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'Nuclear Football' Left Behind When Clinton Departs Summit

April 25, 1999|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Clinton departed the NATO summit in such haste Saturday that he left behind perhaps the most important piece of luggage in the world--the "nuclear football."

The president's military aide, who constantly shadows Clinton and carries the briefcase containing U.S. nuclear launch codes, was mistakenly left at the International Trade Center when Clinton's motorcade sped off 45 minutes early and without notice.

The aide walked the 4 1/2 blocks back to the White House without incident. "We're safe," White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said. Clinton left quickly because his last summit meeting of the day broke up early, so "rather than wait for everyone to gather, he just took off," Lockhart added.

The pool of reporters that always travels with Clinton also was left behind.

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