New Book and Declassified Documents Describe Once-Secret Nuclear Counterterrorism Unit

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When the 9/11 hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. nuclear bomb squad was out of the country on its first foreign deployment since 1998, at a British air base in the Cotswolds, according to the new book "Defusing Armageddon" and key primary sources posted today in the National Security Archive's Nuclear Vault by Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson.

The after-action report from that deployment, "DOE EXERCISE 03-01 JACKAL CAVE," notes the early termination of the exercise because of the terrorist attacks, but finds some useful "strengths and weaknesses" including the need to "[i]ssue secure international cell phones to control members and team leaders." According to the book, the exercise involved more than 500 personnel, 62 aircraft, 420 short tons of cargo, and the CIA, as well as a special operations force that would seize a mock nuclear device that the squad would disable.

The documents were obtained by Archive Senior Fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson while conducting research for his new book, "Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America's Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad."

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