WASHINGTON — President Bush issued a formal national security directive Wednesday ordering agencies to prepare contingency plans for a surprise, "decapitating" attack on the federal government, and assigned responsibility for coordinating such plans to the White House.
The prospect of a nuclear bomb being detonated in Washington
without warning, whether smuggled in by terrorists or a foreign government, has
been cited by many security analysts as a rising concern since the Sept. 11,
The order makes explicit that the focus of federal
worst-case planning involves a covert nuclear attack against the capital, in
contrast with Cold War beliefs that a long-range strike would be preceded by a
notice of minutes or hours as missiles were fueled and launched.
result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential
emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be
available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the
assumption that no such warning will be received," states the 72-paragraph