US Lost The Codes For Nuclear Launch For Months

from the actually,-that-kind-of-makes-me-feel-safer dept

Not quite sure what to make of this one, but apparently, the special codes that the president needs to kick off a nuclear strike were lost for a few months during the Clinton administration. Now, you may ask (I know I did!) why they didn’t just get new codes, and apparently the answer is that the aide who was in charge of hanging onto the codes didn’t admit he had lost them for a few months. Apparently, someone’s supposed to check the codes every month, and when they went to check the codes, the aide in question claimed that the President had them, but “was in an important meeting.” The next month, same story. It was only a few months later, when the codes were set to be changed anyway, that the aide admitted to having “misplaced” the codes.

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Comments on “US Lost The Codes For Nuclear Launch For Months”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Crap

Everyone can now be told, the all-powerful launch code was changed to: CPE 1704 TKS

That way, any time they needed the dang code, all they had to do was pop in a VCR or DVD copy of the 80’s movie WARGAMES and fast fwd to that part.

Stupid aide probably turned the code back into a local Blockbuster video store, thinking it was a rental and didn’t want to be stuck paying the late fees.

Rikuo (profile) says:


The article on Gizmodo was different. It said that Clinton merely shrugged one day and admitted he hadn’t seen the “biscuit” for months.
For those who don’t know, the biscuit is a special card that has codes that let the nuclear silo commanders know that its the president really talking.
The Gizmodo article didn’t mention anything about an aide.

nasch (profile) says:

Just wait?

an official had gone to check one month and been told by the aide that the codes were on the president’s person but that he was in an important meeting and could not be disturbed.

You’re talking about nuclear (or later, nucular) launch codes. Why wouldn’t the response be, “OK, I’ll wait here until he’s available.” There’s something more important that official needed to do?

Anonymous Coward says:

Who cares about that, the U.S. government lost the economy, jobs, insurance, freedoms for the people, respect for the law and people keep thinking a nuke is important at this point? The people guarding the nukes already probably misplaced them in the middle east or dismantled them for scraps and the people in power now don’t even realize it yet.


xs (profile) says:

I say this is just a hoax

Isn’t the code supposed to be inside the “football”, i.e., the black suitcase cuffed to the staffer’s hand? And one aid carries the suitcase around the president 24 hour straight in case it is needed? Since we can safely assume that one staffer can’t be on duty 24/7, the staffer on the next shift would have discovered the code was missing when he arrives on duty and inspect the content of “football” just to make sure he doesn’t gets blamed for this type of issues. Even if the suitcase can’t be opened until ordered by the president, there would have been a seal in place to make sure it wasn’t tampered with, still would have required inspection by the next shift.

And don’t tell me that there isn’t such inspection taking places on every instance the “football” changes hand. Check-in/check-out procedures are in place even in all kinds of non-secure places, to think such procedure isn’t routine with one of the most important item in the world is just moronic.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: I say this is just a hoax

That’s assuming the ‘aide’ is allowed to open the ‘football’. Conceivable that while he is tasked with carrying it, he isn’t authorized to actually open the case.

That said, why the verification check was just a once a month thing is crazy. Either you wait till the Prez is available, or you come back the next friggin day every day until they are produced.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: I say this is just a hoax

The football contains the different plans and scenarios for various nuclear launches. Plan 1: Nuke Moscow and everywhere else before the enemy can react. Plan 2: High altitude air burst to disrupt enemy communications. And such.

The card that this story is referring to contains a bunch of different sets of numbers. The President picks one of those sets when he first gets the card, it is programmed into the control systems, then he must repeat that same set to actually launch the nukes. That card is supposed to be on him at all times, and he is the only one that is supposed to know which set of numbers he picked.

At least, that’s what Tom Clancy novels have in them – but he’s usually right about how this stuff works.

Will Sizemore (profile) says:

I used to be in the Army...

…and when we had something that was kept on a person, we checked several times daily. When we had stuff in safes, we checked monthly, or more frequently. We never had an incident or a loss of information (or loss of custody of information) and the guys at the White House are supposed to be following MORE STRINGENT regulations, especially for something as potentially devastating as this.

One thing’s for sure, if this person who allegedly lost the codes has any sort of security clearance anymore, we’re all doomed.

out_of_the_blue says:

Less here than the "nuclear" conjures up.

According to comments elsewhere that I find authoritative, this item wasn’t crucial; other communication systems could be used to verify identity, they don’t rely on just one.

It’s the sort of thing put out to distract from current problems or to herald an upcoming significant event to those in the know. We will have to wait and see which it is, or whether just random noise.

Steve Hall (user link) says:

Pure, unadulterated bullshit. This is even below TechDirt’s low standards. Even the most rudimentary fact-checking would put the lie to this entire story. Let’s just start from point one: The President never is in physical possession of the nuclear launch codes.

How do I know? Twenty years in the Air Force as a nuclear operations officer, including Minuteman ICBM crew member.

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