WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is questioning whether it is ready to deal with the theft or compromise of the portable communications system dubbed “nuclear football,” which allows the president or a replacement to order a nuclear attack.
Announcing the investigation on Tuesday, the Pentagon Inspector General’s office did not disclose what had precipitated it, but questions about security procedures have been raised in the aftermath of the Jan.6 uprising on Capitol Hill. .
Vice President Mike Pence was seen on security camera video escorted to safety, with a military aide wearing relief “nuclear football”, as rioters entered the Capitol.
A backup system always accompanies the vice-president so that he can communicate in case of impossibility of the president. The “football”, officially called the presidential emergency bag, allows communication with the office inside the Pentagon which transmits the nuclear attack orders.
The inspector general’s office said its review began this month. He gave no time to complete it.
“The objective of this assessment is to determine the extent to which DoD processes and procedures are in place and adequate to alert DoD officials in the event of loss, theft or compromise of the presidential emergency bag,” Randolph R. Stone, Assistant Inspector. General, wrote in a July 19 letter to the director of the White House military office and the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. “This assessment will also determine the adequacy of the procedures that the DoD has developed to respond to such an event.”
Two Democrats who had asked the Pentagon Inspector General to look into the matter, Representatives Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, said in a joint statement that the January 6 riot raised the question of whether the Pentagon was even football conscious ”potentially running the risk of falling into the hands of the insurgents.
“It is imperative that we fully understand the processes and procedures in place to protect the Presidential Emergency Satchel – especially when its custodians could be in danger – and we commend (the Inspector General) for accepting our request to ‘initiate this evaluation. ” they said.
Lynch and Cooper wrote to the Pentagon Inspector General’s office in March requesting a review.
“The US Strategic Command, which is responsible for strategic deterrence and US nuclear operations, was unaware that Vice President Pence, his military assistant and nuclear football were all potentially in danger and did not understand the seriousness of the incident. only a few weeks later when security camera footage was released as a video exhibit during the Senate impeachment trial, ”they wrote.