Bizarre tweet From U.S. Strategic Command spawns panic about nuclear codes
“Time to say goodbye to everyone. I’ll miss my friends and family," read on response to the cryptic STRATCOM post.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Everywhere the president of the United States goes, so goes the "nuclear football."
In his book "Breaking Cover," Bill Gulley, a former director of the White House Military Office, wrote: "There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, and a three-by-five-inch card with authentication codes."
Those codes need to match up with the one held by the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., which is responsible for strategic deterrence and reaction to a global strike.
So it raised eyebrows – and fears – when STRATCOM tweeted this: ";l;;gmlxzssaw."
The post was only up for 30 minutes on Sunday night, but it prompted speculation across the social media site, including theories that the 13 characters could be part of a launch code for nuclear weapons.
"Does anyone know what that means? Did they accidentally almost tweet some top secret national security codes or something? I'm confused," wrote one person on Twitter.
And, of course, the wags on Twitter had a field day.
“Time to say goodbye to everyone. I’ll miss my friends and family,” technology blogger and app researcher Jane Manchun Wong tweeted.
Wrote another in all caps: "SHOULD I STOP MAKING PLANS TO BUILD MY PATIO AND JUST WATCH THE SUN SET FOR THE LAST TIME OR WHAT."
But one Twitterer had a reasonable theory.
"While some are hypothesizing that this is some password, the character grouping is such that it was likely a cat walking across a keyboard," the person wrote.
Eventually, STRATCOM addressed the tweet. "Apologies for any confusion. Please disregard this post."
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