Concern has suddenly appeared that rioters were close to obtaining the nuclear football, a 45-pound case that allows the president to confirm his identity and authorise a nuclear strike. The football also provides the commander in chief with a simplified menu of nuclear strike options -- allowing him to decide, for example, whether to destroy all of America's enemies in one fell swoop or to limit himself to obliterating only Moscow or Pyongyang or Beijing. It had to be simple because US presidents are not normally that bright.
A picture has tipped up of the attempted coup showing the mob coming within 100 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence and his military aide who was carrying a second nuclear football.
Had the rioters obtained the suitcase no nuclear weapons could have been launched, but the highly classified information within the case could have been leaked, or sold, to nation-states. Some of the rioters had admitted that they were in the Capital to obtain papers that they hoped to sell to other countries so the nuclear football would be right up their alley.
While it sounds unlikely to us, 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.
The Reagan administration had 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.