The President, The Nuclear Football And The Authority To Launch a Nuclear Strike

Posted: September 25, 2016 in Fun Facts, Politics, War
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There 'tis. See the antennae?

There ’tis. See the antennae?

Did you know there are practically no protocols in place to prevent a sitting US president from unilaterally ordering a nuclear strike?

It’s true.

The idea is that America’s nuclear arsenal must be equipped for fast deployment to properly deter an attack. The president must therefore have the ability to launch a strike quickly and without delay. The Secretary of Defense is required to verify the order, but cannot legally veto it.

As then-Vice President Dick Cheney in 2008:

“The president 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.”

Chilling, really.

You see, the President is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a ” Nuclear Football” with launch codes for nuclear weapons. The football is a metal briefcase carried in a black leather jacket. The package weighs around 45-pounds. A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle. You can see it in the photo up top.

However, there is a scenario that would allow the Secretary of Defense to refuse to relay the order and use his codes to launch –  theoretically, he could make a quick call to the Cabinet and Congress and report that the President had gone bonkers. The Cabinet could then declare the President unfit in a letter to Congress.

Slim chance that would happen, though, so there’s that.

Anyway, food for thought, huh?

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