Q: Do you find that people are more aware these days about nuclear war or the threat of it? Do you think that's good or bad?
A: Well I certainly think it's good that the people are aware of it. I don't think it's a frightening situation. I think it's part of a parent's concern. I feel that (there are) a lot of activities that families can engage in where there is a certain amount of planning. They camp out. . .. I think it's good.
3 Q: Those people -- not unlike yourself -- who escape to the various command centers, special facilities and bunkers may be the only ones to survive a nuclear attack on this capital. That would make you members of a very elite group. Does that place a heavy emotional or moral responsiblity on you?
A: It certainly does. Most of us do recognize that when we accept a position of responsiblity in the government we have to give up some of the responsiblity that we would normally reserve for our family. So therefore some of that family responsibility has to be passed on down to either a son or a wife. Because I'm not going to be around. I'm not going to be able to tell you what to do and where to go. I think anyone who really is sincere about emergency planning will take into consideration what their family should do. In a crisis situation . . . anybody who wouldn't be worrying about their own family would not (be) the type of person I would like to be around. I believe in planning for the government to survive. I certainly would like to personally plan for my family to survive. And I've done the best that I can do.
Q: You've discussed this with the members of your family? If you suddenly disappear or head for the hills?
A: Right. I've discussed with my family that if the situation got critical I may not be around. We are a family that enjoys the outdoors. We do enjoy getting away from crowds. Therefore part of our planning for a crisis situation for my family (is) to go to our summer location where we camp. We've been able to survive quite a few summers camping out, taking care of our own water and taking care of our own supplies. I feel sure that my family could go there and probably be as secure as anyone else would be.
Q: So you actually have a designated relocation site for your family?
A: Right. I've taken care of my family so that they do have a designated place to go. We've made provisions. I know in an emergency that traffic on the highways would be impossible. (So) my family is capable of riding motorcycles. They have the ability to handle off-the-road travel. So I'm sure that if they decided to, they would be able to get to our own family relocation point.
Q: Do you have a shelter and do you in fact have motorcycles?
A: Right. We have motorcycles to reach the location. We have the best shelter that we can think of. It's an Airstream trailer, fully equipped with food and supplies. We normally keep a stock there that would last for at least a couple of months.
Q: Did you establish this Airstream on this site and buy these motorcycles with the thought that you might need it (for) an emergency relocation in a war?
A: Well, it was killing two birds with one stone. Government employes are not that well-heeled that they can spend money without combining it in some other area. As a normal vacation spot, we take care of it through the normal money that we would spend for recreation.
Q: Okay. Now let me create a scenario. You go to work. You call your wife with a predetermined signal that you have to go to your duties at the special facility as a member of one of your emergency teams here at the NLRB. At the same time, however, a mass evacuation has been called by the federal government. We're talking about a gridlock on the highways leading out of Washington. What's your family going to do?
A: Well, about the best advice I could give them under the circumstances would be that maybe they go camping and maybe it would be a good idea for them to ride the motorcycles. And I don't think I need to tell 'em anything different.
Q: You've discussed it in such detail that your wife and son would --
A: And daughter, yes.
Q: They all have motorcycles?
A: Right. They have the capability, put it that way. I don't think my wife really enjoys riding a motorcycle and I'm not real sure that she would be as skilled on it as my son and daughter. Most of these motorcycles will ride two people so I'm sure, as a passenger, she'd be glad to go for a ride.
Q: If there was that...
2 A:10 2 . . . Possibility that it might be good for her health.
Q: What kind of motorcycle are we talking about?
A: Well, I have several motorcycles going from a Harley-Davidson 1200 to a Honda 350. They have enough gasoline in the tank to get there so they wouldn't have to stop at a service station and gas up.
Q: What's to prevent your son from putting his girl-friend on the back of the Harley and heading for camp,,instead of his mother?
A: Ha ha. I think his mother would prevent him from doing that. Personal choice would probably enter into it. I don't think he'd like to see me at the camp later under those circumstances.
Q: Just what purpose would a regulatory body like the NLRB serve in a nuclear attack or in a post-attack government?
A: This agency continued to operate all during World War II in handling situations that came under the National Labor Relations Act. There's a good likelihood that in another we would continue to operate as we did during World War II.
Q: How many people are we talking about out of an agency of some 3,000 or so (who are assigned to command posts in time of war)?
A: We have approximately 50 people in policy-making positions.
Q: Are you one of those people?
A: Yes, I'm one of them.
Q: The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently commissioned the Gallup organization to poll a number of Americans. It seemed that most people think it would take three to five days to successfully evacuate major cities in the United States.
A: Well, I'm of that opinion myself. (So, for one) thing, we feel this is a pretty sturdy building. We feel that our shelters are as good as any others, so there's no reason for us to direct our people to go away from what we consider a pretty well-engineered shelter.
Q: I've read that if a two-megaton bomb -- just one weapon -- was detonated over the Capitol that virtually all of the buildings within a three- to five-mile radius would be incinerated. Do you think the shelter in this building could really afford any protection to the people who are down in there?
A: No, in a realistic way, if it was a direct hit, or if even it was a close hit, I think probably we would have not much of a chance for survival. But I take heart in the feeling that best laid plans both ours and elsewhere would suffer (from) Murphy's Law. I'm not real sure that the expertise is going to put a direct hit here on the Washington area. In fact, I have enough faith in Murphy's Law I hope they aim for Washington because I'm sure probably where they aim they're not gonna hit.
Q: Most of the civil defense manuals and so forth caution people that in the event of a relocation that they're to leave their pets, their booze and their guns at home. Number one -- do you think that's realistic? That they'll do so? And number two -- what about the chance that they won't do so and that you're going to be running into people who are armed and who are anxious to get your food or your water or your pass? Would you go to your location armed for your own protection?
A: I think everybody has their own opinion of mankind. As a civilian, I absolutely would not have a gun. If I thought I had got to the point where I couldn't properly explain what it was I was trying to do without it, then I don't think a gun would help me at all. In an emergency situation if somebody wanted me to share whatever food I had with them I'd be glad to do it, regardless of who they were and regardless of whether they had a gun or not.
Q: What about at your family's camp? Would you send them there unarmed and unprepared to defend themselves against marauders? I mean there are going to be a lot of desperate people and desperate people do desperate things.
A: The only thing I can say is I still think the local people will have volunteers. I think that they would handle the situation. I'll put it this way. If I was a pioneer in this country where we had the Indians, I would take whatever precautions I thought were necessary for the survival and protection of my family. But I don't think it's a good idea to have weapons. My family's certainly not trained to use them.
Q: You think there'll be pockets of survival? You think that there will be society to save?
A: I believe so. I have faith there will be, yes.
Q: Can you give me an idea of how you envision a post nuclear American society?
A: I think to a certain extent we may have to start from scratch. But I think that nowadays there's a natural tendency on the part of Americans to try to go back to their roots. To go back to the original pioneer days. And from a camper's standpoint I find more people all the time. Our young people seem to enjoy experiencing the hardships. I know with the Boy Scout troop that I'm active with, they love to go on those hikes and carry those packs and be self-sustaining. I think in this country our ability to start from scratch is probably as good as anywhere.
Q: It's one thing to go on a weekend hike; it's another thing to spend several months in the out-of-doors seeking shelter. (It will be) perhaps years before there's any sort of a reconstitution of video arcades and television and radio and discos. I mean, it's gonna be a real different America.
A: Well it certainly is, there's no doubt about it. I think that one of the greatest things that will come from an accelerated emergency-preparedness program is the overall awareness then on the part of people that engage in it. (The more that people) learn of the devastation that's involved and the protection that's necessary to prevent it, the more they're gonna then be actively involved in preventing it. And probably that may be the support that's necessary to give the world leaders the real consensus of the people. I know how much a megaton bomb is alleged to be able to devastate, and it doesn't take me much figuring to add the number of megatons and the distance that a person would have to be under the ground, to pretty soon understand that you're not far enough under the ground. I tell you one thing, I'm looking forward to retirement. When I retire I'm gonna try to get as far away from any thing that I think is gonna be controversial as I can find. That's just for my own personal survival. But at the same token, too, I sure would like to make sure that my check comes every month, and I wanna make sure that the government's gonna continue to operate because I don't wanna go out here in the sticks someplace or other and starve to death then either.
Q: So you have a real pragmatic view of the absurdity of the whole idea.
A: I do. And I can sympathize w: Mosith people that just throw up their hands and say, well, if the world's gonna come to an end, that's it. But I mean I don't think the world's gonna come to an end. Yet. I know one thing though. If we keep going the way we're going, I haven't the slightest doubt that it will eventually come to an end. It just burns me up when I see all of our tax money going away to buy more weapons of destruction. Because I don't think that's the direction we should go in. I recognize that we have to protect ourselves as we try to talk with the other people. But don't you, as a citizen, sometimes get a little disgusted, too, when you see billions of dollars....
3 Q:10 2 When you talk about reconstituting government following a nuclear war, what does that mean? What kind of government?
A: I really can't get into this area because it's a level higher than the ordinary emergency coordinator. The basic mission of emergency coordinator, as I can envision it, is to try to make sure that the people that have the ability and know-how to operate the government can get to where the government can be reconstituted. At that stage, my responsibility is finished. At that stage the policy- making and policy-determining people take over. I'd like to be as helpful as I can, but in this particular area, where does my responsibility stop? Well, more or less, once I can get the people where they're supposed to go and make sure that they're taken care of, then it's up to them to do their thing.
Q: Well to that very point, Bill, one former top White House security official described to me the situation as being that whoever manages to get to the special facility is the person who's going to be in charge, and it's conceivable that you might be the only who makes it there. Are you prepared, personally prepared, to represent the NLRB?
A: As far as the NLRB representation, if the people that are capable of making the decisions don't get there, it will be because they didn't get there over my dead body. You can just take my word for it the last person alive is definitely not going to be me. I mean, I wouldn't want it that way myself and I can assure you that this is my responsibility to make sure that the people that are in the decision operational aspects get there, or else.
Q: Or else you'd better not.
A: Or else I'd better not get there, right.