This should scare everyone. Mattis has inserted himself into the nuclear weapons chain of command and reassured Senators for @GOP and @DNC that he could manage @realDonaldTrump dangerous nuclear impulses. This greatly increases risks of nuclear use.
So to expand on this complex issue - my colleagues and sources in the Senate have told me that Mattis has asked/told Strategic Command that he wants to be informed of any issue that might evolve into a nuclear "event" well before an alert is generated and sent to the President.
This was to ensure that President did not get brought into a nuclear command conference without Mattis' input. Many don't know but the Secretary of Defense is not in the chain of nuclear command and does not have to be informed of decision by President to use nuclear weapons.
Of source, Mattis's actions raise the question of whether this violates law. I believe he has asked General in charge of STARTCOM as a professional courtesy to loop him in. Mattis' would outrank General Hyten, commissioned before him. Hyten under no legal obligation to comply.
Also, Mattis' reported action would not prevent President from ordering nuclear launch - he can at any time either in response to nuclear crisis or even without provocation - President is an absolute nuclear monarchy - something that is inconsistent with the Constitution, IMHO.
Mattis' reported actions have likely lulled Senate into believing Trump's impetuous nature can be controlled when it comes to nuclear use. Syria, firing Kelly, Gov shutdown, etc will hopefully wake members of both party to the dangers we now face.
Trump alone has ability to launch nuclear weapons. Almost any use could be considered legal, officers would have to follow proper launch order. US has almost 4000 nuclear weapons, some 2000 on alert or readily launched at any time.
No one - not the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Commander of Stratcom, Vice President or Elvis Pressley can stop him - he can call the launch duty officer at STRATCOM direct and so. The above mentioned people would not even need to be informed.
No one person should have this ability to use nuclear weapons - unless in retaliation to the use of nuclear weapons against us or our allies. Congress should make it illegal for President to use nuclear weapons first, and America can then lead the way to reducing nuclear risks.
Instead, Trump has asked for and GOP Congress approved money for new, more usable submarine launched nuclear weapons that could be deployed in a year or so. Trump and Putin both lowering barriers to nuclear use, and now another nuclear "guardrails" just fell off.
Finally, whoever is nominated for SecDef must answer questions about role of nuclear weapons, how they would change the nuclear chain of command, whether any one person should have such authority and how they would act should the President indicate intent to initiate nuclear use.
*direct and go
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