogue Pakistani general's plot to steal his own country's nuclear weapons and give them to Islamic terrorists in Unpronouncablistan - and *their* plan is to mount them on hijacked space rockets to launch at Moscow. Junior, and his fellow assassins, do this by eventually *invading* Pakistan, with running gun battles through the streets that fit Call of Duty better than Rainbow Six. Oh, and Rainbow does show up again, only to be completely incompetent because international bureaucracy fucks EVERYTHING up. That's almost an exact quote, by the way.

The C-plot is something about Clark tracking down who's behind the A-plot (spoiler: the filthy commie goes to jail too), with the obligatory East Germany/Soviet Russia backstory. Not really anything to it.

There are random asides about irrelevant-to-the-story-but-political-hot-topics like health care (apparently socialized health care is *terrible*, and without CAPITALISM to drive them, doctors just don't give a shit and get drunk during surgeries). That's not even relevant to some D-plot, that's just random pages of POLITICS crammed in there for no good reason.

So yeah. The only good thing I can say is that the actual prose is as good as it ever was - the details of the story are great, the action scenes are actiony, the dialog is good, but the Rand-esque political monologues and overall plot are pretty grating.

I'm not sure if I just didn't really pay much attention to it when I read his books earlier, or if Clancy (or, again, his co-authors) are just nuts.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#40418315)

I actually haven't read his newest yet. Personally, I consider the Campus books to be Jack Jr as opposed to Jack Ryan books. I like Jack's politics when he first becomes president though. These latest books though read to me more as straight up action thrillers rather than more political thrillers like Cardinal of the Kremlin or Hunt for Red October. His best book of course is still and probably always will be Red Storm Rising.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#40418339)

I find that the politics of authors can be determined soley by their glasses. Clancy has big 80s-style aviators - a sure sign that he leans rightward. Authors with comically tiny John Lennon glasses tip toward the left.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | about 2 years ago | (#40418361)

Couldn't agree more. I loved reading Clancy's books in H.S. & college, but then I hit a wall and realized his later ones were blatant glorification of everything military, with at least one rant per page about how the military was underfunded (oh noes!). That was in the mid-90's, so I guess the funding issue was timely. Sad to see that the storytelling went downhill (while ramping up the propaganda) from there. I'm sure that part my dissatisfaction was my own maturing and greater awareness of politics.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40417857)

More like they targeted other things. They were in it for the show, not a serious attempt to bring down the government.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418243)

More like they targeted other things. They were in it for the show, not a serious attempt to bring down the government.

More likely a naive bunch of fanatics who actually thought flying a plane into the Pentagon would utterly cripple the US military and a couple of planes into a NY skyscraper would utterly cripple the US economy.

Too damn bad they had to kill themselves and not be around to witness their utter failure to really do anything more than piss off the US populace.

Well, they did get the TSA and DHS created.

So yea, like I said. PISS OFF THE ENTIRE US POPULACE.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40418259)

It's worth noting here that the Pentagon, as one of the largest buildings in the world, is easier to spot and hit than the Capitol building. I got the impression that the plane that hit the Pentagon was intended for the Capitol building, but that it got a bit lost. They might also not have had the time to line up on the Capitol, say if the passengers were getting restless or jet fighters were shadowing the plane.

Further, even a direct hit on the Capitol building would be largely symbolic. The legislative branch is largely replaceable.

Re:Reminds me of "Debt of Honour" (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40418383)

to see that sort of attack played out a few years later

Impossible. These kinds of attacks were never anticipated. It was a failure of imagination.

So if they can't take the 'terror' war seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417791)

why should we?

Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417837)

If a suitcase nuke goes off in Washington, "Government continuity" at that high a level is about #273 on our priority list.

Suitcase Nukes and 10th in line. (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 2 years ago | (#40417945)

If a suitcase nuke goes off in Washington, "Government continuity" at that high a level is about #273 on our priority list.

Also: If a suitcase nuke takes out enough of DC that the first nine guys in line are gone it will no doubt take hours to figure out for sure that the tenth guy is the highest-ranking one left, even if he's NOT knocked out on the side of the road.

Re:Suitcase Nukes and 10th in line. (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#40418109)

Maybe someone will nuke the AEI first? And second too? There is no such thing as a suitcase nuke and there never was. There were some semiportable 'backpack' nukes which had a whopping yield of a few tenths to at most one or to kiloton. That's not taking out DC and might not even take out the bunkers under the white house.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

Fned (43219) | about 2 years ago | (#40418343)

Priority #1: A gigantic three-day wake to celebrate the lives of those who were tragically killed in the attack.
Priority #2: A more somber affair to mourn the passing of those who weren't politicians or lobbyists.

Paranoid? (3, Insightful)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about 2 years ago | (#40417839)

Threats to cabinet-level officials aren't overblown... a nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government.

No, not overblown in the slightest.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418143)

A nuclear bomb hidden in a suit case? We simply don't have the capability to build them light enough to be put inside a briefcase. How many of us carry a briefcase these days and out of those briefcase carriers how many of those briefcases weigh anything near 50 lbs?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suitcase_nuke

A guy carrying a suitcase nuke would be carrying something that is rather heavier than your average briefcase and they would have to put in quite a visible amount of effort to carry the thing, visible enough for them to be obvious to all as someone unusual.

Mucho Amore
A.C.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418207)

Once we are talking about a nuke, does it really matter much what it is carried in? A car bomb nuke would probably do the job just about as well.

Not to say I don't find this whole bullshit way overblown of course.

Re:Paranoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418261)

A nuclear bomb hidden in a suit case? We simply don't have the capability to build them light enough to be put inside a briefcase. How many of us carry a briefcase these days and out of those briefcase carriers how many of those briefcases weigh anything near 50 lbs?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suitcase_nuke

A guy carrying a suitcase nuke would be carrying something that is rather heavier than your average briefcase and they would have to put in quite a visible amount of effort to carry the thing, visible enough for them to be obvious to all as someone unusual.

Mucho Amore
A.C.

Umm, the truck or car it gets driven into DC in won't display be displaying anything near what you term "quite a visible amount of effort to carry the thing".

Re:Paranoid? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#40418293)

>A guy carrying a suitcase nuke would be carrying something that is rather heavier than your average briefcase and they would have to put in quite a visible amount of effort to carry the thing, visible enough for them to be obvious to all as someone unusual.

Mucho Amore
A.C.

Yeah, because a tourist destination like Washington, DC would never have people carrying around large, heavy backpacks as they tour the city.

This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#40417853)

I think the Constitution will survive a nuclear holocaust in D.C. just fine. It's a set of intangible ideas. What might not survive it is the One Percent's hold on government by proxy. Which makes me wonder about Ornstein's pedigree given that he would make such a misdirected statement.

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417909)

You're suggesting a nuclear blast on Washington DC would forward the cause of democracy? Why don't you leave the country you fucking ingrate.

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418087)

Folks, we gotta love reconnect-the-dots reasoning like this from people of voting age, huh?

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418111)

You're suggesting a nuclear blast on Washington DC would forward the cause of democracy?

Soap box, ballot box, ammo box. A nuke is really just a big fucking gun.

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418121)

You know full well that's not what he suggested. Now go away...

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (1)

Leuf (918654) | about 2 years ago | (#40418139)

He did sort of imply nuking DC would improve things, if you choose to read it that way, while questioning someone else's "misdirected statement". I found it humorous, and we'll need funny people around after DC gets nuked to lighten the mood. So I hope they don't leave the country.

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 2 years ago | (#40417989)

Quoth Alexander Haig, "I'm in charge!"

Quoth Kirk Douglas, and Tony Curtis, etc, etc, etc, "I am Spartacus!" (had to throw that one in)

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40418191)

I think the Constitution will survive a nuclear holocaust in D.C. just fine.

Is that some kind of joke about cockroaches?

Re:This to ensure survival of the Constitution? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#40418241)

Since I'm inclined to ask you to please explain the joke, I'd have to say no?

protection (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#40417905)

a nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government

wouldn't lying unconscious and alone in your car protect you from such an attack?

Re:protection (2)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#40418197)

If there's one thing I've learned from school, that would be a school desk is the only thing that can protect you from a nuclear explosion... oddly, an earthquake, as well.

Re:protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418309)

Not tornadoes, though.

headless... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417941)

No problem... we have headless servers, and that works fine, so why not a headless government?

I need protection too! (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#40417947)

I'm an Afghan citizen of US descent. I'm about 450 millionth in line. Seriously.

I live in Kabul, and I'm in great danger every day. You never know, those drones, heh. Anyway, second exit off the Kabul western highway. Take the second right and continue until you reach the camel. Then take a left and it's around a mile down. It's the yellow crack shack. Please send two CIA agents full time!

Not a problem (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40418005)

Congress already lacks brains, ears, eyes, hearts, guts, and balls.

I don't see how being headless would change much.

Oh, what if the enemy starts a cyber attack?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418011)

Oh wait, we had done that.

we read so much bullshit these days...

Right... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40418023)

Right, because I forgot about all these huge "terrorist" plots to kill the 10th in line to the presidency. The idea that there are all these "terrorists" plotting to destroy the world is simply unsubstantiated.

I think the author of this article has been reading too many Tom Clancy novels. Of course Clinton and Panetta are going to get protection, people know who they are and they actually do stuff. How many people even know that Bryson was the secretary of commerce. Heck, does the average American even know there was a secretary of commerce?

Just because something is possible doesn't mean its likely. A nuclear bomb detonated in Washington DC creates far more problems than a "headless" government because having a "headless" government really means nothing when it comes to an emergency.

Order would be disrupted in most areas, but last time I checked most police officers don't take orders direct from Washington meaning that it wouldn't make much difference if a "suitcase nuke" was detonated in Washington DC or another metropolitan area.

The military would survive and.... (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#40418027)

...continue the fight while civil and military survivors would adapt to the changed circumstances.

Losing a few bureaucrats would be disruptive, but lets remember that nations can lost upwards of twenty million people (USSR-WWII) and continue to function. They can lost multiple cities to conventional bombing raids and nuclear attack, and still continue some function.

Wikipedia Article, Paragraph Two, Sentence One (0)

swampfriend (2629073) | about 2 years ago | (#40418049)

"Some AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy." And should therefore be taken... seriously?

Re:Wikipedia Article, Paragraph Two, Sentence One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418305)

"Some AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the Obama administration's public policy." And should therefore be taken... seriously?

FTFY

Hmmm (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 2 years ago | (#40418057)

"...nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government."

We should be so lucky.

But seriously... ahh, no I was serious.

And further: "Our leaders' failure to establish plans to ensure that our Constitution survives is irresponsible."

The only "leaders" we have are statistics generated by polls which is why I made my first comment.

Problem isn't that the Secretary of Transportation (4, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | about 2 years ago | (#40418065)

doesn't have protection, it's that mayors, assistant Governors, and the like do. Seriously, it's not necessary for a mayor to bring a multi-person security detail with them everywhere, nor is it necessary for them to get high speed police escorts where ever they need to drive. We don't live in Afghanistan. It's simply not that dangerous- there are plenty of mayors, governors and the like who *don't* have protection layered around them and there hasn't been a wave of assassination attempts on them.

Re:Problem isn't that the Secretary of Transportat (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418287)

You really don't get out of your mother's basement much, do you?

There are neighborhoods in every major city where idiots with guns could, and would, threaten local civial authority without that protection, even at peacable speeches. They don't bring the guards all the time, but whack jobs with agendas happen at lots of big speeches, and a few guards to help make sure the doors open when they should and the person can get to their transportation without being tripped or shot with a tasser by a nut is basic security for any major public figure.

Re:Problem isn't that the Secretary of Transportat (2)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#40418303)

The mayor has to have his posse, because that's the only way people will know he's a bigshot. This kind of "security" isn't really about security - it may be used a number of different ways, but none of them are there to make us safer.

I've only ever been to Washington D.C. twice, but once was in 1994 and once was in 2008 and I was shocked at what the city had been turned into in that time. The grand facades of the public buildings, with huge staircases and entrances made to accommodate large numbers of people, were completely shut off in favor of small side doors and hour-long lines of people being forced through metal detectors. In 1994 you could walk right into the rotunda in the national archives from the street, spend a minute or two looking over the pages of the constitution, and be on your way. This is what the building was to designed to do.

Meanwhile, every non-public building has been surrounded by bomb barriers for some reason. Only some kind of psychotic would actually believe that the EPA was in real danger from terrorists, this is about maintaining a culture of fear.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418071)

We already have a brainless government. Who gives a &[=?

Nuking the Capital would destroy the government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418095)

Really? Has no one really thought of that before?

The problem with this is that most of the major officials are ELECTED. Unless we want to double the cost of running the government by electing understudies, that would mean the government would be left in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.

THE WHOLE POINT OF DEMOCRACY IS SO THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN. It's a really easy hole for tyranny to get into, you know,
1) put partisans in the understudy positions.
2) kill the congressmen who disagree with you.
3) profit... I mean, autocracy.

To back up the government, we would need to have replacement for all major, (and most minor officials). They would all have to stay in constant communication with the elected officials they are backing-up, while staying apart from each other and away from major cities, (if a terrorist were going after DC, do you really think they would leave New York unscathed?, nevermind how much religious extremists must love the notably LGBT friendly San Francisco). To stay in contact they would ALL need a hardline connection to DC, and an assistant to do all the leg work they obviously can't do.

The other alternative is lock our government in hermetically sealed bunkers kept in undisclosed locations around the country, (and beyond), and have them all teleconference, (which is only about 30% effective for social work... which is what the government is; I'm not as concerned about locking our politicians in airless bunkers).

They would also need a communication system that can survive the destruction of a single hub... and while the Internet USED to be that, we have gotten a lot more lax about that in recent years.

While there are minor things that could be done, they would only have minor effects, and would each have their own escalating cost. It's a lot more cost-effective to have the CIA ferret out the plots before they happen... which is what the CIA does.

Re:Nuking the Capital would destroy the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418147)

Also, suit case nuke? Why does a dangerous nuke have to always fit in a suitcase? Little Boy could fit in a Big Rig trailer... with plenty of room for potatoes to hide it inside, (nevermind adding combustion mass).

Re:Nuking the Capital would destroy the government (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#40418225)

I know you're trolling, but I figure I'll answer so you don't make others start "wondering".

A suitcase nuke is a nickname for a portable nuclear detonation device that can fit in your hands.

Much like a notebook computer isn't the size of a notebook, and a gameboy isn't a boy.

Re:Nuking the Capital would destroy the government (4, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 2 years ago | (#40418275)

Really? Has no one really thought of that before?

The problem with this is that most of the major officials are ELECTED. Unless we want to double the cost of running the government by electing understudies, that would mean the government would be left in the hands of unelected bureaucrats

Sorry, but you're incorrect. Only the top 3 are elected......all the others in line are unelected cabinet members.

US Presidential Line of 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

Suitcase? Mice Nuts! (5, Interesting)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | about 2 years ago | (#40418115)

The recent U.S. Open reminded me of the previous event at the Olympic Club, held near the end of the last millennium -- 1998. I was working for a company that was a big customer of Cadence. And Cadence put on the dog by inviting us and others to party in San Francisco to celebrate the Open (tickets, too). There were limos, a long pitch from Scott McNealy (2 minutes about Java and 20 minutes about Bill Gate's evil empire), and a performance by Stomp, but the final act was the clincher. It was a renown reporter, whose name escapes me, that was part of the White House press corp during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. He told stories about how the press did not talk about the personal lives of Presidents back then, about how Lyndon Johnson made Bill Clinton, who was being impeached, look like a choir boy, and then the big finish. He told us about a private interview with JFK where he mentioned rumors of a nuke built inside the Russian Embassy, just blocks from the Capitol. Apparently, it was smuggled in pieces using diplomatic exemptions and assembled in a lead-lined room in the top floor. Big enough to wipe out the entire metropolitan area, Kennedy responded, "You know about that, too, eh?"

Constitution (4, Insightful)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 years ago | (#40418133)

Yet the threat is real. Our leaders' failure to establish plans to ensure that our Constitution survives is irresponsible.'

The majority of those leaders are a bigger threat to the survival of the Constitution where they are than if they are gone.

Continuity of ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418141)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8tQAYYtLok -- I think there are always plans for continuity. Never mind Mt. Weather.

This is 1 case where appointed senators would help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418151)

It's tough to destroy the entire line of succession. They are almost always separated. The State of the Union is an exception, and security is amped to the max when that happens.

If they somehow managed to create an uncertain line, it seems like state appointed senators would have helped reconstitute that body quickly. OTOH, even though they are popularly elected now, provisional Senators are appointed right? I seem to recall that was a big scandal when Obama left offfice to become POTUS.

So. At the very least we can get a Senate up and running PDQ, and I bet the rest of Congress also. At the very least we can get a quorum, elect a Speaker of the House, and guess what? The Speaker is in line of succession so there's your POTUS.

No SCOTUS to rule on that? Kind of a weak point, but I don't think it matters. Under those circumstances, the new POTUS nominates judges, Congress doesn't even think to oppose them, and it's on to the first order of business, which is to kick some ass. Even the Amish would be kicking ass and there would be no disagreement anywhere because... Hello!! we just got nuked. If 9/11 can unify the nation (and it did before GWB went full tard) then certainly a nuking will do it.

It might be martial law and suspension of habeus for a while; but hopefully Lincoln's version of that. NO getting around it, losing the Capitol would suck; but it should take a lot more than that to get us down.

On Star..this is Jaimie, can I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418187)

....oh, it's the Secretary of Commerce, he-he, let's hang up on him and overthrow the government.

I never really understood it all... (2)

rrossman2 (844318) | about 2 years ago | (#40418279)

For example, the president. Before they are anything, they are a normal citizen like the rest of us. They run for the position and get elected it. Every 4 years they are possibly replaced with a new person. So I ask, if something happened to them, why would we care any more than if something happened to a relative, friend, etc? Why is it really do important to protect them and others "in office". They get replaced all the time (well should anyhow instead of sitting in congress/senate forever). The older I get the more I question the need for all that.. Why they should be protected than any other citizen.

PLEEEASE! (0)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 2 years ago | (#40418317)

"a nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government"

Can someone please do this the next time the House is in session? Thankssomuch.

Stop living in fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418345)

Note the quote in the original article is about threat, not risk. There is a difference that most of Washington has yet to learn.

"I am in control here." (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | about 2 years ago | (#40418363)

The best laid plans go out the window In an emergency. Herd mentality kicks in and people follow whoever can stand up and say with confidence that they're taking charge of things. In 1981, when Reagan was shot, it was Alexander Haig, despite being fourth in line of succession.

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