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What really happened at Minot AFB

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Project Camelot has been contacted by a Minot airman who has supplied precise answers
to important questions raised by the Minot/Barksdale 'missing nukes' incident.

The event was no accident. Below we present detailed testimony from Jack Carter,
who has considerable experience handling nuclear weapons at the base.

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Click here for our reprint of Global Research's report on the Minot/Barksdale 'missing nukes' incident.

In this important article, the author, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, posed the following questions:

1. Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?
2. How long was it before the error was discovered?
3. How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?
4. How many and which security protocols were overlooked?
5. How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?
6. How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?
7. What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?
8. How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?
9. Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

Update, 24 November: Will Thomas, in his excellent articles here, here (this second one especially important), and most recently here, suggests convincingly that this was a Chinese military hack... i.e. false orders that appeared so real that the command structure at Minot was deceived. Although incredible, it does seem to be one hypothesis that fully explains all the very strange anomalies in the incident. But read on:

Click here for an update from Jack Carter, casting doubts on Will Thomas's claims (18 January 2007).

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A Minot airman has supplied Project Camelot with detailed answers to these and other questions. The information is of such importance that we have felt obliged to present it as a stand-alone follow-up report.

The name we have given our source, Jack Carter, is a pseudonym. We have not yet met him, but have conducted extensive correspondence by e-mail. We are confident that he is exactly who he says he is: an experienced airman with extensive personal experience of nuclear weapons security procedures at Minot AFB.

We believe that nothing we are reporting here is classified or constitutes any breach of National Security. Our source is patriotic and responsible and he chose not to divulge certain information which was not pertinent to an analysis of what may actually have occurred.

The e-mail transcript - essentially a written interview - follows. It is slightly edited and abbreviated for clarity, and we have omitted a number of personal references and identifying characteristics from his report to protect his identity. Jack has given his permission for us to release the following which was reviewed and approved by him prior to publication.

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Jack Carter

Hello, Bill and Kerry.

I have so much to say I don't know where to begin. I found your site through the Disclosure Project website.

I spent ___ years in the USAF, the last ___ of which were at Minot AFB. I had considerable experience working with nuclear weapons. I can tell you that there is no way in hell that the six W80s that were transported, loaded and flown off the base could have happened without a significant number of officials knowing about it. I am talking from personal experience.

If you are interested and have the time I would be willing to answer any questions that you have and go from there.

Project Camelot

Many thanks for your message. It's a pleasure and an honor for us to hear from you.

Your confirmation of what happened at Minot from the standpoint of your experience is very important. We would welcome hearing about what you know and/or conclude from this entire incident, in as much detail as you feel willing to share. Everything will be held in total confidence.

Jack Carter

Thank you for the prompt reply.

I will start this with a small amount of background that you will find interesting. I was born on __ _____, 19__. I grew up in ______.

When I was in leadership school at _____ somewhere around 19__, I had the privilege of having a conversation with _____ who at the time was our Wing Commander. Since I had a Top Secret clearance, I was told that we had already put a weapons platform in space. I never followed up on that. But felt that he had told me the truth.

I worked as a munitions controller at _____. We worked in a room that was locked and was the size of about 12 feet by 16 feet. All communication was by telephone or radio except for a small window. We were responsible for tracking all of the conventional and nuclear weapons on base. We did this using lighted plexiglass wall units that covered almost the entire room. Items were tracked in triplicate.

I had people who were placed in the control room from different aspects of the control process. I felt that any one of us who worked there needed to know everything that each team did so that we had overall knowledge of the entire process. I made each of my people spend time in each of the shops or work areas so that they understood what they were hearing about over the phone or radio when problems occurred. I am going to get into some detail here and will try to not get myself killed.

I still care about national security and don't want to give anything away that might be used against us. So please understand I would feel better if I was standing right in front of you telling you this.

As you might know everything in the military is given a serial number or item number and it was our duty to keep track of them. Weapons are kept inside the WSA or weapons storage area. Each weapon is separate and tracked that way. It is also tracked as a whole complete weapon system. In other words, the warhead is one number the booster is another and so on and so on. Any item associated with a warhead is tracked as part of nuke surety.

For example if a warhead was down for maintenance we had to know about it. We had to know where that item was at all times. Daily briefings are held and I had to prepare the report for a staff meeting. Once I was asked to leave one of these meetings because my figures were wrong, and the Commander knew it. He was not happy with me and I got my ass chewed and made sure it never happened again.

So what I am trying to say is that everyone from the munitions control room to the maintenance technician, to the transport team, to the weapons load team to the aircraft crew chief to the pilot and crew would have to know that they were working with live nukes. There are procedures put in place to make sure that what has happened could never happen.

I know this also because I have worked loading both inert and live nukes on B-52s at Minot and _____. So now I am faced with the question why were all of these safety precautions by-passed. There must have been some secret mission approved by SAC HQ and this must have been a pretty big event to even transport and load those nukes in the first place.

I was told years ago that if I ever saw ALERT planes take off it meant that we were going to war. Something had to have gone wrong even if it was a special classified mission. I am having a very hard time with understanding all of the deaths associated with this. Even when information is leaked they could have come up with a cover story. Something is very wrong here.

Project Camelot

Very many thanks for your extremely interesting and important mail.

I was told years ago that if I ever saw ALERT planes take off it meant that we were going to war.

...is of course right at the core of it.

In the Global Research article reprinted at http://projectcamelot.org/barksdale.html, you'll see that the writer (Mahdi Nazemroaya) asked these nine questions:

1. Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?
2. How long was it before the error was discovered?
3. How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?
4. How many and which security protocols were overlooked?
5. How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?
6. How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?
7. What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?
8. How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?
9. Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

We have two further questions for you of our own, if we may, which overlap with these above:

10. If the weapons were destined for the Middle East, would they have been transported from Minot - armed, as we understand? What other purpose might there have been? Although this seems almost inconceivable, might there have been a purpose to deploy them domestically?

11. What do you think may have happened at Barksdale? Are you willing to guess? Was it as many people have speculated - that a small number of very brave airmen somehow blew the whistle to bring the plan to a halt? What are the possibilities?

Jack Carter

I have to look at this from the perspective of a trained investigator. Once this gets published it is going to get attention and someone from AFOSI will be assigned to dig into it. So there is always a chance that all of what I say can be traced back to me. So with that in mind I have to say that we should be very careful what is published for the public. I want to get to the bottom of this and it is important.

1. Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?

Barksdale and Minot are like sister bases. Planes were always going to Barksdale for a few reasons, mostly training.

I will very confidently state that all training is done on inert warheads. There would be no reason to take live weapons to Barksdale. However, there are aircraft placed on ALERT status fully ready to go. In all of my years in my position I can't recall ever seeing any ALERT aircraft ever leaving the ground. They might taxi down the runway in an exercise, but shutdown just at the point where they would take off.

2. How long was it before the error was discovered?

All munitions are tracked in the control room. Everything involving these weapons is tracked. Everyone who touches these nukes has a checklist and there are Quality Assurance people who watch over you to make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. The two-man policy comes into play here. No one person will ever be alone with a nuclear weapon. I can't speculate on how long it would take to identify an error of this magnitude because I can't logically see how it could have happened.

A W80 nuclear warhead being handled on the ground

3. How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?

The warheads are kept separate from the missiles. They have to be mated. Then they have to be attached to the weapons support rack. Then they have to be checked for operational readiness. Then they are mated to a transport trailer. The transport trailer has to be cleared through the WSA (weapons storage area) then it would be brought to the flightline and a weapons load team would load it on the aircraft.

The weapons load team chief would inform the aircraft crew chief and the aircraft crew chief would check to see if it was live or inert. The aircraft crew chief would then report to the aircrew and a member of the aircrew would check the status of the weapons. The munitions control room was responsible for keeping a minute by minute log of all events from the time the weapons were slated for transport until they were loaded on the aircraft and the aircraft was determined ready for flight.

Along with all of these procedures the munitions control room was responsible for parallel communications with Job Control who tracks all work assignments on the base.

Each work area is made up of several work teams, so let's dissect this and see what could have gone wrong.

The weapons transport team (4 or more people) would have to have received an order to remove six W80 warheads from storage. They would have to then be transported to the workshop and mated to six ALCMs [Air Launched Cruise Missiles] by a team of at least 2 and most likely 4.

An Air-Launched Cruise Missile being loaded

Then the transport team would have to transport the trailer to the weapons shop and then out of the WSA to the flight line. The WSA is the most secure place on the base and there are clearance procedures that have to be done on any weapon leaving that area (a team of 2 at least had to check that trailer and the weapons).

So a work order telling a crew to transport six W80 warheads had to be issued from the maintenance scheduler. That would have to be reported to munitions control and job control. The work order to transport the rack and trailer would also have to be issued and tracked. The transport work order would also contain all of the item numbers of the missiles. When the transport people (or handlers) called in to tell the gate at the WSA that they were transporting, a team would inspect the trailer and missiles to insure that what they had was what was on the order. (I have seen handlers pick up a wrong trailer and get turned back because it was wrong and did not match the work order.)

The amount of people who are involved with this at this time is already over 30 people and I am leaving things out for security reasons. By the time the aircraft would have left the ground it would be more like 60 people who would have had to have known that those nukes were live. There are too many safety precautions in place to have violated them all and this event to have happened.

Every one of the people who work with nukes goes through a thorough background investigation and everyone is trained that if you don't do exactly what you are supposed to do you can be shot. The use of deadly force is authorized. Anyone who has ever been "jacked up" will tell you that they would never want to go through it ever again. So what I am saying is that inconsistencies are reported immediately because no one wants to get jacked up.

4. How many and which security protocols were overlooked?
5. How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?
6. How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?

As I stated above, someone had to issue the work order to mate the warhead to the missile. That work order would have to be authorized by a series of officers in the weapons squadron. The squadron commander would have to be in the loop and I find it very hard to believe that anyone could have been able to bypass all of the security protocols that were in place. I can not comment on or release any of these protocols. Rest assured that many were violated to be able to accomplish what has happened.

7. What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?

Until we know why these nukes were loaded and flown, it will be almost impossible to come up with corrective measures that Congress or any other responsible agency can implement.

8. How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?

This incident is too complicated. The concern here is of course the utmost that we can have. Nuke weapons have been the most safeguarded items in history (except UFOs) because of what they could do if placed in the hands of the wrong people.

I would feel much better if I found out that a plot to smuggle six W80s was concocted and the plan was intercepted by intelligence and allowed to take place in order to find out who was behind it. If I was the AF that's the story that should have been released. The fact that military personnel are dying in some strange coincidence seems to indicate that something sinister is going on here.

When classified operations are conducted everyone involved is briefed on a need to know basis. A pilot would be briefed that he would be carrying live nukes. These nukes were purposely mated, transported, and loaded on the aircraft then flown to Barksdale.

This was no accident. I refuse to believe that it was. Too many safeguards are in place and to even think that all of the safety protocols were able to be bypassed by people in every aspect of the entire operation is just not feasible.

9. Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

Even if the administration was going to do this, there are better ways to do this. I don't think a B-52 would be undetectable. And I believe that if Iran were attacked with nukes no-one would know about it until it happened. Let's just say that it might seem as if one of Iran's nuclear power plants were to suddenly blow up. It would be justification to condemn them in the world's view. The problem is that we have troops over there and we would be knowingly subjecting them to harm. So if a plant blows up we would start evacuation procedures at once.

10. If the weapons were destined for the Middle East, would they have been transported from Minot - armed, as we understand? What other purpose might there have been? Although this seems almost inconceivable, might there have been a purpose to deploy them domestically?

No. They would go to another location. Don't ask where.

These weapons are very destructive and detonating a large multimegaton-sized warhead anywhere is asking for a nuclear winter. Just one might do the trick. The amount of fallout, if detonated in North America, could wipe out the entire U.S. Everything after that is overkill. Mutually Assured Destruction. [The W80, of course, is a smaller warhead.]

11. What do you think may have happened at Barksdale? Are you willing to guess? Was it as many people have speculated - that a small number of very brave airmen somehow blew the whistle to bring the plan to a halt? What are the possibilities?

I think that someone was doing what they were supposed to do. They were following procedure and brought it to their supervisor's attention when they found the live weapons. Someone leaked this story to the media. I think a lot of people panicked when they realized what had taken place.

The AF could have come up with "It's a classified mission" and left it at that and then it would have just been left to speculation as to what that mission was. The fact that they are calling it an accident does not compute in my military trained mind. The scenario that a very well orchestrated plan was allowed to unfold in order to catch those responsible is the only thing that makes any sense to me.

I could see suicides taking place as a result of the fear that they had been caught. I just can't see elimination as an end to justify the means. But then again a message might be being sent to those who are involved.

I hope that I have helped in some way. I will do my best to answer anything that I can.

Project Camelot

We wonder if we could ask you for further clarification of what seemed to be a slightly oblique reply to question 10.

We’re assuming you meant by your first-line response to the question that Barksdale would NOT be the stepping stone to Iran. Do we read that correctly? (We’re not asking you to reveal what the actual stepping stone would be.)

Jack Carter

I'm sorry if my answer seemed vague. It was not intended that way.

10. If the weapons were destined for the Middle East, would they have been transported from Minot - armed, as we understand? What other purpose might there have been? Although this seems almost inconceivable, might there have been a purpose to deploy them domestically?

I don't believe the weapons were destined for the Middle East. There are other closer locations that would be better suited for that. After thinking about it last night, I realized that it might be a possibility but unlikely. In today's world I have to say that the things that we used to say could not happen, now fall into the realm of reality.

If someone was trying to get hold of these, this would have to be a very large scale infiltration at both locations. When I was looking at this yesterday I was looking at this part as our own people behind this and could not fathom why we would use one of these.

Here is something that I did not consider. It would be very embarrassing for our AF to admit that the program was infiltrated on a very large scale. It would be easier to say a mistake was made. If this has happened then there is an ongoing investigation into this and it is under the cover of the mistake. If that is the case, then it begins to make sense.

Whoever has gotten to the people that were able to almost pull this off would have to have used terrorist tactics to get people to do things that they would never even think about doing. If I was going to investigate this I would start looking at connections to family members. The people behind this might have killed some of the family members to drive a point home. If I am right about this, then steps have already been taken to fix this.

I hope that is a better answer...

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We present this to further inform public debate about this incident. It's clear that many questions remain, and that there are other possible answers to some of the above questions already posed.

We salute Jack Carter for his courage and patriotism in coming forward with the above information. It should be noted that he has dutifully been very careful not to reveal any information directly pertaining to National Security.

Project Camelot, 23 November 2007

Update, 24 November:

Will Thomas, in his excellent articles here and (especially important) here, suggests convincingly that this was a Chinese military hack... i.e. false orders that appeared so real that the command structure at Minot was deceived. Although incredible, it does seem to be one hypothesis that fully explains all the very strange anomalies in the incident.


Click here for an update from Jack Carter, casting doubts on Will Thomas's claims (18 January 2007).

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Bill Ryan and Kerry Cassidy


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bill@projectcamelot.org