"No one can tell the president no", he said of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff. Some senators present said they were troubled about the president's latitude to launch a nuclear strike. As things stand, going back all the way to Harry Truman, te only world leader to have actually ordered the use of nuclear weapons in war (twice!), US presidents have been accorded the unfettered power and the technical ability to launch a nuclear strike with no input from Congress.
"About five minutes may elapse from the president's decision until intercontinental ballistic missiles blast out of their silos, and about fifteen minutes until submarine missiles shoot out of their tubes", Bloomberg notes.
This means that a presidential order could be ignored if it was expected to cause undue widespread human suffering when other, less dramatic military options, were available.
Commenting on the issue, Dr. Maria Ryan, an assistant professor of American History with the Department of American & Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, told Sputnik that this recent hearing was a signal to US President Donald Trump that he "should not take any rash action" and should discuss issues such as preemptive nuclear strikes with Congress.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine pressed further. "It has to come from someone who has command authority and second it has to meet the legal test of the law of armed conflict".
President Trump has alluded ominously and even gloatingly to his having that awesome power, literally at his fingertips.
Debating Trump's fitness to order a nuclear strike, Idaho Republican Jim Risch warned his colleagues, could send North Korea the wrong signals. Even a limited conventional strike by the United States against North Korean nuclear sites would risk an overwhelming number of casualties because Pyongyang's likely response would be to immediately attack Seoul with the roughly 8,000 artillery cannons and rocket launchers positioned along the border capable of unleashing 300,000 rounds on South Korea in the first hour of the counterattack. McKeon was testifying before the Senate foreign relations committee on a historic day: For the first time in 41 years, the committee was studying presidential authority to use nuclear weapons. However, in the context of the unique and relentless media attacks on Trump over the past year, the call for disobedience takes a special significance. Tuesday, he said Congress needs to examine "the realities of the system". Both former spooks, who presumably still retain close contacts within the security-military establishment, denounced Trump for "accepting Putin's assurances that Russia did not interfere in the US elections".
But on Tuesday Corker said the hearing was not intended to target Trump. "I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it's totally unnecessary". In a September speech at the United Nations, Trump said the United States would "totally destroy North Korea" if it had to.
What's more, the military members and advisers are bound by law and tradition to follow a president's order unless they deem it an illegal order. This must be America's global diplomatic crusade for the next decade, as soon as we have denuclearized the two rogues, with military force, if necessary.
But instead of worrying about rogue military commanders, many lawmakers are now concerned the current occupant of the Oval Office could make a hasty decision without consulting with his full national security team. Even more arbitrary is Congress' interest in inviting itself into the war room, which it has carefully avoided since World War II. The tenuous "Russia-Gate" accusations of "collusion" between Trump and Russia purportedly to get him elected have marked him down as a "Kremlin stooge".
His Massachusetts colleague Ed Markey has offered legislation that would require congressional approval for any first use of nuclear weapons. Kehler admitted: "I don't know". In each case, it turned out to be a false alarm.