Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2014
BALTIMORE, Maryland — According to an obituary by Robert McFadden, James R. Schlesinger became so alarmed by President Nixon’s unstable behavior in the days leading to his August 1974 resignation, that Schlesinger “instructed the military not to react to White House orders, particularly on nuclear arms, unless cleared by him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.” Schlesinger, an influential Cold War hawk who served Presidents Nixon and Ford as Secretary of Defense, CIA director, and chief of the Atomic Energy Commission, and later as Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Energy, died March 27.
According to research by Scott Sagan and Jeremy Suir, “From Oct. 10, 1969, through the rest of the month, the US military was ordered to full global war readiness alert, without any provocation, and with no explanation to US commanders as to the alert’s purpose.” Nuclear-armed fighter jets were dispersed, ICBM countdowns were initiated and ballistic missile submarines were deployed. “On Oct. 27, the Strategic Air Command was ordered to dispatch B-52 bombers, loaded with H-bombs, toward the Soviet Union … in an operation named Giant Lance. ‘The bombers crossed Alaska,’ Sagan and Suri wrote, ‘were refueled in midair by KC-135 tanker aircraft, and then flew in oval patterns toward the Soviet Union and back, on 18-hour vigils over the northern polar ice cap.’ This was all done in total secrecy — not from the Soviets, of course, since they knew quite well what was happening, but from the American people.”
— New York Times, March 28, 2014; James Carroll, “Nixon’s Madman Strategy,” Boston Globe, June 14, 2005