For the record, we did not "lose control" of 50 nukes. They just stopped working.

Summary:Some things are fun to mock. But when a chunk of our nation's nuclear capability suddenly drops off line, there's nothing funny about it.

With all due respect to my ZDNet colleagues across the pond, sometimes their stories are a little sensational.

Take, for example, this story by ZDNet UK blogger Rupert Goodwins, entitled "US loses control of 50 nukes in cascading failure".

For the record, we did not lose control. The nukes just stopped working.

Okay, to be fair, technicians at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming aren't entirely sure why 50 nukes decided to shut themselves down. But it wasn't like that time we flew a B-52 bomber across the U.S. without knowing its nukes were armed.

That was a loss of control! Defense Secretary Robert Gates was definitely not amused that day, and heads did roll.

But the incident this week in Wyoming wasn't nearly that bad. The nukes didn't launch, teams were dispatched to make sure all the nukes were still asleep in their silos, and we still had something like 400 other nukes we could toss if the need for total, global thermonuclear destruction suddenly rose during the weekend.

There's other good news here, as well. For example, it's quite unlikely our nukes were hacked. Those systems are isolated from the rest of the outside world, so we don't think bad guys got to them.

It's still not exactly clear why the missiles decided to shut down. According to a report in Atlantic Monthly, administration officials said, "It's not that big of a deal. Everything worked as planned."

Sigh.

I'd normally like to end a story like this with a funny, snarky comment, but I just can't. Some things are fun to mock. But when a chunk of our nation's nuclear capability suddenly drops off line, there's nothing funny about it.

It's just sad.

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In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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