IT is a mistake any busy person could make. Change a jacket or trousers, lose a credit card and even fail to notice it is missing.
Only in the case of Bill Clinton, the small plastic rectangular card contained the codes needed to launch a nuclear weapon.
According to a new book by General Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the former US president lost the card, refered to as “biscuit”, for several months in 2000.
The retired general said: “The codes were actually missing for months. That’s a big deal – a gargantuan deal.”
The blunder was described in Shelton’s autobiography Without Hesitation: The Odyssey Of An American Warrior.
The “biscuit” card – so named apparently because of its shape and golden hue – is supposed to be kept close at hand at all times by the US president. The codes are used to identify the president to military commanders in the event of the US launching a nuclear attack.
Clinton may have been guilty of the absent-minded offence on more than one occasion. A similar claim was made by Lt Col Robert Patterson, a former aide, in a book published seven years ago.
He said that the morning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in 1998 that he made a routine request of the president to present the card so that he could provide an updated version. “He thought he just placed them upstairs,” Patterson recalled.
“We called upstairs, we started a search around the White House for the codes, and he finally confessed that he in fact misplaced them. He couldn’t recall when he had last seen them.”
Patterson was one of the military aides responsible for carrying a briefcase known as the “football”, which was reportedly named after an attack plan codenamed “Dropkick”. It contains instructions for launching a nuclear weapon. The White House spokesman, Joe Lockhart, confessed in 1999 that Clinton had once left a Nato summit in such haste that he left behind his personal briefcase which contained the codes.
The former president, Jimmy Carter, was also rumoured to have left the “biscuit” in a suit that was sent to the dry cleaners. – © The Daily Telegraph UK 2010
Now where did I leave those codes? Former US president Bill Clinton may have been guilty of losing on more than one occasion the codes to launch nuclear weapons when he was president.