The story sounded like a sequel to “Dr. Strangelove”. Leaked by the Pentagon's news service, Military Affairs to quell scuttlebutt racing through the ranks-and perhaps warn the world-a U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bomber “mistakenly” loaded with six nuclear cruise missiles took off from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on August 30, 2007 and flew for more than three hours over at least five states, before landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
The mistake was so egregious, the National Command Authority comprising President George BU.S.h and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were quickly informed. The SecDef has since been assured that nuclear weapons “were part of a routine transfer between the two bases… at no time was the public in danger.”
Both statements are false.
In fact, nuclear weapons like these are carefully crated for shipment between bases, and placed inside the bomb bays or cargo compartments of transporting aircraft. In stunning contrast, this reporter has learned from two independent and highly placed sources that the six Advanced Cruise Missiles dangling from the B-52's fatigued and flexible wings were fully armed and ready to fire-except for a single fail/safe switch under the Command Pilot's control.
The quickly blacked out episode has prompted an Air Force investigation. Gates, whose official defense computer was hacked last June, necessitating the shutdown of the entire SecDef network, has ordered daily briefings on the Air Force inquiry. The Minot base commander, who might turn out to be the hero in this frightening affair, was relieved of his command.....