Over the last couple of days, right-wing social media users claimed a group of U.S. House Democrats urged President Joe Biden to give up control over nuclear weapons due to his deteriorating mental fitness.
Social media users, including Fox News' Sean Hannity and Rep. Matt Gaetz, claimed the decision to strip the 78-year-old commander-in-chief of his powers to authorize a nuclear attack was taken in lieu of his supposed cognitive decline and that members of his own party no longer trust him with the nuclear codes.Here are some of the posts on Twitter:
Under provisions cited in the Constitution, the president is the only American with legal authority to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. He may, of course, seek the counsel of his close aides and military advisors before making such a decision, though he is not required to take that step.
That said, it is true that more than 30 House Democrats penned a letter asking the president to support legislative proposals to change the command-and-control structure so that no single person can start a nuclear war, according to Politico.
"You alone possess the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons," states the letter spearheaded by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California. "However, vesting one person with this authority entails real risks. Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president's judgment."
In summary, the letter urged the president to support legislation to change the current structure because "past presidents" have threatened using the authority to attack other countries when their own administration or U.S. military officials questioned their judgement.
The letter also offered a number of ideas to implement the new system, including requiring other officials in the line of succession, such as the vice president and the speaker of the House to concur with the launch order. The other alternatives required Congress to declare war and authorize any potential strike before it can happen; and military officials to sign off on any potential launch.
"As president, you will have the final say on any changes to U.S. nuclear policy," the letter reads. "We respectfully request that you, as president, review ways in which you can end the sole authority you have to launch a nuclear attack, and to install additional checks and balances into the system."
Although democrats did urge Biden to give up sole control over nuclear weapons, nowhere in the document did its authors state they were pushing for the above-mentioned changes because of Biden or his alleged cognitive decline. The letter was a plea to eliminate risks associated with the current system that threaten national security and behaviors of "past presidents" supposedly warranted the proposed changes to the country's command-and-control structure.