Pentagon Watchdog To Review Security Of Nuclear Football

( Last Tuesday it was announced that the Pentagon’s inspector general will review the Department of Defense safeguards for the Presidential Emergency Satchel – commonly known as the “nuclear football.”

The Presidential Emergency Satchel is the briefcase that holds nuclear launch codes and other sensitive equipment and is kept in the possession of a military aide wherever the President travels.

The purpose of the Inspector General review is to determine whether the Defense Department has plans to respond in the possible event the nuclear football is compromised.

According to the IG’s office, the inspector general will evaluate the extent that DoD “processes and procedures” are in place to alert the DoD in case the nuclear football is lost, stolen or compromised. It will also determine the adequacy of the procedures in responding to such an event.

The IG review comes after Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the chair of the House Oversight Committee’s national security subcommittee, and Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN), chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee asked the IG to look into the issue back in March. Their concern stemmed from several incidents with either the nuclear football, or the back-up football which travels with the Vice President.

The most recent incident that prompted concern was when rioters came within 100 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence during the January 6 melee at the Capitol. Pence, along with his Secret Service detail and the military aide responsible for the back-up football were rushed to safety.

Though, since the back-up is only functional when the president is incapacitated, the rioters on January 6 would not have been able to use the information even if they had gotten hold of it. Even so, obtaining the back-up football would have placed sensitive technology in their hands.

Another recent incident occurred during President Trump’s 2017 trip to Beijing when a scuffle broke out between Chinese officials and the military aide charged with carrying the briefcase after the aide attempted to enter the auditorium where President Trump was scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The skirmish ended quickly and the nuclear football was never compromised. However, the incident did raise concerns about the physical security of the briefcase.