Few Americans - indeed, few Congressional reps
- are aware of the
existence of Mount Weather, a mysterious underground military base
carved deep inside a mountain near the sleepy rural town of Bluemont,
Virginia, just 46 miles from Washington DC. Mount Weather - also
known as the Western Virginia Office of Controlled Conflict
Operations - is buried not just in hard granite, but in secrecy as
In March, 1976, The Progressive Magazine published an astonishing
article entitled "The Mysterious Mountain."
Pollock, based his investigative report on Senate subcommittee
hearings and upon "several off-the-record interviews with officials
formerly associated with Mount Weather." His report, and a 1991
article in Time Magazine entitled "Doomsday Hideaway", supply a few
compelling hints about what is going on underground.
Ted Gup, writing for Time, describes the base as follows:
Weather is a virtually self-contained facility. Aboveground,
scattered across manicured lawns, are about a dozen buildings
bristling with antennas and microwave relay systems. An on-site
sewage-treatment plant, with a 90, 000 gal.-a-day capacity, and two
tanks holding 250,000 gal. of water could last some 200 people more
than a month; underground ponds hold additional water supplies. Not
far from the installation’s entry gate are a control tower and a
helicopter pad. The mountain’s real secrets are not visible at
The mountain’s "real secrets" are protected by warning signs, 10
foot- high chain link fences, razor wire, and armed guards. Curious
motorists and hikers on the Appalachian trail are relieved of their
sketching pads and cameras and sent on their way. Security is tight.
The government has owned the site since 1903; it has seen service as
an artillery range, a hobo farm during the Depression, and a
National Weather Bureau Facility. In 1936, the U.S. Bureau of Mines
took control and started digging.
Mount Weather is virtually an
underground city, according to former
personnel interviewed by Pollock.
Buried deep inside the earth,
Mount Weather was equipped with such amenities as
(click image right):
private apartments and dormitories
streets and sidewalks
cafeterias and hospitals
a water purification system, power
plant and general office buildings
a small lake fed by fresh water
from underground springs
its own mass transit system
Mount Weather is the self-sustaining
underground command center for
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The facility is the
operational center - the hub - of approximately 100 other Federal
Relocation Centers, most of which are concentrated in Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. Together this
network of underground facilities constitutes the backbone of
America’s "Continuity of Government" program.
In the event of
nuclear war, declaration of martial law, or other national
emergency, the President, his cabinet and the rest of the Executive
Branch would be "relocated" to Mount Weather.
What Does Congress Know about Mount Weather?
According to the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights
hearings in 1975, Congress has almost no knowledge and no
oversight--budgetary or otherwise--on Mount Weather.
Force General Leslie W. Bray, in his testimony to the subcommittee,
"I am not at liberty to describe precisely what is the role and
the mission and the capability that we have at Mount Weather, or at
any other precise location."
Apparently, this underground capital of the United States is a
secret only to Congress and the US taxpayers who paid for it. The
Russians know about it, as reported in Time:
"Few in the U.S.
government will speak of it, though it is assumed that all along the
Soviets have known both its precise location and its mission (unlike
the Congress, since Bray wouldn’t tell); defense experts take it as
a given that the site is on the Kremlin’s targeting maps."
Russians attempted to buy real estate right next door, as a "country
estate" for their embassy folks, but that deal was dead-ended by the
Mount Weather’s "Government-in-Waiting"
Pollock’s report, based on his interviews with former officials at
Mount Weather, contains astounding information on the base’s
personnel. The underground city contains a parallel
"High- level Governmental sources, speaking
in the promise of strictest anonymity, told me [Pollock] that each
of the Federal departments represented at Mount Weather is headed by
a single person on whom is conferred the rank of a Cabinet-level
official. Protocol even demands that subordinates address them as ’Mr. Secretary.’
Each of the Mount Weather ’Cabinet members’ is
apparently appointed by the White House and serves an indefinite
term ... many through several Administrations.... The facility
attempts to duplicate the vital functions of the Executive branch of
Nine Federal departments are replicated within Mount Weather:
As well as at least five Federal agencies:
Reserve and the U.S. Post Office, both private corporations, also
have offices in Mount Weather.
Pollock writes that the "cabinet members" are "apparently" appointed
by the White House and serve an indefinite term, but that
information cannot be confirmed, raising the further question of who
holds the reins on this "back-up government."
Mount Weather officials hold their positions through several elected
administrations, transcending the time their appointers spend in
office. Unlike other presidential nominees, these appointments are
made without the public advice or consent of the Senate.
Is there an alternative President and Vice President as well? If so,
who appoints them?
Pollock says only this:
"As might be expected,
there is also an Office of the Presidency at Mount Weather. The
Federal Preparedness Agency (precursor to FEMA) apparently appoints
a special staff to the Presidential section, which regularly
receives top secret national security estimates and raw data from
each of the Federal departments and agencies."
What Do They Do At
1) Collect Data on American Citizens
The Senate Subcommittee in 1975 learned that the,
dossiers on at least 100,000 Americans. [Senator] John Tunney later
alleged that the Mount Weather computers can obtain millions of
pieces of additional information on the personal lives of American
citizens simply by tapping the data stored at any of the other
ninety-six Federal Relocation Centers."
The subcommittee concluded that Mount Weather’s databases "operate
with few, if any, safeguards or guidelines."
2) Store Necessary Information
The Progressive article detailed that,
"General Bray gave
subcommittee a list of the categories of files maintained at Mount
Weather: military installations, government facilities,
communications, transportation, energy and power, agriculture,
manufacturing, wholesale and retail services, manpower, financial,
medical and educational institutions, sanitary facilities,
population, housing shelter, and stockpiles."
This massive database
fits cleanly into Mount Weather’s ultimate purpose as the command
center in the event of a national emergency.
3) Play War Games
This is the main daily activity of the approximately
240 people who
work at Mount Weather. The games are intended to train the Mount
Weather bureaucracy to managing a wide range of problems associated
with both war and domestic political crises.
(click image right)
Decisions are made in the "Situation Room," the base’s nerve center,
located in the core of Mount Weather.
The Situation Room is the
archetypal war room, with "charts, maps and whatever visuals may be
needed" and "batteries of communications equipment connecting Mount
Weather with the White House and ’Raven Rock’ - the underground
Pentagon sixty miles north of Washington - as well as with almost
every US military unit stationed around the globe," according to the
"All internal communications are conducted by
closed-circuit color television ... senior officers and ’Cabinet
members’ have two consoles recessed in the walls of their office."
Descriptions of the war games read a bit like a
Ian Fleming novel.
Every year there is a system-wide alert that "includes all military
and civilian-run underground installations."
The real, aboveground
President and his Cabinet members are "relocated" to Mount Weather
to observe the simulation. Post-mortems are conducted and the
margins for error are calculated after the games.
All the data is
studied and documented.
4) Civil Crisis Management
Mount Weather personnel study more than war scenarios. Domestic
"crises" are also tracked and watched, and there have been times
when Mount Weather almost swung into action, as Pollock reported:
"Officials who were at Mount Weather during the 1960s say the
complex was actually prepared to assume certain governmental powers
at the time of the 1961 Cuban missile crisis and the assassination
of President Kennedy in 1963. The installation used the tools of its
’Civil Crisis Management’ program on a standby basis during the 1967
and 1968 urban riots and during a number of national antiwar
demonstrations, the sources said."
In its 1974 Annual Report, the Federal Preparedness Agency
"Studies conducted at Mount Weather involve the control and
management of domestic political unrest where there are material
shortages (such as food riots) or in strike situations where the FPA
determines that there are industrial disruptions and other domestic
The Mount Weather facility uses a vast array of resources to
continually monitor the American people.
According to Daniel J.
Cronin, former assistant director for the FPA, Reconnaissance
satellites, local and state police intelligence reports, and Federal
law enforcement agencies are just a few of the resources available
to the FPA [now
FEMA] for information gathering.
"We try to monitor
situations and get to them before they become emergencies," Cronin
said. "No expense is spared in the monitoring program."
5) Maintain and Update the "Survivors List"
Using all the data generated by the war games and domestic crisis
scenarios, the facility continually maintains and updates a list of
names and addresses of people deemed to be "vital" to the survival
of the nation, or who can "assist essential and non-interruptible
In the 1976 article, the "survivors list" contained 6,500
names, but even that was deemed to be low.
6) Who Pays for All This, and How Much?
At the same time tens of millions of dollars were being spent on
maintaining and upgrading the complex to protect several hundred
designated officials in the event of nuclear attack, the US
government drastically reduced its emphasis on war preparedness for
US citizens. A 1989 FEMA brochure entitled "Are You Prepared?"
suggests that citizens construct makeshift fallout shelters using
use furniture, books, and other common household items.
Mount Weather (and its budget) does not exist. FEMA
refuses to answer inquiries about the facility; as FEMA spokesman Bob Blair told Time magazine, "I’ll be glad to tell you all about
it, but I’d have to kill you afterward."
We don’t know how much
Mount Weather has cost over the years, but of
course, American taxpayers bear this burden as well.
Science Monitor article entitled "Study Reveals US Has Spent $4
Trillion on Nukes Since ’45" reports that,
"The government devoted at
least $12 billion to civil defense projects to protect the
population from nuclear attack. But billions of dollars more were
secretly spent on vast underground complexes from which civilian and
military officials would run the government during a nuclear war."
Mount Weather’s Russian Twin
On April 16, 1996, the New York Times reported on a mysterious
military base being constructed in Russia:
"In a secret project
reminiscent of the chilliest days of the Cold War, Russia is
building a mammoth underground military complex in the Ural
Mountains, Western officials and Russian witnesses say.
Yamantau mountain in the Beloretsk area of the
southern Urals, the project involved the creation of a huge complex,
served by a railroad, a highway, and thousands of workers."
The New York Times article quotes Russian officials describing the
underground compound variously as a mining site, a repository for
Russian treasures, a food storage area, and a bunker for Russia’s
leaders in case of nuclear war.
It would seem that the Russian Parliament knows as little about
Russian underground bases as the Congress knows about Mount Weather
in the United States.
"The (Russian) Defense Ministry declined to
say whether Parliament has been informed about the details of the
project, like its purpose and cost, saying only that it receives
necessary military information," according to the New York Times.
"We can’t say with confidence what the purpose is, and the Russians
are not very interested in having us go in there," a senior American
official said in Washington. "It is being built on a huge scale and
involves a major investment of resources. The investments are being
made at a time when the Russians are complaining they do not have
the resources to do things pertaining to arms control."
Where’s the Money Coming From?
The construction of the vast underground complex in Russia may very
well become a cause of concern to the Clinton Administration.
issue of ultimate purpose for the complex, whether defensive (as
with Mount Weather) or offensive (such as an underground weapons
factory) is not the only issue Mr. Clinton has to worry about.
The real cause for concern is that the US is currently sending
hundreds of millions of dollars to Russia, supposedly to help that
country dismantle old nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Russian
parliament has been complaining to Yeltsin that it cannot pay $250
million in back wages owed to its workers at the same time that it
is spending money to comply with new strategic arms reduction
Aviation Week and Space Technology reported that,
"It seems the
nearly $30 billion a year spent on intelligence hasn’t answered the
question of what the Russians are up to at Yamantau Mountain in the
Urals. The huge underground complex being built there has been the
object of U.S. interest since 1992. ’We don’t know exactly what it
is,’ says Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s international security
mogul. The facility is not operational, and the Russians have
offered ’nonspecific reassurances’ that it poses no threat to the
U.S. law states that the Administration must certify to Congress
that any money sent to Russia is used to disarm its nuclear weapons.
However, is that the case? If the Russian parliament is complaining
of a shortage of funds for nuclear disarmament, then how can Russia
afford to build the Yamantau complex?
Are the Russians building an underground city akin to
with American taxpayer’s money? Could American funds be subsidizing
a Russian weapons factory? Hopefully Congress will get a firm answer
to these questions before authorizing further funding to Russian
What is Mount Weather’s Ultimate Purpose?
We have seen that Mount Weather contains an unelected, parallel
"government-in-waiting" ready to take control of the United States
upon word from the President or his successor.
The facility contains
a massive database of information on U.S. citizens which is operated
with no safeguards or accountability. Ostensibly, this expensive hub
of America’s network of sub-terran bases was designed to preserve
our form of government during a nuclear holocaust.
But Mount Weather is not simply a Cold War holdover. Information on
command and control strategies during national emergencies have
largely been withheld from the American public. Executive Order
11051, signed by President Kennedy on October 2, 1962, states that,
"national preparedness must be achieved... as may be required to
deal with increases in international tension with limited war, or
with general war including attack upon the United States."
However, Executive Order 11490, drafted by
Gen. George A Lincoln
(former director for the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the FPA’s
predecessor) and signed by President Nixon in October 1969, tells a
story. EO 11490, which superseded Kennedy’s EO 11051, begins,
"Whereas our national security is dependent upon our ability to
assure continuity of government, at every level, in any national
emergency type situation that might conceivably confront the
William Cooper points out, Nixon’s order makes no
reference to "war," "imminent attack," or "general war."
quantifiers are replaced by an extremely vague "national emergency
type situation" that "might conceivably" interfere with the workings
of the national power structure. Furthermore, there is no publicly
known Executive Order outlining the restoration of the Constitution
after a national emergency has ended. Unless the parallel government
at Mount Weather does not decide out of the goodness of its heart to
return power to Constitutional authority, the United States could
experience an honest-to-God coup d’etat posing as a national
Like the enigmatic
Area 51 in Nevada, the Federal government wants
to keep the Mount Weather facility buried in secrecy.
awareness of this place and its purpose would raise serious
questions about who holds the reins of power in this country. The
Constitution states that those reins lie in the hands of the people,
but the very existence of Mount Weather indicates an entirely
As long as Mount Weather exists, these questions