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Friday, May 28, 2004

What about the Big Board?

Dr. Strangelove, indeed

The Nation
"Consider, for example, a fun Cold War-era fact from Bruce Blair, who is president of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.

Blair was a Minuteman nuclear missile launch officer in the 1970s, and ran through simulations of about 100 nuclear wars -- deadly exchanges in which he and his colleagues fired up to 50 nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union.

To launch a Minuteman in those days, one had to "unlock" the missile by dialing in a code -- the equivalent of a safety catch on a handgun. However, Blair reports, the US Strategic Air Command was worried that a bunch of sissy safety features might slow things down. It ordered all locks set to 00000000 -- and in launch checklists, reminded all launch officers like Blair to keep the codes there. "So the 'secret unlock code' during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War," Blair says, "remained constant at 00000000.""

read more here


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