Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humanity, as even one of the strong ones going off could cause a dangerous nuclear winter. Also, while it’s not necessarily a problem that people are experimenting with hallucinogens, it should clearly not be at a nuclear weapons facility. The Doomsday Clock — measuring the risk of widespread human catastrophe by nuclear weapons — is already at its most dire reading in over half a century.
There are a lot of safe and responsible places people have found over the years to ingest hallucinogens in order to experience their pleasures and explore the challenges their potent properties can present, but it’s a judgement statement to declare that a U.S. military base which houses some of the world’s most powerful atomic weapons would qualify as such a place.
Nevertheless, the Associated Press reports Thursday that U.S. service members charged with guarding U.S. nuclear weapons at a “highly secure” military facility in Wyoming “bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months.”
Those accused of involvement in the drug ring were “from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand ‘on alert’ 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains.”
When military investigators broke up the ring, one airmen reportedly fled the country. “Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn’t,” said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial the resulted from the case.
The AP story is based on internal military documents the news agency obtained and is just the latest example of frightening cracks in the way the U.S. military manages and protects its vast nuclear arsenal.
While the reporting notes that none of those court martialed were charged with being under the influence while “on duty,” the transcripts from the files show one soldier admitting he “felt paranoia, panic” for hours after dropping acid and at one point said he “didn’t know if I was going to die that night or not.” Another soldier confessed, “I absolutely just loved altering my mind.”
As the story hit the AP wire, this was a common sentiment on social media: “Nuclear weapons and LSD seem a bad combination, but that’s just my opinion.”