On inauguration day, President Obama inherited some weighty “baggage” handed down from president to president. On Fox
News Sunday, Dec 21, Vice President Dick Cheney shed some light on this mysterious briefcase: “The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. He could launch a kind of devastating attack the world's never seen. He doesn't have to check with anybody. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in.”
(The photo below is of the “football” used during the Clinton era, on display at the newly re-opened National Museum of American History in DC.)
Prior to his inauguration on January 20, President-elect Obama was ushered into a windowless conference room in the Pentagon known as the “tank,” where Strategic Command chief Genl. Kevin Chilton and others briefed him on the protocols for swift decision-making and launching a nuclear attack using the “go codes” kept in this briefcase. It's a sobering meeting for a president-elect. It may be a cold war ritual, but from the moment he was sworn into office, Obama has been shadowed by a military officer bearing the football.
When Cheney said “a kind of devastating attack the world's never seen,” it's no exaggeration. At any given moment, night and day, the Commander-in-Chief is authorized to launch at least 1,000 nuclear weapons on land and submarine-based missiles (not counting the bombers and weapons in reserve), armed with 250,000 kilotons of nuclear explosives. That's 20,000 times the firepower of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. Every one of these weapons can be delivered to its target within 45 minutes of the President's order.
Please join with the Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World to dismantle every nuclear weapon, globally. We look forward to the day when an incoming president can be spared this particular initiation ritual.
For more info: David Wood in the Baltimore Sun, Nov 30, 2008. To assess the current U.S. arsenal, see the Nuclear Notebook, US Nuclear Forces, 2008 by Robert Norris and Hans Kristensen in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS is a CNWFW Coalition Partner).
Posted in Blog |