Its difficult for me to read the news these days without continually having my mind boggled – given the subjects that I research and write about (national security, covert warfare, conspiracies) I thought I had become desensitized. Turns out I was wrong.
I’ve been recently posting about the return of the Cold War, in new forms and in new venues including what I’m beginning to call cyber media warfare. But that doesn’t seem to accurately portray what’s going on with Russia. What we see now in Russia are actually military and civilian drills for nuclear attack on a scale not seen since the 1960’s. Can you really read the following without thinking you have entered another dimension?
And if that were not enough, everything that was old is new again for Mr. Putin:
OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest let me move on to the actual subject of this post – the Nuke Codes. Once again I’ve been stunned by the amount of misinformation being circulated during this election campaign. In recent days I’ve seen claims from Mr Trump that the Clinton email server issue is comparable or perhaps more severe a criminal event than Watergate – and I’ve started to see posts from his supporters claiming that it could even have exposed military technology secrets or – gasp – our nuke codes.
This brought to mind a story from the JFK assassination venue. That story goes to the point that a massive conspiracy has been proved due to the fact that the “code book” was missing off a Special Air Mission aircraft carrying senior Kennedy administration officials and Cabinet officers to Japan on Nov. 22, 1963. That story has supposedly been elaborated on by Air Force bomber pilots relating that there nuke code books were also missing off their aircraft that day.
The thought is that all this was done so that the conspiracy could kill the President and not risk a nuclear exchange as a byproduct. And of course that plot was carried out by the military industrial complex. You might have thought since they commanded the military they could have been more subtle, in fact the obvious villain in such a scenario would seem to be the Soviets, but they were never offered up in such scenarios.
To easy everyone’s mind a bit, even quick study of nuclear command and control, verbal codes, and classifications proves all those concerns to be unfounded. First off, nuke codes and military tech are not share with the State Dept, or even SecState. Generally the State Department is the last to know about military activities and operations. Why, because they have no need to know plus they talk to other nations. This was a lesson that first surfaced way back in 1954 in regard to Guatemalan operations and the lesson has been well learned.
Its one of the few things that seems to be remembered, and can be seen in the lack of a briefing the Ambassador to the UN about the Bay of Pigs in 1961 to more modern times with the games that were played with the information on Iraq given to SecState Colin Powell. Actually the State Dept is often either not told about military matters or actually offered cover stories and misinformation as a security precaution. If you don’t believe that, just read Shadow Warfare.
So, no nuke codes in emails to Sec. Clinton, not to worry. And yes she should not have had a private server and neither should her predecessor Colin Powell nor should all those GWB administration principals – definitely something that needs to be fixed but unfortunately nothing unique.
As to the Nuke Codes, actually the way that works is that the President, SecDef and hopefully a couple of other folks in the line of succession carry a card with a code that they use to issue nuclear commands under their National Command Authority. The code does not describe the mission, details of the attack or plans for specific assets. That is all in the SIOP and in the mission plans for each aircraft, missile or other nuclear weapon package. If you think about it all that has to be planned in advance – and if you really believe that the aircraft commander of any SAC Chrome Dome atomic deterrence mission or commander of any ICBM crew coming on duty in 1963 would not note and report that they were missing their activation codes, you just don’t know SAC.
Oh, and in regard to that Cabinet aircraft on the way to Japan – no it was not supposed to have nuke codes or any military code book for that matter. What it should have had was the Secret Service code book for administration officials to use in verbal, on air radio messages. Of course that almost never happens but in this event it did and lots of people forgot their codes and codes for other people and you can see it all in the transcripts of the calls from the plane that day. Nothing unique there either, that sort of thing occurs during every, since our senior leadership never drills or trains for crisis contingencies. One of the most recent examples in the fact that transcripts show that Natl Sec Advisor Condi Rice did not know the code name for the President’s aircraft on 2001, that caused a good bit of confusion for a time.
So, this moth, in 2016, the Russians are conducting national atomic defense drills for their public – while our voters are concerned about nuke codes being passed around in SecState emails. And my mind remains boggled.