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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    So does this mean we'll see the codes on ebay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Crap

    This story is burying the older one, which is that the launch codes had a default that was used for years because of this sort of BS. It was 9999 or something similar.

    One Quatloo for whomever comes up with the deafault code!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Insert The Benny hill theme here...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Yogi, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Grass

    I guess Clinton passed around a few too many of whatever he was smoking at the time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    Huh

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Kerwin, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    meh

    I'm not surprised by peoples ineptitude anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Maybe....

    I'll bet the codes ended up on Monica's dress!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

      Re: Just wait?

      "There's something more important that official needed to do?"

      Only on the day we start launching nuclear weapons. Until then we are too busy blowing up the desert with non-nuclear weapons.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        maxnicks (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re: Just wait?

        True dat. Instead of blowing up the desert with non-nukes, we ought to switch to the nukes. Make a big glass parking lot out of the middle east. See? Problem solved!

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    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.

    /sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    About loosing things how about all those people using wireless?

    Firefox extension to sniff out open connections and get passwords, the objective is not to hack anyone but to make websites start using encryption because it is to darn easy to sniff anybody these days.
    http://hackaday.com/2010/10/25/firesheep-promoting-privacy-in-a-scary-way/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    I am just glad....

    Bush never found them....

    "Moles in the yard? terrorists! What was the code again? 1....2....3.....4....5....? no thats my luggage! Gosh darmnit!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    xs (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      pixelpusher220 (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Rikuo (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re: I say this is just a hoax

        It is kind of funny and scary at the same time that you're basing all of your information from a Tom Clancy novel...

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Oct 26th, 2010 @ 9:37am

          Re: Re: Re: I say this is just a hoax

          He does a lot of research and much of the information is public knowledge. Just citing my source.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Apparently they also missed the time because 12 years latter is a bit late to announce those things.

    Well who cares the government lost jobs, the economy, respect, leadership position and a lot of other things, they probably don't even have the nukes so the codes were useless anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    That aide needs to be tried for treason tbh. If he'd just have come clean I wouldn't have a problem, but withholding the fact that the codes are missing (for months!) is inexcusable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Will Sizemore (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    James Carmichael (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 7:20pm

    The elephant in the room

    I'm a little off topic but I think it's something that's important to mention: I thought having nuclear weapons was a BAD thing!

    At least that's what you guys keep telling other countries...

    Isn't it time to just get rid of those silly things anyway? Come ooooonnnn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      nasch (profile), Oct 26th, 2010 @ 8:31am

      Re: The elephant in the room

      Isn't it time to just get rid of those silly things anyway?

      You would think so. Instead, we're designing and building new ones. Becuse the old ones might not work anymore, to which any normal individual would respond: GREAT!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Steve Hall, Oct 26th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    sbhall52@gmail.com

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Steve, you were sitting in a sile undergound in the middle of no where. How does that qualify as to knowing what Clinton had or didn't have?

    Gotta be a pretty good pick up line, "Hey baby, wanna touch the codes that could end the world?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    it was not my fault the president had them he may have been under the influence but i gave them to him

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This