During the attempted insurrection on January 6th, video from inside the capitol showed the mob coming within 100 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence and his military aide who was carrying a second nuclear football. Had they lost control of the case, no nuclear weapons could have been launched, but the highly classified information within the case could have been leaked, or sold, to nation states.
As a result, members of Congress asked the Pentagon to review procedures for handling and security of the nuclear football. The Department of Defense Inspector General will evaluate the policies and procedures around the Presidential Emergency Satchel, also known as the “nuclear football,” in the event that it is “lost, stolen, or compromised,” according to an announcement from the DoD IG’s office. This would not be the first time procedures for the case have been reviewed. Jimmy Carter, who qualified as a nuclear sub commander, was aware that he would have only a few minutes to decide how to respond to a nuclear strike against the United States. Carter ordered that the war plans be drastically simplified. A former military aide to President Bill Clinton, Col. Buzz Patterson, would later describe the resulting pared-down set of choices as akin to a “Denny’s breakfast menu.” “It’s like picking one out of Column A and two out of Column B,” he told the History Channel. Following Carter, an incident during the Reagan administration led to another review. In the chaos after the attempted assassination, the aide carrying the case was separated from Reagan and did not accompany him to the hospital. When Reagan was stripped of his clothes prior to going into surgery, the biscuit, a card every president is given, which, if needed, can personally identify the president, was found abandoned in a hospital plastic bag. Bill Clinton had his review moment when it was discovered he had lost his biscuit for months, and never told anyone.
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