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When Garrett Graff was editor at Washingtonian magazine, a co-worker brought him a US intelligence officer’s ID badge found in a parking garage. On the back, Graff discovered directions that led him to Raven Rock, a secret government bunker in Pennsylvania. Thus began his journalistic investigation. In this interview with Duke University professor Peter Feaver, Graff describes how the US government plans to survive a nuclear strike and how easily the president can order nuclear war. Amid the heightened nuclear tensions of 2017, getAbstract believes that people may find this a timely eye-opener and enjoy Graff’s historical human-interest anecdotes.


Following World War II, the US government plotted to ensure its leadership would survive a nuclear attack or other heavy catastrophe. The stealth plans, still active today, prescribed how the nation would preserve “continuity of government.” The government created three main bunkers: Raven Rock in Pennsylvania would become the new Pentagon if the original were destroyed. The president and cabinet would travel to the Mount Weather bunker in Virginia. Other senior officials would evacuate to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) complex, a city hidden inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. In an evacuation...

About the Speaker

Historian Garrett Graff, a former editor of Politico, is the author of Raven Rock.

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