Was Cheney Caught In A Covert Attempt To Nuke Iran?
By James Donahue
Remember the strange story
about the B-52 bomber that “accidentally” flew from Minot Air Force base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force
base in Louisiana, with five nuclear-tipped Advanced Cruise missiles on board?
The flight happened on August
30, 2007, and the incident was made public Sept. 5 after some unidentified staff workers at Barksdale discovered the missiles
on the aircraft. The Air Force said it was a mistake and that the weapons were supposed to be marked for decommissioning.
Some heavy investigative reporting
by Michael E. Salla, former assistant professor in the School of International Service, American University, Washington D.C.,
suggests that the incident was much more serious than the public was ever told. He suggests that the flight was arranged by
someone high in the Bush Administration, and may have been the first stage of a foiled covert operation designed to hit Iran
with a nuclear strike.
Salla also suggests that the
flight was ordered by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Without getting into all of
the technical details of the Salla argument to build his case, we will highlight his points as follows:
--It is a violation of U.S.
Air Force regulations to carry nuclear weapons aboard an aircraft that flies over the United States unless they are especially
packaged so that in the case of a crash there will not be radioactive pollution. They also must be carried in transport planes
that are unable to launch such weapons.
--There are strict rules for
handling nuclear arms that call for a failsafe method of assuring against error. This particular B-52 was armed and capable
of launching these missiles, which means the plane was loaded intentionally. Thus the incident was not a mistake, as suggested
by the official Air Force story.
--The Air Force has been decommissioning
its stockpile of Advanced Cruise missiles, and the five nuclear weapons on the B-52 were scheduled to be decommissioned. But
they were to have been moved to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, where warheads are separated from the rest of the weapon
and then shipped to the Energy Department’s Pantex dismantlement facility near Amarillo, Texas. These five missiles
went to the wrong place.
--That the B-52 loaded with
nuke missiles landed at Barksdale Air Force Base is highly suspicious since that base is used for staging military operations
in the Middle East. Salla argues that the circumstantial evidence suggests a covert plan for possible use in the Middle East.
--At the time this happened,
there had been constant rumors and suggestions by President George W. Bush and his staff that either the United States Air
Force would stage an air strike on Iran or that the U.S. would back such a strike by the Israeli Air Force. The Sunday Times
published a Pentagon source as stating that 1,200 targets were selected for a three-day aerial blitz designed to destroy much
of Iran’s military infrastructure and wreck that country’s alleged development of nuclear weaponry
--Salla notes: “if the
regular chain of command was violated, then we have to inquire as to whether the B-52 incident was part of a covert project
whose classification level exceeded that held by officers in charge of nuclear weapons at Minot Air Force Base.” And
if it came from that high up, the order appears to have originated from someplace high in the Bush Administration.
--His story puts a magnifying
glass on Vice-President Dick Cheney, who has maintained what Salla describes as “a very prominent role in covert military
operations and training.” He said Bush placed Cheney in charge of all federal programs dealing with weapons of mass
destruction on May 8, 2001, four months almost to the day before the 9-11 attacks. Consequently, Cheney was supervising training
exercises that simultaneously occurred on the day of the 9-11 attacks, and had a parallel chain of command that he used
to override Air Force objections to stand down orders and ground Air Force places during the attacks.
--If Cheney had the authority
to circumvent the chain of command on 9-11, he also had the power to order the B-52 flight loaded with nuclear missiles on
Sept. 5, 2007.
Salla presents circumstantial
evidence in his story that the possible covert attack on Iran may not have been as secret an operation as we might have expected.
It appears some big money speculation was happening on the stock market that same week.
He notes that an attack like
that would not only devastate Iran’s economy, but create political instability in the region, stop the oil supply from
Iran, and possibly disrupt the oil supply from the Persian Gulf. This, in turn, would have triggered a global financial disaster
that might have brought about the collapse of financial markets. Falling in line with such a scenario were reports of billion
dollar investments that week in high risk stock options in Europe and the United States. These investments would only have
been profitable, Salla said, “if a dramatic collapse of the stock market were to occur before Sept. 21.”