Did Someone Lose the Nuclear Launch Codes?S

You know how there are some things that you should just never, ever lose? Like your grandmother's ashes, or, say, the authorization codes for the president to order a nuclear strike? Well apparently someone did that a few years ago.

That's right! According to a new memoir by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton (summarized by Tom Ricks), an aide to President Clinton lost the authorization codes that the president would use to order a nuclear strike:

He doesn't really explain what happened or who knew about it, except that the guy who was supposed to make sure once a month that an aide to the president had the codes kept getting the runaround, and putting up with it. It turned out that an aide to the president had misplaced the codes, and had no idea where they were. The situation only came to light when it was time to collect the old codes and replace them with new ones, and the aide apparently confessed. Shelton tells the story a bit oddly — I had to read this section a few times. I am guessing that the story is about the nuclear "football" that a military aide carries. It made me wonder what happened to that aide. Also, what would have happened if the president had decided to launch a nuclear strike?

Uh, yeah? I don't know that much about this whole "nuclear strike" thing, since I'm unfortunately not authorized to order any, but this seems like, I don't know, a bad system. Can't the president just keep them in his pocket, or something?

Either way, enjoy sleeping tonight!

[Tom Ricks/Foreign Policy via Matt Yglesias]