Missile Lapse Due to Flagging Nuke Vigilance

Missiles' untracked trek blamed on 'diminished focus' of US officials
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2008 8:00 AM CST
Retired Gen. Larry Welch, of the Institute for Defense Analysis, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Air Force nuclear...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An Air Force panel told Congress yesterday that "diminished focus" on nuclear weapons allowed six nuclear-armed missiles to be accidentally flown across the country last August, Reuters reports. "Training in nuclear procedures became less frequent without the daily activity required by nuclear alert conditions," the panel concludes in its written report.

Sen. Carl Levin contested claims by the US Air Force and Republican lawmakers that the missiles never posed a threat. "No one knew where they were, or even missed them, for over 36 hours," said the Michigan Democrat, adding that a crash could have caused a dangerous plutonium leak. Four Air Force officers lost their posts over the incident.