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Pentagon watchdog announces review into security of ‘nuclear football’


The Department of Defense has announced an evaluation of the so-called ‘nuclear football’ and the procedures in case it is lost, stolen or compromised.

The Pentagon’s Inspector General revealed on Tuesday there would be a review of the Presidential Emergency Satchel, which carries the nuclear codes. 

It follows President Biden wherever he travels and a ‘backup’ goes with the vice president. 

‘The objective of this evaluation is to determine the extent that DoD processes and procedures are in place and adequate to alert DoD officials in the event that the Presidential Emergency Satchel is lost, stolen or compromised,’ the inspector general’s office wrote in the memo. 

Democrat Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Jim Cooper of Tennessee asked in March to look into the ‘football’  following incidents that could have compromised security. 

‘It is imperative that we fully understand the processes and procedures that are in place to protect the Presidential Emergency Satchel – especially when its custodians might be in danger – and we applaud the (inspector general) for accepting our request to initiate this evaluation,’ they said. 

The Department of Defense has announced an evaluation of the so-called ‘nuclear football’ and the procedures in case it is lost, stolen or compromised. The Pentagon’s Inspector General revealed on Tuesday there would be a review of the Presidential Emergency Satchel, which carries the nuclear codes 

During Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Senate Democrats aired footage of Capitol rioters coming within 100ft of Mike Pence and his family after he refused to overturn the electoral college results.

The officer holding the backup football was able to secure it. 

If the rioters were able to get their hands on the football, they likely wouldn’t have been able to activate any protocols because of security controls.

In addition to the Capitol attack, the security of the football was called into question during an incident during Trump’s 2017 trip to Beijing.

A scuffle broke out between Chinese and US officials inside the Great Hall of People that included the military aide carrying the suitcase.

The satchel wasn’t compromised, but it raised questions over what would have happened if the procedures are secure. 

In a statement to on Tuesday, Lynch and Cooper said: ‘The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not only an unprecedented attack on our democracy, but it also put our national security in grave danger.

‘According to public reports, as Vice President Pence hurried away to safety with a military aide carrying his emergency satchel, or ‘nuclear football,’ Pentagon officials were unaware that the football was potentially seconds away from falling into the hands of a lawless mob

‘It is imperative that we fully understand the processes and procedures that are in place to protect the Presidential Emergency Satchel—especially when its custodians might be in danger—and we applaud the DOD OIG for accepting our request to initiate this evaluation.

‘We look forward to reviewing their findings once the report is completed’.    

In the aftermath of January 6, the ‘nuclear football’ became a flashpoint when Nancy Pelosi said Trump was ‘unfit’ to carry the codes. 

She wrote to her colleagues in a note headed: ‘Preventing an Unhinged President From Using the Nuclear Codes.’

‘I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,’ she informed them.

Notably, she did not reveal what response Milley provided, or whether any security guardrails have been established.

‘The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,’ she wrote. 

The video showed Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen and his daughter Charlotte being rushed out surrounded by security during the January 6 MAGA riot

The video showed Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen and his daughter Charlotte being rushed out surrounded by security during the January 6 MAGA riot 

It was during Trump’s second impeachment hearing, when he was facing charges that he helped instigate the MAGA riot that resulted in five people dead and damage in the Capitol, that US Strategic Command realized Pence’s football was in danger of being compromised. Trump was eventually acquitted. 

The breakthrough moment came during a presentation by impeachment manager, Rep. Stacey Plaskett. 

‘As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family, and they were just feet away from one of the doors to this chamber,’ Plaskett said during her presentation.   

She then shared video of Pence, his family, Secret Service agents and the military officer holding the ‘football’ running to safety.   

Kingston Reif, an expert on nuclear weapons policy at the nonpartisan Arms Control Association told CNN that if insurrectionists got their hands on Pence’s football they wouldn’t have been able to initiate a launch.  

Reif argued it was still extremely dangerous anyway.      

‘But had they stolen the football and acquired its contents, which include pre-planned nuclear strike options, they could have shared the contents with the world,’ he told the network. 

‘Such an outcome would have been a security breach of almost incomprehensible proportions,’ Reif added. ‘And it ought to raise further questions about the rationale for the anachronism that is the football.’ 

The footage of Pence, his wife Karen and his daughter Charlotte scrambling to safety during the January 6 insurrection was one of the House Democrat impeachment manager’s never-before-seen video clips that was played during Wednesday’s session.  



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