Nov 19, 2017 - Politics & Policy

Nuke chief would stand up to POTUS


Gen. John Hyten. Photo: Nati Harnik / AP

The top U.S. nuclear commander stirs an online ruckus by saying he'd resist a commander-in-chief's order for a nuclear strike if it were illegal.Why it matters: Needless to say, this isn't normal. The fact that this is even a topic of conversation reflects Trump anxiety among many former national-security officials, including some Republicans.The backdrop, via CNN: The "remarks come after a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week on the President's authority to launch nuclear weapons — the first such ... hearing in more than 40 years."Speaking yesterday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which oversees nukes and missile defense, said what would happen if he were ordered to launch a nuclear strike (CNN, AP, Reuters):

  • "I provide advice to the President ... He'll tell me what to do, and if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm gonna say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.'"
  • "Guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."
  • "I think some people think we're stupid. We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?"
  • "If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life."
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