Warehouse E

That A-Bomb Flight

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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.”