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Government The Military

US Presidential Nuclear Codes 'Lost For Months' 322

Posted by kdawson
from the dropping-the-football dept.
Martin Hellman writes "Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Hugh Shelton, has dropped a nuclear bombshell, metaphorically speaking. Shelton's recently released memoir Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, asserts that an aide to President Clinton lost a card containing key phrases needed for ordering a nuclear strike, and that the codes were missing for months. This confirms a similar allegation, made in 2004 by Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, a military aide who frequently carried the 'nuclear football' during the Clinton presidency. Unfortunately, human error within the nuclear weapons complex is a frequent and dangerous occurrence."
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US Presidential Nuclear Codes 'Lost For Months'

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  • by tgd (2822) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:12AM (#33986230)

    Turn the decision making over to a computer. I'm sure it can't find the launch codes.

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:13AM (#33986238)
    biscuit
    • ...isn't this the same time frame as the Monica Lewinsky thing. I mean I too would loose nuke codes if I had a cigar and Monica at my desk.

  • This is the sort of human error that gets my vote.

    Quick - any way we can "export" this "technology" to the rest of the world?

    -- Barbie

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually that has got to be one of the dumbest ideas ever.
      I hope you are joking but that kind of error makes a nuclear war more likely than less.

      • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:48AM (#33986788)

        Mod parent up. Many people detest the idea of MAD but so far it has worked. In practice, nukes are primarily a weapon of influence rather than destruction.

        I think the continued existence of United Nations and its various agencies can be attributed in part to nuclear weapons, which made open conflict an existential risk for the superpowers, and created a need for a different way of resolving disputes. At this point, UN could probably survive without nuclear weapons, but its creation would not be possible without them.

        I think that regardless of any ideology, nuclear disarmament is very unlikely on the grounds of simple game theory - it's essentially a prisoner's dilemma where the temptation to defect is extremely large (the last remaining nuclear power can blackmail the whole world) and punishment for mutual defection is small (the cost of producing and maintaining the weapons).

        • by Burning1 (204959)

          I think that regardless of any ideology, nuclear disarmament is very unlikely on the grounds of simple game theory - it's essentially a prisoner's dilemma where the temptation to defect is extremely large (the last remaining nuclear power can blackmail the whole world) and punishment for mutual defection is small (the cost of producing and maintaining the weapons).

          And the first ever nuclear power nearly did. Before the Russians developed the bomb, there were a number of influential officers pushing to nuke

  • awesome (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:17AM (#33986290)
    Nice! It doesn't really matter if nukes work or not anyway; they are not intended to actually be used, and this just helps them stay that way.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      We, as the developed world (US, Russia, China, India, UK, EU, etc.) might not develop them but chances are, North Korea and Iran would use them given the chance.
      • Re:awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:32AM (#33986536) Homepage Journal
        North Korea and Iran would use them given the chance.

        You mean like if some country were to attack them without justification? You mean use nukes (if they had them) in self defense?

        What kind of nonsense is that? Who would ever want to retaliate after being attacked?

        The fact of the matter is, Iran, when they get nukes, will not use them unless they are attacked, and even then that's an iffy proposition. Both (or more) of the countries involved know what will happen when the nuclear genie is used. And it ain't pretty.

        Look at India and Pakistan. Two countries at each other's throats for decades after they gained their independence, yet the moment the two got nuclear weapons, suddenly hostilities ceased.

        North Korea, for all their bravado, won't use them. They'd rather sacrifice their military personnel and claim they are great warriors for going against the Western devils than shoot a nuke from a distance.

        Nukes are used for two things: deterrence and final retribution if the end is near. Go read The Sampson Option about Israel's nuclear weapons program.
        • by Infonaut (96956)

          The fact of the matter is, Iran, when they get nukes, will not use them unless they are attacked, and even then that's an iffy proposition. Both (or more) of the countries involved know what will happen when the nuclear genie is used. And it ain't pretty.

          I think you're right about Iran. The nuke program is more about prestige and internal politics than about an actual desire to use 'em. But we're certainly well into the realm of speculation about matters of human motivation and judgement, and pretty far

        • There is a difference between two countries that are otherwise fairly sane who have a (even very heated) dispute lasting decades or even longer... and crazy or religious idealogues in control of a countries nuclear arsenal.

          North Koreas leader has shown a tendancy to be outright nuts, and doing crazy unpredictable things. He's said a lot of really really agressive things and we really don't know what to expect from someone like that. As such, allowing them to have nukes of any consequence (they have alread

          • Re:awesome (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday October 22, 2010 @12:21PM (#33987350)

            "(they have already shown to have nuke capability, but no real way to deliver it "

            Put it in a container, marked as 'rare earth' and ship it to the New York harbor.

          • There is a difference between two countries that are otherwise fairly sane who have a (even very heated) dispute lasting decades or even longer... and crazy or religious idealogues in control of a countries nuclear arsenal.

            North Koreas leader has shown a tendancy to be outright nuts, and doing crazy unpredictable things. He's said a lot of really really agressive things and we really don't know what to expect from someone like that. As such, allowing them to have nukes of any consequence (they have already shown to have nuke capaibility, but no real way to deliver it or any stockpile) would also be unpredictable.

            Iran has a slightly less crazy ruler, but he is a religious idealogue. If he thinks god told him to nuke someone, it could very well happen. Or worse, he might have to live up to his hyperbole or risk the rath of his own people.

            Ah yes, our responsible, sane rulers: from the article [wordpress.com]

            # President Kennedy was given amphetamines by Dr. Max Jacobson. Known as “Dr. Feelgood” and “Miracle Max” because of the massive amphetamine doses administered to his clients. Kennedy photographer Mark Shaw, also a Jacobson client, died in 1969 from “acute and chronic intravenous amphetamine poisoning.” Jacobson’s medical license was revoked in 1975.

            # Some reports attributed Boris Yeltsin’s bizarre behav

            • by GooberToo (74388)

              Yep, I feel better know...

              Good! Because you should once you take reality into account. In all of the democratic examples, in no case could any of those leaders actually launch nukes without lots of additional involvement from lots of additional people. Its not like in the movies where some crazy leader can say, "nuke everyone", and the world explodes.

              Basically, if your cited examples scared you in the least, its only because you're ignorant of the subject matter. Best solution is to educate yourself rather than attempt to scare othe

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          The fact of the matter is, Iran, when they get nukes, will not use them unless they are attacked, and even then that's an iffy proposition. Both (or more) of the countries involved know what will happen when the nuclear genie is used. And it ain't pretty.

          That's extremely iffy logic at best. Democratic nations who assign high value to life are extremely unlikely to use the nuclear option unless in some form of retaliation. Any nation with nukes which do not fall into the above category is a huge question mark.

          Now combine nukes with a totalitarian nation ruled by zealots with a well known blood lust for ideologies foreign to their own, and its a complete crap shoot. Made worse, are the empowered zealots with direct control over such weapons. Frankly, your odd

        • by Splab (574204)

          I believe and hope to whatever god there might be that NK will work like that - but to be honest, I'd prefer not to find out how they handle nukes :)

        • Nukes are used for two things: deterrence and final retribution if the end is near.

          Nice theory, but practice showed another use: to destroy so much of the enemy that fighting becomes pointless - especially with the threat of more nukes coming. From a military perspective, there's nothing about a nuke that isn't exactly the same as a very large amount of TNT.

          Some people will use it as retribution, some people as a final Armageddon, some people will use it to turn the tide of battle in their favor. That's why the world is so uneasy about the proliferation of nukes: nobody knows who will use

        • by davev2.0 (1873518)

          The fact of the matter is, Iran, when they get nukes, will not use them unless they are attacked, and even then that's an iffy proposition

          Please support that statement with evidence.

          ...yet the moment the two got nuclear weapons, suddenly hostilities ceased

          Actually, no they didn't. Both countries developed nuclear weapons in 1998. In 1999, there was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan called "The Kargil War". Both still angle to have Kashmir as part of their respective countries and there are milita

        • by Shivetya (243324)

          Of course Iran won't use them immediately, but they have their proxies who they can make use of them or related material. Regardless, they will simply become more belligerent because they know the world doesn't want to force a confrontation, so they will keep pushing, keep moving the line, and get away with more abuses to include attacking other counties believing they are safe because they have the bomb.

          North Korea can make up any offense they want, they are good at it. They are quite willing to sell kno

        • by Spykk (823586)
          But what happens when an Iranian nuke is "lost" and ends up in the hands of an organization that has no public ties to the Iranian government? If said organization managed to nuke New York would the US be free to nuke Tehran? What if they couldn't link the nuke to Iran and just assumed that was where it originated?
      • Oh piss off (Score:5, Interesting)

        by linumax (910946) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:42AM (#33986724)
        If North Korea and Iran were to use any WMDs they would have used chemical weapons which they both had for decades. Hell, for eight years, Iran didn't use chemical weapons against Saddam even in retaliation. Maybe if you stop watching Fox News, you'd notice the leaders portrayed as demonic figures bent on bringing hell on earth are actually very pragmatic people and that's exactly why they manage to stay in power.
        • by GooberToo (74388)

          You're conflating several things here. The true leaders of Iran are zealots. The people are pragmatic and do not want the zealots. Ahmadinejad is little more than a figure head. He does weld some power but its strictly at the whims of the zealot clergy.

          The clergy walk a careful line because they know it would not be too difficult to trigger a serious uprising, costing them their leadership to the pragmatic population. Just the same, that should in no way be conflated to say the leadership is pragmatic. Furt

          • by DavidTC (10147)

            There is a difference between 'believers' and 'zealots'.

            The actual leaders of Iran do indeed believe everything they say...but you'll also note that they are the ones saying that nuclear weapons are against Islam.

            That's not to mention that Iran is Shia, and would hardly be supporting the Sunni Palestinians. They support Hezbollah, but Hezbollah is attempting to run Lebanon and Syria, and would hardly nuke them.

            Iran is the most absurdly overblown 'threat' to the middle east peace, ever. Iran doesn't give

    • by Peeteriz (821290)

      During the warmest parts of the cold war, if this became known to the opponent's spies, it would likely destroy the world.

      At that time, for USSR simply knowing that it has a unique chance to do a first strike without fear of retaliation would be enough to press the red button right then and right there.

      • Re:awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:37AM (#33986616) Homepage Journal
        Maybe, but despite all of the posturing and rhetoric, I like to think that none of our world leaders have ever been insane enough to actually launch a nuclear strike. Diplomacy is a strange game, nice guys tend to finish last and it often pays to project a slight air of crazy, which ordinary people unfortunately believe, even if the actual diplomats/politicians don't.

        This is also important to remember in the modern age, especially when dealing with Iran or North Korea. Behind the scenes nobody wants a nuclear war, even if they got a clean "first strike", it's a world sized can of worms politically, economically, and socially. It's no good being the last nation on earth if your own people revolt and overthrow your government.

        Remember, the only time nuclear weapons have ever been dropped in anger, it caused an end to the largest war in the world's history and caused every person on earth to stop and wonder if we had gone too far.
        • Re:awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:45AM (#33986740) Homepage Journal

          The first time we dropped a nuclear bomb, it wasn't enough to convince Japan to surrender. Only dropped a second, and the threat of dropping uncountably more (which we didn't have - but they didn't know that) actually brought the war to an end.

          The firebombing of Tokyo killed more people than the atomic bombs - the impact of the bombs was the perceived threat of complete, quick destruction, not the amount of damage they caused. Nuclear weapons aren't really that special; they're just really big compared to conventional ones.

          Finally, the political fallout would only happen the first time they are used. As more small and unstable states acquire them, we *will* eventually see a nuclear exchange. The world will not end, and it will eventually become a "normal" part of war, subject to similar rules. I don't think you'll ever see a major power level a city, but if two ocean-going states are at war, it is perfectly reasonable to expect nuclear weapons to be employed in wiping out battle groups.

      • Launch codes aren't nearly as important as Hollywood makes them out to be.

        IN the end, they simply act as a way of saying "These two dumb asses are the ones who authorized the use of nuclear weapons, have their heads, not ours."

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Nice! It doesn't really matter if nukes work or not anyway; they are not intended to actually be used, and this just helps them stay that way.

      But they are intended to have the potential to be used, otherwise they lose their power as a deterrent.

    • by rcamans (252182)

      Actually, I am glad Clinton (slick Willy, not the Clinton-In-Charge, Hillary) could not push the red button. I can just see him accidentally push it while he was in the middle of a ... uh... nevermnd

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      Nice! It doesn't really matter if nukes work or not anyway; they are not intended to actually be used, and this just helps them stay that way.

      Erm..., no. Your argument presupposes that, a) The parties who currently possesses nukes hope to never use them and b) those same parties will always be those who possess nukes, regardless of the number of such parties. In other words, there are definitely those parties that have a sincere desire to own nukes and use them, and as the number of parties who own them (even "benignly") increases, so does the likelihood that a willing user will come into possession of them.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:17AM (#33986298)
    "They were immediately replaced."

    Seriously, who is going to launch a nuclear weapon anyway? It's like committing suicide.
    We are all better off losing them and to keep pretending you are going to use them if necessary.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:27AM (#33986442)

      >Seriously, who is going to launch a nuclear weapon anyway? It's like committing suicide.

      Ignoring WWII, lets look at the cold war. During the Cuban Missile Crisis the Politburo and high-level party members were clamoring for war with the US to the point where Khrushchev made loud patriotic pro-war statements in public to appease them and privately with the US was doing his best to avoid a nuclear war. Turns out a group mentality can culminate into in irrational act like nuclear war. Not to mention the US was considering a pre-emtive strike early during the cold war with the assumption that it could wipe out the USSR but only lose half its own cities.

      Consider smaller modern powers like Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea. If felt like their regime was going to collapse and their leaders killed or sent to the Hague, why not launch for revenge? Its not like dictators or theocrats are known to be especially rational or compassionate. Most likely we'll see nuclear war in the mideast sooner than later. I'd be willing to bet within 20 years.

      • by confused one (671304) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:37AM (#33986628)
        more likely to happen in Korea. N. Korean gov't appears to be teetering and all it would take would be for them to lob a weapon at Japan or S. Korea and the U.S. would be forced to respond in kind. The recent torpedo incident seems to indicate the central government there isn't completely in control.
        • by GooberToo (74388)

          The recent torpedo incident seems to indicate the central government there isn't completely in control.

          Or given who is in control, it seems to indicate they are in control. Realistically, I doubt anyone knows if this was a rogue captain or a lawful order from an idiot named Kim. Given the country, flip a coin.

          You need to keep in mind, North Korea constantly provides false navigation signals to aircraft in hopes of creating an international indecent. They constantly attempt to incite troops. And occasionally, they do have weapon malfunctions which seem to land in the general proximity of troops located in the

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MaWeiTao (908546)

          I predict once North Korea sees a regime change they're going to open up dramatically and all their rhetoric will finally come to an end. North Korea is a pariah and has nothing to gain from launching a strike. Even merely having a nuclear weapon doesn't necessarily improve their position.

          Iran, on the other hand, does have a lot to gain by having a nuke. And they might even have an incentive to launch it, even if it resulted in Iran's obliteration. Likely, they'd bring down Israel with them, turn the regio

          • by DavidTC (10147)

            Please stop falling for the neocon nonsense and actually do some research. Iran is not going to destroy itself, and the leader of Iran is no, in any way, shape, or form, crazy.

            Iran wants to be a regional power. It wants to essentially control the Shia nations near it...Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. And to keep the US out of that area.

            And weaken the existing regional powers...Saudi Arabia and Turkey and India.

            That's basically it. That's all it wants. It doesn't even give a flying fuck about Palestine, which i

      • by linumax (910946)

        Consider smaller modern powers like Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea. If felt like their regime was going to collapse and their leaders killed or sent to the Hague, why not launch for revenge? Its not like dictators or theocrats are known to be especially rational or compassionate. Most likely we'll see nuclear war in the mideast sooner than later. I'd be willing to bet within 20 years.

        You just managed to contradict yourself in those two lines. The fact that North Korea and Iran are not attacked is exactly

      • Spot on. (Score:3, Informative)

        by jamrock (863246)

        Turns out a group mentality can culminate into an irrational act like nuclear war.

        You're exactly correct. In the years leading up to World War I, the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II was an aggressive, militaristic, expansionist state seeking to make a mark in global affairs, their "place in the sun", as the Kaiser put it. England and France put aside their ancient enmity to face this new threat as allies, with France particularly thirsting for revenge after their humiliating defeat in the Franco-Pru

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So far the pretending is working:

      Number of world wars in first 50 years of 20th Century: 2

      Number of world wars in last 50 years of 20th Century: 0

      • Number of World Wars prior to the 20th century: 0.

        I think you might have a problem with your statistical sampling.

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          You might want to talk to the peoples that pissed off Rome back in the day. They may have only been Known World Wars to us but they were World Wars for them.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          Number of World Wars prior to the 20th century: 0.

          I think you might have a problem with your statistical sampling.

          Depending on your definition of "world war", taking technology into account, the number could technically be far, far higher than zero. At different points in history, England, France, and Spain owned most of the world, and even fought each other, both directly and indirectly.

          Generally speaking, most agree, there is absolutely nothing wrong with his sampling.

    • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:31AM (#33986524)

      "They were immediately replaced." Seriously, who is going to launch a nuclear weapon anyway? It's like committing suicide. .

      I'm sure there were a lot of people who thought no one would strap explosives to themselves either.

      But more to the point: the reason it's suicide is because it's mutually assured destruction. If it's not mutually assured, then it's less likely to be suicidal.

      • Mutually Assured Destruction works if you're looking only at THIS life. Certain people have proven that they are capable of killing themselves, on purpose, to kill others, on the promise of the here after being really fun place with lots of women. In which case, they don't consider it suicide. And that is the scary option most people would rather not think about, because Nuclear Weapons would not be viewed as defensive weapons, but rather first strike offensive weapons.

        While N Korea may not use Nukes as fir

    • by geekoid (135745)

      What happens when your enemy thinks you can't launch?

    • by jpmorgan (517966)

      It's not suicide if your enemy has lost their launch codes.

  • That's the sort of thing that'd be changed daily as a matter of course, and there must be other authentication factors besides just codes.

    Not much to worry about here.

  • We are all as worms. With really big guns.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Would Clinton really nuke anybody anyway? He didn't retaliate after the WTC, the US Embassy, or USS Cole attacks.
    • He most certainly did retaliate...with anti-terrorism activities. You don't send divisions of soldiers to fight terrorists, you send cops, spies and agents who knock on their doors in the middle of the night and make them disappear...without fanfare. You don't give terrorists press, you don't let them know you're coming with armored brigades tearing up the wilderness.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bonch (38532)

        His "anti-terrorism activities" sure stopped Bin Laden from beginning the plans for 9/11 in 1998.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          Bubba couldn't find Osama any better than W or Obama can.

          The one time we got decent intel on his location, we sent half a dozen cruise missiles and levelled the compound.

          Unfortunately, Osama was leaving just as the missiles were launching, so he didn't die.

          Don't ever kid yourself thinking that Liberals don't fight. It's how this country was founded, it's how all of the wars we won were won, and it's the only thing keeping Conservatives from thinking they can institute martial law whenever they're elected.

      • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:39AM (#33986658) Homepage Journal
        He also ordered missile strikes against training camps and alleged chemical weapons factories. The Republicans complained that he was playing politics however and demanded that he stop.
    • >>>WTC, the US Embassy, or USS Cole attacks

      Don't forget Oklahoma City. The FBI was never able to prove their case, but even today they still suspect Bin Laden was funding and providing technical know-how to Timothy McVeigh. After all the bomb was near-identical to the one used in the WTC, and using the same tactic (a van blowing-out the foundation/pillars).

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:19AM (#33986330)

    Are these the cards you keep in your wallet, picking one of the sequences (which one not being indicated on the card) to confirm your identity in case you're called upon to satisfy the two-man rule for authorizing a nuclear strike?

    First, someone would be guessing randomly as to which sequence to use.
    Second, someone would have to convince the guy at the other end of the phone--or in person--he was the right person. In DC, that can be tricky, because everyone knows everyone.
    Third, You'd need a SECOND person to help.
    Fourth, when it goes missing, surely you could call NORAD and say "Yo, I'm missing my card."

    Oh, I skimmed the article. The problem isn't that they were missing, it's that President Clinton's aides were afraid to say they'd lost them. They should have been fired or arrested, putting their pride ahead of a fairly important--though hopefully unneeded--element of national security like that.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      The problem isn't that they were missing, it's that President Clinton's aides were afraid to say they'd lost them.

      True. The President's codes are useless unless they're delivered by the President. And Clinton wasn't starting any nukular wars anyway. He's no Bush.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:22AM (#33986362) Journal

    TFA heavily implies that the aid knew the codes were lost but covered up the mistake until the mandatory code change rather than cop to it and get the codes replaced. It seems to me this would be a court-martial offense at the very least.

    That the people checking on such an important document did not communicate with each other or follow up with the President is also appalling.

    • by memojuez (910304)
      I agree. The aide should been thrown in jail.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Because then it would of got out, and even thought they aren't really needed, the risk of a confrontation escalates. The cold war is about that game.

    • I find it highly doubtful that the President was unaware the codes were missing. They are HIS codes. I don't know what would be worse, that the president knew the codes were missing and asked his aids to cover, or that the President himself didn't care enough about the launch codes to KNOW where they were at all times. Either way, somebody should have been court martialed.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Yes, that occurred to me also, but I was not going to accuse Clinton of losing the launch codes. There are all kinds of tawdry jokes one could make about that, but hell, he's out of office, he'll never be President again, and we're all still in one piece. Let it go.

        But aids, especially military ones, tend to stick around between administrations, and I find that thought a little frightening.

  • Not really an issue, they were probably the default codes anyway; i mean, why not, that's what they used at the minuteman silos anyway.

    • Not really an issue, they were probably the default codes anyway

      And that's the problem, isn't it? People need to be educated to always change the default!

  • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:27AM (#33986444)

    Our government better fix this and fix it quick. As a U.S. citizen I demand our elective officials overblow this issue into some kind of national security problem and require anyone flying, driving, walking, bicycling, chartering a bus or taking a taxi while entering, leaving or just site seeing our country to be detained, strip searched, beaten (especially if you one of those pesky journalist) and have your personally belongings seized.

    And due to the fact that this lost nuclear activation card can be scanned and uploaded to nefarious websites, we need to completely shut down the internet, restrict television and radio to RIAA and MPAA approved content and revoke all library cards immediately.

    The government needs to be reminded that us citizens are in control, dammit.

  • You need to be at defcon 1 before you can launch

  • Obviously Clinton had decided he would never push the button and didn't much care about the button's whereabouts. If Russia had decided to launch 500 nuclear warheads at the U.S., there wouldn't have been much point in pushing the button anyway, other than, perhaps, for some sort of twisted revenge. Nuclear weapons are the kind of weapon that gives Iran's Ahmadinejad an Islamic hard-on...just thinking about nuking Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and...perhaps New York and Los Angeles...and...even better...thinking ab

    • After the early-warning alarms most of the leadership would be in bunkers. If they ever want to come out and go live in Paris or Johannesburg or wherever is left they would certainly have to launch a counter-strike.

      Neglecting the nuclear deterrent only shows a defiance of "fear" by making the feared possibility into reality. It is not beyond the KGB-FSB to have arranged this "loss".
  • Not lost (Score:3, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:38AM (#33986634)
    Just mixed up with all the phone numbers on cocktail napkins and bar coasters.
  • by mjs_ud (849782) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:49AM (#33986808)
    If it were more recent they probably would have been backed up on wikileaks.
  • she was helping him look for the launch codes

    Shamelessly stolen from Fark
  • This kind of failure errs on the side of non-destruction. It's better than a system that requires the periodic entry of codes to keep a system from being armed ain't it?

  • by Boronx (228853)

    And people laugh at obama for wanting to get rid of nuclear weapons.

  • How is this a problem?? We couldn't nuke the planet for a few months? That's a fucking selling point folks.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Friday October 22, 2010 @12:18PM (#33987306)
    The Konami code Easter Egg would have worked if needed.
  • FTFS:This confirms a similar allegation, made in 2004 by Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, a military aide who frequently carried the 'nuclear football' during the Clinton presidency.

    I demand a video review. They refs should have called a fumble.
  • by mbone (558574) on Friday October 22, 2010 @01:20PM (#33988250)

    This is total BS, but it is convenient it appears just before the mid-term elections (the mention of Carter is a dead give-away here). I have much too much respect for the people in the DNA to give this any credence. It may be something was lost, but I don't think for one instant that this jeopardized our nuclear deterrence in the slightest.

    I don't know where to start, except to say that the story as written implies a security system for the frakking nuclear force that wouldn't pass an elementary security review. Tokens may always be lost or compromised, and must be replaceable at will. Presidents go jogging, swimming, fishing, etc., meet foreign leaders (and even take them to places like Camp David); it must be assumed that the "biscuit" could be compromised at any time and thus must be replaceable at any time. Further, if the President is in the White House, on Air Force One, at Camp David, etc., there is an infrastructure around him that includes plenty of people that could vouch for him. If SAC commanders have an ability to launch if communications with the National Command Authority is lost (and they do), then I don't believe for an instant that the President in the White House situation room couldn't give any necessary orders. Further, it is not reasonable to expect that even the most conscientious leader will always have the biscuit on him. (In the bath ? While scuba diving ? Horse back riding ? Or, clearing brush at some Texas ranch ?) Again, I do not believe that our deterrence will fail because no one figured that the President might be a few miles from his coat when the crisis came.

    So, I call BS on this. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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