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The prompt, fateful response from the Case Orange mechanism.
The Case Orange automated beacon is a Colonial Government technology designed to ensure a working government in the wake of a catastrophic event.
In the latter part of the Cylons' surprise attack on the Twelve Colonies, Secretary of Education Laura Roslin speaks with a fellow official on Caprica known only as "Jack", who says that he is unsure of President Richard Adar's whereabouts during the attack, but notes that the president offered a complete unconditional surrender to the Cylons after the colony of Picon and the Colonial Fleet installations and ships located there were bombarded with nuclear bombs. The Cylons did not respond to the surrender offer. Roslin does not hear from any other government officials after her conversation with Jack is interrupted when the starliner is attacked with a Cylon missile.
Later, the transport's captain picks up an automated wireless message in the cockpit of his stranded Caprican transport, Colonial Heavy 798:
- "This is an official Colonial Government broadcast. All ministers and officials should now go to Case Orange. Repeat: This is an official Colonial Government broadcast. All ministers and officials should now go to Case Orange." – listen 
Laura Roslin sits in the cockpit with the transport's pilots and Lee Adama, their startled faces looking to her for an explanation. She tells the group that this automated message is designed to be broadcast should the President of the Twelve Colonies, the Vice President and most of the Colonial Cabinet be killed or incapacitated.
She instructs the captain of the ship to acknowledge the message by sending her government ID code (D-456-345-A) on the same frequency as the message. Roslin leaves the cockpit and awaits the return response. Presumably, the Case Orange system gathers the IDs of all government officials, then determines who becomes the new President by level of succession and where to contact him/her and any remaining officials.
Adama sits with Roslin in the passenger area and asks how far down she ranks in the government presidential succession. She replies she is 43rd in succession, commenting with sadness that she personally knew all 42 individuals above her from the President on down, most having served with President Richard Adar in his past administration and when he was a mayor.
The ship's captain returns to Roslin with the printed response from the automated beacon. Out of the 42 other government officials above her, apparently only she has responded to the automated message since its activation.
After the ship's captain retrieves a priest on board, Elosha, Roslin is sworn in as the new President of the Twelve Colonies, surrounded by reporters who accompanied her to Galactica for the tour of the education facilities of the new museum there and for the battlestar's decommissioning ceremonies, mere hours before the Cylon attack began.
U.S. President Johnson's swearing-in aboard Air Force One in 1963.
The eerie swearing-in of President Laura Roslin.
- The mood and the appearance of Roslin's swearing-in ceremony on Colonial One was deliberately scripted to resemble the swearing-in ceremony of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force One after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
As Roslin's first act as President of the Twelve Colonies, she begins the task of locating other stranded civilian and military ships in the space surrounding Caprica. The ship's captain changes the ship's call sign to Colonial One in recognition of the presence of the new President on board (Miniseries, Night 1).
This term finds later use as Admiral Helena Cain's codeword for Colonel Jack Fisk and his Marine detachment to initiate the removal of Commander William Adama's leadership of Galactica, and is the last known use of this term after the Fall of the Twelve Colonies (Resurrection Ship, Part I).
- ↑ In "Resurrection Ship, Part I", Admiral Cain's codeword for Colonel Fisk to assassinate Commander Adama is "Execute case orange." It is likely that both Cain and Fisk are aware of the phrase's significance. However, in the commentary for this episode, RDM says he used the name as reference to a strategic plan against Japan during World War II.
- ↑ In an early draft of the final script, the Case Orange message is shown as: "This is an official notification broadcast as per section 35, article 17 of the Emergency Continuity of Government Act. All ministers, department secretaries, and division heads now go to Case Orange." While this information is not quite canonical, it reinforces the measures that the Colonial Government would do to ensure its survival--which suggests that the first Cylon War may have nearly brought the earlier government to its knees in a similar crisis.
- ↑ Roslin's stated position in the line of succession - 43rd - is many places below that of the US Secretary of Education - 16th. There is almost no information provided by the regular series to explain the number of officials between the President and the office of Secretary of Education. It is probable, based on the information from the episode, "Colonial Day", that members of the Quorum of Twelve are part of this succession.
- ↑ It is not stated whether there were other officials lower in the succession order than Roslin, but it can be presumed from the Case Orange result that they are unable to respond as well, effectively removing them from consideration. It may be presumed that the Case Orange beacon had been running for some time after the attacks began, yet no others had responded to its message, since Roslin receives a response from the beacon fairly quickly. The Case Orange system may determine that assignment of a President is conditional to the length of time since its activation. The longer the beacon is seeking out officials without response, the quicker it responds and assigns a President to ensure a working government.
- ↑ Based on information given in the episodes "Bastille Day" and "Colonial Day", the Case Orange process assigned Roslin the remainder of President Adar's term. Roslin is eventually succeeded in a Fleet-wide election by Gaius Baltar (Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II). She is re-appointed to the presidency after President Tom Zarek resigns from his short tenure (Collaborators), making Roslin a two-term Colonial president who has been twice appointed but never elected to the office.