A lot of unpack from this story. No one should breath easy about how this played out, or ignore the very real risks we face moving forward.


Bob Woodward is a seasoned and legendary reporter. Some of his work is been less than 100% accurate, but he has been right way more than he has been wrong, and the article suggests reports on Gen. Milley and nuclear decision making are well documented.
Bottom lines up front:

Trump was even more dangerous than we imagined.

However well intended Gen. Milley was so worried about Trump that he took actions that violated the chain of command and, arguably, his oath of office. He must resign or be replaced.
Gen. Milley reportedly told his Chinese counterpart that he would provide advance notice of any attack. I find that very hard to believe, am eager to see how this part of the story is sourced. If true, again however well intended, appears to be well beyond his authority.

Even more concerning is the additional reporting, backing contemporaneous reports from Jan 5, that Gen. Milley circumvented the military chain of command and instructed nuclear launch officers not to follow legal Presidential orders without his being informed 1st.
This followed reports I had heard from 2016-17 that Secretary Mattis had issued similar "orders" that he be informed of any nuclear strike orders in advance despite the fact that the Secretary of Defense is not in the chain of command when it comes to nuclear launch orders.
Implications of both reports are complex. On the one hand, we should be glad that people wanted to prevent a deranged President from launching a nuclear attack in violation of law and all moral and security standards to save his doomed Presidency.
It seems Gen. Milley and Secretary Mattis sought to prevent a President who could not be trusted to protect American security and might be willing to risk a nuclear holocaust from using America's most fearsome weapons. We owe them thanks, but illegal actions are still illegal.
America is a country of laws and the President - despite the risks built into this system and one that we should change - has the full legal authority to order the use of nuclear weapons if he believes it is necessary to protect America or its allies.
If and when he/she chooses to do so, the President can pick up a phone, make a call to a lower level officer, confirm his identity, and order the immediate use of nuclear weapons. Not the VP, Secdef, Chairman or even the commander of STARTCOM can stop him or even has to know.10/
That seems crazy, but that is the legal system our country has had in place since the nuclear age began. It should be changed. No one person should have the ability or the right to start a nuclear war. It can be debated whether nuclear retaliation should be different.
This video explains it clearly and lays out many of the risks. @derekjGZ does a great job laying it all out, echoing the insights of @globalzero 's founder and former President Bruce Blair (RIP). 12/
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs cannot create a new chain of command just because he believes it is necessary. What if the situation were flipped and President chose not to retaliate to use of nukes, and Chairman decided that was the wrong call? Could he them order a launch?13/
I have never met the Chairman. I believe he is a patriot and an honorable man, but do not see how he can continue to serve in his position if any of what is reported is true. 14/
He should resign, and then use his moral authority to work with many of us who believe the current system of nuclear control must change. Any decision to initiate the use of nuclear weapons should be subject to either a Congressional declaration of war. 15/
If a state of war exists - de jure or de facto - then other Senate confirmed positions should have to support nuclear use - including maybe Secdef or the CJCS. Clearly Gen, Milley seems to agree Chairman should be in the loop. But that should be by law, not personal choice.16/
We live in tumultuous times. Trump was not fit to be President. But having been duly elected, he had full authority over America's nuclear weapons. The system should be changed, but ad hoc decision making about America's nuclear forces is not how to run a country of law. end/
It is now reported by
that 15 people including interagency members were on the video call and notes were circulated. This is more than a one person move to avoid a conflict. And a lot of people involved. Who else?

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More from @JBWolfsthal

19 Jul
I had a little to do with the original proposal by US to convene strategic stability talks with Russia back in 2016 so have a few thoughts. 1/n
The original proposal from the US to Russia came in 2016 after being approved by President Obama and his national security team. The motive was straight forward - the risk of a misunderstanding or conflict escalating to the use of nuclear weapons was unacceptably high. 2/n
The immediate need was to reopen a direct, high level and sustained channel for communicating goals, objective and intentions to each other. Not to prove one side right or wrong, but to avoid a clash or escalation neither side wanted. 3/n
Read 13 tweets
4 May
John Bolton has an opinion on the Iran nuclear deal - a thread.
The Washington Post Op-Ed page today carried a long op-ed by former National Security Advisor to Donald Trump today on why President Biden should "ditch" the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. washingtonpost.com/opinions/globa… 1/
I won't point out the many weaknesses of his arguments here, aside from the fact that Iran is now a couple of months away from a bomb if it wants one, compared to over a year under the Iran deal signed in 2015. It was Bolton who helped push Trump to pull out of the 2015 deal. 2/
Read 15 tweets

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