Jun 15, 2007

Los Alamos Nuke Leak

By ADAM ZAGORIN/WASHINGTON
Thursday, Jun. 14, 2007

A senior U.S. official had to be pulled out of a White House meeting to hear the bad news: highly classified e-mail dealing with the composition of America's atomic weapons had illegally been sent via non-secured networks to members of the board of Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the company that manages America's nuclear lab in New Mexico. After it was discovered, the fact that the message had passed electronically from person to person without safeguards was quickly designated an "IMI-1" violation, the most serious breach of U.S. national security. LANS could face financial penalties if found responsible for the violation.

Revelations of drug abuse, and the discovery of bomb designs in a trailer park, raise new questions about security lapses at Los Alamos

Upon learning of the Jan. 19, 2007, incident, government officials immediately ordered the seizure of computers that had sent or received the super-sensitive information. An inquiry was launched and a classified damage assessment completed last month. Weapons data does not appear to have fallen into enemy hands. But the extent to which classified nuclear secrets has remained on servers along various insecure Internet pathways remains an open—and troubling—question.

The incident is the latest embarrassment in a 10-year roll of highly publicized security lapses at the storied lab. The latest one to attract national attention occurred last fall, when New Mexico police stumbled on 1,500 highly classified nuclear weapons designs stashed in a trailer park near the Lab along with paraphenalia to manufacture methamphetamine.

The January "IMI-1" incident could prove at least as embarrassing because it was connected with LANS board members, some of the very people responsible for fixing the security problems at Los Alamos that some critics have labeled the worst in the U.S. government. Until now the episode has remained a closely-guarded secret. Since January Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, whose department is responsible for Los Alamos, has given hours of testimony to Congress detailing security problems at the lab, without ever mentioning the January incident.

But now, both John Dingell, chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Bart Stupak, chairman of the panel's oversight subcommittee, have indicated that they intend to raise pointed questions about the episode directly with Secretary Bodman. Dingell told TIME: "Despite multiple recent appearances before our Committee, many officials with specific knowledge of this security breach never informed us, and apparently presumed that taxpayers should be left in the dark."

Bodman, deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell and other senior officials have all given testimony since Jan. 19 about the importance of security at Los Alamos, offering assurances that improvements would be made at the leaky lab. Referring to the reams of classified Los Alamos documents found in the New Mexico trailer park last year, Lab director Michael Anastasio told lawmakers, "My board finds [this incident] totally unacceptable... They're going to hold me accountable to fix this." Even as Anastasio spoke, some of the 11 members of the LANS board that manages Los Alamos were cooperating with an investigation of the undisclosed Jan. 19 security breach.

The sensitive weapons message originated on the laptop of Harold P. Smith, an LANS board consultant and former Pentagon atomic weapons adviser, who sent it to at least two other members of the board, sources told TIME. Those two then relayed the material to at least three additional LANS board members. Only then was the alarm sounded. After computers involved in the incident were seized, technical experts reportedly purged University of California servers that may have relayed the secret data. But it remained perplexingly unclear whether some of the highly classified weapons information might still be lurking on servers or along other Internet routes used in the transmissions.

Smith reportedly told U.S, government investigators that he did not realize the nuclear weapons information he was passing around had been assigned a Secret Restricted Data (SRD) label—one of the highest possible classifications. "I can neither confirm nor deny that there was any investigation," he told TIME when reached by telephone at his California home.

The chairman of LANS, Gerald Parsky, is a current member and former chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of California, which has long played an important role in running Los Alamos. Parsky, a personal friend of President George W. Bush and his father, President George H. W. Bush, has served as a political appointee in five Republican administrations and is a major GOP donor.

Last week, Parsky was named chairman of the board of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, after the group won a hotly contested bid over Northrup Grumman for a seven-year contract worth more than $1 billion to manage the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Sources tell TIME that at least some of the board members at Los Alamos have received "security sensitivity training" in the aftermath of the Jan. 19 episode. But it 's unclear whether any disciplinary or other actions may have been taken in addition to that mild step. Asked what Parsky had done to deal with the security incident set in motion by a consultant to his own board, a LANS spokesman had no comment. "Due to long-standing laboratory policy, as well as federal law, it is inappropriate to discuss any type of security matters, whether real or imagined," the spokesman told TIME.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy in Washington said: "Safety and security are of paramount importance in carrying out the Department's mission and therefore, as with any instance of a potential violation of security procedures—whether it's done accidentally or not, these matters must be reported, details thoroughly investigated, and actions taken to correct them."

But Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan, non-profit group with long experience monitoring nuclear security, took a different view: "How can we expect Los Alamos, which has thousands of employees, to clean up its abysmal ongoing record of serious security breaches when members of its own board can't even keep track of their classified communications with each other?"

And those responsible for congressional oversight of nuclear security are likely to insist that when such breaches do occur, Capitol Hill should not be kept in the dark.

[Read or watch the 26 January 2006 Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley interview of Harold Smith here.]

81 comments:

Eric said...

Any one want to give odds on who goes to jail and who doesn't?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Its too bad Quintana was no longer employed when she was caught. She could have received "security sensitivity training" rather than having to plead guilty to mishandling.

Anyone want to give odds that there are more incidents waiting to be disclosed?

Anonymous said...

Seems like clear calse of a huge double standard... Quintana gets a criminal record and some high paid consultant get to take training (probably with free coffee and donuts provided by LANS)...

Anonymous said...

"...Lab director Michael Anastasio told lawmakers, "My board finds [this incident] totally unacceptable... They're going to hold me accountable to fix this." Even as Anastasio spoke, some of the 11 members of the LANS board that manages Los Alamos were cooperating with an investigation of the undisclosed Jan. 19 security breach...."

A logical question is when did he know about this latest, now disclosed, f*ck up?

Anonymous said...

Mitchell...John Mitchell...
Does this name ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

"The sensitive weapons message originated on the laptop of Harold P. Smith, an LANS board consultant and former Pentagon atomic weapons adviser, who sent it to at least two other members of the board, sources told TIME...Smith reportedly told U.S, government investigators that he did not realize the nuclear weapons information he was passing around had been assigned a Secret Restricted Data (SRD) label—one of the highest possible classifications."

If true, that dude is one serious dumbf*ck. Good to see the LANS Board hiring the best and the brightest to advise them.

Anonymous said...

Since this incident occurred at about the same time that Mitchell was purportedly playing on his classified laptop from home, there wouldn't just happen to be a link between these two events.

Would there?

Eric said...

One more thought for today.

If LANS stops managing the Lab over this incident, how do any of the current LANS employees get paid their salaries? What happens to the $1.25 billion that UC just gave to LANS?
What happens to LLNS which is run by the same people?

I have a hundred questions here and few solid answers.

Anybody have credible answers?

Anonymous said...

I speculate nothing substantive is going to happen over this incident. Maybe the LANS Board gets rid of a consultant who should have known better and their credibility takes a hit for awhile.

Anonymous said...

1. Smith should be fined, fired and publicly flogged. Once recovered from the flogging, he should be surgically enhanced to infiltrate Kim Jong Il's Joy Brigade; maybe he can repay the loss of classified info by gathering some shit on that crazy bastard.

2. The board members that received and forwarded the email should be fined, fired and publicly flogged.

3. Mikey's got some explaining to do.

Anonymous said...

Get real. Nothing happened to LANS as a result of the Quintana security fuck up. Nothing will happen to LANS as a result of the latest LANS security fuck up.

LANS is here to stay because DOE wants them to be here. Deal with it or leave.

Anonymous said...

Nothing for the Director to explain. Sad but true, it looks like it's over his head.

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is the article makes it sound more like Mr. Smith had a document on his computer that he didn't compose himself. If so, how did the document wind up on his unclassified machine and who composed it?

Anonymous said...

If this is true, why is it that only TIME seems to have picked it up?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bechtel forgot to bribe the Time editors to not run the story.

Anonymous said...

It's all over for LANS. The fat lady is at the podium and getting ready to sing. Bodeman may lose his job over this one. The only real question left is what will be the collatoral damage to LANL workers that comes from this fiasco.

Anonymous said...

NNSA is the one in real trouble here in my view. I think they are done.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the LANS Governors should be pissing in the cup and having some truth-telling wires clipped to their gonads.

Anonymous said...

"Do as we say, not as we do. Is that too hard for you cowboys and buttheads to understand?" - LANS/UC

Anonymous said...

As the despicable old fart Ronald Reagan so famously once said...here we go again. Indeed here we go again, and once again nobody except the janitor and his retarded cousin will get the boot stuck up his poop chute. As always, the monkeys in charge never get held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Watch for DOE/NNSA to give the LANS Board every benefit of the doubt on this one. They've obviously been working very hard to bury this story from ever seeing the light of day.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Mikey looked so tired and distressed during his All-Hands anniversary celebration talk on Wed. He knew about this story.

Guess he can add it to next year's anniversary viewgraphs, but I doubt there will be a 2nd birthday for Mikey to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

Can you say cover up? It appears that NNSA and LANS covered up the security breech to make sure that LLNS, a.k.a LANS, got the Livermore contract. The Livermore bid was fixed and NNSA was willing to cover up the incident to guarantee that LLNS won. I'm not a lawyer, but this sounds like federal bid rigging, which I believe is a felony. I’m also curious to know if withholding information from a congressional investigation is illegal? Hopefully, congress will recognize for the first time that the problem has always been NNSA and UC, not the scientists!

Anonymous said...

At least Mike can sell his fancy house in Santa Fe when he losses his job over this LANS screwup. The rest of us who live in Los Alamos and are subjected to next year's layoffs won't be nearly so lucky.

Anonymous said...

According to the article, the incident was reported as an IMI-1 and dealt with like other issues are dealt with, and reported properly to DOE. DOE and NNSA bear most culpability here, not LANS. I agree that there is a smell of a double standard here of course, but I'm not sure one can holler LANS cover up. DOE, yes. We don't know what precisely occurred from a discipline sense in this case, as we don't know in most cases where things like this happen. We know in the Quantana case because it was quite public.

Anonymous said...

Eric,
Since you're such a great financial advisor, why not turn the $1.25 billion over to you to mangage for us? Yea..that's the ticket!

Anonymous said...

Before anybody starts sheding too many tears over Mickey's future, don't forget his golden UC parachute. The rest of us just get a lead boot stuck up our behinds as we leave.

Anonymous said...

Illegal? Since when does legality matter with these thugs. They rig bids, destroy reputations, stifle careers, waste money left and right. Hell, these thugs might even be the one's behind TH's brutal assault. And you really think they give a damn about what's legal? Bwaahaahaaaaa!

Anonymous said...

To: 7:49pm

Please meet me at 2841 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe. We need to have a little discussion.

Anonymous said...

Ever notice that when you have some first-hand knowledge about a situation reported in the news, the news media almost always get it wrong on some really important details? Why should we not assume this is the case here as well? An IMI-1 incident regarding potential or actual compromise of classified information via email will NEVER be fully explained publicly, by DOE regulations. I suggest we all withhold judgement, unless of course you actually believe in guilty until proven innocent. At the very least, we know that the media does not recognize any level of classified information except "highly classified." Dolts.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this statement is true but because of it they may in fact for the first time make an example of these people for all to see. I'd say it's about time!!! in lue of life in prison as it was decades ago when there were real consequences for being stupid.

Anonymous said...
Get real. Nothing happened to LANS as a result of the Quintana security fuck up. Nothing will happen to LANS as a result of the latest LANS security fuck up.

LANS is here to stay because DOE wants them to be here. Deal with it or leave.

Anonymous said...

I suppose its entirely coincidental that this January event comes out the week the House is voting on slashing LANL's budget?

Anonymous said...

8:01PM
So are you also saying then that Wen Ho Lee was maligned by the media? Or in his case, was it ok because the Lab helped? Talk about double standards.

Anonymous said...

For some more fun, check out page 91 of the House App. Comm. report
"...The Department is directed
to assess reducing the government’s liabilities and normalizing the
pension benefits across the DOE complex by reducing the disproportionately
generous pension plans at the NNSA national laboratories."

Anonymous said...

No, the dolt I think is 8:01PM who obviously considers himself one of the Lab "insiders" in the know. The rest of us are just insignificant gnats. Sound arrogant? Yes...sounds like a typical high level Lab manager.

Anonymous said...

This afternoon around 3pm, the LANL internal home page had a link to the first paragraph of this article on the "NWA Blog." I followed that link and so found the article. Shortly thereafter, but before 3:45pm, all traces of this article disappeared from the home page or the blog. However, a LANL-Google-powered search turned up traces of it having been there.
So, why was it posted at all? And then who made the incredibly stupid error to yank it off, implying an attempt to hide it from the staff?

Anonymous said...

8:25 Get a life! 8:01 simply cautioned against going into a feeding frenzy over one news report, filed months after an event. Of course that might require some patience and thought . . . on second thought, go ahead, defend your gnatness.

Anonymous said...

by reducing the disproportionately
generous pension plans at the NNSA national laboratories."

6/14/07 8:21 PM

Please post the link the report.

For some more fun, check out page 91 of the House App. Comm. report

thank you.

Anonymous said...

the link to more fun:

http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app08.html

click on H.Rept 110-185

Anonymous said...

Oh cool - I just looked at int.lanl.gov and noticed that the article had left the web page. I also saw it during the day today. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

1. why do the board of governors (pretentious enough?) even have access to classified material and what's their NEED TO KNOW?

2. the word is "paraphernalia," misspelled in the article.

3. the 1-year LANS celebration is a moronic embarrassment....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:13 PM said... "
Oh cool - I just looked at int.lanl.gov and noticed that the article had left the web page. I also saw it during the day today. Interesting."

Most interesting - I noticed a couple of recent articles posted on the homepage were removed this afternoon. ... don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain...

Pinky and The Brain said...

Gee, that's never happened before!

Anonymous said...

8:20 pm:

No one is more convinced of Wen Ho Lee's guilt than I am. And no one is more convinced of the current flap's inconsequence than I am. Go figure...

Anonymous said...

I personally find it appauling that Mike stood up there in front of the entire Lab to discuss "achievements" and new appointments, but somehow this entire issue slipped his mind. Please - he got quoted in the article and forgot to mention this was coming down the pike? ANd then we see blatant censorship on the homepage?

Anonymous said...

8:25 pm:

"sounds like a typical high level Lab manager"

Nope, not even close. But you might consider that in situations where some LANL staff know more than others, but are constrained from blabbing by legal rules and regulations, they might counsel caution to the knee-jerkers.

Anonymous said...

8:47 pm:

Thank you for your perspective - all too missing on this blog. One might also consider that Danielle Brian and POGO are no friends of LANL. But then, maybe that applies to most of the posters here too.

Pinky and the Brain - want to conduct a straw poll - who's for or against LANL?

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the guy who put up that link to the Time article this afternoon on LANL's home page (which subsequently disappeared) got taken to the woodshed by LANS management. These guys don't take kindly to being embarrassed.

Remember, people, every day, in every way, LANS is making LANL better and better.

Or, as our new Deputy Director recently told the County Council: "BELIEVE (in us)". Yikes! We've descended to faith-based management at LANL!

Anonymous said...

Cut LANS/UC some slack on this matter. After all, look at all the benefit of the doubt they gave to Todd Kauppila.

Anonymous said...

3:03 It's called Y.G.S short for You get Screwed......

Anonymous said...

Eric, for someone so smart, do you really think LANS is going to loose more than award fee over this incident? BTW, Funds for LANL come from DOE via NNSA, so employees still get paid, even if they have to take legal action against LANS and partners to recover. LLNL is operated as a separate LLC with a separate contract, separate funding, separate retirement & benefits, etc. What else can we answer for you?

Anonymous said...

I think some of the posters have really hit on something important with the observation that this leak appears to have been purposely kept from Congress right before the LLNL contract was awarded to UC/Bechtel. This reeks of sleazy manipulation. Any bets on when the next round of Congressional Hearings will take place because of this story? Any bets on how long it will take before LANS uses their screwup to beat up on the LANL staff with more security training and paperwork?

Anonymous said...

There is a revolving door between the higher ups at DOE, UC, and Bechtel. Therefore, don't count on anyone at DOE taking this incident too seriously. After all, they wouldn't want to spoil their chances at a lucrative VP slot with their future employers.

Anonymous said...

10:02 I apologize for offering a minor clarification concerning your Todd K. comment. Todd’s unfortunate passing occurred in 2005. LANS/LANL didn’t happen until June, 2006. In fact – “He had found another job in Los Alamos as a contractor with Bechtel Nevada Corp. He was very happy about that and had been very up,”(http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/13584.html). Just want to be sure we stay on point. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

10{26 pm:

"this leak appears to have been purposely kept from Congress right before the LLNL contract was awarded to UC/Bechtel."

OK - let's review. The "leak" occurred in January 2007 - almost a year after the LANL contact was awarded to LANS. As far as being "kept from Congress" it was not reported in open testimony because it could not be, according to US governmant regulations without sending the person reporting it in the open to jail!!

Do you have a transcript of the closed portion of the testimony? I bet you don't. Geez, what a screwy conspiracy theorist you are, going off with no knowledge or thought whatsoever. Yep, the Lab needs more of you...

Anonymous said...

There's an old saying "borrow a million dollars from a bank and they own you, borrow a billion and you own the bank".

D'Agostino and Bodman made a billion dollar mistake hiring LANS to run LANL. Now LANS owns DOE. Bodman and D'Agostino can't dump LANS without admitting that they are total fools. Other than these two, who else didn't predict this fiasco?

The only solution is for Congress to direct DOE to dump the overpaid LANS pretenders - what a bunch of jokers they've turned out to be. DOE should hire a non-profit to run the lab (UT, are you still interested?) and return the $1B cost of LANS to LANL where it can buy real improvements in safety, security, and productivity.

Anonymous said...

This blog is doing far more damage to the lab than a minor security break by well meaning LANS Governors. If you really want to help LANL, then stop this destructive blogging activity and start assisting LANS managers in making LANL a better place to work.

Pinky and The Brain said...

You want us to stop blogging or people to stop commenting?

Anonymous said...

Mike Anastacio said on Wednesday that LANS doesn't intend to punish those who make inadvertent mistakes. Any breach by LANS board members in the reported incident would fall under this category. I can't understand why some of the LANL staff have such hatred for both LANS and UC. We're trying to help salvage LANL. Is that so hard to get through your thick skulls? A little gratitude for our efforts would seem to be in order. Get with the program and start helping LANS fix this place.

Anonymous said...

"Mike Anastacio said on Wednesday that LANS doesn't intend to punish those who make inadvertent mistakes."

LANS was brought in to whip us cowboys and buttheads into shape, most importantly with respect to security. Therefore they (LANS) should be held to a significantly stricter standard with respect to security, as they cannot expect to make a significant cultural change if they themselves are not models for good security practices. I agree - we are trying to salvage LANL, each and every one of us who still draws a paycheck from there and cares about the place. But come on - this is ridiculous. How can a leader expect to *lead* a place effectively into a better state if they cannot themselves provide an examply by which us peons can live up to? How can behavior such as this earn them any respect whatsoever from us, the staff?

We don't hate LANL, but we sure as hell resent being subject to excessive scrutiny when those imposing it upon us act wrecklessly and thoughtlessly with respect to security.

Anonymous said...

But let's give em' the benefit of the doubt. The article disappeared because uh....it was put up with disappearing ink! Yea, that's the ticket! Disappearing ink! So let's not jump to conclusions now. Keep cool now, all you insignificant gnats out there.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we blame this problem on Udall?

Anonymous said...

So what is 10:39PM trying to say? Don't blame LANS, blame UC for Todd K's demise? For the morons in our mist that still want to keep pretending UC is no longer in Los Alamos, pull it out of your behind once in awhile and smell reality for a change!

Anonymous said...

9:30PM probably also believes an alien space ship crashed in Roswell.

Anonymous said...

Blame Udall? Hell, why don't we blame the full moon while we're at it. It's a well known fact that dumb things happen when we have full moons. And because of where the Los Alamos National Lab is situated geographically on the planet (where everything revolves around us), it just so happens we have full moons 360 days a year. So how can it be our fault? Is it our fault that we're so special?

Anonymous said...

Are the LANS board subject to drug tests and the lie detector?

I think all of those assholes should stop the "Do as I say, not as I do" standard of leadership. They should be the first to comply AND those results should be public.

Anonymous said...

Thought I could copy this interesting posting and keep pasting it until someone responds:

I've got an idea! Why doesn't the lab try to compete for funding outside the DOE? We've been reading of brilliant LANL ideas for years like the Plasma enabled gasoline engine, beams in space, R&D 100 awards and laser-driven fusion power.
If all these "breakthroughs" were just public relations fakery, the time has come to tell the truth before LANL asks for more funding. Has the public been fed 50 years of lies? Where's the beef?

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that Mikey is gonna cancel the picnic????

Anonymous said...

Now youve done it..Mikey..look what you did all by yourself...and all in less than a year, oh , you and your buddies Scott (Slick Willie) Gibbs will go down in history of Los Alamos as did Dr. Mudd.......and Mr. Hyde.....Now ty getting a job ...you have become too well known..

Anonymous said...

http://www.lanl.gov/orgs/pa/News
/072397.html

Second article down, Harold Smith. Been at LANL a few times. Whaddya think? Honorary BH-Cowboy?

Anonymous said...

Eric, is that you in the photo?

Anonymous said...

9:28 am: Huh? Although on the decline, LANL (well the PIs) continue to compete against non-DOE funds (NIH, DOD, DHS). Also there exist multiple CRADAs with industry. And usually industry doesn't typically shell out $$$ without getting the beef.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6/15/07 12:35 PM said...
"Does this mean that Mikey is gonna cancel the picnic????"

My gosh, I certainly hope not - I am looking forward the weenie roast!!!!

Anonymous said...

6/15 12:19 am:

"LANS was brought in to whip us cowboys and buttheads into shape, most importantly with respect to security."

Well, if as the last part of your post indicates, you are still prepared to blow off any rule you don't agree with, then you should probably leave now, before you subject your spouse and children to having Mommy or Daddy in jail for awhile. Wen Ho Lee was subjected to many months of solitary confinement despite later being convicted of only one misdemeanor. Does anyone think the attitude of the government has gotten more lenient over the past few years??

More to the point, does anyone realize that recently, LANL staff were out right fired for displaying an attitude of disdain for security rules?

Anonymous said...

Since when did that post indicate that the poster was planning on blowing off security rules? With "comprehension" in mind, read the post again.

Anonymous said...

Well well well. It seems as Asnastasio as the new LANS Director has found himself in a bit of a pickle. Either he lied to congress, of he is ineffective as director. Which door should we choose.....???? When he testified before congress he made no mention of the latest security breach. Was he lying? Or is he just incompetent and has no idea what is happening at the laboratory the he supposedly "directs". Which is worse? Either way, I think his tenure is done, and he can take his band of criminals (LANS) with him.


BYE Mikey....and remember the taxpayers are reaching their breaking point!

Anonymous said...

Bye bye Mikey


Don't let the door hit you in the ass!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't of witnessed it myself. LANS has officially fucked up more in the last year than UC in the 63 years. Who is the fucking dumbass now?

Anonymous said...

Who is Harold P. Smith and why did he have access to weapons data?

Anonymous said...

Cause he's but... butti.... buddies with ..(you fill it in)

Pinky and The Brain said...

6/18/07 4:16 PM,
Harold Palmer Smith, Jr.