May 15, 2007

Former Los Alamos National Laboratory Contractor Pleads Guilty to Removing Classified Information

WASHINGTON, May 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jessica Lynn Quintana, a former employee of a contractor at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), has pleaded guilty to knowingly removing classified information from the national security research laboratory, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein announced today.
According to the facts admitted in her plea, Quintana was employed by a contractor at the Los Alamos research facility to archive classified information. On July 27, 2006, while she was working on this project in a secure area at the LANL, Quintana printed off pages of classified documents and downloaded other classified information to a computer thumb drive, before putting them in a backpack and taking them home. Quintana stored the pages and thumb drive at her residence, which was not an authorized location for the storage of classified information.
On Oct. 17, 2006, the Los Alamos Police Department executed a state search warrant on Quintana's home and seized the thumb drive containing classified information. Three days later, the FBI seized the classified printouts during the execution of a federal search warrant on her residence.
Quintana entered her misdemeanor guilty plea this afternoon in federal court in Albuquerque, NM. She faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail, a $100,000 fine, and a year of supervised release. She could also be sentenced to probation for up to five years. As part of the plea agreement, Quintana has agreed to cooperate with the government. Quintana no longer
has a security clearance.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Clifford I. Rones of the Counterespionage Section at the Justice Department's National Security Division and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Kimball of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico.
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2007, or TDD, 202-514-1888
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice


Anonymous said...

This is not really associated with the thread, but has anybody else noticed that no PADSTE highlights have been sent out for the past two weeks? They have essentially fallen off of the esteemed Dr. Wallace's radar now that he has become "permanent". I guess he no longer considers science of import, which means he was faking it for the last couple of years to get his job or that there is no good science going on at LANL to report!

Anonymous said...

Oh, you didn't get the memo? Terry is busy frequenting all the fast-food joints and coffee houses in town (notice his growth over the past year of living large?) because he is stressing over all the lies he has told and all the committments he has made to people at LANL. Now, those people are knocking at this door loud and clear now trying to get him to fullfill his promises. Science in STE? He has no time for science.

Anonymous said...

So the Keystone cops finally got their man, or in this case woman. Kind of makes you proud to be an American, don't it?

PS What the hell is a PADSTE highlight? Who cares?

Anonymous said...

Now if the Keystone cops could only get the goods on Mitchell ...

Anonymous said...

Serious question.

When did "negligent handling" become a crime?

It used to be that mishandling secrets led to loss of clearance and dismissal. But punishment in a court of law required showing espionage intent, and the government had to reveal the data in open court. This last point was the pivotal one in deciding how to prosecute "Falcon" (as in "The Falcon and the Snowman") when he gave secrets to the Russians. The government was able to burn an old but classified project in open court in order to get prosecution.

But now we can be dragged into criminal court and prosecuted for mishandling, without revealing the actual data? Similarly, Wen Ho Lee was convicted of "improper downloading" without revealing the actual data.

So what law changed in the last decade to drag us closer to secret "kangaroo courts" where nebulous claims can be laid without validation? Note this started prior to 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Chalk up another lulu of an employee originally hired by Kit Ruminer in IM. And who's daughter is JQ?

Ruminer should have her fat retired ass hauled into court for cheating contractors out of YEARS of UC service credit, cheating contractors out of training (while using their training money elsewhere), and for hiring JQ in the first place.

Accountability? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

excellent remarks by poster 8:50.... I even went to the classified briefing on the Wen Ho case a few years back and it provided NO evidence of anything major. A few infractions and LOTS of surmise. They obviously had NOTHING substantial on him.

Lots of headlines and finger pointing and not much else. The Joe McCarthy/Ray Cohn/Nixon/Reagan/
Bush/Bush/Rice/Gonzales/Rumsfeld/ Cheney/Nanos school of politics goes on and on and on

Pinky and The Brain said...

The part that had us pondering is the FBI showing up three days later and finding even more classified. Why the delay?

Anonymous said...

because the sheriff didn't have a clue what he was looking at... and neither JQ

Pinky and The Brain said...

We could be mistaken, but wasn't it reported that the responding officers contacted LANL at the time of the arrest?

And Time could be mistaken, but they reported, "Quintana's motive for breaching the rules appears to have been benign: Falling behind on her work scanning paper copies of nuclear-weapons designs into a digital format, she would save highly classified documents onto a "thumb drive" and then take the material home to work on after hours, she has said."

We aren't getting this. She took home digital copies to scan into ... digital copies?

Anonymous said...

re 8:50,

Nothing changed, nothing new. Mishandling classified information has been a misdemeanor for quite awhile. Former State Department Official Donald Keyse was sentenced to a year in jail for the same offense earlier this year ( Clinton's national security advisor, Samuel Berger pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2005. Former CIA Director John Deutch agreed to a guilty plea to the misdmeanor in 2001 (see more on this particularly interesting episode at

Anonymous said...

Pinky says "We could be mistaken, but wasn't it reported that the responding officers contacted LANL at the time of the arrest?"

Check the Monitor from Oct 18, 2006:

Tuesday evening of that week, LAPD spotted the drug paraphernalia while busting Justin Stone on an outstanding warrant (Justin has his own sad story of a life). They came back Tuesday evening with a warrant for the trailer and gathered up the evidence, which included the thumb drives.

The next day, on Wednesday, the police realized they were looking at LANL classified docs on the drives, then after joking about it among themselves and county employees (which I heard second-hand from a county employee), realized they should alert LANL, which they did on Thursday of that week. LANL turned around and notified the FBI, who raided the trailer on Friday evening to gather more evidence. Hence the three day delay. See the recap in the Monitor, October 25th:

I don't have the reference handy, but I thought it was originally disclosed that JQ was building an index of the docs. Hence most of the photocopies were just the front pages with their titles, which she brought home to work on.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, grounds for termination and consequences for her bosses, but criminally negligent?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Thanks for the information. Our loyal readers are our greatest strength!

Anonymous said...

PADSTE Highlights for May 7 - 11 were issued this evening around 9pm, if anyone else cares.

Anonymous said...

5/15/07 9:04 PM wrote:

"I even went to the classified briefing on the Wen Ho case a few years back and it provided NO evidence of anything major. A few infractions and LOTS of surmise. They obviously had NOTHING substantial on him."

You must have gone to a different briefing than the one I went to. Even assuming that he was innocent of espionage, Wen Ho got off easy given the other things that he did. He committed much more than a "few infractions", and he ought to still be in jail.

Also, if you went to the briefing, you saw (and heard) plenty of hard, substantial facts.

It is simply shocking what Wen Ho Lee was able to get away with. Unfortunately, details are classified, for good reason, and we'll never be able to have an open, informed discussion about Wen Ho in a forum such as this.

Anonymous said...

it was a bunch in minor infractions and bullshit. If they had anything he would have been convicted.

Of course under the cover of "classified," nothing can ever really be know. And no matter what he had or WHY he had it, they have no evidence he passed it on to anyone.

Bush is good at using the "classified" cover to keep the sheeple from knowing exactly how much of a traitor and war criminal he really is.

Anonymous said...

excellent comments. As JQ's atty I agree that this misdemeanor has been on the books for decades. A LOT of people have been caught negligently handling classified material who were never prosecuted under the statute, but that is not really a defense. JQ's case could hardly be swept under the rug once the media sunk their claws into a sensational story.

All in all, taking a misdemeanor and probably probation is a safer surer and quicker choice. Even for an honest mistake, fighting the United States government is quite a gamble. SA

Pinky and The Brain said...

We just saw this perspective today:

"Earlier, Cockburn and St. Clair reported an egregious example in what they called "one of the greatest humiliations of a national newspaper in the history of journalism." It was about the [New York] Times' key role framing Wen Ho Lee beginning March 6, 1999 in the James Risen/Jeff Gerth Breach at Los Alamos story claiming an unnamed lab scientist gave the Chinese People's Republic stolen nuclear secrets. It got Lee arrested, fired and held without bail in solitary confinement for 278 days ending when he pleaded guilty to the watered-down charge of improperly downloading Restricted Data with Judge James A. Parker apologizing for the government's "abuse of power" the Times could never admit responsibility for."

Anonymous said...

9:15 pm:
Re: WHL:
"it was a bunch in (sic) minor infractions and bullshit. If they had anything he would have been convicted."

He was not convicted (nor was prosecution evidence presented in court) precisely because to have done so would have required public disclosure of the information compromised, to then-unknown parties, by Lee. Not a good idea if you care about just anyone getting his hands on the weapon designs and supporting data and calculations Lee took. The classified Lee briefings make this perfectly clear. The only travesty here was the clueless judge's "apology" to the traitor.

See the Bellows report and the Louis Freeh testimony in Congress, if you care about the facts.

Anonymous said...

The Wen Ho Lee case will always be shrouded in "classified" material but the bottom line was he didn't sell or give away anything OR if he did the stupid Feds couldn't prove it. All they could prove was that he HAD stuff, and stupid infractions. He was guilty of INTENTIONALLY copying stuff and having it at home. So apparently were Mitchell and JQ.

Anonymous said...

"Negligent handling" should only be a crime if it occurs during a back seat hormone-crazed encounter. Otherwise, forgetaboutit!

Anonymous said...

5/15/07 11:15 PM - Anonymous said... "PADSTE Highlights for May 7 - 11 were issued this evening around 9pm, if anyone else cares."

At least we know LANS PADSTE management is reading the blog and paying some attention...