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-   -   US President has misplaced nuclear codes - contigency plans? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=811218)

Atomic Alex 11-17-2016 04:55 PM

US President has misplaced nuclear codes - contigency plans?
 
I was kind of surprised to read this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ear-codes.html

Without giving away any national secrets I assume there are some sort of contigency plans in place in case the president can't access the authorisation codes for whatever reason? Would it be treated in the same manner as if the president had been killed or incapacitated and the authorisation pass to the next lowest level in the chain of command?

There was a recent thread which mentioned that President Reagan's code card was found inside his sock after he was being treated after an assassination attempt, if you ask me that's a pretty good place to keep something as important as that! :)

Don't need answer fast!

scr4 11-17-2016 05:00 PM

It's been reported/alleged that this happened during Bill Clinton's Presidency.

Wolf333 11-17-2016 05:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 19789728)
It's been reported/alleged that this happened during Bill Clinton's Presidency.



As recently as one post ago.

DinoR 11-17-2016 05:37 PM

Just from SCR4s link, without checking the OP link, the problem was discovered during the routine replacement of the codes. Clearly there's a method, if not a timely one, to replace the codes regularly.

An acronym from my military time related to communication planning - PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.) It's kind of a thing to assume any single method of communication can be jammed, blown up, lost, etc.

For contingency planning I'd assume someone's thought of the fact that an assassination attempt on the President may kill the President and/or code carrier. That attempt may involve the codes/football getting separated from the President. Not completely incompetent contingency planning would have a method to address that.

Then there's the whole issue of the kind of investigation this likely triggered. Think abducted by aliens and anally probed as a less onerous choice just based on the pain I've seen for far less critical issues.:D Just because it happened once doesn't mean the system is anything like it was then.

Tom Tildrum 11-17-2016 05:47 PM

Supposedly this happened once under Bill Clinton.

scr4 11-17-2016 05:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wolf333 (Post 19789761)
As recently as one post ago.

The link I provided answers the OP's question: it says new access codes were issued to the President immediately when it was determined that the old one was missing. It also describes a more strict monthly check to confirm an aide is always with the President carrying the codes.

Flyer 11-18-2016 02:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum (Post 19789819)
Supposedly this happened once under Bill Clinton.

Rumor says that it was for 20 minutes, and it happened on a plane that was trying to take off from a giant treadmill.

Haldurson 11-18-2016 10:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 19789728)
It's been reported/alleged that this happened during Bill Clinton's Presidency.

From that post:
Quote:

"The codes were actually missing for months. This is a big deal," says Gen. Hugh Shelton. "We dodged a silver bullet."
The question that immediately comes to my mind is what made the general believe that President Clinton is a Werewolf?

Tom Tildrum 11-18-2016 10:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Haldurson (Post 19791191)
The question that immediately comes to my mind is what made the general believe that President Clinton is a Werewolf?

Werewolf, horndog, it's all pretty similar.

Happy Lendervedder 11-18-2016 11:01 AM

Can someone explain to me why the president needs codes to launch a nuclear attack? If the president of the United States wants to launch a nuclear attack, to whom does he need to verify his identity? It seems as pointless as asking for the president's ID when he uses his credit card to pay for his burger at Five Guys.

watchwolf49 11-18-2016 11:06 AM

"Mr President ... Mr President ... the Russians have launched thousands of thermo-nuclear missiles at us ... where are the codes ... where are the codes?"

"I have them right here ... 'loaf of bread, gallon of milk and pick up some Ho-Hos for Chelsea -- Hill' ... uh oh ... that explains why that staffer said she couldn't find any Minuteman II's ... "

ETA: You'd think those junior officers at the bottom of the missile silos would have the codes too ... but I'd be guessing about that

Unpronounceable 11-18-2016 01:23 PM

considering that, for decades, the codes were something like:

0000-0000-0000-0000

we should probably be grateful they bother to actually have real codes nowadays.

Atomic Alex 11-18-2016 01:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by watchwolf49 (Post 19791286)
"Mr President ... Mr President ... the Russians have launched thousands of thermo-nuclear missiles at us ... where are the codes ... where are the codes?"

That's actually the scenario I was envisaging, when seconds count you don't want to have the President fumbling around trying to find his/her authorisation codes. What would happen in that situation?

Thanks for the answers everyone! :)

Leo Bloom 11-18-2016 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wolf333 (Post 19789761)
As recently as one post ago.

:cool:

Corner Case 11-18-2016 01:38 PM

{King Roland has given in to Dark Helmet's threats, and is telling him the combination to the "air shield"]}
Dark Helmet: So the combination is... one, two, three, four, five? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!
{President Skroon enters}
President Skroob: Did it work? Where's the king?
Dark Helmet: It worked, sir. We have the combination.
President Skroob: Great. Now we can take every last breath of fresh air from Planet Druidia. What's the combination?
Colonel Sandurz: 1-2-3-4-5
President Skroob: 1-2-3-4-5?
Colonel Sandurz: Yes!
President Skroob: That's amazing. I've got the same combination on my luggage.
{Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz look at each other}

furryman 11-18-2016 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder (Post 19791263)
Can someone explain to me why the president needs codes to launch a nuclear attack? If the president of the United States wants to launch a nuclear attack, to whom does he need to verify his identity? It seems as pointless as asking for the president's ID when he uses his credit card to pay for his burger at Five Guys.

I do a pretty good impression of Ronald Regan.;)

jjimm 11-18-2016 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by watchwolf49 (Post 19791286)
pick up some Ho-Hos

You sure that wasn't Bill's shopping list?

CharmaChameleon 11-18-2016 03:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder (Post 19791263)
Can someone explain to me why the president needs codes to launch a nuclear attack? If the president of the United States wants to launch a nuclear attack, to whom does he need to verify his identity? It seems as pointless as asking for the president's ID when he uses his credit card to pay for his burger at Five Guys.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_football, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-man_rule, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation...mand_Authority for background information.

Isilder 11-19-2016 02:33 AM

The story about Bill Clinton was that he didn't lose the codes, he lost access to the codes, which was in the form of a a card containing a difficult to remember combination for a suitcase.
This was just so that someone who would make a copy of the codes would have to get through the suitcase, and reveal that the the suitcase had been opened.

I't just a suitcase, you can get it into with a saw.. or sledge hammer and chisel and many ways. The card was for the feeling of security.. so that the pres could look in the suitcase and be familiar with what it is...

Billdo 11-20-2016 05:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder (Post 19791263)
Can someone explain to me why the president needs codes to launch a nuclear attack? If the president of the United States wants to launch a nuclear attack, to whom does he need to verify his identity? It seems as pointless as asking for the president's ID when he uses his credit card to pay for his burger at Five Guys.

I presume it is to prevent the officer carrying the "football" from starting WWWIII on his or her own by calling the Pentagon and saying "hey, the boss said to launch." Instead, he or she would need whatever codes are in the "football" plus those on the President's pocket card when communicating a launch order.

Llama Llogophile 11-20-2016 10:03 AM

It's a real nuisance if he loses the codes - he has to solve one of those captchas with the curly script, and respond to a text on his phone.

TonyRV2 11-20-2016 10:56 AM

"Believe me, I know codes. When it comes to codes, nobody is better than I am. In fact, if you look back over the last 8 years, the codes have been horrible, just horrible. But I have a plan. And my plan for the codes is going to be the best plan ever. No one knows what to do with a coed better than me. I embrace the responsibility of dealing with coeds, both in a high level as well as low level. Believe me, you can trust me with all of the coeds that this country has to offer. Because I'm the best man for the job."

...Anonymous

cmyk 11-20-2016 11:46 AM

User Name: The Donald
Nuclear Launch Codes:

Forgot your launch codes or user name? Click here.

.
.
.

drewder 11-20-2016 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder (Post 19791263)
Can someone explain to me why the president needs codes to launch a nuclear attack? If the president of the United States wants to launch a nuclear attack, to whom does he need to verify his identity? It seems as pointless as asking for the president's ID when he uses his credit card to pay for his burger at Five Guys.

Well to the missiles for one thing. They won't fire without the right code. This was supposedly implemented by JFK although apparently the military for a long time kept the code for the missiles as 8 zeros. They quickly changed that practice after someone published an article about the practice.
Also the president needs the sec def to agree in order to launch so he can't just do it willey nilley.

Lumpy 11-20-2016 04:13 PM

Just as an aside, some alternate lyrics to "Let's Dance":

Hey Baby, won't you take a chance

Left my rubbers in my other pants

cmyk 11-20-2016 05:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unpronounceable (Post 19791722)
considering that, for decades, the codes were something like:

0000-0000-0000-0000

we should probably be grateful they bother to actually have real codes nowadays.

Wow, a 1 in 10 quadrillion chance, and they picked all 0s. Amazing!

manson1972 11-20-2016 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drewder (Post 19796142)
Also the president needs the sec def to agree in order to launch so he can't just do it willey nilley.

I'm pretty sure this isn't true.

Lumpy 11-20-2016 10:15 PM

I think it's a case of the President couldn't get the order to launch through the chain of command if the top people dragged their feet.


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