Gen­eral: Nu­clear launch or­der can be re­fused

Tulsa World - - 11.15.2017 -

Sen. Ben Cardin of Mary­land, the com­mit­tee's top rank­ing Demo­crat, asked Kehler if that means Strate­gic Com­mand can deny the pres­i­dent's or­der if it fails the test of pro­por­tion­al­ity and le­gal­ity.

“Yes,” Kehler re­sponded, adding such a sit­u­a­tion would lead to a “very dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion.” It might prompt a pres­i­dent to put a new gen­eral in charge to carry out his or­der, said Brian McKeon, a for­mer act­ing un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, who tes­ti­fied with Kehler.

But if a pres­i­dent's or­der to fire nu­clear weapons, even pre-emp­tively, is de­ter­mined to be sound and le­gal, there's no one who can stop him.

Not the Congress. Not his sec­re­tary of de­fense. And by de­sign, not the mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who would be duty-bound to ex­e­cute the or­der.

As then-Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney ex­plained in De­cem­ber 2008, the pres­i­dent “could launch a kind of dev­as­tat­ing at­tack the world's never seen. He doesn't have to check with any­body. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts.”

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