Jun 23, 2007

I am a whore and Mike Anastasio is my pimp

Here is a comment from an earlier post on this blog. The author omits a few of the parties who also share a large part of the blame for LANL's current sad state: the fine crop of ineffective locally-grown managers who helped run the place into the ground over the past decade and a half, for example. I also think a special note of thanks needs to go out to UC for having brought in George P. Nanos as director a few years ago, and for completely failing to control him during his brief reign of terror. The events that occurred on his watch (get it? "watch" --- a Naval term) were directly responsible for catalyzing our "leaders" to put the LANL contract up for bid for the first time in 63 years.

--Gussie

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I am sick and tired of being blamed and now punished for every security problem at LANL. I have worked here for 24 years doing classified nuclear weapons work for every one of them. I have never received a security infraction or incident. I take my responsibilities with classified information extremely seriously. And so does everyone else. The incidents that LANL has become famous for are the result of the unpredictable actions of human beings who have been granted clearances by OPM. The damage caused by the incidents of the last seven years has been minor to non-existent. These types of incidents happen at LLNL and SNL every bit as frequently as at LANL. In fact I know of LLNL incidents that are far more serious and you have heard nothing about them. LANL has become the scapegoat for an ineffective NNSA. The LANL management team has no interest in LANL success as they all have a golden parachute back to terra firma. As such, they have done nothing to defend or protect LANL.

Congress has crossed the line and is blaming me and you for these incidents and is threatening to take away our livelihood. The taxpayer has invested $2.1 M in training me in nuclear weapons design. I am here for four reasons: The work I do in the nuclear weapons program, the schools, the beautiful surroundings, and the crime free small town lifestyle. My kids are nearly out of school, the fire ruined the surroundings, and the United States no longer values the work I do. I used to love my job and did it passionately because of its importance. Now that LANs is here and Congress has made their attack personal, I suppose it is time to take my $2.1 M nuclear weapons education and find something else to do. Do I want to uproot my family? No. Do I have a choice? We’ll see in the next few months. The only problem is the house I own. If it weren’t for my lousy investment in Los Alamos property, the decision would be easy. Until such time as I can afford to leave, I am stuck and must continue to tolerate this disgusting treatment of people who have dedicated their lives to protecting the United States. I suppose I am a whore and Mike Anastasio is my pimp.

The thing I do not think that Congress understands is that there are not that many of us who have the experience to keep this business going, and driving us away essentially equates to unilateral disarmament. While Mr. Hobson thinks driving away 1800 people would be a good thing, I contend it will be devastating. There may be 1800 people at LANL that could be cut with no impact to the stockpile, but that isn’t how this will be done. The problem is 40% of the $500 M LANL punishment comes from the nuclear weapons program. That equates to about 500 hands-on TSMs from the weapons program. Let’s assume my training is average which results in sending $1.1 B of trained nuclear weapons expertise out into the world. Good idea Mr. Hobson? I am shocked that the United States is headed down the path of disarming itself in a world where there is an ever increasing number of Nations who have nuclear weapons or are expanding their arsenals.

And for those of you who think devastating LANL should not hurt the stockpile because LLNL will be there, think again. Do some research and check out how many disasters Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has put into stockpile. Perhaps once they do not have to compete with LANL they will quit politicizing every weapons issue (RRW, pit lifetimes, NIF, …) and actually try to solve technical problems. I wonder if after they (Congress, NNSA, and LANs) gut LANL, will LLNs hire LANL staff and map across years of service and retirement benefits? I am not interested in the least, but there may be a few second stringers who would be interested.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

+1

Bravo.

Couldn't have written it better myself.

Anonymous said...

When times are good, working in the weapons related divisions at LANL can be a path down Easy Street. However, when times are tough and budgets are tight, it is one of the most dangerous places to be working at LANL. These divisions have many TSMs who have never been forced to go outside of the lab and work to secure funding. When the budget ax falls, they become workers at high risk for layoffs. It comes with the territory. You 'makes your choices and you 'takes your risks. As for me, I wouldn't want to ever take the risk of working within one of these divisions, as it severely limits the options you have with your career and scientific studies. I do hope this fellow and most of his colleagues makes it through the coming budget storm, though. It's not fun watching large parts of the technical staff at LANL worry about financial ruin. Congressman Hopson is truly an ass for making his comment about laying off 1800 workers to improve LANL's security. Instead, I say we lay off 200 Congressmen as a means to improve the pathetic performance of Congress. The latest public polls from Gallup show they are hovering at a historic low of just 17% approval!

Anonymous said...

And now, to further boost morale, we have Visclosky's rules.

Rule #1: It's all LANL's fault.

Rule #2: If it's not LANL's fault, see Rule #1.

Anonymous said...

It's not about blame; It's about accountability. For the longest time there hasn't been any. And like it or not we're all in the same boat. If you think your holding up your end, that doesn't relieve you of responsibility to ensure everyone does the same. But at Los Alamos we have a class structure where some can get away with more than others, and some are rewarded much more readily than others. This breads contempt. This nurters gender and racial discrimination. This destroys the cohesiveness.of the organization to the point that we turn on each other. And like a cancer we destroy ourselves. But in the end we find out it's not about us versus them (as the original post. suggests)...it's abou of us now.

Anonymous said...

Oh for crap's sake!

I guess the answer then is to expand the scope of the diversity office.

Anonymous said...

“The thing I do not think that Congress understands is that there are not that many of us who have the experience to keep this business going, and driving us away essentially equates to unilateral disarmament.”

No, it does not essentially equate to unilateral disarmament. Is our stockpile located here, and will it vanish with a budget cut? At most, it may amount to losing one of two design labs.

What Congress, with unusual bipartisanship, (Hobson and Visclosky) clearly understands is:
> The US needs nuclear weapons
> BUT a nuclear lab with poor security is worse than no nuclear lab
> BECAUSE poor security means that our adversaries can get access to every advance that we develop

AND rightly or wrongly, Congress is starting to believe that LANL is more of a liability than an asset. Hobson was quite clear: “I would argue our national security would be improved by cutting 1,800 jobs from a facility that can't seem to manage sensitive information.” Given this reported mood in Congress, LANL should be thankful that they are talking about 1,800 cuts and not outright closure.

“Let’s assume my training is average which results in sending $1.1 B of trained nuclear weapons expertise out into the world.”

Do you mean that LANL staff cuts pose a security risk to the nation? Are you saying that laid-off LANL scientists will go work for Iran? Doe we need a Nuclear Cities Initiative for LANL?

Or do you mean that the US will be wasting $1.1B in assets? That is chump change to our economy and federal budget.

And you finish up the post with a comment about pensions.

LANL will not get out of this predicament until LANL staff understand what policy-makers want. It is not more science or even more weapons (yet), it is some basic security. Or at least the appearance that LANL gives a crap about security.

PS - Your post, with timing that could not have been more ironic, was posted next to one about another laptop security beach.

Anonymous said...

Well said 6:05pm.

K. Boland said...

I also agree with 6:05. The point that so people seem to be missing, is that no matter how important you think you are, and no matter how you understand the weapons in our stockpile, people (voters and congresspeople alike) simply don't give a shit. As far as most people are concerned, the nation should hire some out of work GM employees to do your job. Sorry, but that is reality.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. Couldn't a big, well integrated engineering company like GE also design and maintain nuclear weapons if they were paid to do so? What is so special about our nuclear weapon labs? And hasn't the critical art of weapons design been capture in documentation so that it could be effectively passed on to other scientists and engineers who work at other companies? If not, then why not? We can pass on information of this type between companies that make highly complex aircraft like the F-16, so why not the same with our nuclear weapons stockpile?

I suspect the nuclear weapons workforce may have an inflated sense of their importance and are holding a much weaker set of cards that they appear to be holding. Is this a bluff? Are the scientist who work at LANL really worth $450K per year? That's an awful lot of money to be spending. What are we taxpayers getting for this huge expense? I don't mean to sound so down on the labs but I really question whether the funds which the government spends on these labs are being spent effectively. It would seem to me that the days of uniqueness for nuclear weapons work are long gone. Is my perception all wrong about this situation? If so, in what way?

Anonymous said...

I have seen LANL physicists. If you are whores, you should consider taking showers occasionally. Maybe you would get more johns.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Ouch!

Anonymous said...

This is LANL, if they only hire the best and the brightest, how can there be second stringers?

Anonymous said...

To the 10:36pm poster. Since you are so smug than you should sign your name. Anonymous postings do not carry much weight and I sincerely hope that blog readers realize that many of the people who "contribute" to this blog probably do not work at LANL, know anything about LANL, or about the people who do work at LANL.

Charles Reichhardt

Anonymous said...

Anon. @ 11:57 PM said, "This is LANL, if they only hire the best and the brightest, how can there be second stringers?"

Oh, that's easy ... it is called the friends and family plan. Lots of second-rate "scientists" have been hired and promoted over the past year by our new ADs and PADs.

Anonymous said...

Charles 12:03 AM - most of the bloggers are from LANL. Haven't you noticed the anger in the ranks or is it that T-Division is still living off the "theory tax" that all the experimentalists pay to get funding? Gosh, I can't believe you all are so blind to the poor morale at the Lab right now. Are you folks able to buy things? Are you able to get through a day without some paper crisis also known as ISDs being flung from above? Are you able to hire postdocs without having to wait three weeks for a fucking signature from the great Terry Wallace? Please tell me that you are feeling some of the pain that the rest of the Lab is feeling! Good grief - get a grip - most of the posts come from LANL people who are just hanging on by their finger nails...

Anonymous said...

10:36 here. My apologies, T-Boy. You, unlike cowardly me, have your picture on the net, and you are a hottie (for a mathematician).

Get a grip. Is a comment about the personal hygeine of scientists supposed to "carry much weight"?

Anonymous said...

12:31, I read your comment as humor. There is almost no humor at LANL these days. I go to hour meetings with 10 people and no one even makes a light joke. Definitely a change.

Anonymous said...

6/23/07 1:08 PM here. I was referring to Visclosky blaming LANL for the fact that SNL fired their own employee for identifying computer security lapses at the FBI.

Nevermind.

Anonymous said...

So, poster 10:46 AM, it sounds like we are now taking the blame for events that didn't even happen here. It's quickly become hopeless at LANL. We have become the dumping ground for all of Congress' rage about what is wrong with the highly dysfunctional NNSA complex. Facts and proper blame no longer matter. Just blame it on LANL.

Would one of our highly paid LANS execs please inform Congressman Visclosky that Shawn Carpenter worked for SNL, and not LANL. No? I thought so.

Anonymous said...

From: Albuquerque Tribune June 21


In rejecting Udall's amendment, the leaders of the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee - Chairman Peter Visclosky, an Indiana Democrat, and ranking Republican David Hobson of Ohio - made clear they were not only seeking to curtail nuclear weapons production but to punish Los Alamos for repeated security and safety breaches.

Visclosky said Congress should be most worried about the case of Shawn Carpenter.

"Mr. Carpenter worked at Los Alamos. Mr. Carpenter was concerned about security at Los Alamos," said Visclosky. "He went to the FBI and was terminated."

In fact, Carpenter worked at Sandia, not Los Alamos. And he was not concerned about security at Los Alamos but about the hacking by the Chinese into various government computers. He did go to the FBI and was fired by Sandia managers who said his activities were unauthorized.

An Albuquerque jury recently awarded Carpenter more than $4 million in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Visclosky's press spokesman, Justin Kitsch, told The Tribune that Visclosky had "a slip of the tongue."


We're screwed.

Anonymous said...

This "human error" stuff is contagious, apparently.

Anonymous said...

So what if Carpenter worked at Sandia? The point is well taken. Los Alamos is notorious when it comes to destroying the lives of whistleblowers and their families. That's the point. And like it or not we're all to blame because we always have a way of either splitting hairs or putting on a spin that relieves us of any culpubility/responsibility (or a least in our own minds). They were trouble makers we say, hence deserving of the workplace abuses they were forced to endure, or worst yet outright termination. Or we say they violated policy, or as in Carpenter's case...well he didn't really work for us but for Sandia. On and on and on and on and on...we just can't seem to ever accept any damn responsibility for anything that goes wrong--nothing! And yes I do work at Los Alamos. And yes I have worked here for decades. And yes I am too am damn tired of all the uncertainty. But most of all, I'm sick and tired of all the denial within the ranks. Lab management sure as hell leaves a lot to be desired, but there are plenty of my esteemed collegues who are a close second in this regard; meaning pompuous, arrogant and too damn full of themselves to ever admit we, all of us, are far from perfect!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:34 PM - another recent example of abuse is to the PD in C-Division who was forced by her supervisor to clean glassware with corrosive gas-releasing aqua regia (with no ventilation), was a whistle-blower at LANL and went up the food chain at LANL to report what happened to her. Wallace (AD at the time - since has been promoted), her DL, her GL and Lab Legal all promised her protection for coming forward. She did and she got fired.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Aqua Regia is a pathetic human being. Whiny, thin-skinned, very few friends (actually, hated by much of her group). However, it is inconceivable that she ordered the PD to do clean up in a dangerous manner. It is easy to imagine that she walked into the lab and said clean up this pig-sty, and the PD cut corners.

The PD was no whistle blower. The whole event was a farce. Cut Doctor Aqua Regia some slack. Yes, she is awful, but she lives in her own private and lonely hell.

Anonymous said...

8:35 PM - Get real. Dr. Agua Regia, CAUSED the incident and should have been fired. She was and still is (because Terry DId not fire her) nothing but a difficult trouble-maker. Her supporters were removed from power and now she is paying the price. This last year was particularly priceless.

Anonymous said...

I am real. I bear no love for Dr. Aqua Regia, and have no respect for her either. Yes, she is "nothing but a difficult trouble-maker."

Cause the accident? Farfetched to the point of inconcievable. Do you have some additional evidence?

Anonymous said...

9:25 PM - I worked in that facility and I consider myself well-connected too.

The aqua regia TSM provided documentary evidence to investigators that the PD was offered two alternative locations (one just 50 feet away) to perform work that required a fume hood. Additional documentary evidence shows that the PD herself had identified "washing frits" as an activity that should be done in a functioning fume hood.

The PD, by contrast, provided nothing but wild accusations. For reasons that remain unknown, the postdoc seems to have taken it upon herself to dismantle an engineered control that was installed and certified by an IH for managing the exhaust from a glovebox, while the main facility exhaust was down for repairs. Without authorization, the PD reconfigured it for the aqua regia work. We can only speculate on why she would have done this, and then blamed the TSM when it did not work out as she hoped.

One other thing: Hallway talk is that chemists outside LANL say the postdoc got her degree two years early as part of a settlement agreement in a sexual harrassment lawsuit she filed against her research advisor. (Her advisor had to write her thesis for her). Perhaps the suit was legitimate, perhaps not, but the PD does seem to have a pattern of making accusations and filing lawsuits against her supervisors.

Anonymous said...

Hey "real" 9:25 PM - maybe if you try really hard, you might be able to convince your line management to put Dr. Agua Regia on the first-to-RIF list. This should be quite easy considering how "awful" she is and how "hated" she is by her group as you say. And with any luck, you might be able to get rid of this "pathetic human being" yet - keep the faith!

Anonymous said...

Can we at least shorten her name to Doc Aq (pronounced Doc Ock, like in Spider Man)?

Anonymous said...

9:11 PM here - I concur with 8:35/9:24 PM's statements on many accounts regarding what a miserable wretch the Agua Regia TSM is - in fact, I have watched with great amusement how in the last year she has plummeted off her holy Reines perch. Foks in the right placew have ensured no more funding, no more allies, no more collaborators, no more PDs and hopefully soon Seestrom and Sarrao will be saying no more LANL. Bu-bye!

Anonymous said...

8:35/9:25 here.

My point is that just because someone is a bad person, that does not make them the cause of every bad thing that happens near them.

And I don't have to convince anyone to try to get rid of her. She has convinced many people of that herself already.

Anonymous said...

Will the public re-elect the Congressmen who vote to put 1000 nuclear weapon scientists on the street?

Scientists who live in a community that exists only because of the weapon lab? Scientists that won't be able to sell their houses or make a living? At a time when North Korea, Pakistan, and India are trying to modernize their arsenals and Iran is enriching uranium?

When faced with the security risk from unemployed former Soviet scientists, Congress sent funding to Russia to keep them employed but Congress would put US weapons scientists on the street IN THE NAME OF SECURITY????

Anonymous said...

I wrote on another thread (Big Talkers, 1:51) that "If you're really one of the best and the brightest nuclear scientists who is dedicated to serving the nation's interests, the assumption is that you'd be willing to relocate in order to continue making a contribution (with the understanding that compensation packages would reflect your 'best and brightest' potential)."

Congress has been told that there are a couple hundred nuclear scientists here that are the core concern with the intellectual capitol they're interested in salvaging. If you're one of these elite few, you're probably worth hearing from but I'd be willing to bet that if you're going to dig your heels in and refuse to engage in dialog about options such as relocation, innovation or reductions that reflect significant improvements at significantly lower cost, they're going to look to their own "Plan B" which may include your cohorts plus the next generation of PhD's. This also may imply watching you like a hawk to ensure you're not peddling your wares to the next highest bidder.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I have seen LANL physicists. If you are whores, you should consider taking showers occasionally. Maybe you would get more johns.

6/23/07 10:36 PM


What can I say. Coward. Sissy. You have to be a human of extremely low quality to make such a remark. You disgust me.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed by the responses to my snippy little joke. Thank you (takes bow).

- a human of extremely low quality