USAF Officers Take Rap for Missing Nukes

Top commanders relieved of duty after warheads take unauthorized flight
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2007 5:50 PM CDT
Members of the media inspect the bomb bays of a B-52 Bomber during...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Nearly 2 months after a B-52 loaded with nuclear warheads took an unauthorized flight from North Dakota to Louisiana, the Air Force has relieved four officers of duty, CNN reports. After a 6-week investigation, 70 airmen will be disciplined for what the Air Force secretary called an "unacceptable mistake and a clear deviation from our exacting standards," the AP reports.

Anonymous Air Force officials told CNN the warheads were supposed to be removed from the six cruise missiles before takeoff. They weren't, leading to an apparently unprecedented breach in protocol for handling nuclear weapons. "This was a failure to follow procedures," said the deputy chief of staff for operations, "procedures that have proven to be sound."