At the height of the protests last Friday night in Washington, D.C., President Trump was taken, according to several news outlets, to a secure underground bunker for his safety.
You might ask: "There’s a bunker at the White House?" In fact, there are several. Plus numerous escape tunnels. Here, a breakdown of these confirmed—and rumored—secure spaces.
Primary Bunker: Presidential Emergency Operations Center
This is the most widely known about and publicly acknowledged bunker and likely the place where President Trump was taken during the protests. Former First Lady Laura Bush described being escorted there during the September 11, 2001 attacks in her book Spoken From the Heart:
“I was now in one of the unfinished subterranean hallways, heading for the PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, built for President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II. We walked along old tile floor with pipes hanging from the ceiling and all kinds of mechanical equipment. The PEOC is designed to be a command center during emergencies, with televisions, phones, and communications facilities.”
Located somewhere underneath, or adjacent to, the White House’s East Wing, The Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) comprises offices and other facilities, including the conference room where President Bush met with Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and other members of his administration in the days following the attacks.
The PEOC facilities have been upgraded numerous times over the years, including after 9/11, when, as the journalist Garret M. Grath wrote in his book Raven Rock, Vice President Dick Cheney complained to National Security Coordinator Richard Clarke, “The Comms [communication services] in this place are terrible.”
Rumored Bunker: A Top-Secret New-ish Underground Facility
In 2010, excavation began around the White House’s West Wing for a $300 million systems upgrade, which spurred months of speculation about the construction of a new secret bunker. Earlier this week, Ronald Kessler, the author of The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game, told the Washington Post, “What it consists of is five stories deep into the ground with its own air supply and food supply....It is sealed off from the aboveground area so that if there were, for example, a nuclear attack, the radiation would not penetrate into this bunker, which has very thick concrete walls and that sort of thing.”
Bunkerlike Structure: The White House to Treasury Building Tunnel
This winding tunnel is not really a bunker, although it could serve as a place to shelter during a bombing or, say, if protestors overran the White House. It was dug during World War II in case President Roosevelt needed to be evacuated during an aerial attack. Supposedly it was also used over the years by members of various administrations to sneak dates into the White House for after-hour tours.
The Bunker of Yore: The Treasury Building
After Fort Sumter was lost to the confederates in 1861, President Lincoln called 75,000 troops to Washington, D.C. Colonel Charles P. Stone, who was in charge of defending the city, installed the Fifth Regiment Massachusetts in the Treasury Building, where he planned to move Lincoln if there was a direct attack on the White House.
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