Shortly before noon, Gizmodo published an article with a headline reading "Trump Just Dismissed the People in Charge of Maintaining Our Nuclear Arsenal." But, as the news spread it appears the story might not be accurate. First, a president cannot use political power to sack the officials tasked with overseeing the massive US nuclear stockpile. There are contingencies in place to prevent the executive branch from tipping the scales too far and too fast.
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) January 9, 2017
The "dismissed officials" were from the Department of Energy’s NNSA arm. But there are many other agencies that share responsibility over America’s nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon, for instance, controls water, aerial, and missile delivery of the US strategic nuclear capabilities.
But this is not just a case of egregious headline writing. An official speaking with Defense News said "the story is not accurate. There have been no discussions between the president-elect’s transition team and any of the NNSA political appointees on extending their service past January 20."
Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg wrote, however, that an employee from the Department of Energy told her "this past Friday, the President-elect’s team instructed the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and his deputy to clean out their desks when Trump takes office on January 20th," adding, "it’s a shocking disregard for process."
But what’s not clear is whether or not the DOE official leaking the story is employed within the NNSA division. The semi-autonomous NNSA was explicitly chartered to reduce the global threat posed by nukes. But one enlightened journalist with one source who may not have anything to do with NNSA has accused Trump’s minions of plotting to derail the agency and undermine the maintenance of America’s over 5,000 nuclear warheads.
Feinberg’s story alleging that Trump’s terminations would go through, "even if it means no one is in charge of maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons." What is far more likely, however, is that Feinberg’s "source" abused his or her relationship to the journalist to spread negative headlines about Donald Trump, or, more succinctly, for purely political purposes. Indeed, the Trump-resisting source told Feinberg "we’re so very very f*cked." Parties working secretly to undermine truth are dangerous insofar as ignorance is dangerous.