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Our bad! Please give back our nose cones

The Pentagon mistakenly shipped Nuclear Missile fuses to Taiwan. The Defense Department was supposed to ship batteries but instead shipped a missile component that triggers Minutemen intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The error was announced yesterday (link) and Gates announced an immediate investigation.

Here's some questions, as an American citizen, i'd like answered:
- When did the DOD become the Sam's club of Defense parts?
- Why did it take 18 months to find the mistake? Aren't Nuclear nose cones something that the US wants to track?
- Why did the President and Gates delay the disclosure of the mistake until after Taiwan's election?
- Why are batteries and missile fuses stored in the same warehouse?
- Was the fulfillment performed by contract employees?
- Since the missile fuses are in a warehouse and packed and distributed for sale, who the heck are we supposed to be selling missile fuses to and why?
- How many other mistakes haven't you found?

But the real question is, what did the Taiwanese government do with the nose cones during the 18 months?

Posted by john trevisani at March 26, 2008 1:33 PM
Comment #249279

I guess Tibet outranks Taiwan:

Bush “pushed very hard” about violence in Tibet, a necessity for restraint and a need for China to consult with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, the White House said.
After days of silence by Bush as other world leaders raised their voices, it marked a rare, direct protest from one president to another. As if to underscore how pointed Bush was, the White House said he used the call to “speak very clearly and frankly.”
At the same time, Bush was forced to address an embarrassing blunder by the United States — the shipment of nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan and the failure to discover the error for more than 18 months. “It came up very briefly,” National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters. “Basically, the president indicated that a mistake had been made. There was very little discussion about it.”
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

When did they become the Sam’s Club?: A long long time ago.

Why did it take 18 months? Blame it on Martin Marietta.

Why delay disclosure until after election? So it wouldn’t affect the outcome. Did our guy win? That’s all that matters.

Batteries and missile fuses? I’m picking Litton Industries out of the hat for this one.

Contract employees? The State dept. hired the same ones later to keep track of passport files.

Who selling missile fuses to and why? The good guys, of course.

Other mistakes? No!, Never!

Taiwanese government do with the nose cones? They kept calling people who kept passing the buck until they threatened to call the news media instead.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 26, 2008 8:44 PM
Comment #249285

Those seem like good questions to ask, but doesn’t the thing about delaying the disclosure until after Taiwan’s election seem a bit of a stretch?

I mean, they found out Friday and Taiwan’s election was Saturday. Should Gates and Bush rushed immediately to the microphones to get this news out the very second they heard it just to come in before Taiwan’s election the next morning? Why? And why would this be an election issue in Taiwan anyway? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 26, 2008 11:26 PM
Comment #249299

john, this is a Defense Dep’t. under the Bush administration where things don’t have to make sense to the people.

Options to try to make sense of it:

1) The lack of oversight and accountability in the Bush Administration is world renowned, and in typical top down Republican style, infected the Defense Department. Very plausible and likely.

2) Bush’s legacy was going to be very negative for having accomplished nothing. Since, a notorious legacy was inescapable, Bush decided to make it really mean something and the shipment was deliberate and the timing of the revelation also deliberate to provoke a hostile response from Mainland China to which Bush could rise again to meet a threat and hopefully do it more competently this time before leaving office. Logical, but, not very likely, as our Defense Dep’t. career civil servants would not likely tolerate such secret orders from above if they received them, given the potential long term catastrophic consequences of such line of action.

Take your pick. I choose door number 1. Wahoo!

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 27, 2008 2:14 AM
Comment #249308

1: Number one is SOP
2: Requires a level of ‘strategery(Bushism)’.

Since this administration isn’t keen on this whole ‘strategery’ thing’, it’s number 1.

Aside from generic blunders, isn’t anyone concerned about these Nuclear secrets getting out? i mean, if this was found in Iraq, we’d hear that they found WMDs. If it was discovered that Iran had received a similar shipment from Russia, we’d condemn this as an aggressive action against the US. But this administration seems ‘okay’ with chalking this up to incompetence.

i’m also a bit curious about this warehouse. It’s purely supposition but i don’t buy the explanation that the DOD meant to ship batteries. Don’t we get these batteries from Taiwan anyway? Taiwan buying batteries from us seems implausible since these batteries can be acquired just about anywhere. Now, the nuclear nose cones; they’re not as plentiful. So it’s more plausible to me that this warehouse does distribute and sell WMD parts. Just who are we selling WMD parts to and why? Aren’t we just arming the rest of the world with WMDs?

Posted by: john trevisani at March 27, 2008 7:33 AM
Comment #249321

John, we’re not talking about packs of Energizer 9 volt batteries here that the Taiwanese could have just picked up at a local convenience store. These were batteries for use on American-made Huey helicopters. I’m not sure why you find it so implausible that the Taiwanese would be buying them from the Defense Department. Also, you’re making a huge leap in assuming that all of the weapons parts stored in this DOD warehouse were being sold. Why that assumption?

David, Bush has been president for a while now, but I don’t seem to remember that Golden Era before he assumed office when none of the millions of people with US government jobs ever made a mistake. Anybody who has watched the government in action over the years knows better—and it’s why, incidentally, that conservatives aren’t as eager as some of you to turn over the management of health care, among other things, to these people.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 27, 2008 11:14 AM
Comment #249337

This explains why my remote didn’t work last time I was at a hotel in Taiwan.

Posted by: Schwamp at March 27, 2008 1:00 PM
Comment #249338

Do a google search on 1.2 volt Ni-Cad batteries. You’ll find what you’re looking for. For that matter, i’ve also successfully searched for Bell Huey parts and found some retailers.

i don’t know what’s being sold. And neither do you. But the fact of the matter is that SOMEONE packed up the nose cones like it was just another order. That means that selling and shipping these orders to foreign soil is SOP, not an anomaly.

Posted by: john trevisani at March 27, 2008 1:05 PM
Comment #249358

Loyal Opp made the stupid comment: “that conservatives aren’t as eager as some of you to turn over the management of health care, among other things, to these people.”

Even in a socialized health care system, it is doctors and nurses who deliver health care, not politicians or government bureaucrats. Under our current system where greed and speed are prime movers in health care delivery, 80,000 Americans die each year directly as a result of medical malpractice, not the affliction which sent them to seek medical help.

So, that ‘conservative’ rhetoric has no logic at all. Republicans run government badly, republicans say government can’t be trusted because when we run it never turns out right. Therefore, the problem has to be government, not the people who run it.

The logic is absent and the argument is stupid.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 27, 2008 4:02 PM
Comment #249411


This is good…

If the Dems are elected and we get government run health care, we’ll have no more medical malpractice. That’s amazing.

Posted by: cliff at March 28, 2008 12:33 PM
Comment #249413

Speculating can be fun. On occasion, it can lead to significant insights.
In this case, however, I dont’t see any reason yet to see this in other than ‘dangerously stupid mistakes’ terms. It wasn’t so long ago that a plane carrying a cruise missile flew acroos the US.

I have the impression that employees, in any setting, are increasingly inattentive and lacking in a sense of personal responsibility. I have no idea if my impression is driven by headlines or if there is such a trend actually there. The anectdotal evidence of my own work experience does support my impression.

Posted by: sisuntas at March 28, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #249419

The Bush Administration has set the bar for competence so low that rather than a leap, it only takes a shuffel of the feet to get over that bar. The list of incompetence is so long that it takes a leap of imagination just to defend this administration.

Another name given to the Civil War Era was the Age of Shoddy because of the inferior products, the graff and the incompetence of defence contractors. The Second Age of Shoddy seems like an appropriate nick name for this administration and the Congress as well.

Posted by: jlw at March 28, 2008 2:22 PM
Comment #249428


I feel you missed the more obvious questions:

How could such a secretive, lying, cheating, stealing, freedom robbing administration ever let this information out?

Could this be a program to arm Taiwan with a nuclear bomb one part at a time?

Why didn’t the US invade Taiwan to get the fuses back?

If the fuses are destroyed, will it contribute to the global warming disaster that awaits us in the future?

And, how does this effect healthcare?

Posted by: William at March 28, 2008 3:44 PM
Comment #249447

March 28 (UPI) — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered an inventory of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the wake of the shipment mix-up with Taiwan…
Gates ordered the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency to inventory and assess control measures for all nuclear weapons and their associated components within 60 days “to verify positive control and accountability of all such materials,” …
“This is about the trust and confidence of the American people and our stewardship of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” … “Getting to the bottom of this incident and ensuring our nuclear arsenal and associated components are properly safeguarded must be a top priority of this department. Secretary Gates believes this situation is totally and completely unacceptable.”
Initial reports indicate the nose cones’ outer packaging was mislabeled.

Maybe we need the UN inspectors to help us find our own WMDs.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 28, 2008 8:14 PM
Comment #249465
Maybe we need the UN inspectors to help us find our own WMDs.

I have to admit that’s pretty funny.

William, if this was “part of a program” to arm Taiwan with nukes one part at at time, then we wouldn’t have heard about this shipping error or had those parts sent back. Instead of seeing this for what it is—a clerical error—why do we need these conspiracy theories?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 28, 2008 11:04 PM
Comment #249469

Considering the fact that we recently had an incident where US planes were flying around with nuclear weapons on them that weren’t supposed to be there….I have no problem at all believing we could accidentally ship some stuff we shouldn’t have to Taiwan.

No doubt when Obama or Hillary are in the White House it will be absolutely impossible for such errors to happen and they will take full responsibility for any screw up anyone makes during their watch! And you guys would never say something like it’s silly to hold Obama accountable for every mistake some fool in the huge bureaucracy makes?

Posted by: Stephen at March 29, 2008 12:01 AM
Comment #249471

The ineptitude of this administration lends itself to all sorts of possibilities. We should have learned by this time to not question anything…..they’re capable of it all, and the sneakier the better.

Posted by: janedoe at March 29, 2008 12:41 AM
Comment #249485
We should have learned by this time to not question anything…..they’re capable of it all, and the sneakier the better.

I can’t help but notice that when you suggest we “not question anything” you are referring to conspiracy theories and politicized allegations.

Is not questioning anything really the appropriate posture for a citizen to take—whether for or against their government?

What’s going on here is that you folks can’t seem to decide anymore whether when something—anything—happens it is a). an incredibly subtle plot of evil genius or b). crass, blundering incompetence. Simpler explanations such as the usual bureaucratic error seem to be totally unthinkable to those carried away with Bush hatred and conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 29, 2008 11:51 AM
Comment #249624


I guess my sarcasm was a bit too subtle…

I should have added:

And what about Naomi?
but you have to be old to get it…

Posted by: william at March 31, 2008 5:32 PM
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