Saturday, June 30, 2007

357 Magnum by Stephen Camp


DEBKAfile Exclusive: US counter-terror authorities fear major campaign in Europe, possibly even 9/11-scale mega-attack in America presaged by failed London and Glasgow bombings

July 2, 2007, 1:55 PM (GMT+02:00)

Glasgow airport terminal after blazing jeep slammed into building

Glasgow airport terminal after blazing jeep slammed into building

DEBKAfile counter-terror sources report that ten days ago, the US gave the Czech government specific warning of large-scale al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Prague, targeting government buildings, the US embassy, American firms and Jewish and Israel locations in the Czech capital. All American missions and military facilities in Europe were placed on alert.

France, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Spain have also tightened their anti-terror precautions.

Our sources add that the London and Glasgow bombing attempts took the Americans by surprise. They had expected the jihadists to strike elsewhere in Europe.

US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff Monday played down the threat by denying knowledge of any specific warning in the United States. He said the current alert level of yellow would not be raised for now as it has been in the UK.

However, al Qaeda’s coded messages on internal forums announcing that preparations are now in place for attacks in the US during this summer are appearing with greater frequency than the traffic prior to the 2001 attacks in America and the 2004 Madrid rail bombings.

Security has been tightened at US airports and transport systems ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and New York stepped up security at airports, rail stations, tourist spots and crowd centers after the botched attacks in Britain.

Chertoff spoke of increasing concerns about “the movement of Europeans, including people with European citizenship, into areas of South Asia to get trained and get experience and then coming back to carry out operations in Europe or in the United States using Europe as a departure point."


Colin Powell leaks real reason for SSN

The American Public

I was watching Fox News Sunday this morning, 06/17/01, being hosted in the first segment by Tony Snow. The lead off guest was Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State. Mr. Powell gave an excellent recitation relevant to foreign affair matters.

Mr. Powell during the entire interview was very confident, and spoke without hesitation throughout the entire interview excluding for a one second period, after one specific statement made by him as he was talking about the Russian peoples. When he realized the consequences of making this disclosure indirectly to the American public, he froze for a second, his eyes rolled back as he realized what he had said, and then he continued without further pause for the rest of the interview.

In my lifetime, I have never sent out to others a post relevant to a quote I heard while watching a news program. In this case, the significance of what was said in the flow of truth coming from Mr. Powell, is a statement that establishes the primary reality of intent per the politics and operative structure coming from government in this country. I had to immediately share what I had heard with others.

Mr. Powell was discussing Mr. Bush's trip to Europe, and was at a point in his recitation covering certain concerns regarding Russia, and Russia being requested to cooperate with the United States to track down lost Nuclear materials and scientists who were unaccounted for after the break up of Russia, that now may be in the hands of, or in the case of the missing scientists, working for adversaries of the USA.

The quote from Mr. Powell, per the Russian Scientists that every American "NEEDS" to hear immediately is as follows:

[Colin Powell] - "Finding the Russian scientists may be a problem being that Russia does not have a Social Security System, as here in America, that allows us to MONITOR, TRACK DOWN and CAPTURE an American citizen."

Please pass this on to every one that you know. The significance of Mr. Powell's statement is profound, and essential to be heard by all in this country. I thank Mr. Powell for inadvertently being honest towards the underlying intent of the US Government, reaffirmed by his admission.

Yours Truly, Walter J. Burien, Jr.

Can Less be More?

By Stephen Camp

A Look at .357 Mid-range Magnums

With the number of people lawfully carrying concealed handguns growing nationwide, it appears that a good number opt for the compact 357 Magnum revolver as their personal carry weapon instead of automatics chambered in 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and so forth. Many folks simply prefer the revolver.

Initially, most are probably happy with their decision…until they get to the range!

After the initial first full-power shot, many think "God Almighty! Did it explode?" and gone is the rationale of the "inherently reliable revolver" or compactness combined with a relatively potent round being a good thing.

Let's take a closer look at some mid-power loads offered in the .357 Magnum, see what they offer and what they do not, and understand why they came to exist. Let's take a look at what they are actually meant to do.

The first .357 Magnum revolvers were from S&W. The "357 Magnum" N-frame became the Model 27, a "Cadillac" of the company's line. Later, plainer versions of the revolver were made for law enforcement or citizens wanting the power of the magnum round but in a less costly handgun. Shown is an old Model 28 "Highway Patrolman". These served the Texas Department of Public Safety and others well for decades. Like the Model 27, the Model 28 is built on the S&W large & heavy N-frame. Back in the 1930's, some of the old literature actually says that gloves are necessary to protect from the heavy recoil! Full-power loads from the N-frames, particularly in years past, were noticeable but not unmanageable. In today's super compact and lightweight revolvers, those same loads might seem like holding an exploding hand grenade with regard to felt recoil.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and we find the .357 Magnum being chambered in the medium-size S&W K-frame such as this Model 19 Combat Magnum. Recoil goes up as the weight and size of the revolver goes down, but the gun was much easier to carry and became immensely popular among lawmen of the era. These revolvers are still very popular with shooters today. Before long, the Model 19 was offered in the common 2 1/2" bbl for concealed carry by detectives and others wanting a more compact magnum revolver.

Much more recently, S&W has come to offer revolvers chambered for this magnum cartridge in their small J-frame revolvers. Once the province of the .32, .38 S&W and others, and the .38 Special, the J-frame in .357 Magnum has become a most popular choice among serious concealed carry revolver toters. Improvement in metallurgy and alloy combinations have allowed the gun to be made in relatively heavy for size steel guns as well as very, very light ones.

Ruger (and others) also began offering compact .357 Magnum revolvers. Shown is Ruger's 3 1/16" bbl SP101 stainless steel revolver. This compact but relatively heavy revolver is also offered in a 2 1/4" bbl. For a small belt gun, the use of a good belt and holster negate its weight "disadvantage" to me and I appreciate its recoil dampening when shooting the little thing.

There was only one thing wrong with the small three-fifty-sevens: the ammo. One could either shoot the full-power magnums suffering the consequences of stout recoil, extreme muzzle blast and flash, or go to the .38 Special, usually in +P form. This seems particularly true with the really lightweight magnum revolvers.

Finally, the ammunition makers came to the rescue. They began offering ammunition specifically intended for the compact guns.

But, there is only one problem…

None of these are full-power loads so these magnum rounds are "magnums" in name only.

But, is that necessarily bad? Let's take a close look at this aspect of defensive .357 Magnum ammunition. Will it do the job? What does it offer and what does it take off the table for the defensive shooter?

Thirty years ago the clarion call was for ammunition that actually expanded. The "adequate penetration" concern was mentioned now and again, but my recollection was not so often as today. Foot-pounds of kinetic energy was almost always discussed while today it is considered moot by many of the serious researchers and a round's KE is discussed less frequently…if at all.

The gun scribes usually touted King of the Hill in 357 as any maker's "125-grain jacketed hollow point". Usually the Remington 125-gr. SJHP or Federal's 125-gr. JHP was recommended as potent medicine for bad guys. Incidents I'm personally aware of as well as others I've only read about indicated that this full-power load usually had what it took to deck a felonious opponent.

This full-power load requires at least a 4" to 6" barrel for best results. It was considered a top choice in 357 revolvers. Though it did not have flash retardant powder and used a conventional JHP, it has been described as a "manstopper" by more than a few scribes. If this is true, it comes at the cost of bright flash and sharp recoil.

At that time, these loads were normally rated at about 1450 ft/sec. When shooting an N-frame, you knew that you'd fired a gun, but I never found full-power 357 loads punishing at all in the large frame magnum. In the medium K-frame, recoil was still manageable but sharper. The L-frame 357's I've shot feel about like the N-frames to me…but felt recoil is subjective.

Put any of these full-power loads in a J-frame S&W, small-frame Taurus, or Ruger SP101 and most of will agree that felt recoil is more substantial than in the larger frame revolvers. This is hardly surprising but should a fellow suffer the harder-kicking rounds and slower recovery times or go all the way "down" to the hotter loads in 38 Special?

Currently, Remington, Corbon and Speer offer newer technology bullets loaded to lower velocities than the true magnums. I've seen some refer to it as "357 Minimum" but think a better term might be "357 Medium". To counter these loads' lower velocities, the bullets are engineered for optimum performance at these speeds.

In decades past, ammo makers used the same traditional JHP bullets in both their .38 Special and .357 Magnum loads. That usually meant that if a bullet expanded and held together in the 357 version, it would probably offer marginal expansion at 38 velocities. Likewise, a bullet that expanded rapidly in .38 Special might very well offer very little bullet integrity at higher magnum speeds.

While Corbon uses not only different DPX bullet designs in their 38 and 357 loads, the bullet weights differ as well. The 38 weighs in at 110-grains while the 357 DPX weighs 15 grains more. Remington's 125-gr. Golden Saber bullet appears to be used in both the 357 and its parent cartridge. Ditto Speer's excellent 135-gr. Gold Dot.

The difference is that the bullet's operating envelope has been tailored for maximum performance at lower than throttle-to-the-firewall velocities. They work at both mid-range magnum speeds as well as those for the .38 Special. These newer bullet designs usually penetrate deeper than older conventional JHP's in the same weight.

Expanding bullets have an operating velocity envelope; below it expansion doesn't occur but get too much above it and expansion characteristics can be quite different than expected. The homogeneous copper alloy DPX bullet is tough to get to fragment and a higher impact velocity usually means more penetration. The same thing is true of the Gold Dot. Its jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core and separation is very rare with this round. I have seen expanded bullets cranked up in handloads that resulted in the bullet nearly turning inside out, but the jacket remained with the core and their was very little weight loss. The Golden Saber's harder gilding metal jacket can separate from the lead core, but I've seen this more with expansion testing in water than on animals I've shot with the Golden Saber in various calibers. It has happened but in the few cases I've seen it, the jacket was within a couple of inches of the expanded lead bullet. I don't consider it a major issue though I'll concede that others definitely do.

In my opinion, the mid-power magnums serve a useful purpose in the small revolvers. For those limited to the use of one-hand or who are very sensitive to recoil, they might very well be a good choice in larger guns as well. For the shooter concerned with split times using full-power loads, these might be just the cat's meow. They are going to be loud inside a structure but so is any handgun cartridge. To my subjective ear, the mid-power magnums are similar to 9mm's on the range and definitely not so loud as the full-power magnums.

The three mid-power loads mentioned all use flash-retardant powders, something that is considered de rigor for modern defense loads and they use excellent bullets. Powders are optimized for substantial velocity in shorter barrels. Bullets are designed to penetrate at least 12" of 10% ballistic gelatin when firing from the compact revolvers. In the past a man wanting maximum performance from the 357 usually went with the longest barrel compatible to his needs. Today, some express concerns over using Speer's 135-gr. 38 +P and 357 in other than shorter barrels! (This is something I intend to look into further.)

The ammunition manufacturers have done yeoman's service with the R&D performed to come up with the mid-range magnum.

But are they "as good" as the full-power .357 Magnum? Are they as "powerful"?

Well, I have generally found them to be plenty accurate, sometimes surprisingly so. I have not yet found these to be shallow penetrators. I have found them to expand reliably in "soft targets" and considerably easier to shoot in the small 357 revolver. To me, all of these things are "good". Penetration is deep enough that most defense-oriented shooters would find it acceptable.

But, I do not believe that they are as "powerful" as the full-velocity .357's.

For example, from a 3 1/16" Ruger SP101, Remington's 125-gr. Golden Saber averages 1189 ft/sec while Corbon's 125-gr. DPX gets 1176 ft/sec. The full-power Winchester 145-gr. Silvertip averaged 1207 ft/sec but with 20-gr. more bullet weight (albeit an "old technology" slug). The velocities of these three are in the same ballistic ballpark, but to me "felt recoil" was significantly greater with the Silvertip. When I used a timer to measure split times (time between shots), I was as much as a half-second slower with the full-power STHP than either of the other two. This means little if hunting critters but could mean lots if facing multiple attackers or even a single determined one in a fight. The full-power Remington 125-gr. SJHP usually touted at 1450 ft/sec averaged 1293 ft/sec from the SP101, but to me its recoil is very sharp. Federal 125-gr. JHP got an average velocity of 1301 ft/sec and the trade off for it was sharp felt recoil as with the Remington and Winchester loads.

Shown is a 15-yard group from an S&W 2 1/2" Model 19. It was fired with Corbon's 125-gr. 357 DPX load and is certainly plenty accurate for most purposes. Likewise, I have found the Remington Golden Saber and Speer Gold Dot capable of tight groups as well.

The mid-power loads offer very good expansion that seems reliable. They offer penetration in line with the much touted FBI ballistic protocols and dependable accuracy in my experience.

Speaking only for myself, I believe that the mid-power magnums are the rounds of choice in the small or light 357 revolver.

Technology and hard work from the ammo designers has provided us with some loads that perform as close to perfect as anything in this power range. They have tried to give us maximum performance for considerably less recoil, but there's only so much that can be done. Newton's laws of physics are still valid and for more powerful loads, there is a price to be paid: recoil. Part of this is also due to the heavier powder charges required for these. This adds to felt recoil as well but is seldom mentioned.

The mid-power loads offer adequate penetration and expansion for self-protection in my view. It is unlikely that they offer as large a temporary cavity as full-load magnums but many researchers consider this a non-issue, a non-contributor to "stopping power." For me, the jury is still out on that one but I do believe that it contributes something. I just don't know how much and neither does anyone else from what I can find.

I believe that the mid-range magnums serve a very useful role. At the same time I do not believe that they are as potent as full-power loads like Winchester's 145-gr. STHP, but in my mind there is something more to a "good defense load" than just power. I am sure those most have read the advice to "Choose the most powerful caliber that you can handle." This is not bad information and many can handle the .357 Magnum…in the larger revolvers, but may not handle it so well in the little ones. Some say that this doesn't really matter at "self-defense ranges", the assumption being that we're speaking of distances of but a few feet or even arm's length. True enough I guess if the first shot does the trick and there is but one assailant, but maybe not if facing a dude on PCP or a couple of armed hyped-up freaks assaulting you. I believe this to be even more possible if we're being forced to fire with but one hand.

Mid-power 357 loads may offer less power than full-throttle loads but more "shootability" for many shooters while still delivering respectable incapacitation capability. Less recoil might translate into more accuracy and I still believe that placement is power. With the first round from the small revolver, be it a hard-kicking full-power 357 or less-recoiling mid-range magnum, the shooter may very well "stop" his target but he gains little if a second aggressor receives a less accurate hit requiring longer to deliver.

Though not as important as surviving a deadly encounter, there is another reason that I like the mid-power magnums from any of the three companies previously mentioned. They're not as hard on the guns as are the full-charge loads. The K-frame S&W Model 19 is a most favored revolver amongst many wheelgun fanciers, but new replacement barrels from the company are no longer available. Though I find them easy enough to use with full-power loads, I find myself shooting them with reduced power handloads or the mid-range factory loads if other than range work or hunting is the goal. Admittedly, it is not likely that a fellow will damage his K-frame with full-power 357's. I've only seen a couple of cracked forcing cones in heavily-shot K-frame 357's in three decades, but wouldn't it be the pits if it happened to your gun?

In the larger L and N-frames, cracked forcing cones are not an issue with any sane loads. The same is holding true for Ruger's line of GP revolvers. In my opinion, full-power loads can be nicely handled in these guns and I will not argue one wit with folks opting to use them for defense. At the same time, I'll wager that they can do quicker accurate shooting with the mid-power loads in these heavy steel revolvers.

Here are three of the contenders for 357 mid-power carry loads. Left to right: Speer 135-gr. Gold Dot "Short Barrel", Corbon 125-gr. DPX, and Remington 125-gr. Golden Saber.

In the short-barreled 357, the mid-power load offers very good bullet performance and controllability. While these loads may not be the most "powerful" for caliber, their performance is optimized by design for use in these guns.

If a person is determined that the best 357 snub load for them remains a full-power one, I'll not argue too loudly. The choice of "best" self-protection ammunition will always remain that of the individual, at least to me. I have found that while I do appreciate all the power that can be had in this round, my performance against the clock is better with the mid-power loads.

With the smaller 357 revolvers I find that for me, less can indeed be more in terms of overall performance.

If you carry a smaller .357 Magnum revolver for self-protection, the mid-range loads might very well be worth a look.



יט וְשָׁבַרְתִּי, אֶת-גְּאוֹן עֻזְּכֶם; וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-שְׁמֵיכֶם כַּבַּרְזֶל, וְאֶת-אַרְצְכֶם כַּנְּחֻשָׁה. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.
כ וְתַם לָרִיק, כֹּחֲכֶם; וְלֹא-תִתֵּן אַרְצְכֶם, אֶת-יְבוּלָהּ, וְעֵץ הָאָרֶץ, לֹא יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield her produce, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

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The Novel
My first novel was titled Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. This is the expanded edition of my novel Triple Ought (re-titled TEOTWAWKI in an interim edition). Huntington House published a paperback edition of my novel from November of 1998 to January of 2005. Sadly, Huntington House went out of business in early 2005. The good news is that the book recently went back into print with a new publisher, XLibris.

Patriots is a novel about a socioeconomic collapse in the near future. It was described by one reviewer as a "survival manual fairly neatly dressed as fiction." There are so many useful details included that most people find themselves taking notes as they read it.

There was some confusion about the various editions of the novel. Some people have written asking if Patriots is a sequel to Triple Ought or TEOTWAWKI. It isn't. Rather, it is a thoroughly fleshed-out edition of the same story line. There is a wealth of new technical detail in Patriots, and even some new characters. Much of the material was suggested by readers from all around the globe who had read one the draft shareware editions. I greatly appreciate their input!

To avoid any further confusion, let me explain the various iterations of the novel...

1.) The Gray Nineties was the title of a 19 chapter draft edition of the novel. It was distributed as shareware via the Internet from 1995 to 1997.

2.) Triple Ought was a 27 chapter draft edition of the novel. It was distributed via the Internet from 1997 to early 1998. It was highly successful, with tens of thousands of downloads logged from the 11 mirror sites in North America and Europe. The various Triple Ought sites were linked by more than 150 web sites dedicated to Christian, patriotic, survival, and Y2K issues. It was reviewed in a variety of on-line publications as well as print publications such as American Survival Guide magazine, the Bo Gritz newsletter, and The Idaho Observer.

3.) TEOTWAWKI (an acronym for "The End of the World as We Know It") was a 33 chapter expanded self-published edition of the novel, printed and Velo bound in 8-1/2 x 11 format. It included six appendices. Note: TEOTWAWKI was never distributed as shareware. It was sold during 1997 and 1998.

4.) Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse was the title of a 31 chapter (352 page) abridged edition of the novel that was in trade paperback from Huntington House, with a color cover. It was in print from November of 1998 to January of 2005.

5.) Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse --Expanded Edition is the title of a 33 chapter (384 page) edition of the novel currently in trade paperback from Ex Libris, with a color cover. (There is not a hardback edition.) Printing commenced in November of 2006.

The "Patriots" paperback does not have the appendices that were included in TEOTWAWKI. As a public service, the appendices will continue to be available free of charge on this web page. Note that although they are available free, they are copyrighted by the author. Reprinting of any part of the appendices or the draft editions for resale is expressly prohibited.

The ISBNs for the new trade paperback edition are:
ISBN 13: 978-1-425734-07-7
ISBN 10: 1-4257-3407-3 (To explain: The new ISBN system uses 13 digits, but the old 10 digit numbers can still be used during the transition period.)

Starting January 10, 2007, I will be selling autographed copies for $18.99 + $3.01 postage. ($22 each, postage paid, or $21 each if you order 2 or more, or $20 each if you order 3 or more.) Because of upcoming travel plans, I cannot fill any orders directly until January. If you need a copy before late January, then please order directly from the publisher: XLibris.

Are you a book dealer, or do you know of one that might want to stock my novel? Case lots (of 26 copies per case) are available directly from the publisher, with a 40% dealer discount, or a 50% to 60% wholesaler discount, (The discount is based on the quantity ordered.):
Fax: 610.915.0294
Telephone: 1.888.795.4274 x.479
Snail Mail: Xlibris Corporation; International Plaza II; Suite 340; Philadelphia, PA 19113

The Screenplay and Movie Deal

The "Pulling Through" screenplay (formerly titled "Triple Ought"), loosely based on my survival novel, is now available for free download at this web site. Please note that the screenplay is both copyrighted and WGAw registered. Any duplication for commercial use is expressly prohibited.

I am trying to get a feature-length Hollywood movie deal off the ground. But, as yet no production company has bought the screenplay. That is why I've made the screenplay available to a wide audience. Hopefully the right person will see it, and recognize this "property:" for its potential.

I believe that Pulling Through will be the first of a new wave of "ultra-realistic" films. They will be entertaining, thought-provoking, and even educational. The goal is to cast Pulling Through with actors who are already gun enthusiasts. All of the key actors will receive special training from a top-notch firearms training organization such as Front Sight. That will add a lot to the film's realism. Another goal is to mix blank firing with state of the art computer-generated special effects (to create, for example, realistic tracer bullets), and even some scenes of actual live ammunition fire. The live ammo fire will of course require extraordinary safety precautions, but talk about realism! If I have it my way, much of "Pulling Through" will be filmed on location in north-central Idaho.

I will keep you posted on further developments on the movie project.

Many thanks for your support!

- James Wesley, Rawles
You can contact James Wesley, Rawles via e-mail:

Alexander Lebed and Suitcase Nukes

By Carey Sublette

Last changed 18 May 2002

For discussion of the technical feasibility of Lebed's suitcase bombs see Are Suitcase Bombs Possible?.

See The Death of Alexander Lebed.

The Claim

On 7 September 1997, the CBS newsmagazine Sixty Minutes broadcast an alarming story in which former Russian National Security Adviser Aleksandr Lebed claimed that the Russian military had lost track of more than 100 suitcase-sized nuclear bombs, any one of which could kill up to 100,000 people.

"I'm saying that more than a hundred weapons out of the supposed number of 250 are not under the control of the armed forces of Russia," Lebed said in the interview. "I don't know their location. I don't know whether they have been destroyed or whether they are stored or whether they've been sold or stolen, I don't know."

Asked if it were possible that the authorities did know where all the weapons were and simply did not want to tell Lebed, he said, "No."

During May 1997 Lebed said at a private briefing to a delegation of U.S. congressmen that he believed 84 of the one-kiloton bombs were unaccounted for. In the interview with 60 Minutes, conducted in late August, Lebed said he now believed the figure to be more than 100.

Lebed stated that these devices were made to look like suitcases, and could be detonated by one person within half an hour. According to Lebed, he learned of the existence of these weapons developed for special operations only a few years before. While national security adviser to Yeltsin he commissioned a study to report on the whereabouts of these devices. Lebed was fired as national security adviser 17 October 1996 amid intense political jostling while President Boris Yeltsin was awaiting heart surgery. He admits that he had only preliminary results of his investigation at that time, and these results are the basis of his subsequent claims.

The bombs, measuring 60 x 40 x 20 centimeters (24 x 16 x 8 inches), had been distributed among special Soviet military intelligence units belonging to the GRU, Lebed said.

The Reaction

The official response of the US government was given by State Department spokesman James Foley on 5 September (based on CBS' pre-release of the interview transcript).

The government of Russia has assured (us) that it retains adequate command and control of its nuclear arsenal and that appropriate physical security arrangements exist for these weapons and facilities.

We have been assured by the Russian authorities that there is no cause for concern. We believe the assurances we have received,

Foley said.

Russia's atomic energy ministry further rejected Lebed's claims on 10 September.

"We don't know what General Lebed is talking about. No such weapons exist," a ministry spokesman told AFP. "Perhaps he meant old Soviet nuclear artillery shells, which are all being safely guarded."

Interfax news agency quoted a ministry statement as saying Russia's nuclear security system "keeps nuclear warheads under tight control and makes any unauthorized transportation of them impossible."

Lebed has been warning of poor security over nuclear weapons in Russia since at least late 1996, when he met with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana (28 November 1996). At the time Lebed had called controls over nuclear material in the former Soviet Union "unsatisfactory," making Russia vulnerable at nuclear plants and facilities. Lugar and Georgia Democrat Sam Nunn sponsored a law in 1991 that provides American technical aid to Russia to eliminate nuclear warheads made redundant by arms control pacts, and account for and control nuclear material.

Questions about Lebed's credibility were immediately raised. Abruptly cast out of power, presumably leaving him with grudges, he was likely to be a leading contender in the next presidential election. In elections in June 1996 he placed third, behind Yeltsin.

State Department spokesman Foley said Lebed's allegations carried "not a lot of credibility."

He said US officials have often raised the matter of nuclear security with their Russian counterparts and that "we've been assured by the Russian authorities that there's no cause for concern."

Another stream of criticism about the Sixty Minutes report was directed at the producers of the story. A good account of this was given (perhaps surprisingly) in the Sept. 27 - October 3 issue of TV Guide (pg. 49). The situation was that the producer of the story, Leslie Cockburn, was currently promoting a book she co-wrote with her husband Andrew on the dangers of nuclear terrorism called One Point Safe. In addition the Cockburns were co-producers of a just released, Dreamworks SKG film The Peacemaker. The star commentator of the Sixty Minutes report, ex-National Security Council staffer Jessica Stern, was a paid consultant to The Peacemaker, and allegedly was the model for the character played by Nicole Kidman. Stern was also working on her own book on nuclear terrorism.

While the interlocking self-interests involving the various participants in the preparation of the Sixty Minutes report certainly do not prove any disingenuousness on the part of any of them, it did nothing to bolster the credibility of the claims.

Subsequent Reports

Lebed later testified before the Congressional Military Research and Development Subcommittee at a hearing on 1 October 1997 where he stated that the bombs were made to look like suitcases and could be detonated by one person with less than 30 minutes preparation. Lebed's claim that such devices had been manufactured were corroborated on 3 October by testimony from Russian scientist Alexei Yablokov, former environmental advisor to President Yeltsin while serving on the Russian National Security Council (see According to the press release from Rep. Curt Weldon's office (R-Pa):

Yablokov stated that he personally knows individuals who produced these suitcase-size nuclear devices under orders from the KGB in the 1970s specifically for terrorist purposes. As a result of their being produced for the KGB, Yablokov has stated that they may not have been taken into account in the Soviet general nuclear arsenal and may not be under the control of the Russian Defense Ministry.
For Yablokov's comments on suitcase nukes and Lebed given on WGBH/Frontline see

Weldon has further said that the Russian government eventually acknowledged that such weapons had been produced.

In a later floor speech (Security Issues Relating to Russia, 28 October 1999) Weldon asserted that a total of 132 devices had been built with yields from 1 to 10 kilotons, and that 48 were unaccounted for.

For discussion of the technical feasibility of Lebed's suitcase bombs see Are Suitcase Bombs Possible?.

The Burton-Lunev Hearing

A second chapter in the Soviet suitcase bomb affair began with a Congressional hearing on Russian espionage held by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) on 24 January 2000 in Washington, DC. Soviet ex-colonel and GRU operative Stanislav Lunev was the star witness at the sparsely attended Military Research and Development Subcommittee hearing, chaired by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.).

Featured at the hearing was a mock-up of a notional briefcase bomb. In his opening comments Weldon described this exhibit:

The model is based on unclassified data on the components in an atomic artillery shell, to see if such a system could be reassembled in a suitcase. Indeed, as it turns out, the physics package, neutron generators, batteries, arming mechanism and other essentials of a small atomic weapon can fit, just barely, in an attache case. The result is a plutonium-fueled gun-type atomic weapon having a yield of one-to-ten kilotons, the same yield range attributed by General Lebed to the Russian "nuclear suitcase" weapon.

Presumably Weldon's reference to it being "gun-type" refers to it being fired from a gun, not its assembly method.

Mock-up of a hypothetical "suitcase" nuclear bomb, made by Congressional
staffer Peter Pry. It is basically a 105 mm artillery shell device packaged in a
large briefcase.

The key point of the hearing was Lunev's additional allegations that nuclear suitcase bombs may have been pre-positioned in NATO countries during the Cold War, in a manner similar to the way other espionage resources including conventional explosives were known to have been cached.

Weldon summarized Lunev's claims:

Lunev defected to the United States in 1992 after working for more than a decade in the U.S. as a GRU operative. Lunev participated in a GRU program collecting information on the President and senior U.S. political and military leaders so they may be targeted for assassination in the event of war. According to Lunev, small man-portable nuclear weapons "that could be disguised to look like a suitcase" would be employed in a decapitating Russian attack against U.S. leaders and key communications and military facilities. Colonel Lunev claimed that the Russian military and intelligence services still regard the United States as the enemy and consider war with the U.S. as "inevitable."

Colonel Lunev stated that man-portable nuclear weapons may already be located in the United States. Lunev's claim is based on his understanding of GRU doctrine for employing these weapons, which calls for pre-positioning nuclear weapons in the United States during peacetime, before a crisis or war makes penetration of the U.S. more difficult. Lunev testified that he actively supported the GRU program to pre-position man-portable nuclear weapons in the United States by identifying in the U.S. potential hiding places where such weapons could be stored and concealed until needed. Lunev was specially trained to disguise and camouflage such weapons.

One account of the hearing ran as follows:

Much of Lunev's testimony was a repeat of allegations made in his 1998 book in which he said Russia's post-Cold War leaders still see the United States as the enemy.

Lunev, who is in the federal witness protection program, said he masqueraded as a reporter for the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass for three years during which he scouted "drop sites" for weapons caches in the U.S. But he said he has no idea if they were ever planted.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., suggested in November that the spy caches might include suitcase-sized nuclear weapons that can produce a 10-kiloton blast.

Weldon, who also testified Monday, stood at one point, holding up a large briefcase and announced: "I have a small atomic demolition device I'd like to bring up to you."

Burton quickly reassured the audience that it was "a mockup" created by the CIA.

Russian officials have confirmed their arsenal includes such devices, but investigators have said there is no evidence they are part of the purported hidden stockpiles.

"Ex-Spy Testifies in Hearing", Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2000; 3:59 a.m. EST

This hearing has most recently reached public attention when it was recounted in the October 2, 2001 edition of the National Enquirer, page 16.