In a recently publicized letter, signed by and led by Reps Jimmy Panetta and Ted W Lieu, 31 Democrat lawmakers requested that President Biden give up sole power to declare nuclear war.
The letter opens requesting a change to the decision-making process used in regards to controls and commands of nuclear devices. Whilst the letter acknowledges that 2 of the duties of the President are to ensure the security of the country and its nuclear arsenal, the letter goes onto express concern that the decision making for using these weapons lies with one person. “Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks.” The letter then goes onto outline its main reasons for requesting a change in process. No Presidents are name-checked, but the letter does express concern about past Presidents threatening to attack opponents with nuclear weapons and these President’s advisors having genuine concerns about their judgement.
The President has at their disposal, a team of officials with whom they can consult before taking any decisions in regards to an act of aggression or war. This is not required though. The military will carry out a Presidential order if they assess it to be a legal act or war. Rep Jimmy Panetta re-iterates the need for a checks and balances system on Twitter. Alternative options were suggested by Rep Panetta and Rep Lieu. One option would be that the Vice President’s approval would be required, along with the Speaker of the House. The 2nd option on the table is that approval should be granted by the relevant officials that any act of war or aggression is both valid and legal. The 3rd suggestion would put power on congressional hands to gain approval. The 4th option would be “Creating a permanent active council of congressional leaders that would regularly participate in deliberations with the executive branch on vital national security issues and mandate some portion of the council be consulted before the first use of nuclear weapons.”
Presidents have passed down a briefcase which is known as a “nuclear football”. This briefcase contains all the necessary information to conduct a nuclear strike. The “nuclear football” is usually handed over at the inauguration of the new President, but in the case of the handover from former President Trump to President Joe Biden, this had to be done at a considerably longer distance due to Trump’s decision not to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO