Newly released documents from the U.S. government have shed light on how the White House might respond to potential doomsday scenarios if they were to come to fruition.
The documents, obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and reported on by The New York Times, highlight a small portion of the directives that are so secret that Congress has not seen them.
The classified directives, which date back to the Cold War, invoke emergency and wartime powers. There appear to have been significant changes to the directives after the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The report said that some of the new documents, which come from George W. Bush’s administration, indicate a focus on a government “take over or shut down [of] communications networks in wartime.” The Bush administration appears to have expanded the number of directives from 48 to 56.
The documents also indicate that the Justice Department in 2008 were revising a draft order due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, which the report suggests could be related to the Second Amendment or the rights of detainees.
The documents show that the number of categories that the directives focused on has expanded from one, which appears to have been a nuclear attack, to seven, which are classified.
The report said that a lot of what is known about the directives comes from the Cold War-era versions of the documents because more of those documents have been declassified.
The New York Times reported:
For example, they included directives imposing versions of martial law, censoring information crossing the border and suspending court hearings for detained people. It is unclear whether the current set includes similar actions.
Other orders from that era included a declaration that a state of war existed, a directive to arrange for reconvening Congress at a secure site, and the creation of an agency empowered to impose sweeping controls over the economy. That agency, reporting to the president, could enact controls like requisitioning private property and allocating materials; imposing wage, price and rent controls; rationing; and settling labor disputes.
A report from Politico in 2020 revealed what some experts believe are major threats that could destabilize the U.S. and would appear to fit the type of scenarios that the U.S. government would plan for.
Some of the threats mentioned in the report include the rise of extremist racial groups; manufactured or manipulated attacks on data; bioterrorism, lab accidents, and pandemics; downed power grids and solar flares; nuclear attack; extreme weather and major earthquakes.