Clinton Walks Off And
Leaves 'Nuclear Button'
Briefcase In Hallway...
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A harried NATO host President Clinton left behind the critical briefcase carrying the nuclear bomb code at the summit meeting hall Saturday in his haste to greet allied leaders at a White House dinner.
The aide who carries the briefcase containing all that is necessary to launch a U.S. nuclear strike had to walk the four city blocks back to the White House from the Reagan building where the summit was held after Clinton's motorcade left without him, White House officials said.
"Speaking from experience, these things happen," said spokesman Joe Lockhart, who himself missed the presidential plane from Northern Ireland to Moscow last year.
Aides were quick to try to dismiss the incident, which they claimed has happened under past presidents hurrying to pressing events.
"It was just momentary," said spokesman Mike Hammer, who explained that Clinton always has an aide with the nuclear codes close by and that the requirement that he was within "the time frame factor was not an issue."