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Friday, October 23, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Whatever scandal Hunter Biden’s emails reveal about alleged influence-peddling schemes with his father, it is nothing compared with the fact that Joe Biden as vice president routinely put the country at risk of being annihilated in a nuclear war. 

As revealed in my book “The First Family Detail,” whenever Mr. Biden returned from Washington to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the then-vice president would order that the military aide carrying the nuclear football remain at least a mile behind him when he traveled around Wilmington.


The nuclear football is a leather-covered titanium business case that weighs 40 pounds. Secured with a cipher lock, it contains a variety of secure phone capabilities and options for launching nuclear strikes that the president may authorize.

The president authenticates his identity with codes found on a small plastic card he carries with him. In case the president is incapacitated or has died, an identical nuclear football is assigned to the vice president.

Since either leader would likely have 15 minutes or less to respond militarily to an impending attack from a country like China, Russia or North Korea before the United States could be wiped out by nuclear-tipped missiles, the military aides who carry the satchels are supposed to be in close proximity to the two leaders at all times.

But as soon as Mr. Biden — code-named Celtic — took office in January 2009, he laid down a rule: Instead of the usual retinue of at least 15 vehicles preceded by a police escort in his motorcade, whenever he returned home to Delaware, he wanted a Secret Service motorcade of just two — the limousine or Suburban he rode in, plus a single follow-up Suburban behind him with agents.

Mr. Biden specifically ordered the Secret Service control vehicle, which carries the military aide and a doctor, to follow at least a mile behind his limousine.

Since Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, traveled back to their home at least once a week and sometimes several times a week, that put the country at risk, potentially unable to retaliate against a nuclear attack whenever the second-in-command was traveling in Delaware.

“When you go to any city outside Washington, you have a full-blown vice presidential motorcade much like the president’s motorcade,” a Secret Service agent told me when Mr. Biden was in office. “Its length may be 15, 20, or more vehicles, including for staff and a counter-assault team. But when he’s home in Wilmington, he has told the service — and for whatever reason Secret Service management bends over and accommodates him — that he does not want anything other than the limousine he’s in and the immediate Suburban that we’re in. He wants everybody else out of sight. That includes the vehicle with the military aide and the doctor.”

As a result, the agent said, “You’ve separated vital assets from the vice president in Wilmington when he’s motorcading around. We are told, ‘Don’t come near us, don’t let us see you, the vice president doesn’t want to see you.’”

Even in normal traffic, by the time the military aide caught up with Mr. Biden in the event of an attack, it would be too late.

“If something happens and they’re caught in traffic, you would lose even more precious time,” an agent said.

Secret Service agents say Mr. Biden simply wanted to preserve his image as a regular Joe. Never mind that if President Obama were taken out, the country could have been obliterated by a nuclear attack because of Mr. Biden’s unparalleled irresponsibility and lack of judgment.

Calling Mr. Biden’s order to keep the nuclear football a mile away from him “alarming,” an agent who was then on Mr. Biden’s detail said, “He wants to be Joe, and he does not want the vehicles around him.”

Secret Service agents say Mr. Biden seemed to care as much about the safety of his fellow Americans as he cared about the feelings of female Secret Service agents who were offended that he regularly swam naked in front of them at his pool at the vice president’s residence or at his home. 

While the mainstream media — including The Washington Post — picked up the nude swimming story from my Secret Service book, they have ignored the far more serious and shocking story of Mr. Biden’s breach of national security when visiting Wilmington.

After I broke the story of Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes when President Obama visited Cartagena, the Secret Service required agents to sign a form stating that they understand they are prohibited from revealing the activities of protectees. However, Mr. Biden’s refusal to allow the nuclear football near him in Wilmington was a stunning breach of national security. 

The Senate Homeland Security Committee should interview Secret Service agents who were on his detail and require them to testify publicly about what they saw. Their testimony could sink Mr. Biden’s chances at the presidency, and rightly so.

• Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the author of “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.”


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