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provided by Jack Carter on 23 November 2007.
This update addresses further questions and highlights further issues.
The material below was all sent to us by Jack, in response to various questions and requests for comments or clarification.
The central theme, which is important, is that he doubts the testimony provided by 'Hank', Will Thomas's source for his articles here, here and here, which promoted the 'Chinese hacking' explanation for the Minot-Barksdale incident.
I am still trying to figure out how the best way is to release what I know and use it so no one gets hurt. The goal that we mutually share is to get to the truth and we both know that right now it is not being told. I want to be cautious about this so that the people who are investigating it can do their job.
I have been brought up to believe that the truth will set you free and I found out early in life that not telling the truth always comes back to haunt you. So I would rather not say anything then not tell the truth.
Some of the info that is being provided is accurate, some is not. There is no stencil "nuclear armed" on any of the missiles. The safety command arm switch is where it states. That is a fail safe mechanism. I never got into the security procedures for security reasons, but what is being said is only half of it. So that should tell you how improbable an accident sounds to anyone who has worked around them.
There are daily procedures that are taken to change codes and procedures for the people who interface with the items. A "hack" would have to have been done on a massive level. Authenticators would have to have been compromised and these come from different places so that they cannot be changed by one person. So I am very concerned that if orders were given to load a plane "hot", and it got through all of the safety checks that are put in place, then we are screwed.
If a handler gets a work order to remove a "hot" item from a (let's use the term) bunker, it has to be authenticated so that the order can be confirmed. These things change from day to day and can be changed again if a compromise has taken place. HQ sends by coded message, and that can even be changed.
So if I was briefed that we would be moving items outside the WSA [weapons storage area] I had to verify where that order came from and be able to justify what the purpose it was being moved was. There are many separate areas that would have to have the same info and each area would have their own verification authenticators. So we are talking about a massive and total breakdown of security. I am sure that couriers are being used to deliver things right now if this is the case.
My head hurts just from thinking about the possibility of this.
I did read Will Thomas's most recent article Loose Nukes. Whoever "Hank" is is not providing accurate info and the stuff he is getting right is something that he may have gotten from already known material. Some may be misinfo.
A fully loaded BUFF [AF colloquial for a B-52] carries a total of 20 "items": six under each wing and eight on a rotary launcher in the bay. When they are loaded they are attached to a pylon and are transported on a MHU-173 trailer. The pylon or launcher comes to the plane as a ready-to-go unit. It is mated to the aircraft and a final ops check takes place. They are loaded as a single unit.
The procedure "Hank" describes is a single missile changeout that would only take place if a missile failed a final ops check. Everything that is done to these single units is done in a controlled environment and it would only be done that way during an exercise or emergency situation. So what "Hank" is stating is possibly fabricated from a picture he has seen. There is no printer in the cockpit. They do not fuel missiles on the plane. There is a lot of info that is not right. I am not sure that "Hank" is someone you could rely on for accurate info.
I don't want to start a war with whoever "Hank" is but I don't like people who put information out there for a hidden purpose. I am willing to provide a copy of my DD214 to you to prove I am who I say I am, and that I was where I say I was and did what I did. I wonder if "Hank" would do the same. I wonder what career field he is in, or was in?
Bob Dean and I would get along great. He really tells it like it is. I once had a State Attorney refer to me as a bulldog because when I started working on a case I would not let go of it until I was sure that I had uncovered every rock and it could not be disputed.
David Lindorff has written a good article here. I can tell his sources are good. Info about arming window is accurate.
One of the things that I will mention here is that almost everything that the AF does on a routine basis is timed. They have exercises. This is done to keep everyone proficient and look for areas that would cause problems. Things are accomplished at almost breakneck speed to see just how fast we could take about 20 aircraft (each base) and completely load them. The enormous amount of coordination it takes to do this is remarkable but that is why we are so good at what we do. After we would complete this upload and we were ready, the order would come to down to download all of the aircraft. This is a nightmare for everyone who has to track all of these items. Each item would have to be listed in three areas and there were at least three or four items that had to be tracked with each "package".
Sometimes problems would arise and things had to be temporarily placed together. We were always aware of this and total verification was always done. Every item has to scheduled for routine maintenance and it all has to jive with about four or more status boards or spreadsheets. In fact every morning a recap is done between the WSA area and munitions control to verify that everything matched. If something didn't match then a team was sent to verify it so we knew that it was right.
The AF story is that a hot pylon was placed in storage with a inert one and it went undetected and was mistakenly hooked up to a transport tug by a team of four and then transported to the gate and OKed to go to the flightline where none of the transport teams or security teams or load team performed a step in the checklist to verify it was safe. Then it was uploaded and the air crewchief did not check to verify it was safe. Then, so they say, the air crew or pilot did not check this step either.
The load crew would have had to do an ops check on it and it would not have passed (unless there was no reason to ops check it).
Perhaps it was slated for decommission. Then all of the above would not be adhered to so rigidly. But even with that, the first thing in every checklist is to ensure the weapon is safe. There is a step in at least five different checklists for at least five different people that would have the people performing the check to look at the safing pins and streamers and the armament window to verify a safe condition. The safing streamers were a different color to alert you that you were working with a live nuke. Too many things would have to be bypassed to allow this to have happened and I just can't believe that a complete failure occurred here at so many levels.
Project Camelot's comment
We share Jack's concerns. We are not in a position to come to conclusions. The incident is still very hard to explain. As with all our work, our commitment is to present information to the public to enable them to be better informed and to make better decisions for themselves.