Where is Dr. Strangelove when you need him?

Trump leaves the agency responsible for the safety of the US nuclear weapons stockpile leaderless.

From Gizmodo:

According to an official within the Department of Energy, the Trump transition team has declined to ask the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and his deputy to temporarily stay in their roles after Trump takes office on January 20th.

The NNSA is the $12 billion-a-year agency that “maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.” [….]

Trump’s team hasn’t asked Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and his deputy, Madelyn Creedon — both Obama appointees—to stay in their posts, even if it means no one is in charge of maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons. According to our Energy Department source, Trump’s team has yet to nominate anyone to succeed them. Since both positions require Senate confirmation, it could be months before their chairs are filled.
Still, while [the] career civil servants will continue on with their current directives, they’re effectively barred from embarking on anything new. That’s because the legislation authorizing the NNSA specifically prohibits non-NNSA officials from managing NNSA employees — agency staffers are only allowed to take orders from Klotz and Creedon or their (nonexistent) replacements.
According to our source, both officials “have expressed [to the Trump team] that they would likely be willing to stay to facilitate a smooth transition, if asked,” as is the tradition for key officials, and have received no response.

Klotz is not some DLC intellectual, he’s a career Air Force nuclear weapons officer. Creedon is a long-serving civilian nuclear security analyst. An NNSA official has unattributably denied the two political appointees have been “fired”, but effectively confirmed that they have not been asked to stay on.

Trump has also fired the head of the Washington National Guard - appointed by Bush in 2008 - from the moment of his inauguration:

Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz will be removed from his post at 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day, just after Trump is sworn in but before the Inaugural parade begins.

This is beginning to look horribly like the beginnings of the oprichnina.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

7 thoughts on “Where is Dr. Strangelove when you need him?”

    1. Thanks, Keith. My clip is I think from Part 2, when Ivan has really lost it. Historians still argue about the aim of the oprichnina. Whatever it was there was a big element of sadistic / paranoid terror, as with Stalin's purges.

    1. Perhaps it was petty spite; General Schwartz may just have been insufficiently deferential in the planning meetings. But the timing is still unbelievable. Schwartz has major operational responsibility for the security of the Inauguration. Firing him the second Trump becomes President creates a major command problem. It also looks unpleasantly like the strangling of Vercingetorix at the triumph of Julius Caesar. There is a strand of nihilism in Trump and Bannon, which could take them in very destructive directions far beyond anything the congressional GOP has in mind.

      The officer corps will take this insult very badly. I expect they are reading up on the Nuremberg rules for lawful disobedience.

    2. I tried to add the link to Wright's essay, but my linkage skills failed. You can find it by googling "Jim Wright Facebook" or "Stonekettle Facebook." It begins "US Army Major General Errol Schwartz, . . ." It's long and a bit repetitive, but well worth reading. The point is that things are well enough organized in the D.C. National Guard, as in any properly run military unit, that the transfer of power won't have any effect on the security for the inauguration. I do wonder, however, if they're going to do the normal ceremony upon transfer of power: it entails passing the standard to the next commander, with lots of impressive military choreography and saluting and pictures. Hard to imagine Trump allowing that to interrupt his inauguration.

      His transition team doesn't really seem to know how to handle the press, either. Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone on the team to ask what the procedure is for transfers of power. Or else the career Republicans who've been through such things aren't particularly interested in offering help.

      I assume that Schwartz had already gotten everything organized for the Women's March on the 21st, so ideally there should be no change of procedure there, either.

      1. Oops! Failed to mention that the other main point of Wright's piece is that all presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the president and submit letters of resignation. In the case of a transition, letters of resignation are submitted to the new president. (I had thought all such letters were undated, allowing the president to move appointees along at his pleasure, but I could be wrong.) Wright argues that Schwartz's was one of thousands of resignations presumably accepted by some low-level functionary as a matter of course. It just happens to be noticeable because of Schwartz's status and because he was scheduled to be in the middle of performing his duties at the moment the resignation took effect.

        And we're back to the fact that the Republican organization seems to be simply not helping the Trump team. This shouldn't have been a thing.

        1. Most hierarchical organisations operate with automatic assumption of authority by the next in line when a gap arises, through death, incapacitation, retirement, resignation or dismissal. Somebody will step into Schwartz's shoes. Such transitions can be awkward and messy. Creating one in the middle of an ongoing operation is recklessly stupid. The NNSA case is far worse. There the law makes it impossible to hand over command to anybody but the two top officials, who have to be confirmed by the Senate. Trump is playing petty dominance games with the security of thousands of nuclear warheads on the table. Words fail.

Comments are closed.