- - Monday, September 9, 2019

Joe Biden’s string of nonsensical comments may point to mental impairment, but that is not the presidential contender’s biggest problem: His actual decisions and what they say about his judgment.

In May 2011, Mr. Biden was in the White House Situation Room with President Obama and a dozen of his national security officials to decide on whether to give the go ahead to take out Osama bin Laden.

The intelligence officials believed bin Laden was in a Pakistan compound, but they could not be sure. All of those present, including Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, were for taking him out. But when Mr. Obama asked Mr. Biden what he thought, he said, “Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go.”

If Mr. Obama had taken his vice president’s advice calling for more confirmation of bin Laden’s location, the terrorist almost certainly would be alive today, commanding al Qaeda and planning even deadlier attacks than we saw on 9/11.

Mr. Biden’s lone opposition to taking the necessary action to protect America at the moment when U.S. Special Forces had the chance should alone be enough to disqualify him to be president. But an even more shocking decision by Mr. Biden jeopardizing the security of America has been ignored by the mainstream media.

As revealed in my book “The First Family Detail,” that decision was Mr. Biden’s order that the military aide carrying the nuclear football remain at least a mile behind him when he traveled around Wilmington, Delaware, as vice president.

The nuclear football is a leather-covered titanium business case that weighs 40 pounds. Secured with a cipher lock, it contains a variety of secure phone capabilities and options for launching nuclear strikes that the president may authorize.

The president authenticates his identity with codes found on a small plastic card he carries with him. In case the president is incapacitated or has died, an identical nuclear football is assigned to the vice president.

Since either leader would likely have 15 minutes or less to respond militarily to an impending attack from a country like China, Russia or North Korea before the United States could be wiped out by nuclear-tipped missiles, the military aides who carry the satchels are supposed to be in close proximity to the two leaders at all times.

But as soon as Mr. Biden — code-named Celtic — took office in January 2009, he laid down a rule: Instead of the usual retinue of at least 15 vehicles preceded by a police escort in his motorcade, whenever he returned home to Delaware, he wanted a Secret Service motorcade of just two — the limousine or Suburban he rode in, plus a single follow-up Suburban behind him with agents.

Mr. Biden specifically ordered the Secret Service control vehicle, which carries the military aide and a doctor, to follow at least a mile behind his limousine.

Since Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, traveled back to their home at least once a week and sometimes several times a week, that put the country at risk, potentially unable to retaliate against a nuclear attack whenever the second-in-command was traveling in Delaware.

“When you go to any city outside Washington, you have a full-blown vice presidential motorcade much like the president’s motorcade,” a Secret Service agent said when Biden was in office. “Its length may be 15, 20, or more vehicles, including for staff and a counter-assault team. But when he’s home in Wilmington, he has told the service — and for whatever reason Secret Service management bends over and accommodates him — that he does not want anything other than the limousine he’s in and the immediate Suburban that we’re in. He wants everybody else out of sight. That includes the vehicle with the military aide and the doctor.”

As a result, the agent said, “You’ve separated vital assets from the vice president in Wilmington when he’s motorcading around. We are told, ‘Don’t come near us, don’t let us see you, the vice president doesn’t want to see you.’”

Even in normal traffic, by the time the military aide caught up with Mr. Biden in the event of an attack, it would be too late.

“If something happens and they’re caught in traffic, you would lose even more precious time,” an agent said.

Secret Service agents say Mr. Biden simply wanted to preserve his image as a regular Joe. Never mind that if Mr. Obama were taken out, the country could have been obliterated by a nuclear attack because of Mr. Biden’s irresponsibility and lack of judgment.

Agents say Mr. Biden seemed to care as much about the safety of his fellow Americans as he cared about the feelings of female Secret Service agents who were offended that he regularly swam naked in front of them at his pool at the vice president’s residence or at his home. 

Calling Mr. Biden’s order to keep the nuclear football a mile away from him “alarming,” an agent said, “He wants to be Joe, and he does not want the vehicles around him.”

• Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the author of “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.”

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