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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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White House Prepares Disaster Contingency Plans for Obama

The White House has drawn up more than 12 documents listing possible responses for Barack Obama to consider if a North Korean nuclear detonation, terrorist attack or other major emergency unfolds in the early days of his presidency, the New York Times reported today (see GSN, Nov. 7).

In addition, the Homeland Security Department said it has trained and drilled roughly 100 career government personnel in carrying out administration duties in case an event takes place before Obama nominees receive Senate approval.

“It’s a good-faith effort to provide potential information on some hot spots and some ideas about what they can do,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. “We just want to provide them, especially in the first few weeks, the basis for which they can have some information to make their decisions.”

The Bush administration has made more emergency preparations for the presidential transition than previous presidencies, according to the Times. The Sept. 11 commission found that vulnerabilities existed during the Clinton-Bush transition and warned in its report that "a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice.”

The Bush administration has welcomed representatives from Obama's transition team on Jan. 12-13 to view a "national level exercise" simulating a response to the simultaneous deaths of all highest-level U.S. leaders. The administration has also invited Obama personnel to view tabletop drills planned before the president-elect's Jan. 20 inauguration, according to officials.

High-level counterterrorism advisers to the Bush administration have scheduled meetings with their successors to discuss major threats, and the White House prepared up to 36 memorandums addressing long-term issues that the incoming president is expected to face.

The White House noted that the briefings are aimed only at advising the next administration and not at imposing inflexible policy guidelines (Peter Baker, New York Times, Dec. 17).

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