Former Nuclear Missile-Launch Officer Says The Thought Of Trump With Nukes “Keeps Me Up At Night”

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CHRIS HAYES (HOST): You wrote this. “I could sit a hundred feet underground on alert knowing that POTUS would not make me do my duty, not unless it was the absolute last resort. But imagine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we were under attack, or if it was because a foreign leader said a mean thing on Twitter.” That’s the kind of tail-risk scenario that has run through a lot of people’s minds. Hillary Clinton’s mentioned it, but it’s just something that you hear come up. Celinda Lake talked about a focus group, I mean — even if it’s infinitesimally small of a chance, it is — does it stop you, does it keep you up at night, in a certain way?

JOHN NOONAN: Well, it does. Frankly, the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency keeps me up at night, regardless of our strategic forces. I have several friends in the military still that are like family to me, and the thought of him as Commander-In-Chief is disconcerting. They’re going to be looking to him for leadership. They deserve the best leadership in the world, and I don’t think they’re going to get it with Donald Trump. You add nuclear forces, strategic forces to that equation and it gets ugly very fast.

HAYES: One of the things that I think folks should understand, right, about the entirety of the deterrence principle around the nuclear arsenal, which is its own kind of long discussion and debate about whether that’s the best thing that we should have for long time. But the idea behind the triad, which Trump notoriously didn’t know is that essentially mutually assured destruction, right?

Assured destruction of anyone that would attempt to do something, right? That we would have the capability to respond with overwhelming force, and that essentially acts as a deterrent, but it’s key that no one contemplates us using it as a first strike capability.

NOONAN: Most presidents retain the option of a first use simply to keep other nations in check. It’s not a bad policy. What throws a wrench in the equation, the deterrence equation that you capably described, is the fact that you no longer have a rational person talking about that policy.

Donald Trump has back-tracked on multiple statements having to do with national security. You don’t really know where he stands. And look, uncertainty in this business is a dangerous thing, it’s fundamentally dangerous. So, look, yes, I’m concerned. Yes, every American who is contemplating pulling a lever for this guy in November should be concerned.

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