Imagine Russian spies sabotaging Hoover Dam or poisoning Southern Nevada's water supply. It might sound like something out of a James Bond movie, but it was all part of a Moscow plot to throw Southern Nevada into a panic.
The information comes from a man who was Russia's top spy for many years, a general in the KGB. His name is Oleg Kalugin.
During the darkest days of the cold war, when the missiles of the superpowers were poised for launch, when the world teetered on the edge of the abyss, it was the job of Russian spies to find less destructive ways for communism to prevail. "The eventual aim of destroying western societies, not thru nuclear confrontation, but through subversion. We had hundreds of spies," said General Oleg Kalugin.
Major General Oleg Kalugin knows about subversion. As the long-time chief of foreign counterintelligence for the dreaded KGB, he supervised a world-wide web of intrigue, espionage, and dirty tricks. Kalugin first came to the U.S. in the late 1950s as a foreign exchange student, then later as a correspondent for Radio Moscow, and finally as a full-fledged intelligence agent working in Washington.
He was the embodiment of what Americans feared as the commie menace. "I volunteered to be a KGB member to contribute to the victory of communism. I was a dedicated communist, said Kalugin, who now lives in the U.S. and does contract work for the federal government. He recently spoke to Las Vegas Department of Energy employees about the continuing spy threat from his former country. Although his primary job was to recruit spies and gather intelligence, he was taught intricate details of the KGB's top secret plans to disrupt and sabotage the U.S. in the event that hostilities seemed imminent. "We had contingency plans with the ultimate goal of blowing up power grids or poisoning water supplies. Before you fire a missile at Russia, your power supplies would be blown up, your water poisoned. It would create a major panic."
Kalugin was only in Nevada once while working for the KGB. He says there is no doubt Nevada would have been a prime target during the cold war, and that this state was the subject of intense espionage activity. "Nevada was one of the crucial states for the country, the Dam, testing sites, Department of Energy facilities at that time, absolutely a priority."
Hoover dam would have been a prime target for sabotage, he says, as well as the power lines coming out of the dam. The Las Vegas water supply would have been poisoned, Nellis would have been disrupted, D.O.E. facilities, including the test site, would have been targeted.
He declined to answer whether Area 51 would have made the list. Certainly, Las Vegas during the cold war teemed with russian spooks. "Some of the areas specially protected by the U.S. government at the time, soviet intelligence, military intelligence was actively involved in exploring the local areas."
During his spy career, Kalugin says he was routinely followed by the FBI, which made it all the more necessary to recruit others to do some of his leg work. Las Vegas, with all of its temptations, was a perfect place to find people who might do Russia's bidding, and it still is, one reason the D.O.E. brought Kalugin in to speak to its employees. "I would get to know vulnerabilities, weaknesses, the buttons you could push. If I could see you pulling on those slots, dice, drinking, various problems you have, it would be a super location for people to target," said Doug Newson with the D.O.E.
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