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The American public escaped unharmed from another transcendent feat of nuclear incompetence last month, when airmen at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota loaded a B-52 bomber with six cruise missiles armed with live nuclear weapons that flew the width of the country to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
For 36 hours, the weapons were not reported missing. During that time, they were dubiously secured and definitely unbeknownst to a clueless crew who thought they were carrying a dummy batch of nukes.
"A weapons transfer error," it was called in a by-the-book piece of crisis management featuring top Air Force brass on Oct. 19, nearly two months later.
Aware of the grave situation, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynn said he was making a "one-time" exception to the rule of neither confirming nor denying that nuclear weapons were involved.
He acknowledged that a series of apparent errors and procedural breakdowns "resulted in our improper and unauthorized transfer of six weapons."