The Lady Speaks

Poking the Bear

Oh my freakin’ Jeebus, people! I’m so pissed and annoyed and… plain freaked out, it’s not funny.

You know how we on the left always wonder just how crazy the Republicans and Bush-Cheney Corporate Headquarters are? Well, wonder no more!

The stupid is so awesome, so intense, so effin’ ridiculous, so burningly awful that it is almost beyond my ability to respond with more than “Oh my god… but… oh holy shit… sweet baby jeebus in the cow trough!!”

From the New York Times:

Poland and the United States struck a deal Thursday that will strengthen military ties and put an American missile interceptor base in Poland, a plan that has infuriated Moscow and sparked fears in Europe of a new arms race.

”We have crossed the Rubicon,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, referring to U.S. consent to Poland’s demands after more than 18 months of negotiations.

Washington says the planned system, which is not yet operational, is needed to protect the U.S. and Europe from possible attacks by missile-armed ”rogue states” like Iran. The Kremlin, however, feels it is aimed at Russia’s missile force and warns it will worsen tensions.

Um, except Iran is two-three times as far away from Iran as it is from Russia…

Red - Poland; Blue - Russia; Fuschia - Iran.

Red - Poland; Blue - Russia; Fuschia - Iran.

but… um… just ignore that.

U.S. officials also said the timing of the deal was not meant to antagonize Russian leaders at a time when relations already are strained over the recent fighting between Russia and Georgia over the South Ossetia region.

“O hai! Sry, dudez. Srsly!

We didn’t mean to piss you off even more, right as you’re cease-firing from a little war spurred on by our idiot government telling the Georgian president we had his back… and then, um, not. But hey! Good news! Condi’s coming to make things all better… um, or maybe to buy shoes.”

[Tusk] said the deal also includes a ”mutual commitment” between the two nations to come to each other’s assistance ”in case of trouble.”

That clause appeared to be a direct reference to Russia, which has threatened to aim its nuclear-armed missiles at Poland — a former Soviet satellite — if it hosts the U.S. site.

Ummm… is anyone else having flashbacks to the 1980s and The Day After ?

Dr. Landowska: There is a rumor that they are evacuating Moscow. There are people even leaving Kansas City because of the missile base. Now I ask you: To where does one go from Kansas City? The Yukon? Tahiti? We are not talking about Hiroshima anymore. Hiroshima was… was peanuts!
Dr. Russell Oakes: What’s going on? Do you have any idea what’s going on in this world?
Dr. Landowska: Yeah. Stupidity… has a habit of getting its way.

Yep, and this misAdministration isn’t going to be happy until the whole freakin’ world is in flames.

August 15, 2008 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Election '08, Government, Iran, Nuclear Weapons, Pentagon, Planet Earth, War, Whacko Nut Cases, White House, WMDs, World Peace | 3 Comments

Like I Said…

Remember the whole ‘nukes over America’ mess?

Remember me saying there was no way in hell this was an accident because just getting a nuke out of storage took layers of paperwork and dealing with special procedures?

Of course, I also said, at the end of this post, that this wasn’t just a fuck-up, but a chain of them.

Turns out Minot (and perhaps the Air Force, in general) are so fucked up that nuclear missiles are actually stored with conventional ones.

At least, that’s the story now: The airmen who started this whole nightmare simply grabbed the wrong ones. Oopsie!

Well, not simply. According to the WaPo, speaking to unnamed sources, no one followed procedure – not until a sharp-eyed airman at Barksdale happened to notice these weren’t normal missiles and called a supervisor.

From the Washington Post:

Just after 9 a.m. on Aug. 29, a group of U.S. airmen entered a sod-covered bunker on North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base with orders to collect a set of unarmed cruise missiles bound for a weapons graveyard. They quickly pulled out a dozen cylinders, all of which appeared identical from a cursory glance, and hauled them along Bomber Boulevard to a waiting B-52 bomber.

The airmen attached the gray missiles to the plane’s wings, six on each side. After eyeballing the missiles on the right side, a flight officer signed a manifest that listed a dozen unarmed AGM-129 missiles. The officer did not notice that the six on the left contained nuclear warheads, each with the destructive power of up to 10 Hiroshima bombs.

That detail would escape notice for an astounding 36 hours […]

[snip]

A simple error in a missile storage room led to missteps at every turn, as ground crews failed to notice the warheads, and as security teams and flight crew members failed to provide adequate oversight and check the cargo thoroughly. An elaborate nuclear safeguard system, nurtured during the Cold War and infused with rigorous accounting and command procedures, was utterly debased, the investigation’s early results show.

The incident came on the heels of multiple warnings — some of which went to the highest levels of the Bush administration, including the National Security Council — of security problems at Air Force installations where nuclear weapons are kept. The risks are not that warheads might be accidentally detonated, but that sloppy procedures could leave room for theft or damage to a warhead, disseminating its toxic nuclear materials. [emphasis mine]

Read the whole article here.

The whole system collapsed, and why? Because the first step was making sure you were grabbing conventional missiles. From the moment those airmen reached for the wrong ones, everyone involved simply assumed they were not nuclear-equipped.

And what happens when we assume, boys and girls?

Okay, you can sort of see how it could happen. I mean, we’ve all grabbed the can of spinach off a shelf, thinking we were grabbing the green beans, so… okay.

Except for one thing, pointed out by sjm12561 in the comments at the WaPo: [sorry, WaPo apparently doesn’t know how to link individual comments… *sigh*]

Let’s say Minot does store conventional and nuclear munitions together which I don’t believe as the career fields supporting the two are different and the security requirements are completely mismatched.

Anyway, if the two are stored together whenever you access an igloo you would follow the procedures you have for nuclear weapons, not conventional. Two man rule would always be in effect until that igloo was closed and it had been clearly shown all nuclear weapons accounted for. [my emphasis]

A special security detail would have been set up; the fire department would have been on scene, the wing leadership would have been briefed that conventional weapons were being removed for shipment and told how the nuclear weapons would be protected.

The answer given to the Post stinks.

September 23, 2007 Posted by | America, Government, Homeland Security, Military, National Security, Nuclear Weapons, US Military, WMDs | 2 Comments

U.S. Air Force Says, “Oops!”

C’mon now. Is anyone actually buying the lame story being put out by the Air Force and the DoD about a B-52 carrying twelve Advanced Cruise Missiles, six of which were loaded with nuclear warheads? All of this unbeknownst to anyone, including the B-52’s flight crew, until it landed at Barksdale AFB?

Even I, with my (thankfully brief) experience as an Air Force dependent in the late 1980’s, can tell you there is no way in hell these nukes were ‘accidentally’ anything. Cripes, we had to sign things in triplicate just to see a doc at the base hospital! (Alright, I’m exaggerating a little there, but really the USAF doesn’t just let its nukes go wandering around for any airman to pick up and attach to a plane.

Let’s put it this way – for the 25% still supporting Bush – do you really believe the ground crew just grabbed these things out of the wrong drawer, like you’d grab two different socks?

I would guess there are layers and layers of command signatures – in triplicate – required just to look at the things, so I can’t even begin to imagine how many would be needed for the following to take place: removing them from their super-secret hidey-hole, and then loading them onto a B-52, and then allowing it to take off and then allowing it to fly for three hours over ‘America’s breadbasket’?!

It defies imagination to believe this was an ‘accident’.

Which means we have only two question remaining: What is/was the purpose behind it, and – most important – where did the orders come from?

The who, I believe, comes down to Bush, Cheney, or SecDef Gates. No one on that base, not even the base commander, is going to accept any less of an authority on the signature line when it comes to nuclear warheads. And no ground crew is loading them without orders from on high.

The why? Either we’re sending a message to Iran – and a pretty mixed one, at that: Hey, we’ve got nukes and we’re so crazy we’ll just fly ’em over our own country! Imagine what we’ll do to yours! (Is it the military version of ‘act-batshit-insane-so-the-mugger-will-go-away’?)

Or, our military is so screwed up that a) the Air Force can lose six nuclear warheads and not know it until they show up in Louisiana, or b) the Christianist Rapturists have taken over and are hurrying up the End Times, or c) all of the above.

Gee, I feel so much safer now.

Update – 9:50pm:

Oh, doesn’t this make you feel all warm and fuzzy? (And not the happy kind of warm and fuzzy, either. I mean the glowing-in-the-dark kind.) [all emphasis mine]

The risk of flying accidents, however, led the United States to abandon all nuclear-armed bomber flights in 1968, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert with the Federation of American Scientists.

[snip]

Several accidents occurred, including a crash in Spain in 1966 and then a crash at an air base in Greenland on Jan. 21, 1968.  The plane’s nuclear weapons did not explode in the latter incident, but their radioactive fissile material was dispersed at the crash site.

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that day ordered the grounding of all nuclear-armed aircraft, a policy that has continued for four decades.  Instead of flying with nuclear weapons, armed bombers were kept on alert on the ground with flight crews nearby to enable the planes to take off within minutes, if necessary.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush reduced the bomber alert status further by ordering nuclear weapons to be removed from the aircraft and kept in nearby storage facilities.

[snip]

The incident reflects a major lapse in the command and control systems that ensure the proper handling of U.S. nuclear weapons, according to Kristensen.

“It’s not a matter of an air crew picking the wrong one” from a storage site, he said.  Moving nuclear weapons requires multiple authorizations from high-ranking Pentagon officials.

Handling nuclear weapons has always received unusually strict Pentagon guidance, agreed nuclear analyst Robert Norris, of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Everyone from day one has assumed a special responsibility when it comes to nuclear weapons,” he said.  “Because they’re special, the Defense Department has required a special set of procedures and training and has made special efforts to identify responsible people to handle these weapons.”

In other words, like I said, this wasn’t just a fuck-up; this was a chain of fuck-ups.

September 6, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Government, Nuclear Weapons, Pentagon, Politics, US Military, White House, WMDs | Leave a comment