#DeepStateDoc of the Day: “Other Than A Plan D Situation…”

The title of this document remained classified until the mid 1980s, although it can be found in obscure Congressional budget documents dating to the 1970s. Separated from its context, there’s no reason why anyone should be afraid of it.

Let’s unpack it.

A “Plan D” situation refers to a nuclear emergency. It takes its name from the government’s first set of nuclear mobilizations plans developed in the 1950s. “Plan C” spelled out what would need to happen during the weeks leading up to a nuclear exchange for the government to try to function after one.

It served as the first major “continuity of government” plan of the nuclear age. A “D-minus” event was the anodyne term given to a nuclear war. Over the years, Plan D lost its “minus.” (Nothing about nuclear war is minuscule.)

If the Soviet Union union ever attacked the United States with nuclear weapons, the President (or his successor) would use “Federal Emergency Plan D” to trigger a range of contingency plans and programs designed to move the country from a state of shock and siege to a relatively less hectic platform for recovery.

Plan D Presidential Emergency Action Documents specified a range of emergency powers that the President could invoke, including quarantine, confinement, food rationing, price controls, the forced mobilization of defense and executive reserves, and enhanced police and detention powers. These powers might be unconstitutional or extra-constitutional, but their legitimacy would derive from the absence of a functioning Congress or judicial system.

The “Other Than a D Situation” documents refer to a collection of pre-written legislation and executive orders that the President could use in national emergencies that did not rise to the level of a full nuclear war, and — this is important — when Congress was — and is — functioning.

During the Reagan administration, the PEADs were redrafted by the White House and the new Federal Emergency Management Agency. PEADs still exist; the concept of “Plan D” and “OTD” emergencies still apply to a set of classified procedures that the President (or his successor) can invoke, but the terms are now obsolete.

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