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White House enhances government continuity plan

Vice President Cheney is staying in a
Vice President Cheney is staying in a "secure, undisclosed location."  

From Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After ordering an increase in the nation's threat level this week, the White House took steps to "enhance" its continuity-of-government operations, a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say how the operations, which have been in effect since shortly after the September 11 attacks, have been enhanced, but did say the changes were made because the threat level was raised Tuesday to orange, signaling a high risk of a terrorist attack.

Officials said the main threats were against U.S. facilities in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but extra precautions are being taken worldwide.

U.S. at 'high alert' on eve of 9/11 

"From the vice president on down, continuity-of-government operations have been enhanced," the senior official said.

Vice President Dick Cheney is staying in a "secure, undisclosed location" Wednesday. Aides said the move was undertaken out of an "abundance of caution" and in keeping with continuity-of-government protocols, which call for separating the president and the vice president during times of increased threat.

The Bush administration, right after the September 11 attacks, implemented an operation that dates back to the Cold War to ensure that the federal government would keep running if Washington were paralyzed by an enemy strike.

The operation, disclosed in March, involves roughly 100 senior staffers from every Cabinet department and major government agency and operates out of two secret bunkers in the Eastern United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

It has been referred to as a "shadow" or a "bunker" government in press reports, although White House officials refuse to use those terms.

The official said the higher threat level means all agencies -- federal, state and local -- need to "ramp up" their security procedures. Enhancing continuity-of-government operations is "one more aspect of the federal government's responsibility."

Asked to reveal just what more the federal government is doing, the official refused, saying, "It would be inappropriate to discuss."




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