The Doomsday Blueprints

How times change. Though the Soviet Union is gone, Washington was once convinced that World War III could break out without warning. Children practiced hiding under desks, parents built bomb shelters, and in case of nuclear attack the U.S. government hoped to save the President and keep the country running by relying on . . . THE DOOMSDAY BLUEPRINTS

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Girard is not alone in questioning the government's plans for self- preservation. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S.'s doomsday planners are engaged in a sweeping reassessment of crisis scenarios. The old relocation centers are under review. Some are to be mothballed, others converted to more mundane uses: record storage and office space. Contingency plans and dusty crisis regulations are being re-examined. Having outlived its enemy and its original mission, the doomsday bureaucracy faces a more immediate threat -- irrelevance. But as the last members of the original generation of doomsday planners step down, they do so with cautionary words: the Soviet Union may be history, but new dangers abound -- nuclear proliferation, the resurgence of nationalism and the threat of terrorism. "You shouldn't shut the damn door yet," warns Mount Weather's first director, Leo Bourassa. Bud Gallagher, his successor, prefers to cite Plato: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

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