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A clear example of the potential for misunderstanding [in nuclear conflict] comes from Bruce Blair, President of the Center for Defence Information in Washington. Blair was a launch control officer for US Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. After the Cuban missile crisis, when the US and the USSR came close to nuclear war, the US government introduced a system of physical locks and launch codes that had to be given by the President before any missile could be launched. But as Blair explains: “The locks had been installed but everyone knew the combination. And so the ‘secret unlock code’ during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at 00000000.” I have always used the same number on the combination lock of my suitcase, because it always seemed too much to bother with. The US Air Force took the same approach to the desire of elected politicians to control the use of nuclear weapons. Thus, for years, US presidents thought things were safer than they really were.

Dan Plesch, The Beauty Queen’s Guide to World Peace



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2014 12:27 pm (UTC)
This absurd situation came about because of a conflict between the USAF and the civilian officials who felt control for deployment of nuclear weapons should rest with the President, and not with the Generals.

So forced into having this extra layer of security, the air force responded by making the codes 000000000, so that the extra layer of security was meaningless.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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