January 20, 2009. Hours following his inauguration, 44th President of the United States Barack Obama convenes a national security meeting with US Air Force Chief Of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz.
Good afternoon and congratulations, Mister President.
Thank you for being here, General.
What’s on your mind, sir?
General, it’s my understanding that the Air Force has recently undergone a series of oversight problems with the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Yes sir, that’s true.
(The president consults a file folder.)
In August 2007, six nuclear cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded onto the wings of a B-52 in a North Dakota airbase and flown to an airbase in Louisiana.
That is correct, sir. There was an investigation. Dozens of airmen were disciplined and numerous officers, including my predecessor, General Moseley, resigned as a result of the incident.
Then, in June 2008, the Air Force mistakenly shipped four nuclear fuses to Taiwan.
Also correct, Mister President. The —
Following that, in November 2008, the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base failed a nuclear surety inspection. And following that, just last month the 90th Missile Wing at Warren Air Force Base failed its surety inspection.
Sir, we —
General, I have a question.
I assume you are familiar with the practice of having Air Force jets fly over certain sporting events during the national anthem.
Yes sir, I am. I think I know where you’re going with this. Sir, those aircraft are not fitted with nuclear weapons.
But could they be?
Technically…yes, but that would be highly unusual.
Unusual? “Flying 900 miles with six nukes in the luggage rack” unusual, or “that guy’s got the same name as me” unusual?
Well, Mr. President, we —
General, I’m going to give you a date and a place. You’re going to want to write this down. April 13, 2009. Chicago. Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
Sir. I want to assure you that —
General, I have every faith that you will personally ensure that the aircraft performing the flyover will be equipped appropriately for the mission. Every faith.
(President Obama dons his White Sox cap.)
(General Schwartz thinks.)
The Cubs are playing the Rockies that day.
Can’t be helped. Besides, Matt Holliday got traded to the A’s, so there’s that.
You’re a “glass half-full” guy, aren’t you, sir?
Glad you noticed. I think we’re done here.