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    HomeWorldYou Always Hear About the 'Nuclear Football.' Here's the Behind-the-Scenes Story

    You Always Hear About the ‘Nuclear Football.’ Here’s the Behind-the-Scenes Story

    You Always Hear About the ‘Nuclear Football.' Here's the Behind-the-Scenes Story

    — The most important — and mysterious — “football” in the world isn't really a football at all.

    Officially called the “ Presidential Emergency Satchel, ” the “nuclear football” is a bulky briefcase that contains atomic war plans and enables the president to transmit nuclear orders to the Pentagon. The heavy case is carried by a officer who is never far behind the president, whether the commander-in-chief is boarding a helicopter or exiting meetings with world leaders.

    Beyond those basic facts, however, not much is known about the satchel, which has come to symbolize the massive of the presidency. Let's change that.

    William Burr, a senior analyst at the nonprofit National Security Archive at George Washington University, published a report Tuesday detailing his recent research into the presidential pigskin. Among the tidbits Burr unearthed: The football once contained presidential decrees that some in the U.S. government came to believe were likely illegal and unnecessary (there would be nobody left alive to implement them in the event of a nuclear holocaust).

    Burr, who has spent three decades researching and writing about nuclear war planning and history, sat down with The Associated Press recently to talk about his research and the nuclear football's history. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity:


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