- "It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck."
- ---Pentagon official
- There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force's
official report on the Aug-29-30 "bent spear" incident that saw
six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly
removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in
North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly
flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana-a report that attributed the whole
thing to a "mistake."
- According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel
mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for
destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles
were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon
on the B-52's wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling.
Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes
according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted
on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)
- The problem with this explanation for the first reported
case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization
in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear
warheads in the US stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized
transport or removal from bunkers by electronic antitheft systems-automated
alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and
even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached
- While the Air Force report doesn't mention any of this,
what it means is that if weapons in a storage bunker are protected against
unauthorized removal, someone-and actually at least two people, since it's
long been a basic part of nuclear security that every action involving
a nuclear weapon has to be done by two people working in tandem-had to
deliberately and consciously disable those alarms.
- Since the Air Force report does not explain how this
hurdle to unauthorized removal of the six nukes could have been surmounted
by "mistake," the report has to be considered a whitewash, at
best, or a cover-up.
- That leaves us speculating about what actually happened,
and about who might have authorized the removal of those nukes from storage,
and why the Defense Department would be covering up the true story. We
know that the loading of nuclear-armed missiles or bombs onto an American
bomber has been barred since 1991, even for practice and training purposes.
We know also that the carrying of nuclear weapons by bombers flying over
US airspace has been banned for 40 years. So if the evidence suggests strongly
that the removal of the nukes from the bunker was done intentionally and
with some kind of authorization from higher authorities, then the loading
of nukes onto the plane, and the flight of those nukes to Barksdale have
to also be assumed to have been authorized.
- This possibility has been dismissed out of hand by the
Air Force and Defense Department. The very idea is, in fact, not even discussed
in the Air force report released in mid-October.
- Yet we are left with the unresolved question of how the
weapons could have been moved out of the bunker accidentally.
- The Air Force has not been forthcoming about the automated
alarm protections on American nuclear weapons, refusing to confirm or deny
that they even exist. But we can know that they are in place for several
reasons. One is that since writing about this incident in the current edition
of <http://www.amconmag.com/>American Conservative Magazine ("The
Mystery of Minot," Oct. 24, 2007 ed.) and in several online venues,
I have been contacted by several active-duty and retired military people
who have assured me that such electronic protections are in place. A second
is that an article in the Oct. 31 issue of the <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/world/europe/31russia.html?ref=world>New
York Times, reporting on the early completion of a project by the National
Nuclear Security Administration, to secure Russian nuclear weapons, said
that the measures implemented at 25 classified sites on 12 Russian nuclear
bases included "measures that have long been part of American efforts"
to secure nuclear weapons, and that these included "alarm and motion
detection systems," as well as "modern gates, guard houses and
fighting positions, " and also "detectors for explosives, radiation
- Ask yourselves, would American nuclear weapons be equipped
with lesser security systems than those that the NNSA is providing for
- Of course not!
- And yet we're asked to believe that some low-ranking
ground crew personnel at Minot AFB simply walked out of a nuclear weapons
bunker with six nuclear armed Advanced Cruise Missiles, not knowing what
they were carrying, and labored for eight hours to mount those missiles
and their launch pylon on the wing of a B-52 strategic bomber without ever
noticing that they were armed with nuclear weapons. We're asked to believe
that none of those electronic alarms and motion sensors built into the
system went off during that whole process.
- When I mentioned the automated alarm and motion sensors
to Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, a public affairs person at the Department
of the Air Force, and asked her how the movement of the six nukes could
have occurred without those alarms being disabled, she said, "It's
an intriguing question, and it makes the hair stand up on the back of my
- As it should.
- So why isn't it making the hair stand up on the back
of the necks of members of Congress?
- Incredibly, to date, there has been no demand for public
hearings into this frightening incident.
- Congress appears ready and willing to accept the Air
Force whitewash at face value: It was an accident. It won't happen again.
- That is not good enough!
- We need honest answers to some hard questions. Among
- * Who disabled the alarm systems on those weapons and
on the bunker itself?
- * Who mounted six nuclear weapons on the noses of six
cruise missiles and put those missiles onto a B-52 launch platform?
- * Who authorized them to perform this operation?
- * Who moved the armed weapons out of the Bunker at Minot
AFB and mounted them on the wing of a B-52 bound for Barksdale AFB? (Barksdale,
it should be noted, bills itself as the main staging base for B-52s being
flown to the Middle East Theater.)
- * Were the six missiles flyable? Were they fueled up
and ready to fire, or were they not fueled at the time of the Minot-Barksdale
- * Was there targeting information in the missile's guidance
computers and if so, what were those targets?
- * What happened to the three military whistleblowers
who blew the whistle on this incident and reported it to a journalist at
the newspaper Military Times?
- * Why hasn't the Air Force or the FBI investigated the
6-8 untimely deaths including three alleged suicides, one of a Minot weapons
guard, one of an assistant defense secretary, and one of a captain in the
super-secret Air Force Special Commando Group, as well as alleged fatal
vehicle "accidents" involving four ground crew and B-52 pilots
and crewmembers at Minot and Barksdale? Could any of this strange cluster
of deaths have been related to the incident? The Air Force "investigation"
didn't even mention these incidents, and as I disclosed in my article,
none of the police investigators or medical examiners in those incidents
had even been contacted by Air Force or other federal investigators.
- The Secretary of Defense appears to have been upset about
this incident. Secretary Robert Gates ordered an unprecedented stand-down
of all air bases in mid-September to check out and account for the entire
nuclear inventory, and a general was dispatched immediately to Minot after
the discovery of the wayward nukes on August 30 to investigate what had
happened. Following a subsequent Air Force investigation, 70 people at
Minot and Barksdale AFBs were removed from their posts and decertified
from handling nuclear weapons, including five officers, one of them the
Minot base commander.
- * But a base commander does not have the authority to
order nuclear weapons to be loaded on a plane and flown. So who issued
that order and why has no one at a senior level in Washington been sacked?
- There is speculation that the order may have come via
an alternate chain of command.
- Vice President Dick Cheney is known to be pressing within
the administration for a war with Iran, to be launched before the end President
Bush's second term of office. According to some reports, Cheney has even,
on his own authority (or lack thereof), urged Israel to attack Iran's nuclear
facilities, in hopes that Iran might retaliate, thus drawing the US into
- Could the nation's war-mongering VP have used his neo-con
contacts in the Defense Department or some of the Armageddon-believers
in the Air Force to bypass the official chain of command and spring those
nukes from their bunker?
- Was there a plan to use one or more of those nukes-W80-1
warheads that can be calibrated to detonate with an explosive power ranging
anywhere from 150 kilotons down to just 5 kilotons-against Iran? The Advanced
Cruise Missile, a stealth weapon almost impossible to spot on radar, is
designed to be launched from a remote location by a B-52, and then to fly
close to the ground to its target, using terrain maps and GPS guidance.
It is also designed to penetrate hardened sites, such as Iran's nuclear
processing and research facilities.
- Or was there a plan for a so-called "false-flag
incident, "where a small nuke-made to resemble a primitive weapon
of the type a fledgling nuclear power might construct-might be detonated
at a US target abroad, or even within the US?
- These are terrible and terrifying questions to have to
ask, but when you have six nuclear weapons go missing, when the military
investigation into the incident is so clearly a whitewash or cover-up,
and when you have a vice president who is openly pressing for an illegal
war of aggression against a nation that poses no threat to the US, and
who, in fact, appears to be conducting his own treacherous foreign policy
behind the back of the president and the State Department, they are questions
that must be asked, and that demand answers.
- In a couple of weeks, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a
candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is planning on calling
for a Privilege of the House vote in Congress on moving his Cheney impeachment
bill (H Res. 333) to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, where
it has been stalled by House Democratic leaders since being filed last
April 24. Such a hearing should demand answers from the vice president
and his staff about his treasonous efforts to push the country into yet
another war in the Middle East. It should also grill Air Force personnel
about the true nature of the Minot nuclear incident.
- Every member of the House of Representatives should have
to take a stand on this issue.
- The Democratic House leadership, under Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, can be expected to try to table Kucinich's privilege motion, which
would prevent such a vote.
- Americans should demand that Pelosi and other Democratic
leaders let Kucinich's privilege motion go forward, and should insist that
every member of Congress put their position on the line. Every American
should demand that their representative to Congress support the start of
impeachment hearings on Vice President Cheney.
- We need to know if the Vice President's office was behind
the flight of those six warheads.
- We need to know in what other treasonous, conspiratorial
actions the Vice President has been engaged in his unremitting effort to
expand the war from <http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/?q=node/57>Iraq
and Afghanistan into Iran.