Jun 18, 2007

What do we do at Los Alamos that we cannot do elsewhere?

Stupak again asked the question on Friday. Old news by now, except for the part where Stupak was again wondering out loud why LANL needs to continue to exist. We agree that he's a self-important, self-aggrandizing little political prick who loves to see himself on the television screen. We also agree that he's a Congressman who is wondering out loud why LANL should continue to exist in today's political environment, and that lately more folks in Washington seem to be wondering the same thing.

I hope he doesn't hear about the peafowl incident...




Associated Press
Lab Managers Accused of Security Breach


Officials with the contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory sent top-secret data regarding nuclear weapons through open e-mail networks, the latest potentially dangerous security breach to come to light at the birthplace of the atomic bomb, two congressmen said.

The breach was investigated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which rounded up laptop computers from Los Alamos National Security LLC's board members and sanitized them.

But NNSA and lab officials who subsequently appeared before a congressional committee investigating security problems at the nuclear weapons lab never mentioned it, according to a letter the congressmen sent Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who heads the panel's oversight subcommittee, called that "unacceptable" and demanded an explanation.

"This facility's mind-bogglingly poor track record makes me repeat my question: What do we do at Los Alamos that we cannot do elsewhere?" Stupak said Thursday.

The northern New Mexico lab has been plagued by security lapses, from missing data storage devices to the Wen Ho Lee case to the discovery of classified data on a computer found during a drug bust at a former lab contract worker's trailer.

The problems led the Department of Energy's inspector general to describe security at Los Alamos as "seriously flawed" and prompted federal officials last year to put the lab's management contract up for bid for the first time in decades.

LANS, which took over the lab's operation, is made up of the lab's former manager, the University of California; Bechtel Corp.; and two other companies.

The e-mail case, the latest to come to light, was reported to NNSA by a University of California official on Jan. 19, according to the congressmen.

"Apparently, open e-mail networks were used by several LANS officials to share classified information relating to the characteristics of nuclear material in nuclear weapons," the congressmen said in the letter.

The breach occurred when a consultant to the LANS board, Harold Smith, sent an e-mail containing highly classified, non-encrypted nuclear weapons information to several board members, who forwarded it to other members, according to a Washington aide familiar with the investigation who asked not to be named because the information is sensitive.

The notice went out that there had been a breach, an official was pulled out of a White House meeting and told, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory flew a team across California and recovered the laptops within six hours, the aide said.

Lawmakers were assured no damage was caused, according to the aide.

A spokesman for LANS, Jeff Berger at Los Alamos National Laboratory, declined to discuss the security breach. He cited national security, federal law and the lab's longstanding policy as reasons that LANS "will not discuss the details of purported security violations or vulnerabilities, regardless of whether they exist."

NNSA spokesman Bryan Wilkes said: "As a matter of federal law, we don't confirm, deny or acknowledge allegations of security violations."

"Any allegations of potential security violations at our sites is fully investigated," Wilkes said. "If procedures are found to have been violated, then appropriate actions are taken."


Anonymous said...

I keep seeing these letters and these articles on proposals for ending the nuclear threat. I'm all for addressing an issue of such magnitude, but thought a simple issue should be addressed first. What about basic competence?

Anonymous said...

That would be an "elsewhere" capability.

Anonymous said...


Didn't this all occur at about the same time that former deputy director John Mitchel suddenly "discovered that he had a family", followed by him abruptly disappearing off the radar? Was he involved in this?

Anonymous said...



Pinky and The Brain said...

Thanks for the help. I'm going to work on my tan and a home brewed post or two for when I return.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...


We made the Wall Street Journal, too!


What was it that Nanos said? "Don't do anything that gets you on the front page of the New York Times."

We're working on it!

Anonymous said...

Name calling and otherwise denigradingg those we disagree with only serves to piss off the people involved. Pissing off a powerful U.S. Senator is what's STUPID.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Mikey are you a man? Are you going to do the right thing? Of course not. You've already demonstrated that, but, it is time for you to resign!

Eric said...


I am actively trying to repair the damage and minimize the 'pissing off' by talking with the appropriate people.

Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, we don't know for a fact that Mike was involved in this latest fiasco (the classified email thing, not the peahen thing). We don't know, because they -- DOE, NNSA, and LANS -- are still trying to keep it covered up.

We do know, however, that Mike knew all about it during the recent all hands meeting a couple of days before Time Magazine broke the story, and he didn't utter a peep about it. He just blathered about how great the summer LANS picnic was going to be.

DOE and NNSA have helped to bail LANS out of the previous screw ups, in particular with the CREM de Meth incident. DOE and NNSA are probably having second thoughts now about whether it's worth the continued effort of trying to keep LANS propped up.

Eric said...


By agreement with Pinky and the Brain, information that I know that applies to LLNL or other DOE places is not mentioned here. It appears on the blog WorkingatLANL.

Anonymous said...

Eric, what the fuck are you talking about? Are you trying to pretend that you're in communication with Stupak?

"I am actively trying to repair the damage..."

Eric, our hero! Next, could you please bring our FTE rate down from its current $450,000 level to something pre-2004?

Oh, and then how about bringing back about $200 or so million of the WFO contracts that left about that same time.

Then, there's that horrendous management overhead burden that we seem to accumulated some time during past year.

Anonymous said...

11:31, what powerful US senator are you talking about?

GussieFinkNottle said...


Re: your 2:16 comment:

"By agreement with Pinky and the Brain, information that I know that applies to LLNL or other DOE places is not mentioned here. It appears on the blog WorkingatLANL."

Pinky informs me that he has no idea what you are talking about.

Re: your 2:10pm comment:

"I am actively trying to repair the damage and minimize the 'pissing off' by talking with the appropriate people."

*I* have no idea what you are talking about.


Eric said...

1. Pinky said that information on this blog should be limited to LANL specific information and not information applying to other national labs. The specific example was security problems at Oak Ridge.

2. I have contacts outside Los Alamos County who are important to the future of the Lab. I try to calm them down when inflammatory comments are made on this blog and I try to provide them with accurate confidential information when they ask for it. In both cases, I am trying to do damage control.

Does this help?

Eric said...

As I have said many times before, if you want an answer that is longer than a blog entry or that should not be a blog entry, contact me.

GussieFinkNottle said...

Knock yourself out, Eric. Say "Hi" to those important people outside of LA county for me.


Anonymous said...

Eric, I have said this before and will repeat myself again - shut up. Go drum up business somewhere else

Anonymous said...

I see Eric is back trying to attract people to his blog, where he continues to ruminate with himself.

What a whack job this entire thing is. We have a bunch of lunatics on this blog, interrupted only by Eric hocking his wares, er, trying to help us all.

How depressing.

Darko said...

Yes 8:57, we should be afraid... very afraid...

Whether you notice who is running this country (into the ground?) or who is (now) managing our Nuclear Weapons Laboratories (all part of the same collection of good buddies) you should be very afraid.

I have been ashamed of some of the things that have happened at the lab this past 15-20 years, but there is nothing so egregious as selling us off to private industry and then having the board betray us and their (OUR) country with this kind of "error".

Unforgiveable don't you think?

- Darko

Dr. Strangelove said...

The REAL WHACKOS are over at these whackos here are whackos... OUR whackos are grade-a premium, weapons-grade whackos.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Senator Stupak must have is little feelings hurt! Someone called him, "Stupid."

Politician Gets Name-Called! Film at Eleven!

Besides, what's this Blog for, if it isn't for gratuitous insults and name-calling by Anonymous Cowards?

Senator Domenici said...

How dare you call Stupak a senator!

Anonymous said...

Looks like dr strange needs to fix his html tags

Anonymous said...

What do they do in Washington that couldn't be done somewhere else?

Anonymous said...

"To be fair, we don't know for a fact that Mike was involved in this latest fiasco (the classified email thing, not the peahen thing). We don't know, because they -- DOE, NNSA, and LANS -- are still trying to keep it covered up."...6/18/07 2:11 PM

What about Mikey's ringing cell-phone in the Director's Office? Seems a double standard in more than one instance.

Anonymous said...

10:28 Mitchell was long gone when this occurred.

Anonymous said...

Eric: For me, tell your VIPs to go FUCK themselves. And you do the same.

Anonymous said...

Once more, Eric the Great has come to our rescue, and lest we be appreciative of his benevolancy we risk our being left to our own means. Oh wowasme! The thought of a day without Eric the Great to share his wisdom withus is much too much to bear. So hush, yea of.little faith and appreciation for those born to greatness.

Anonymous said...

In reality, Eric is but one of the Lab's many "best and brightest" recruited from far and wide to grace us with their brilliance. So fret not my dear frail friend.

Anonymous said...

What can they do in Stupak's state of Michigan that they can't do anywhere else? The car building business is quickly leaving the state for the Southern US and Mexico. High tech ventures that the state of Michigan keeps trying to boost are almost always a flop.

Well, I guess there is always ice fishing. You can do that in Michigan. I guess that kinda makes Michigan special, right Stupak?

Nevermind. I hear the ice fishing is even better in Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

"from missing data storage devices to the Wen Ho Lee.....:

funny how this has now become "truth" even though there WERE no missing storage devices, they KNEW there were no missing storage devices, and Nanos was allowed to shut down the lab at a cost of $300M.... but THAT'S not anything anyone in Washington ever bitched about.

Now because it's MANAGEMENT that fucks up with classified we're told "there was no harm done" and that makes it ok?

Double standard?