The strategic fascination with the mountain redoubts of the Taliban on Tora Bora in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion was symptomatic of a longer cultural history of bunkers. W. G. Sebald and Paul Virilio have both written about the bunker in its World War II form, and their observations demonstrate that “bunker archeology,” as Virilio has called it, is linked to the modern history of warfare and to attempts to escape ever more destructive weapons and ever more penetrating surveillance. The American saga of nuclear fallout shelters was an avatar of this history, one that has been reactivated by the Bush administration's fetishistic desire to maintain “continuity of governance” in a so-called dangerous world. By placing ever more federal officials in bunkers on a rotating basis, the Bush administration's actions ultimately raise more fundamental questions about democratic governance itself.

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