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Derek Johnson @derekjGZ
, 16 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1/ With Mattis and Kelly heading for the door and the myth of “adults in the room” evaporating, now feels like a good time to remind everyone that, yes, We The People really did hand a flailing, impulsive ignoramus the unadulterated power to end life on Earth as we know it.
2/ On a daily basis folks insist to me this isn’t how it works. They need to believe that someone — Sec Def, the Joint Chiefs, or a general, somewhere, surely — has to agree. Because the alternative sounds too insane to be real life.

Allow me to burst your precious bubble.
3/ Everywhere Trump goes, the nuclear briefcase follows. Inside it are levers to weapons made to wipe cities off the map. At any moment he can open it up, flip through its black book of targets, pick up the phone, and tell the Pentagon which armageddon on the menu he likes best.
4/ The officer in charge of the National Military Commander Center (the “War Room”), who may not be any more senior than a colonel, will be on the other end of the line. A small group of senior advisors/commanders may or may not be patched in depending on their availability.
5/ This is where folks assume top brass has to agree. Nope! This is a "consultation" only to the extend POTUS wants to have a conversation. He can end discussion immediately. Sure, people can refuse/resign, but a disobedient officer in the War Room will be immediately replaced.
6/ Once given the order must be verified. It's the only “check” in the process. The War Room officer reads a challenge code and POTUS reads the matching response on a little card he carries w/ him always. Then, like magic, the order is imbued w/ full power of the presidency.
7/ A verified order has presumption of legality and the pressure to obey will be massive. Executing officers in the chain of command have no legal/procedural grounds to defy it no matter how inappropriate it seems. If POTUS's identity is confirmed, the order is considered legit.
8/ From there the order speeds through the system, encrypted in a message half the length of a tweet. This happens FAST. By the time it reaches its final destination — launch officers in underground silos — only a few minutes will have passed since POTUS opened the briefcase.
9/ Five launch crews w/ 2 officers each, spread miles apart underground and overseeing 50-missile squadrons, receive these orders. The 20-something-year-old officers open their safes and make sure the War Room's codes match. If they do, they unlock the missiles and target them.
10/ Each pair of officers then inserts their twin launch keys and turns them together. (The “2-man rule” is at the bottom of the chain, not the top.) Each crew turning their keys generates a “vote” to launch. 5 crews means 5 votes. It only takes 2 votes to launch the missiles.
11/ To block the launch, 4 of the 5 crews would have refuse to obey what seems like a legitimate order from the commander-in-chief, without the benefit of any outside info.

If that mutiny is where you pin your hopes for all of human civilization, good fucking luck with that.
12/ When those keys turn the nuclear weapons will launch instantly.

The whole process, from POTUS cracking open the briefcase to city-killing missiles climbing into the air, takes less than 5 minutes. There are no take-backs. There's no way to stop or cancel a launched missile.
13/ Bear in mind these weapons are 10-20x more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan, and travel at 22x the speed of sound. They'll obliterate target cities in 30 mins or less. Hundreds of millions of people will be dead faster than POTUS can get a big mac sent into the Oval.
14/ I don’t blame you for refusing to believe. I’m not sure I’d believe it myself, had I not heard directly from nuclear command and control experts, veteran launch officers, and the 4-star general who commanded all US nuclear forces.

But this is real. This is how it works.
15/ Trump may be the most unfit person to ever hold the office, but this is the vast, terrible power we bestow on every American president. At the heart of our democracy is an undemocratic nuclear monarchy that holds the whole world hostage to one man's decision-making.
16/ The system is bonkers — but it doesn't have to be. There's a bill in Congress *right now* that would make it impossible for any president, Republican or Democrat, to start a nuclear war on their own.

#NoFirstUse can fix this. Hard to imagine anything more urgent or obvious.
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