I’ve been mentally wrestling with something for, oh, a year or more. Something I’ve not seen the national media explain ‘cause they probably don’t know. You won’t hear it from the Oval Office, either, ‘cause he certainly doesn’t know.
So, looks like it’s coming down to Ridenbaugh Press: a burden we didn’t ask for but have been given nonetheless. Here it is. As straightforward as it can be said.
There’s NO DAMNED NUCLEAR BUTTON. On Trump’s desk or in the entire White House! No! None! Zero! Zip! Nada! Never has been! PERIOD! His little fingers can’t push it ‘cause there’s nothing there to push! He cannot – repeat – CANNOT unilaterally order up a nuclear conflagration.
I spent a few cold war years about three-feet from where the button would have been if there had been a button to push if a nuclear button needed to be – pushed. And it wasn’t there, either! Never was! The damned thing has never existed!
So, without a “button,” what’s a guy “push” when we need to launch all the things in our far-flung nuclear arsenal? Well, therein lies a tale that needs some background.
Ever notice when a President travels away from the White House there’s always – ALWAYS – a field grade officer lurking nearby, carrying what looks like the president’s personal luggage? Always there. Always carrying. He’s one of a small cadre, holding the topmost security clearances, who have no other job but carrying that “luggage” for the Commander-In Chief.
The “luggage” is euphemistically called “the Football.” The best description of it I’ve ever seen – and of what’s inside – is an old Washington Post piece. To wit:
“The Football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase carried in a black leather “jacket” weighing about 45 pounds. A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle.
“There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing retaliatory options; a book listing classified site locations; a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Alert System; a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes.
“The Black Book is about 9 by 12 inches and has 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. The book with classified site locations is about the same size as the Black Book and contains information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.” End quote.
If someone in the Pentagon War Room sends a signal to the “Football,” it will be opened and the President will be in immediate contact. He’ll be given a very short update on what’s happening and will quickly be given options for military response – if any – previously developed and updated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
What happens from that point is highly classified. But we do know the approximate steps. The President can choose any option. Or decline. But, if the option to launch is made, he must read a long series of coded numbers aloud to the War Room listener – most likely the Secretary of Defense. The numbers and sequences must be verified by responder and he must read aloud his own code series.
Others in strategic military locations around the world should be listening by this time, having been alerted after the initial presidential call. Once a decision is made, more codes in more sequences will be sent to field commanders to which they have to immediately respond with confirmation codes. If all checks are positive, those military commanders will issue the direct orders to the force. All forces with nukes must acknowledge and transmit their own codes.
Not the President. No “nuclear button.”
And there’s this. It’s within the purview of the Secretary, the Joint Chiefs and – theoretically – a force commander to refuse to obey if they believe the “go-to-war” order is illegal. So, just because the order is given, there’s no basis to believe it will be blindly followed.
The President can’t unilaterally send our military to war. There are too many checks and cross-checks. As there should be. And there’s NO DAMNED BUTTON!
Anyone got an email address for CNN and the rest?