The officer who stands at No. 2 in command of America’s nuclear arsenal faces accusations that he is involved in illegal gambling at an Iowa casino and he has been suspended from his nuclear duties.
According to the New York Times, whether Vice Adm. Timothy M. Giardina could have compromised United States nuclear security is not clear.
Giardina (pictured) is a decorated submarine officer and 30-year Navy veteran. His suspension is the latest in a string of incidents that seem to expose the shakiness of America’s nuclear war structure. A nuclear missile launch silo in North Dakota relieved 17 officers of their duties there earlier this year after a poor inspection.
A nuclear missile facility in Montana failed a safety inspection in August.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into gambling allegations against Giardina, who is second-in-command at the United States Strategic Command, the military agency in charge of running a nuclear war, if one ever occurred.
Giardina was targeted in June by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation over possible use of counterfeit chips at a casino in that state, the Times reported.
Investigators who found the phony chips would not say how much they were worth, but that it was “a significant monetary amount.”
The admiral has not been arrested and so far faces no charges. But he was suspended from his duties at the Omaha, Nebraska Strategic Air Command on Sept. 3 by Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, Giardina’s boss at the Strategic Air Command. The suspension was not announced publicly and was reported only this week.
The Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where the bogus chips were discovered, is located near Omaha across the Missouri River. The base in Omaha also has control over the country’s space and cyber warfare efforts.
Kehler has recommended to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that he reassign Giardina out of the nuclear command.
SOURCES: New York Times, The Guardian, Associated Press