By Jack Phillips
Several-dozen House Democrats signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to give up his sole authority to launch nuclear weapons and “consider modifying” the command and control of the U.S. nuclear forces.
“Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” a letter from Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) said. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.”
The letter stipulates: “While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so. The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”
Panetta on Monday made a similar statement, saying on Twitter that he is calling on the White House “to install checks & balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure.”
“Past presidents have threatened nuclear attacks on other countries or exhibited concerning behavior that cast doubt on their judgment,” according to his tweet.
The letter was signed by Panetta and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Politico reported that about three-dozen Democrats also signed the letter.
According to the letter, the lawmakers proposed to require more officials, including the vice president and House speaker, to “concur with a launch order.”
They also posited “requiring certifications from the secretary of defense that the launch order is valid and from the attorney general that it is legal,” and it would require a congressional declaration of war or another specific authorization effort from Congress.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Panetta’s office and the White House for comment.
In January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed she spoke with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley about protecting the nuclear codes from former President Donald Trump.
Pelosi said she spoke to Milley on Jan. 5 “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
However, despite her claim, the power has remained with the White House since former President Harry Truman ordered two atomic bombs be dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Typically, a military aide shadows the president and has a black briefcase known as the “nuclear football.” A president is legally able to order a nuclear attack with the U.S.’s arsenal of weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles, or via strategic bombers.