The term shadow government has been used to refer to
- government plans to maintain core services and infrastructure in the event of major terrorist attacks.
- as the structures set up by the institutions that seek to influence government in reflection (or as a "shadow" of) the democratic government in pursuit of profit and power.
- by conspiracy theorists to a powerful network pursuing (or even dictating) public policy to meet their own esoteric ends, e.g. concealing alien landings.
In March 2002, the Washington Post reported that in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States George W. Bush activated the "Continuity of Operations Plan". While the article was titled the shadow government it referred to between 70 and 150 civilian members across government departments and agencies to try to ensure the continued operation of transporttation, energy supplies, communications, food and water supplies and public health and order. 
"Just as with the official government, the Shadow Government has functional branches. However, unlike the official government, the purpose of the non-executive branches of the Shadow Government is simply to distribute various functions, but not to achieve a system of checks and balances, as was supposed to happen constitutionally between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. Government. That is because the Shadow Government is a creature of a powerful elite, who need not fear being dominated by an instrument of their own creation," Richard Boylan claims. 
Some see the shadow government as responsible for moving America from an open democracy towards oligarchy, for example through
- the repeal of "the Militia Act of 1792"
- the establishment of central banking authority
- the interpretation of the 14th amendment to include corporations when refering to persons
Conspiracy theorists have also adopted the term, which can make it harder to use in political discussion. Some, such as Noam Chomsky, have suggested that is much the point of elaborate conspiracy theories-- to waste the time of people who could be doing something that is more of a threat to the currently established order, and to discredit terminology that could make discussion of opposing views easier. --Unattributed.
- "From the days of Sparticus, Wieskhopf, Karl Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, and Emma Goldman, this world conspiracy has been steadily growing. This conspiracy played a definite recognizable role in the tragedy of the French revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century. And now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their head and have become the undisputed masters of that enormous empire." — Winston Churchill, stated to the London Press, in l922.
- "There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself." — Senator Daniel K. Inouye, during the Iran-Contra Hearings and former chair, U.S. Senate MK-ULTRA hearings, 1977.
- "The real rulers in Washington are invisible, and exercise power from behind the scenes." — Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt, "Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret After Attacks, Bush Ordered 100 Officials to Bunkers Away From Capital to Ensure Federal Survival," Washington Post, March 1, 2002. Other reports include BBC, CBS, CNN and Pravda.
- Richard Boylan, Ph.D., "The Secret Shadow Government. A Structural Analysis," Above Top Secret (WorldNewsStand), undated.
- Richard Boylan, Ph.D., The Shadow Government: it's identification and analysis
- Harry V. Martin, "FEMA - The Secret Government," Free America, 1995.