Sunday, November 23, 2014

News You Can't Use: Nuclear Commander Lost Job After Being Caught Playing Fake Poker Chips

What is day-to-day ordinary life like for those handful of heroes responsible for destroying the Earth should our ideological enemies get a little too uppity? I would have expected endless cheering crowds, happy marriages full of greeting card moments and the satisfaction of knowing it might be your index finger that plunges humanity back into the Stone Age or destroys it outright. It appears this assumption was overly optimistic. In truth, the M.A.D. doctrine guardians are gambling like crazy and somehow making fake poker chips in between glancing at the World News, glancing at The Button and finally saying "No. Not just yet."

By day, Vice-Admiral Timothy Giardina was one of the US Navy’s most senior figures – as deputy head of US Strategic Command, he was number two in command of America’s nuclear arsenal.

He had it all. A sweet job becoming death, destroyer of worlds, a uniform covered in shiny tin, you name it.

But by night, at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he was known as Navy Tim, a heavy gambler who was accused of making his own $500 poker chips and eventually banned.

I would imagine his eventual banning was held back by constant threats to "Nuke this casino" should they put an end to his crapulence.

His removal from his role in the uppermost tier of America’s defence establishment was carried out last year, but the reasons behind his downfall are only now becoming clear.

Instead of the expected "decades long pattern of massive incompetence" it turns out he was making fake gambling markers in his basement and trying to pass them off at some flyover country low-roller spot.

However, one man’s ruin may be a symptom of a wider malaise at the heart of America’s nuclear deterrent.

Nuclear deterrent, man. It used to be cool. Now it's all commercial and popular, old dudes with wooden poker chips, missiles incapable of creating mass extinction effects, just lame.

An ageing stock of missiles, corroded launch silos and an uncertain role in a post-Cold War world have sent morale plunging among the men and women who call themselves Missileers.

I became a "Missileer" so I could murder the world, not to spent endless days scrubbing corrosion off silos and changing the expiration dates on the Reagan Arsenal.

The result, according to several studies, has been a string of leadership, training and disciplinary problems, which prompted a $10 billion root-and-branch overhaul announced a little over a week ago.

Serious questions have been raised as to whether this new breed of maniacs will be able to blow it up.

No one at the Horseshoe Casino would have known any of that or that the man at the tables was a three-star admiral.

You would think the Horseshoe Casino in Moo Mud, Iowa would have a robust espionage network, but it appears this is not the case.

After graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1979, Mr Giardina worked his way up the ranks as a career submarine officer. Among his commands were fast attack subs and vessels carrying ballistic nuclear weapons.

Back then he was limited to making fake match sticks for what little gaming action was available on a fast attack sub.

Yet his career began to unravel last year, when the Horseshoe discovered three homemade $500 chips.

It's almost like a Greek Tragedy, except with less noble heroes being ravaged of fate and more bloated American gasbag trying to trick a casino and failing.

Interviewed two days later, Mr Giardina claimed to be an innocent victim.

It's scary to think that this would probably be his same reaction after an "accidental" missile launch.

He said he had bought $2,000 in chips for a little under their face value from a person in a casino lavatory.

"I was just doing some innocent bathroom cruising and I ran into this great deal." Are you sure this is the lie you want to go with? It's not too late to claim they "fell into your pocket."

The state investigator’s report said a review of surveillance footage revealed other “odd behaviours” by Giardina at the Horseshoe.

It's almost as if being in charge of cremating our planet could cause mental issues.

"Giardina was observed taking cigarette butts out of public ashtrays and smoking them,” it said.

The glamorous life of the international gambler and rocket cowboy.

 "I thought I was pulling a slot machine lever."

An Army lab revealed that a $500 chip had been scanned and printed on to stickers, which were then applied to a genuine $1 chip. The cheap chips were painted in the colour scheme of the more expensive counters.

Yes, your tax dollars were used to analyze poker chips used by a scumbag who until recently had the power to kill you and everyone you care about.

However, the amateur job covered up secret security features only visible under UV light, and Mr Giardina’s DNA was found on the underside of a sticker.

Typical government work, half-finished. 

He was given a written reprimand and ordered to forfeit $4,000 in pay. He has declined to comment on the case.

Please write "I will not try to cheat the casino" a hundred times on the chalkboard of our secret underground bunker. 

This month, Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, admitted the country's nuclear arsenal had fallen into disrepair and needed billions of dollars of upgrades.

"If we launched today there would be several thousand survivors, many of them non-mutated. This is unacceptable."

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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