Dec 20, 2007

Former Los Alamos Worker Gets Probation

By FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A former archivist at Los Alamos National Laboratory was sentenced Thursday to two years' probation for taking home secret data from the nuclear weapons facility.

Jessica Quintana, 23, pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor count of negligent handling of classified documents. Police found the data - on a portable computer storage drive and in about 200 pages of paper documents - during an October 2006 drug bust aimed at her roommate in her Los Alamos home.

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paula Burnett said she believed Quintana had admitted responsibility. Prosecutors had not opposed Quintana's request to be sentenced only to probation.

U.S. Magistrate Lorenzo Garcia turned down the Department of Energy's request that Quintana be required to pay restitution. The agency had sought a $384,150 fine.

Quintana apologized to the court, saying she knew there was a lack of security at Los Alamos and took advantage of it.

``If I could go back and do it, it wouldn't ever cross my mind,'' she said. ``There's nobody to blame but myself.''

Quintana's attorney, Stephen Aarons, had said she was working for a lab contractor converting documents to an electronic format and took them home to catch up on her work. But in her plea agreement, Quintana admitted she took classified documents and computer files from a lab vault, put them in her backpack and brought them home.

Quintana was laid off by the contractor before police found the documents.

The judge ordered her to refrain from alcohol or drugs, stay away from bars, and to submit to searches of her personal property or vehicle.

32 comments:

Pinky and The Brain said...

Does anyone else wonder how DOE arrived at the $384,150 amount?

Anonymous said...

Stay away from the bars? Now, that's going too far.

Anonymous said...

Easy: 2^8 + 2^7 = 384

But I don't know where the 150 arises. That doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Wow. If she gets off that easy, every one should steal classified information.

What were they thinking. Wen Ho got off. The manager got off.

I guess the message is the focus is to "GET OFF"

Anonymous said...

Stay away from alcohol or drugs - warning or requirement? Regular testing?

What about book or movie deals?

If she makes any money from this she should direct every cent to NNSA.

Anonymous said...

What I really do not understand, is where is the outrage? This is an institution many should be proud to be associated with. Instead, some one who lives in a crack house steals classified information is given "Probation"

Again, where is the outrage?

To the residents of Los Alamos, how much did your property value drop as a result ofthis event. Be careful when answering, be an answer on none is not correct.

Anonymous said...

12/20/07 8:19 PM

They said drugs also....but not drug dealers.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 9:30 PM will leave the outrage outbursts up to you. Most of us are so numbed up with fear by events of the last few years that there is no energy left for feeling outrage.

Anonymous said...

12/20/07 10:26 PM

I guess as history teaches there are those that do, and those that don't.

So, you would be viewed as one that caves easily to pressure - so in the historical perspective, a country that was easily invaded.

By chance, are you French?

Anonymous said...

8:19,

The other 150 is figured like this:

2^7 + 2^4 + 2^2 + 2^1 = 150.

Anonymous said...

I don't know- the catching up on work story doesn't make sense to me. I suspect that she thought that the papers and computer were valuable... (Like the contractor over at Oakridge who tried to sell old hardware to the French Embasy.)

Maybe she just hadn't got around to listing them on Ebay yet-

Anonymous said...

The only outrage should be that paper documents are being converted to electronic form, which is easier to misplace, steal, etc.

Find out who ordered that conversion be done and fine them $384,150. (Was the precise amount $384,149.49 and the rounding went the wrong way?)

Anonymous said...

She said. ``There's nobody to blame but myself.''

Wow! Could you ever imagine this being said by any of the self proclaimed best and brightest at Los Alamos? Not in a million years!! JQ may not be all that bright, but she sure has more character than most. It would be a cold day in hell before a scientist or engineer would admit any shotcoming in their own behavior! As for management accepting responsibility for anything...when pig fly, maybe. NOT!

Anonymous said...

The DOE is willing to fine an individual $380K for admitted exceedingly poor judgement and yet repeatedly slaps the Lab's wrist with a wet noodle for doing far worse time and time again!? And nobody on this blog sees anything wrong with this picture? You. people are even more patheic than anybody could ever begin to imagine. What a place!

Pinky and The Brain said...

Ouch! Ouch!

Eric said...

For some interesting perspective on this incident, I suggest

"The Crime of Punishment" By Karl Menninger

Anonymous said...

"The DOE is willing to fine an individual $380K for admitted exceedingly poor judgement and yet repeatedly slaps the Lab's wrist with a wet noodle for doing far worse time and time again!? And nobody on this blog sees anything wrong with this picture? You. people are even more patheic than anybody could ever begin to imagine. What a place!"

12/21/07 8:58 AM

Read it again 8:58. The DOE proposed a fine. The U.S. Magistrate told them to stuff it. Nothing pathetic except that the fine was ever requested in the first place. What's scary is that Congress continues to allow DOE to have influence over nuclear weapons.

Anonymous said...

DOE - We're not the best and the brightest, but they work for us.

Anonymous said...

"Quintana apologized to the court, saying she knew there was a lack of security at Los Alamos and took advantage of it."

Geeze..., it's people like her and her that are causing the "lack of security" that she talks of. Paraphrasing a televised interview I saw of her, since guards didn't check her purse or backpack each time she left the "Q" fence line, it was alright for her to take classified material out. NO! And then to take it to a drug house and leave it there; what's her excuse for that?

Yesterday there was a story of a six year old girl being killed in Colorado by her step-sister and boyfriend playing Mortal Combat with her. Asked why the 19 year-old didn't stop, he apparently responded that he was drunk.

It's a sad state of affairs that not only affects our Labs but our society.

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

8:46am: You actually believe her comment to be sincere? I assume then that you also believed Michael Vick (NFL star, dog fighting scandal) when he said that he's an animal lover during his time in court?

Anonymous said...

Based on the local news report I heard on 12/20/07, the $384K amount was what it cost DOE to investigate the security incident.

Anonymous said...

No wonder they don't want to hear about such things.

Anonymous said...

12/21/07 8:58 AM:
"The DOE is willing to fine an individual $380K for admitted exceedingly poor judgement and yet repeatedly slaps the Lab's wrist with a wet noodle for doing far worse time and time again!? And nobody on this blog sees anything wrong with this picture? You. people are even more patheic than anybody could ever begin to imagine. What a place!"

"You. people" who have no sense of reality or fairness, can't punctuate, and can't spell, are kind of "patheic", too.

Quintana is the one who got the wet noodle. The message sent by the court is that blatant violation of security procedures is OK. Perhaps espionage is OK. Any kind of lame excuse will get you probation. Just don't get caught twice.

Count me as outraged.

I should remind you, 8:58 AM, that LANL gets raked over the coals severely "time and time again" for every significant security and safety incident. There are substantial dollars at stake in fines and reduced fees, not to mention bad publicity that costs untold millions. Employees take security very seriously because it is their duty. Since this incident, there has been considerable effort and expense to overhaul vault-type rooms and cybersecurity, both physically and procedurally. Criteria for granting Q clearances have been re-examined. Before these steps were taken, there were still strong policies and procedures in place about handling classified information. Quintana knew that and violated the procedures deliberately. One can reinforce the defenses, but it is impossible to defend completely against malicious behavior by individuals with Q clearances. At some point the individual and not the institution must be blamed.

What constructive measure would you propose to solve the problem of human fallibility? And don't say "Shut the place down." unless you mean you want to shut down every lab, government office, military base, and military contractor in the country.

Anonymous said...

For todays math wizards:
Between the budget bill and DOE request.
1) NNSA is down $492M (-5.2%)
2) LANL FY08 request was $1.836B so if NNSA splits cuts evenly LANL is down $97M.
3) With flat (~DOE request) budget LANL SSP had to shed 500-750 FTE.
4) SSP shed 400 FTE.
5) LANS says 750 FTE = $100M

By my math I get that LANL has to lose another 850-1100 FTE in FY08. What to you calculate?

Anonymous said...

"Wen Ho got off. The manager got off. I guess the message is the focus is to GET OFF."
12/20/07 9:04 PM

Wen Ho Lee "got off"? The former Deputy Director from Bechtel sure "got off," but Wen Ho spent 9 months in solitary. I suggest, 12/20/07 9:04 PM, that you and Dick Cheney should be assigned adjoining cells in solitary. Maybe then you could tap out some messages to each other with your tin cups. What an unfathomable jerk you are. You must be one of those Bechtel sycophants that have been hired in recently.

Anonymous said...

"One can reinforce the defenses, but it is impossible to defend completely against malicious behavior by individuals with Q clearances."

Was that a Freudian slip?

Anonymous said...

"By my math I get that LANL has to lose another 850-1100 FTE in FY08. What to you calculate?" - 2:04 PM

You're in the ballpark, 2:04 PM.

Figure on LANS taking out about 300 more people for Phase 2 and then following it up with about 700 more for Phase 3 before the end of this fiscal year. Just remember that Phase 3 is not a one-shot affair. We'll likely be seeing additional layoffs going into FY09 and maybe even into FY10.

The BS from NNSA about getting 20% to 30% staff reductions using attrition over the next 10 years is a pipe dream. Now that Congress has been clued in that even NNSA doesn't see a need for so many workers, you're going to see big staffing reductions happen rather quickly over the next few years. Prepare for the coming cuts as best you can.

Anonymous said...

"Find out who ordered that conversion be done and fine them $384,150. (Was the precise amount $384,149.49 and the rounding went the wrong way?)"

Actually, it probably started as $75K and by the time all the Grp, Div, AD, G&A, INFR and other overhead taxes were added to it, it bordered on $400K.

Anonymous said...

JQ screwed up, that's a fact. The big pink elephant in the room that everyone continues to ignore are the people who were supposed to make sure something like this did not occur or at the very least, never occur again. JQ was able to take advantage of the laziness of several other individuals who got the real wet noodle treatment. The fact that nobody got fired over this is mind boggling.

It's going to happen again. Mikey, you might want to consider hanging out in the airport bathroom stalls in Minneapolis; you're going to need any help you can get in congress! Hell, taking one for the team might help morale around here!

Anonymous said...

12/21/07 2:17 PM

The punishment for treason is death.

Anonymous said...

JQ cost the DOE $384K, but the Lab blows 10 times that every year on wasteful litigation, and 10 times the litigation waste every year due to incompetence and arrogance so characteristic of the Lab as a whole. Nanos alone cost taxpayers over $250 million because of the idiotic shutdown. Did the DOE try to recoup any of that from Nanos? How about from UC? Where's the outrage there? No, it's easier to malign the little guy while giving the biggest assholes (people and institutions) of society a free pass, as usual. And you all know who you and your ilk are out there. Plenty of this type frequenting this blog venting their. spleen at every opposing view and every misspelled word (like that really mattered). Pathetic is too kind a characterization for the holier-than-thou fraternity that comprises too much of the Lab these days. You all really do think too much of yourselves. Get over it already! Why not make that your New Years resolution? Nah, that will never happen. We're different. We're better. We're Los Alamos. So Happy New Year to yourself, thank you.

Anonymous said...

The $384k came from what it cost DOE to investigate this matter.