There seems to be some confusion surrounding the recent bomber incident. When I first heard the story break, while driving home listening to Allan Loudell on WDEL, there were five nuclear warheads missing. Later, while on line, I researched the story and there were indeed 5 nuclear warheads discovered in Barksdale under the wings of a B-52, loaded on 5 decommissioned cruise missiles.

Two days later, poking around for anything new, I saw the total was updated to 6 nuclear warheads…..My focus was elsewhere and I paid it no mind. Today, looking for news on the Air Combat Command’s stand down, I realized something had been overlooked……

Essentially this: “Hello, do you know you have 5 nuclear warheads sitting under a B-52 in Barksdale? ” Let us check: “yep, there they are.” Now two days later: Minot, can you comment on the 5 nuclear warheads taken from your base? You mean six? There were 6 warheads on that plane.” “OK, we’ll update that to six….Can you comment sir?……..”

Most people who have direct experience with nuclear weapons, tell me the safeguards are too redundant for anyone to accidentally load these weapons. The probability for an accidental loading is decreased exponentially by the fact that there are no conventional warheads that fit this missile. That is in fact why this missile is being decommissioned, in favor of dual capacity missiles.

Those who think accidents can happen, do not understand the systems in place to make sure they do not happen. Here is the declassified version of the standard operating procedure for the loading of a nuclear weapon.

A sophisticated computerized tracking system is used for nuclear weapons. Multiple sign-offs are required to remove the weapons from their storage bunkers.

The AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile was designed to carry nuclear weapons. No non-nuclear warhead is available for this missile. So the only possible error could have been loading nuclear warheads on the missiles instead of practice dummies.

The practice warheads have standard blue and yellow signs declaring “Inert, non-nuclear”. The nuclear warheads have at least three distinctive red warning signs. This error is therefore highly improbable, absent tampering with signage.

Nuclear weapons are transported from the storage bunker to the aircraft in a caravan that routinely includes vehicles with machine guns front and rear and guards with M-16s. All steps in the process are done under the watchful eyes of armed military police.

Rules require that at least two people jointly control every step of the process. If one person loses sight of the other, both are forced to the ground face-down and temporarily “placed under arrest” by observant security forces. All progress stops until inspections are made to assure the weapons weren’t tampered with.

All nuclear weapons are connected to sophisticated alarm systems to prevent removal or tampering. They could only be removed from the storage bunker by turning the alarm off. And the squad commander clearly would not have authority to turn off the alarm.

So without question, the loading of these nuclear tipped missiles was done directly under orders. For the record here is the Pentagons explanation.

The Air Force admitted to an inadvertent error: The intent was to transport ACMs without weapons. According to military officers, the nuclear warheads should have been removed before the missiles were mounted on the pylons under the wings of the bomber.

Now, you the reader, square that official explanation with the standard operating procedure directly above it. In doing so, keep in mind this group, the 5th Wing, received a citation this past March for its safety record. Something does not stack up……………..

But something even more surprising occurred. The mistake was admitted. Not only that, it was emphasized by a system wide stand down, September 14th, to draw emphasis to it. All this fuss over something the public didn’t know or apparently care deeply about, since as a nation we have implicit trust in the competence of our military.

So was this intended to be a message? It appears so. The disciplinary actions placed upon the officers and men of Minot, could be described as paid vacation…..quickly rescinded at some future time. Talk and no actions. Sounds to me like a message being sent…..

If so, to whom? The speculation of course is that Iran is the target. In fact it would fit right into the Cheney play book for them to think we had nuclear weapons on standby ready to carpet bomb their Natanz nuclear laboratory.

Talk about negotiating with an ace in your hand…..

However there is another scenario that must be considered. That is the fact that every time this administration has had their back against the wall, they always bring up the concept of a nuclear weapon exploding in one of our cities.

As the republicans poll number edge closer to zero, perhaps soon to go into negative territory (lol), perhaps the explosion of a nuclear device in a Liberal city (Boston? or San Francisco?), might appear within the context of their bunker mentality, to be the lesser of two evils………..

Ridiculous as such an assertion may be, it certainly crosses every American’s mind, as evidenced by the length of time such figments of fiction stay upon the world’s best seller lists……..

Diligence is required to insure that it stays in the realm of fiction. And speaking of diligence, …..does anyone know what happened to that missing nuclear warhead, you know, the one that left Minot, but was not found in Barksdale?

Did someone in this administration just steal a 150 kiloton warhead?

Just outside Liberty College in Lynchburg, Virginia is sounding, more and more, like the safest place to live…….

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