NUCLEAR NINJAS

A NEW KIND OF SWAT TEAM HUNTS ATOMIC TERRORISTS. AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT THEIR OPERATION

IT MIGHT BE HARD TO PICTURE AT THIS juncture in American history, but there are times, even now, when working for the government can be exciting. Consider a secret Department of Energy training exercise--code name: Mirage Gold--that was staged in New Orleans in October 1994. Hundreds of normally lab-bound nuclear scientists fanned out through the French Quarter carrying briefcases with hidden radiation detectors, while rental vans packed with high-tech electronics roamed the streets and planes fitted with spy cameras swooped overhead. After three days, they found what they were hunting for: a simulated nuclear weapon hidden on a nearby naval base.

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