May 31, 2007

Scared Whistleblower

Charges Not New to LANL
Wednesday, December 4, 2002
By Adam Rankin
Copyright © 2002 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Northern Bureau

SANTA FE Allegations that Los Alamos National Laboratory managers covered up waste or mismanagement date to the mid-1990s.
Lab employees made such allegations in court depositions years before the current controversy over alleged purchasing and property-control problems at the lab.
Chuck Montaño, a lab employee and an advocate for lab employee rights, said the testimonies suggest recent allegations of a cover-up at the lab are not off-base because there is a history of such practices at the lab.
"In those depositions, the point was made that there was a good, concerted effort to prevent problems from coming to the surface, and that is the claim being made now," he said.
He also said the lab's audit system isn't catching waste, abuse and fraud because it no longer operates independently of the lab, as it once did before 1992 when the Department of Energy combined the audit function with the operation of the lab.
Recent revelations of fraud and abuse of government money at the lab and the firings of two lab employees who were investigating the problems have critics questioning whether the lab is hiding broader management problems.
"What we've long worried about is that excessive secrecy breeds abuse of power," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight. "What we're hearing more and more of is clearly evidence of that at Los Alamos."
LANL director John Browne has said he responded as quickly as possible by requesting an investigation by the DOE's inspector general and an external audit group when allegations of a LANL cover-up first became public in an anonymous e-mail in October.
He also said University of California auditors have visited the lab and made management recommendations, many of which had already been implemented.
Linn Tytler, a spokesperson for the lab, said the lab has cooperated with investigations by outside agencies, including the FBI and DOE, and "eagerly awaits" their reports.

Previous testimony
Glenn Walp, head of the lab's Office of Security Inquiries, and Steve Doran, a security specialist under Walp, have said the lab fired them in late November after less than a year on the job because they attempted to reveal wrongdoings that lab managers tried to cover up.
Phil Kruger, the deputy director of human resources at the lab, said last week the two were fired because several divisions at the lab "lost confidence" in the pair.
Doran said past testimony bolsters his argument that the lab's Audits and Assessments Division was party to some of the problems he and Walp were investigating, including an agreement to allow an employee to repay $1,800 in stolen lab money and resign without prosecution.
Tommy Hook, former senior adviser for audits in the lab's Internal Evaluation Office, testified in 1997 that his boss still head of the lab's Audits and Assessments Division "didn't want to aggressively report findings."
He said Katherine Brittin, who came to LANL as head of Audits and Assessments in 1994, "didn't want to see certain things put in reports," including "unallowable costs" and "embarrassment to the university." LANL is run by the University of California, which has held the contract to operate LANL since 1943.
Brittin, reached at her office Tuesday evening, declined to comment. Montaño said Brittin denied Hook's allegations in a deposition she gave for a layoff suit that was not accessible Tuesday.
Hook's testimony was given as part of a lawsuit against LANL in response to a number of 1995 layoffs, which employees contended disproportionately affected Hispanics and other minorities.
He said Brittin "threatened" him if he did not comply with how she wanted to handle internal audit findings.
"She told me basically, if those findings cost the university money, that it could be my job; it could be my raise; it could be my future; it could be my staff's jobs; etc.," Hook said.
When audit reports indicated waste spending or poor management, Hook testified that many such audits, which required Brittin's approval, would "sit there for months without moving off her desk."
Hook testified that when Brittin discovered Michael Ares, an auditor under Brittin, went directly to the Department of Energy's inspector general about one of the audit reports, she said "I'd like to rip his (expletive) face off."
He also said Brittin told him to be sure auditors did not go directly to the inspector general with reports before going through the management of Audits and Assessments.
Hook, who is still a lab employee though he resigned his post from Audits and Assessments in 1995, was reached at home Monday and declined to comment on his testimony.

Operation shift
Montaño, a team leader in LANL's general accounting operation, said the problem with the Audits and Assessments Division is that it reports to lab management, which it is supposed to be auditing, and not an independent body or board of directors as it did when it was operated out of the University of California's Office of the President.
Jeff Garberson, a spokesman for the University of California, said DOE combined the university's contract to audit the lab with the operating contract in 1992.
Montaño was a lab auditor when the function was transferred to the lab.
In testimony given during the same 1997 layoff lawsuit in which Hook testified, Montaño said "clearly we had much greater independence being under the University Office of the President as opposed to being directly under lab management."
"The laboratory did not want us to be so aggressive," he said. "In fact ... we were told many times that their concern was that these findings would then get into the hands of the public and trigger some questions or trigger additional inquiries, audits or other inquiries."
The DOE's Inspector General's Office recently sent a team to Los Alamos to look into allegations made in an anonymous e-mail to the news media and a watchdog group that LANL officials have covered up theft and other illegal activity at the lab. Lab officials say the lab is cooperating fully in the investigation.
The FBI is investigating allegations of at least $50,000 in questionable purchases that two lab employees, including a $150,000-a-year supervisor, made through an Albuquerque supplier.
Also Tuesday, Governor-elect Bill Richardson, who served as secretary of the Energy Department from 1998 to 2000, said he was unaware of any allegations that the lab attempted to cover up government waste or fraud during his tenure as head of DOE in the Clinton administration and that the National Nuclear Security Administration had oversight of lab audits.
"All I can say about what happened at the labs that better not happen here in state government," he said at a news conference.
Documents show that the lab has listed millions of dollars worth of items as "lost or stolen" or missing from inventory since 1998, but lab officials have said that many unaccounted items actually have much less value after depreciation and may not actually be missing.

Blast From the Past

LANL Wants Copies of Probe Papers
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
By Adam Rankin
Copyright © 2002 Albuquerque Journal
Of the Journal

SANTA FE — A top Los Alamos National Laboratory official has instructed employees to provide the lab with copies of any documents they give to federal investigators.
In a Dec. 5 labwide e-mail, Rich Marquez, LANL's associate director for administration, ordered employees to cooperate with investigators.
But he also said in the e-mail that employees providing any documents to the inspector general's investigators should "provide copies of a set of those documents to the (LANL) Audits and Assessments Office" to the attention of two officials, including Katherine Brittin, who heads the office. Brittin and her office have been accused of trying to cover up information that would embarrass the lab.
The e-mail was sent as a team from the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General began looking into allegations about LANL's purchase and property control systems.
Meanwhile, congressional investigators have started mobilizing in Washington, D.C., to look into accusations of fraud, lax security and coverup at the lab.
House investigators have requested dozens of records to follow up on the allegations, some of which are part of a separate FBI criminal probe. A team of congressional staffers is expected to travel to the lab for an on-site investigation.
Allegations against Audits and Assessments date to the mid-1990s, when Tommy Hook, a former senior auditor, testified that Brittin tried to kill reports that would embarrass the University of California or cost the lab money.
Steve Doran and Glenn Walp, who were recently fired by the lab, have said managers in Audits and Assessments didn't act when fraud was reported to them and even told employees accused of fraud who their accusers were. The two are former police officers hired early this year to investigate the problems.

'Outrageous'
Pete Stockton, a consultant for the Washington-based government watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, said having employees send Brittin copies of documents provided to investigators didn't make sense.
"I think it seems to me outrageous, especially after seeing the chronology of events there," he said.
Lab spokeswoman Linn Tytler said Monday that allegations against Brittin and Audits and Assessments "have not been substantiated and we believe the office is performing its function as assigned."
Tytler said LANL's leadership is "committed to ensuring an effective and thorough inquiry into any allegation of fraud, waste or abuse submitted by any employee, whether anonymously or with his/her name attached."
She said it is the function of Audits and Assessments to review such allegations.

Washington interest
In Washington, Kenneth Johnson, a spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad oversight and investigatory powers over DOE programs, said committee members have taken a keen interest in allegations of wrongdoing and coverup.
"The accusations are extreme, and we are determined to get to the bottom of it," he said.
Committee staff are awaiting the delivery in the next day or two of 15 boxes of documents they requested from the University of California, which operates LANL, he said.
Johnson also said the timing hasn't been determined yet, but the staff is working out the logistics for a group of committee staff to go to LANL for an on-site investigation.
"For some time now, the committee has been quietly looking at the operations of LANL," he said. "These dramatic new developments warrant a congressional investigation and we intend to use every resource at our disposal, including hearings and subpoenas, to determine what's going on at the lab."
Spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder said U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., a member of the committee, was "very concerned about the allegations and particularly the impression of retaliation against LANL employees."
Jude McCartin, a spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said Bingaman told DOE's inspector general's office Monday he was anxious for a report that gets to all the facts.
McCartin said the inspector general told Bingaman a report is "expected in the February time frame."

Another report
In a related development, a 2000 inspector general's report recently obtained by the Journal makes additional allegations of coverup against lab officials.
The May 2000 report details how eight of 28 LANL security personnel interviewed "believed they had been pressured to change or 'mitigate' security self-assessments" and how a "number of individuals" feared retaliation for giving information to the inspector general.
Tytler said "a subsequent review conducted in October 2000 of security assessments did not uphold those findings."
She said the review was "official use only" and would not provide a copy of it nor say what organization conducted it.
Several of the security personnel in the inspector general's report said "LANL management appeared to be more concerned about making LANL and the Security Operations Division 'look good' than reporting the actual security condition at LANL."
The report also noted "two instances where LANL management became so upset with issues raised by the initially assigned reviewers, that management reassigned other reviewers who subsequently determined that there were no issues to be raised and that the organizations were satisfactory."
The inspector general's report said LANL management downgraded 40 "issues" and four "concerns" initially identified in a self-assessment draft report on the security division to six "concerns" and six "observations" in a final report.
Issues are defined as deficiencies that require a corrective action plan, while concerns and observations are simply suggestions for improvement that do not require a corrective action plan.
A LANL manager told the inspector general the issues were downgraded because some couldn't be validated, others were unsupportable and "there appeared to be a personality conflict between the reviewer and the organization being reviewed," according to the report.
A senior LANL manager also told the inspector general that "given the number of self-assessment findings identified since 1995, there was no concerted effort to avoid or mitigate findings."
The inspector general's report was undertaken to investigate allegations that officials in DOE's Albuquerque Operations Office of Safeguards and Security Division upgraded survey ratings that were "marginal" or "unsatisfactory" as a result of "deals struck" between Albuquerque and LANL management officials.

One Year Anniversary

Pinky,
Note especially: "30 percent fewer injuries than in the prior year," "student pipeline," "expanded drug-testing and physical searches," "summer picnic" (to help morale continue to soar), and much, much more ...

_____________________________________


To/MS: LANL-All
From/MS: Michael R. Anastasio, A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/5-2679
Symbol: DIR-07-148
Date: May 24, 2007



Subject: June 1 Anniversary

June 1 marks a year since Los Alamos National Security, LLC,
assumed the management and operating contract for the Laboratory
-- a year since I had the honor of becoming your director. It has
been a year of challenges and successes. We have met mission
milestones, made significant improvements in safety and security,
garnered recognition of our outstanding science, and developed 12
institutional goals that will help ensure our future.

We have a clear vision: Los Alamos, the premier national
security science laboratory for the 21st century. At the end of
our first year together, we have overcome many obstacles and made
substantial progress to realize our vision. I am proud of your
hard work. While it's been a tough year, it's been a good year,
and I encourage you to take time to reflect. I began part of
that reflection today when I discussed with reporters the
following few examples that illustrate our notable achievements:

We've boosted our efficiency and effectiveness

* We absorbed increased costs without sacrificing mission or
our commitment to employees
* We improved physical security and cyber security by
reducing risks and eliminated and consolidated our
classified material
- We cut CREM by 30 percent
- We reduced classified computing systems by a fifth
- We reduced the number of vault-type rooms by 15 percent
- We expanded drug-testing and physical searches
* We dramatically improved safety -- with 30 percent fewer
injuries than in the prior year
* We began a new era of fully contained high-explosive DARHT tests
* We witnessed the successful launch of the Cibola Flight Experiment

We plan and act for a successful and sustainable future

* We've adopted 12 large-scale, long-term goals and concrete
commitments toward achieving them, such as:
- Successfully launching the first phase of the
Roadrunner supercomputer
- Launching a Super Vault Type Room prototype effort
* We launched Performance Based Leadership, an effort to
improve leadership Labwide, and Human Performance
Improvement, a leading approach to minimizing risk and
maximizing performance
* We launched a Labwide process improvement effort
* We continue to focus on our student pipeline to recruit and
retain the best and the brightest for our future.

We're more accountable and reliable than ever

* We added dimensions of oversight and accountability
including:
- A demanding and expert Board of Governors
- A Contractor Assurance System
- Accountability to our colleagues and employees
through Performance-Based Leadership
* We met 103 out of 104 New Mexico Environment Department
Consent Order deliverables on time and have since completed
the outstanding action
* We have a Community Commitment Plan focused on education,
economic development, and community giving
- We more than doubled the Lab's United Way contribution -- to
$1.5 million this year

I will review the past year and discuss our future at an All
Employee meeting during the week of June 11. I will also be
sharing our successes and our plan for the future with the
Northern New Mexico community later this summer.

In addition, we are planning a summer picnic to thank all of you
for your efforts on behalf of the nation and to give us all the
chance to relax and mingle with coworkers. Watch Links for more
information.

As I have said before, I am excited about what lies ahead for the
Laboratory. The best is yet to come. Certainly there will be
challenges, but working as a team, we will continue to
anticipate, innovate, and deliver the outstanding science that
matters for the security of our nation.

2 get plea deals in beating of LANL whistle-blower outside Cheeks






By Jason Auslander | The New Mexican
May 31, 2007


Prosecutor says man suffered earlier attack in topless bar's parking lot

A Los Alamos National Laboratory whistle-blower was attacked twice outside a Santa Fe topless bar nearly two years ago, not just once, a prosecutor said during the attackers' sentencings Wednesday.

The first time occurred as Tommy Hook was leaving Cheeks after spending three hours allegedly waiting for a fellow whistle-blower to show up, Joseph Campbell said. An unknown man hit him in the back of the head outside the bar, knocked him to the ground and said, ``You ought to keep your mouth shut,'' Campbell said.

The second attack occurred minutes later in the strip club parking lot when Hook backed his car into a different man and initiated an ill-fated confrontation with the man, Campbell said. Hook, who said he was lured to the bar by a mysterious, late-night phone call, sustained serious injuries that night, though police later said his whistle-blower status was not the reason he was attacked.

On Wednesday, the two men involved in the second attack -- Joseph Sandoval, 26, and 29-year-old Zeke Nevarez -- accepted plea deals in connection with the beating and were sentenced in state District Court.

Campbell's version of what happened the night of June 5, 2005, differed from previous reports about the beating, which mentioned only the one attack on Hook by Sandoval and Nevarez. Campbell also supplied several other unreported details about the events of that night, including the fact Hook started the physical altercation with the much-larger Sandoval.

The same week the beating took place, Hook was preparing to meet with a congressional investigator about allegations he'd made about fraud and waste at LANL. Hook and another lab auditor also had filed a lawsuit against the lab before the beating, alleging they had faced retaliation after speaking out about the alleged fraud and waste.

The incident in June 2005 began just after 10 p.m., when Hook received a phone call at his home in Los Alamos, Campbell said. Hook thought the call was from a fellow lab employee who wanted to help blow the whistle on the allegations Hook had brought to light, he said. The employee suggested Cheeks -- a topless bar on Cerrillos Road -- as a meeting place, Campbell said.

Hook, whose wife was visiting their grown sons in Albuquerque at the time, arrived at the bar shortly after 10:30 p.m., Campbell said. He spent about three hours at the strip club, talking to other patrons and buying drinks for some of them, Campbell said.

A lawyer for Cheeks said at the time that Hook drank six beers, sat with two attractive women at the bar, bought drinks for the women, bought dances for the two women and, around midnight, bought a dance from a waitress in the VIP room. Roger Purcino, the lawyer for Cheeks, also said Hook told Cheeks employees he'd won $500 at a casino earlier that night.

Campbell said he has e-mail records showing Hook was home until nearly 10 p.m. Purcino didn't return a phone call Wednesday seeking further comment.

As Hook left the bar and was walking to his car, a mystery man hit him in the back of the head, Campbell said. Campbell said he did not know if the man -- who warned Hook to keep his mouth shut -- used a weapon in the attack, but said Hook was knocked to the ground, where he lay in a dazed state for about two minutes. Hook only saw the man's legs and feet.

Hook was still dazed when he made it to his car and began to drive away, he said. However, before leaving the parking lot, Hook decided he should report the attack to police and was re-parking his Subaru to do so when he backed into Sandoval's leg, Campbell said. Sandoval, who had just arrived at the bar to pick up Nevarez and hadn't been inside, kicked the bumper of Hook's car in response, he said.

Hook -- who is about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds -- got out of his car and pushed Sandoval -- who is about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds -- in the shoulder area, Campbell said. Some witnesses said it looked as if Hook was going for Sandoval's throat, Campbell said. Hook's move, however, had no effect on the much-larger Sandoval, the lawyer said. Sandoval struck back, knocking Hook to the asphalt, ``and the beating ensued,'' Campbell said.

As Hook fell to the ground, Nevarez, who hadn't been involved in the situation up to that point, joined the fray and began punching and kicking Hook while he lay on the ground, Campbell said. Witnesses said Sandoval also beat Hook while he was the ground, Campbell said. Damian Horne, Sandoval's lawyer, said his client, who does not drink, do drugs or have a criminal record, did not participate in the beating after Hook fell to the ground.

State District Judge Michael Vigil asked who hit Hook from behind the first time. Campbell said no one knows who the first assailant was, but it wasn't Sandoval or Nevarez.

Hook said Wednesday in court that he has gone through two years of rehabilitation for injuries to his shoulder, neck, hand, wrist, foot and scalp. He also suffers from cognitive problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder, he said. ``I can no longer add simple numbers,'' Hook said. ``These guys almost killed me.''



Susan Hook, his wife, said the couple has been married 31 years, but during the past two years, ``he is not the same person I married.''

``They treated him like a piece of meat,'' she said. ``He would have been beaten to death if the security guard hadn't come out. No human being deserved that, no matter what reason he was there.''

Santa Fe police found a bruise on the back of Sandoval's leg that was the same height as the bumper on Tommy Hook's car and concluded Sandoval had been hit, Campbell said. FBI investigators found no evidence of the contact, the prosecutor said.

FBI spokesman Bill Elwell said Wednesday that he didn't know if agents found evidence of the car hitting Sandoval. He also said he hadn't heard of an attack preceding the beating from Sandoval and Nevarez.

FBI investigators found that Tommy Hook, who'd had ``a few drinks,'' became belligerent with Sandoval and was beaten. Also, investigators found the comment about keeping his mouth shut was made by Sandoval in response to Tommy Hook's belligerence, and Hook was at the bar of his own accord and never received a phone call prompting his presence, Elwell said.

``We found the altercation had absolutely nothing to do with his being a whistle-blower,'' Elwell said. ``He tried to tell us he was lured there, but that wasn't the case.''

The FBI is not investigating the report of the alleged first attack, he said.

Campbell said he doesn't have records proving a phone call prompted Tommy Hook's trip to the nightclub. But e-mail conversations Hook had that night indicate he was summoned to the bar, he said. In addition, Campbell said he believes some of the injuries Tommy Hook sustained that night support Hook's contention of a first attack to the back of his head.

``If he was hit in the back of the head as he claims, I would believe it was because of his whistle-blowing status,'' Campbell said. ``I believe he was assaulted twice.''

Sandoval entered an Alford plea to conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, was given a conditional discharge and sentenced to one year of probation. Nevarez entered an Alford plea to one count of aggravated battery and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, District Judge Michael Vigil suspended three of those years and sentenced Nevarez -- who apologized to Tommy and Susan Hook -- to a year of house arrest.

``What I did was wrong,'' Nevarez said. ``I just don't ever want to be in this courtroom again.''

In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges that sufficient evidence exists to convict. A conditional discharge means the felony charge will be wiped off Sandoval's record if he successfully completes his probationary period.

Vigil ordered both men to pay restitution to Tommy Hook for medical bills as part of their sentences.

Bob Rothstein, Tommy Hook's lawyer in the civil lawsuit against the lab, said Wednesday that a judge is considering motions for summary judgment filed by the lab, and the case is on hold until those decisions are made.

Contact Jason Auslander at 995-3877 or jauslander@sfnewmexican.com.

May 30, 2007

Educing Information

http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/educing.pdf

Pinky and the Brain,

You might want to post the URL above as a top post with whatever comments strike you as appropriate. It is a brand new report.

It is a long and interesting report about interrogation methods, what works, what does not work, and what is unknown.

Eric

--
Eric Fairfield

President
Fairfield Enterprises
P.O. Box 1366
Los Alamos, NM 87544
505-662-3115
eric@fairfieldenterprises.biz

Notes from the All Managers Meeting

Three sound bites of interest:

"There will be no layoffs on June 1... No RIF, no request for layoffs has been submitted to DOE at LASO or ABQ or Washington... not planning a RIF on June 1st or any other day." Director Anastasio

"We are not going to become a plutonium production factory." Principal Associate Deputy Glenn Mara

"I am not disbanding directorates in a reorganization, but I am looking at reorganizing some divisions." Director Anastasio

May 29, 2007

URS to buy Washington Group for $2.6 billion

East Bay Business Times - 1:08 PM PDT Tuesday, May 29, 2007
by Steven E.F. Brown


URS Corp. will buy Washington Group International Inc. for $2.6 billion in cash and stock.

The new company, which will have some 54,000 employees, will be called URS Corp.

San Francisco-based engineering and construction giant URS (NYSE: URS) is led by CEO Martin Koffel and has about 29,500 workers. Washington Group (NYSE: WNG), based in Boise, Idaho, has about 25,000 workers.

Washington Group is part of the groups managing Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico for the U.S. Department of Energy. San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. and the University of California are also part of those two management groups. The Livermore group takes over management of the lab in October, though some changes have already started there.

Washington Group -- founded in 1912 in Boise as Morrison-Knudsen Corp. -- has a major division that does nuclear cleanup and remediation for the Department of Energy. The company is working as a subcontractor for Bechtel at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington. Morrison-Knudsen merged with Washington Construction Co., a Montana company, in 1996 after forcing out CEO William Agee, who had come to Morrison-Knudsen from Bendix.

The company focused on heavy civil engineering projects, including Tarbela Dam on the Indus River in Pakistan, one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world.

URS will pay Washington Group stockholders $43.80 in cash and 0.772 shares of URS common stock for each Washington Group share.

Together, the two companies are at work on projects in 50 countries.

San Francisco Business Times

Nonproliferation talk set for Wednesday

Monitor Staff Report

The public is invited to a talk on nuclear nonproliferation by retired LANL physicist Steve Czuchlewski, who recently served as a Science and Engineering Fellow at the U.S. Department of State.

The presentation, entitled "State Department Nonproliferation Activities in 2006", will be given at a meeting of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Lounge at the United Church's Christian Education Building.

Currently a LANL Guest Scientist after a 30-year career on a variety of laser programs and hydrodynamic testing, Czuchlewski worked on nuclear nonproliferation issues as the 2006 IEEE Engineering and Diplomacy Fellow in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

May 28, 2007

For the Thousandth Time...

Nearing the end of the blog's second month we've received the 1000th comment today. We are most grateful for the contributions from readers that make this blog a success. Like this memorable comment on this memorable day:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Congress kills funds for new warheads By Ian Hoffman":

Dear Congresspersons, do any of you remember the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review? THERE's your nuclear weapons strategy. Now can we please get back to work?

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm



Posted by Anonymous to LANL: The Rest of the Story at 5/28/07 11:13 AM

May 27, 2007

Nuclear fantasies

The Washington Times Editorials/Op-Ed
TODAY'S COLUMNIST
By Peter Huessy
May 28, 2007


Hans Blix, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, was in Washington recently to brief Senate staff about why the United States stands in the way of the world getting rid of nuclear weapons.
He lumped together the Reliable Replacement Warhead, or RRW, program that the Bush administration is supporting, the illicit North Korean nuclear weapons program, the British policy of replacing its aging Trident fleet with new submarines and the nuclear modernization programs of China and Russia. All were "bad," he said, and were undermining the NPT, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 that called on the world to seriously negotiate an eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
Getting rid of nuclear weapons is, unfortunately, a fantasy that keeps getting in the way of sound U.S. deterrent strategy. Mr. Blix believes in this fairy tale despite presiding over the development of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea -- the latter two are members of the NPT.
In his remarks to Senate staff he made the astounding claim that Britain had no need for nuclear weapons because the Netherlands and Sweden didn't have them. He claimed the United States' hostile policy toward North Korea made Pyongyang pursue nuclear weapons. (This is not unlike his previous claim that Iran has a right to nuclear weapons because, after all, it has to defend itself against Israel and the United States.) And while saying Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons, he said all the mullahs wanted was not to be threatened by the United States. If the United States and its allies simply adopted policies that made them morally superior in the nuclear business -- meaning do not do anything to continue the maintenance of our nuclear deterrent -- then Iran, North Korea and other potential rogue states will see the necessity of following such a profoundly correct path and give up their brutish ways. In short, if the United States had "clean and pure hands," the mad mullahs in Tehran and the Soprano state in North Korea would jump on the freight train of reform.
This infectious disease -- the moral arrogance that sees the United States at fault wherever there are problems in the world -- was long ago identified by the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick as the "blame America first" syndrome. Mr. Blix is not the only one afflicted. Members of the Union of Concerned Scientists greeted the House cut of funds for the RRW with great glee claiming such action finally put the United States on the high road toward meeting its obligations under the NPT, one of which was nuclear disarmament.
But as former SAC Commander and Air Force Chief of Staff Larry Welch argued recently, there is no prospect that nuclear weapons will be eliminated anytime in our lifetime or that the knowledge of how to build such weapons will somehow disappear. He argued therefore that nuclear deterrence -- being job No. 1 for the United States and its allies -- had to be maintained. And at whatever level of nuclear weapons we maintain, the weapons should be reliable, safe, secure and less costly -- exactly what the RRW is for.
Some in Congress have urged the administration to put together an update of the previous Nuclear Posture Review and lay out what the future strategic landscape might look like in 2030 -- the worst case scenario, one that is a marked improvement over today and the maintenance of the status quo. Such an examination of the future would be guesswork for sure, but it might help give U.S. policy-makers a sense of the range of nuclear weapons we might have compared to the current planned deployed stockpile of roughly 2200 warheads. This would tell us in turn what level of warheads we would need to be able to produce annually should we have to rapidly build up in the face of new threats.
But the current U.S. deterrent needs to be maintained. The level of warheads under the Moscow Treaty is exactly right for the threats we face. Certainly the horizon looks less friendly today than it did some years ago as China rapidly modernizes its military and its nuclear arsenal and as the threats from North Korea and Iran remain. An infrastructure capable of replacing current warheads and dismantling those no longer needed is very much needed and that is at the heart of why RRW has been proposed.
The United States is engaging in no arms race. The United States deployed and non-deployed stockpile will be reduced to its lowest level since 1957 when the Moscow treaty's nuclear weapons reductions have been implemented by the end of this decade. Missile defenses and long range conventional prompt strike capabilities will also be added to the arsenal an American president will have to provide for the common defense.
Those who cheer the undermining of America's deterrent capability -- as they did during the very height of the Cold War -- also put at risk our liberty and freedoms and those of our allies. Blaming America first is a gimmick of those without sound plans and policies for the future, people who are empty of the moral courage needed to defend the free world.

Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis.

Falling Down

[An anonymous post request.]
To: Jsterngold@sfchronicle.com

You may want to go here to get a feeling about how RRW and the Pit Facility are going and how that is going to impact both LANL and LLNL employees very soon. This is the third and I think final blog on this privatization of our national labs. Once they are destroyed the liberal boneheads of this nation will have finally achieved making us a third world country run by people that haven't a clue. Enjoy and please make the information you acquire from this blog national news.

http://lanl-the-rest-of-the-story.blogspot.com/

LANL's Proposed Lab On Hold

Sunday, May 27, 2007
By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

A proposed billion-dollar Los Alamos plutonium lab appears to be in trouble as a result of rising cost estimates and congressional skepticism.
The federal government hoped to begin construction next year, but Bush administration officials are now rethinking the project.
One reason: "increasing cost," National Nuclear Security Administration chief Thomas D'Agostino told members of Congress in a recent hearing. In the last year, preliminary cost estimates have jumped from $837 million to as much as $1.5 billion.
There is also skepticism about how the project fits into the National Nuclear Security Administration's longer range plans for maintaining the U.S. nuclear stockpile— plans that could render the project obsolete a decade after it is completed.
With those concerns in mind, D'Agostino told members of Congress in hearings this spring that he is putting the brakes on the Los Alamos project while his agency reviews its long range options.
For D'Agostino and the U.S. nuclear weapons establishment, decisions about whether to proceed with the nuclear lab are tied up in a complex debate now under way in Washington about what the future U.S. nuclear arsenal will look like, and how to build and manage it.
The Bush administration is pushing for development of a new Reliable Replacement Warhead, and a national nuclear production complex to produce it. The complex would include a "consolidated plutonium center"— a single factory and lab site that would take over much of the plutonium work now done at Los Alamos.
The big new Los Alamos plutonium lab was to be built, beginning next year, a bridge to handle the workload until the consolidated plutonium center is built.
In a report last year, Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, called building the Los Alamos lab only to replace it within a decade "irrational."
The National Nuclear Security Administration has gotten the message that Congress might be unwilling to fund both the lab and the factory-lab complex soon after, deputy NNSA chief Marty Schoenbauer said in an interview.
"That's being rethought," Schoenbauer said.
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he will continue to push for the project, calling it "absolutely necessary."
"It is needed to support the ongoing plutonium mission," Domenici said in a written statement Friday.
Greg Mello, a leading arms control activist with the Los Alamos Study Group, disagreed, questioning the need for a large new plutonium complex given questionable need for new plutonium weapons components.
For Los Alamos, D'Agostino's decision to apply the brakes is the latest twist in a saga going back two decades, as lab officials try to replace what they say is one of their most important but oldest nuclear labs.
At 550,000 square feet— more than twice the size of a super Wal-Mart— Los Alamos National Laboratory's Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building is the largest building at the nuclear weapons lab. It contains laboratories where scientists analyze plutonium and other similar radioactive materials, primarily those used in the U.S. nuclear weapons program.
Completed in 1952, it has been near the end of its useful life for a quarter of a century. The first call for replacement came in 1982, according to Los Alamos lab associate director Terry Wallace.
In the late 1980s, the federal government planned a replacement lab, but as the Cold War ended the project died in the face of uncertainty over the future of the U.S. nuclear weapons program.
In the mid-1990s, the federal government launched a $175 million upgrade to the aging building. But after spending more than $100 million of that money, nuclear weapons program managers changed course again, deciding to scrap the upgrade and build an entirely new building.
The new building goes by the cumbersome name of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building Replacement, but everyone involved in the project simply calls it "CMRR."
Part of the replacement project— an office building and a smaller lab— is already under construction. It is the second phase of the project, the CMRR Nuclear Facility, that D'Agostino has put on hold.
Over and over, Los Alamos officials have seen the expense of replacing or upgrading the old CMR building lead to repeated delays in dealing with the issue.

Nuke Protesting Students End Fast

Claim They Gained Enough Ground in the Fight for Disarmament
Friday, May 25, 2007
By Chris Meagher


The hunger strike is off.

After more than a week of not eating to protest the University of California’s management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore Nation Laboratory in Northern California, two laboratories used to develop nuclear weapons. Near a tent city which had sat for the past 15 days on the lawn in front of Cheadle Hall, a press conference was called on Wednesdays to talk about what the students deemed a successful hunger strike.

The students originally intended to fast until the University of California agreed to stop “engineering, testing and manufacturing nuclear weapons,” but broke their fast last weekend, after seeing their concerns wouldn’t be addressed at a recent regents meeting in San Francisco. However, the protestors claim their cause gained some ground.

Two members of the UC Board of Regents — Odessa Johnson and Ben Allen — agreed to meet with some of the students to try to address the concerns, according to a gathering of students, although no date has been set. Increased awareness among students and faculty has also resulted, the students claim. UCSB's academic senate may even pass a resolution in support of the group’s main objective. “This is something being talked about on campus now,” said Natalie Rose, one of the protestors. Another protestor, Carleigh O'Donnell said the group's ultimate goal is to change the “destructive nuclear weapons policy” of the UC system and return it to academic integrity. “They’re here to instill knowledge, not destroy society,” O'Donnell said. The groups is also in the initial stages of organizing a campaign geared toward alumni, urging them not to give money to the UC system schools until the system cuts its ties.

The group also praised the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water Development subcommittee, which voted to not build any more nuclear weapons and to downsize the stockpile the country currently has. “Given the serious international and domestic consequences of the U.S. initiating a new nuclear weapons production activity, it is critical that the administration lay out a comprehensive course of action before funding is appropriated,” wrote chair Peter Visclosky. “Given the track record of mismanagement at the agency for projects that have a plan, I don’t think it is asking too much for a comprehensive nuclear strategy before we build a new nuclear weapon.”

Congress kills funds for new warheads

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 05/26/2007 02:56:40 AM PDT


In several recent moves, Congress has dealt blows to two cornerstones of the Bush administration's nuclear-weapons policy: a new nuclear arsenal and a multibillion dollar factory to build it. In effect, it blocked those projects until President Bush has left office.

A key Senate defense committee Friday killed all funding for the new bomb plant, as well as a third of the money for the first in a planned series of "reliable, replacement warheads" meant to replace thousands of existing bombs dating from the Cold War.

The Senate Armed Services Committee echoed its House counterpart and said weapons designers working on the new warhead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory cannot go beyond conceptualdesign and cost studies to engineering a prototype bomb.

That consensus between the Senate and House defense committees doesn't end work on the new warhead, but it does mean the most important elements of Bush administration policy are unlikely to move beyond paper studies before a new president takes office.

The Senate appropriations committee has yet to weigh in on nuclear weapons matters this year, and both chambers still must iron out differences. But the legislation passed so far strongly suggests that the latest administration policy on weapons is headed for deferral to a new president, if not defeat.

"I think they're not going to be able to begin, much less complete, the nuclear agenda that they came in with," said Christopher Paine, senior nuclear weapons analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council, a group favoring arms control. "Their most dangerous nuclear arms initiatives have been averted by Congress."

House and Senate lawmakers differ somewhat on who should decide the next step in U.S. nuclear policy. U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D.-Walnut Creek, who chairs a House committee on strategic forces, wants to name a high-level commission to decide what U.S. nuclear strategy should be and how many weapons it needs. Her counterparts in the Senate would pass the matter directly to the next president, in a request for a more traditional nuclear posture review.

The Bush administration conducted such a review in 2001, and the final version called for de-emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense.

Classified portions of the review that were leaked, however, called for designing new nuclear weapons, including earth-penetrating "bunker busters," and expanding the traditional deterrence role for U.S. nuclear arms to include attacking targets in less than a full nuclear war. Administration officials talked of extremely low-yield nuclear weapons and more exotic devices, such as electromagnetic pulse weapons. The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review also called for contingency strike plans against Iran, North Korea, China and other countries, including several without nuclear arms.

Congress funded programs to explore the new bombs for the next three years, although with growing opposition. Critics argued pursuit of new nuclear weapons by the world's greatest military power made it harder for the United States and its allies to dissuade other nations from building nuclear arsenals of their own.

"The Bush administration's proposals met at first with skepticism and on closer examination, outright opposition," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan group of diplomats, scientists and policy experts.

"Lots of nonproliferation and arms-control efforts have been used up just blunting these bad administration policies, while the U.S. has lost valuable time and credibility abroad," Paine said.

Starting in 2004, Congress began turning back almost every major proposal from the administration for new weapons designs or new weapons manufacturing facilities. Key lawmakers began calling for a broad debate about what U.S. nuclear weapons are for and what size arsenal is required.

The latest evolution of administration policy called not for militarily new bomb designs but for cheaper, hardier replacements for each type of Cold War-era warheads and bombs in the arsenal. The new "reliable, replacement warheads," or RRWs, would be simpler, last longer and be harder for terrorists to detonate if they stole one.

And breaking with long tradition, the new bombs never would be tested live. If successful, weapons scientists and administration officials said, the new warheads could allow for a smaller arsenal, with fewer bombs held in reserve against some unknown failure.

But the moves in Congress so far this year suggest lawmakers are taking a go-slow approach, noting the lack of evidence that anything is wrong with the existing bombs and warheads that would warrant a new multi-billion-dollar bomb program.

"I would call it the beginning of the end of the RRW," said Kimball of the Arms Control Association. "At a minimum, the next administration is going to decide whether some form of RRW is pursued or whether we pursue the existing strategy, which has been working quite well, to maintain the stockpile."

Contact Ian Hoffman at ihoffman@angnewspapers.com or (510) 208-6458.

May 25, 2007

LANL Denies Layoff Rumors

ABQ Journal, Santa Fe Edition
Friday, May 25, 2007
By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— Los Alamos National Laboratory director Michael Anastasio on Thursday denied rumors that hundreds of layoffs are planned for next month.
"There are no layoffs planned," Anastasio said during a meeting with reporters.
June will mark the one-year anniversary of a change in management of the lab from the University of California to a for-profit consortium that includes Bechtel Corp and UC.
Operating costs have gone up under Los Alamos National Security LLC. For instance, the lab now has to pay state gross receipts taxes— estimated last fall at $55 million— because of its for-profit status.
Since September, LANL has cut contractor jobs, raising fears among workers employed directly by the lab that they could be next.
Anastasio said the lab would continue to address its budget problems by reducing its work force through attrition, finding cost savings and cutting contractor positions.
Lab officials said last fall that as many as 600 positions— affecting up to 20 percent of the lab's 3,000 contract workers— could eventually be eliminated.
Job cuts could have a big impact on the Los Alamos business community, which depends on "trickle-down" business from contractors.
In the interview inside LANL's University House, Anastasio reflected on the lab's successes over the year, as well as the bumps along the way.
The lab's management contract was put out to bid in part because of years of embarrassing security and safety lapses at the storied lab, birthplace of the atomic bomb. But some of those concerns continued to haunt it even under the new management.
Last year, classified documents turned up during a drug investigation at the home of former archivist Jessica Quintana, a contract worker. The incident raised fresh questions and congressional hearings about security.
And in June, two workers for a subcontractor were using a crane to move a 1,500-pound metal staircase when the structure slipped from its rigging, fell more than 50 feet and struck the men. An internal lab investigation found that LANL could have prevented the accident.
Anastasio said the lab has responded "quickly and decisively" to these and other incidents. The lab boss said the injury rate has fallen 30 percent under the new management.
On security, Anastasio said the lab has beefed up cybersecurity and reduced the number of classified computers and "vault-type" rooms that hold classified material.
The lab is preparing to pilot a "super" vault-type room, where classified work is consolidated and best practices are used, thereby reducing the risk of a security breach.
The lab has expanded its drug policy, conducting random tests on at least 20 percent its work force.
All in all, Anastasio called the first year a success. He said he was proud of LANL employees, adding that "in spite of turmoil over the years, wonderful things are happening at the lab."

May 24, 2007

Comment from Setback for Warheads Policy

"I've sucked on the DOE tit now for nearly three decades at Los Alamos, and if I’m having a hard time anymore justifying taxpayer support for my paycheck. Why should it come as any surprise to anyone that taxpayers as a body may be having serious reservations about a weapons complex that never seems to have enough money, nor the discipline to say they've finally reached the end of the line as far as needing to fine tune weapons of mass destruction already existing far in excess of any realistic threat or need? Enough is enough!"

Setback for warheads policy

House panel says it won't fund new nuclear weapons

James Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2007

In a surprising rejection of the Bush administration's nuclear weapons policy, a House appropriations subcommittee said Wednesday that it would refuse to fund a program to manufacture new warheads designed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The announcement by the subcommittee marks just the first step in a long legislative process that could still keep the new weapons program alive, but it provided a stark indication of deep resistance to the policy in Congress.

"This is a reflection of the concern that many of us have about the posturing of the administration" regarding its nuclear weapons policy, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek.

Tauscher is chairwoman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which has supported providing a low level of funding for the new program, but only after the creation of a commission that would examine the country's nuclear weapons needs into the future.

The Livermore weapons lab won the initial competition to design the new warhead earlier this year, and officials had said the lab was preparing to move ahead with more detailed design work. A lab spokesman said Wednesday that Livermore is not giving up hope yet and will work with Congress to obtain the needed funding.

"There will be at least four committees with recommendations on this subject, and we will work with all of them," said lab spokesman David Schwoegler.

For several years, the Bush administration has received a low level of funding to do the initial design work on what is being called the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, or RRW.

The administration has argued that the current weapons stockpile, developed during the Cold War, is aging and should be replaced over time with weapons that are safer and more reliable. Opponents of the program have argued that the current weapons will last for decades, and that the country ought to be slowly reducing the stockpile to fight weapons proliferation.

The administration was seeking a little more than $100 million in funding for the program next year. But the chairman of the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., issued a harsh rebuke, saying he will fight any funding until the administration offers a clear strategy justifying the need for new weapons.

"Until progress is made on this critical issue, there will be no new facilities or a Reliable Replacement Warhead," Visclosky said. "Only when a future nuclear weapons strategy is established can the Department of Energy determine the requirements for the future nuclear weapons stockpile and nuclear weapons complex plan."

Experts described the action as a sign that the program is in real trouble.

"This represents the most significant repudiation of the administration's plan," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which supports reducing the size of the stockpile. "This may mark the beginning of the end of the plan to build a new generation of nuclear weapons."

The plan's supporters made it clear that the battle will now just move to the full House and then the Senate.

"It is still early in the congressional process, and this is just one of several committees we work with," said Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the weapons complex.

Tauscher said the key at this point will be what level of funding the Senate provides, if any, which would then require a compromise with the House.

E-mail James Sterngold at Jsterngold@sfchronicle.com.

May 23, 2007

House panel nixes plans for new warhead

By H. JOSEF HEBERT
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers in the House struck a blow Wednesday to the Bush administration's plans to develop a new, sturdier nuclear warhead, rejecting a proposed $89 million for design work the Energy Department wanted for next year.

A House Appropriations subcommittee refused to fund the new warhead project, saying it should not be pursued before development of a comprehensive strategy on future nuclear weapons needs.

The National Nuclear Security Administration in March selected the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to develop a design and detailed cost estimates for the new warhead, which the administration says is needed to ensure future reliability of the nuclear stockpile without testing. The United States has not conducted an actual nuclear weapons test since 1992 because of nuclear proliferation concerns.

Administration officials argue that the new warhead - and variations to be developed later - will be easier to maintain and will be more secure and more reliable without testing than the warheads they will replace.

Opponents have argued that development of a new warhead sends the wrong signal to the world on nuclear nonproliferation.

An independent scientific panel last month cautioned against proceeding with the new warhead without a clearer outline of future weapons needs, though it acknowledged the new design could be a "prudent hedge" against the uncertainties of an aging stockpile.

The House Appropriations' energy and water subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over nuclear weapons funding, voted by voice to advance for full committee action a broader nuclear weapons and energy funding bill that did not include the $89 million sought by the Energy Department for the warhead program.

"Given the track record of mismanagement at the (nuclear weapons) agency for projects that have a plan, I don't think it is asking too much for a comprehensive nuclear strategy before we build a new nuclear weapon," said Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., the subcommittee chairman.

Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the Energy Department's nuclear weapons programs, said attempts will be made to restore funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.

"It's still early in the congressional process," said Wilkes. "We will continue to communicate with various House and Senate committees on RRW, which is an important national security issue."

Work on the new warhead program has been authorized by a House Armed Services subcommittee and the program has the strong support of Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who is the ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations panel that deals with the issue. Domenici recently called on the administration to "take a more active role" to sell the warhead modernization and "answer critics who says the RRW will lead to an arms race."

Nonproliferation advocates hailed the House subcommittee action and viewed it as a body blow to the new warhead program.

John Isaacs, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, praised the subcommittee for "putting a stop to the administration's grandiose plans for developing new hydrogen bombs which are unnecessary and undercut U.S. and international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons."

Michael McCally, executive director of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, called halting the warhead program "a major victory for the safety and health of Americans as well as for international peace and security."

The Energy Department argues that the new warhead is needed because of concerns about maintenance and future reliability of the existing warheads in an era of no underground nuclear testing. It would be designed to be more robust and more easily maintained and include improved safeguards to prevent potential use by terrorists, its proponents maintain. They also said it may allow future reduction of the number of warheads needed in reserve.

NORTH AMERICA - RESEARCH/ACADEMIC

[ ] M1563333 ) Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center - Senior Scientific Specialist
(05/11/2007)

Responsible for developing and executing collaborative projects with leading scientists, preferably in Computational Fluid Dynamics, aimed at the advancement of this field of science through supercomputer simulations.

Tasks include creation of novel ideas, concepts, methods, numerical algorithms and codes; implementing these on leading-edge scaleable supercomputing systems; helping to write winning grant proposals; planning and executing outreach activities to publish and promote the scientific and technological progress being achieved along with setting direction of PSC support.

Minimum Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a computational science discipline or in computer science or equivalent combination of training and experience with 4+ years demonstrated success in applying parallel computer systems to the solution of research problems in computational science or engineering along with very strong scientific programming skills using MPI, FORTRAN, C, and C++. Master's degree or Ph.D. in CFD preferred.

For a complete job description and to apply on-line go to: < http://hr.web.cmu.edu/> and search posting # 3298.

Carnegie Mellon is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

What We Have (Not) Learned from Wen Ho Lee

Sing Tao Daily, News Analysis, Wong Shuo-ge, Translated by Eugenia Chien, Posted: May 23, 2007

Editor's Note: Seven years after the Wen Ho Lee case, a civil rights organization says that Chinese Americans are still suspected of being spies, according to Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily.

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Wen Ho Lee case should remind all of us that discrimination and suspicion of immigrants still exist today, according to Justice for New Americans, a non-profit organization that educates new American citizens about civil rights.

At an event to commemorate the national Asian Pacific American Heritage month, the organization screened a short film that looks at the history of the Wen Ho Lee case and how it gained national attention. In March 1999, Lee, a Chinese-American physicist working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was fired from his job when an FBI investigation of an intelligence leak led to his name.

Lee’s name appeared in national newspapers including the New York Times. Despite possessing evidence that would have cleared him, the government charged Lee with 59 counts of illegally downloading data and for selling nuclear secrets with intent to harm the United States. Lee was arrested in December 1999, and held without bail for nine months until he pled guilty to one felony count of improperly downloading restricted data. The government dropped the other charges.

In June 2006, the government and five newspapers including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times settled a privacy lawsuit with Lee. The government agreed to pay $900,000 and the news outlets $750,000.

In his memoir, “My Country Versus Me,” Lee argues that his arrest and treatment were related to his ethnicity. No matter how hard Asian Americans work and no matter how smart they may be, he argues, they will never be accepted by American society. Asians will always be considered foreigners in America, he writes, adding that the U.S. government owes him an official apology for his ordeal.

Since Lee’s case, several other Chinese Americans have been accused of espionage, but the cases lacked concrete evidence. According to Justice for New Americans spokesman Roger Hu, Lee’s case highlights the reality that mainstream society still discriminates against ethnic minorities and holds them under suspicion – even now, seven years after his case. Despite shifts in international politics and governmental policies, immigrants still find it difficult to identify with America, he said, because they continue to face discrimination here.

Justice for New Americans President Cecilia Chang formed the organization WenHoLee.org in October 1999 in order to respond to the allegations made against Lee. The organization now educates new immigrants about their basic civil rights in the post-Sept.11 world.

Ex-archivist asks feds for reports on similar cases

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
May 22, 2007


U.S. attorney tells defense lawyer that documents are already available for review

Jessica Quintana wants to know about other people working for the U.S. Department of Energy who mishandled classified information and whether they were prosecuted.

Quintana, the former contract employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has filed a motion through her defense lawyer asking federal prosecutors for this and other reports related to her case prior to being sentenced. Quintana has asked to review FBI and Department of Energy reports related to the matter.

However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had already notified Quintana’s defense lawyer that 400 pages of reports and documents gathered by the FBI would be available for his review — a development not known to the defense lawyer at the time he filed the motion, court records show.

Quintana pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information — a misdemeanor — in U.S. District Court last week. The charge stems from an incident last July, when she downloaded and printed classified information from a vault-type room at the lab and took it to her home, court records show. Police discovered the information by accident in an unrelated search last October that focused on Quintana’s roommate.

Quintana faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine, although prosecutors have not opposed Quintana’s request that she not go to jail. Before sentencing, she wants to know what has happened to others like her.

She seeks “any report of similar conduct by other Department of Energy employees and contractors, whether or not such misconduct resulted in administrative sanction by the DOE or any criminal prosecution.”

Quintana also seeks an unclassified report from the department’s Office of Inspector General “regarding systemic problems” at the lab, the vault where she worked and the company that employed her to perform the archival work.

And the defense motion asks for reports from a department task force, FBI reports and an unclassified summary of the nature of the information she took home, “including any verification that the documents were not top secret in nature.”

Quintana also spoke to CBS News over the weekend about the ease with which she took the information. “I printed out the pages I needed and put (them) in my backpack with my school books and walked out like I did every day,” Quintana told CBS. She could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Lab spokesman Jeff Berger responded that Quintana “committed a crime, plain and simple. She knew the rules, and she chose to violate them. In any event, the lab took swift action … to bolster both physical security and cyber security.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Tuesday. However, a motion filed by a federal prosecutor Tuesday noted the FBI reports were available to Quintana’s lawyer, Steve Aarons of Santa Fe.

“Those documents should address at least some of the concerns underlying the motion,” the prosecutor’s motion reads.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com

Los Alamos beefs up security in wake of data breach

Jim Carr May 22 2007 19:39

The theft of classified information by a contractor's former employee has forced the Los Alamos National Laboratory to implement a variety of tactical and strategic security policies commonly found in a private enterprise.

The lab has disabled all ports, including USB ports, on classified computers — some via physically gluing the port shut, others with locking devices or software — and has begun encrypting personal information on laptop hard drives.

Meanwhile, Jessica Lynn Quintana pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, N.M., last week. Hired by the northern New Mexico laboratory to archive classified information, Quintana faces up to one year in jail, five years of probation and a $100,000 fine.

Quintana admitted in her plea that when she was working in a secure area at the lab on July 27, 2006, she printed pages of classified documents and downloaded other classified data onto a USB drive, then carried the data home in a backpack, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The government didn't say why she took the information.

In addition to disabling USB ports and encrypting laptop hard drives, the lab has "significantly reduced risks in both cyber- and physical security [by] reducing and consolidating classified holdings" since the theft, according to a lab spokeswoman reached by SCMagazine.com, and who requested anonymity. "All of our classified systems have been inspected and found to be compliant, and we have reduced the number of standalone classified systems by 28 percent."

The lab also began construction on what it calls "a super vault-type room, the first of its kind," according to the spokeswoman. The vault, or data center, will allow the lab to "consolidate and uniformly control classified information managed by security professionals. By constructing additional super vault-type rooms, we'll reduce the number of classified vaults to an absolute minimum."

In addition, the lab has instituted searches "of all belongings carried by those escorted both in and out of the vaults."

In the area of policy and social engineering, the lab has "uniformly trained our information systems security officers, our ISSOs, and is hiring senior ISSOs in all key organizations to provide consistency across the laboratory," according to the spokeswoman.

The Oversight Congress: Seasoned sleuths

By: Daniel W. Reilly
May 22, 2007 05:38 PM EST

For John Sopko, conducting congressional oversight investigations is a lot like taking down the mob.

A former federal prosecutor who helped dismantle the Licavoli crime family in Cleveland in the early 1980s, Sopko sees a lot of similarities with his new job as chief counsel of oversight for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"They both involve a lot of long tedious questions and document requests," Sopko said. "The thrill of the chase is always the fun part."

Sopko is just one of a number of seasoned investigators and young muckrakers who have taken key oversight posts since Democrats took control of Congress, eager for what Sopko calls "a chance to do something after 12 years of waiting" for Republican rule to end.

At the committee, Sopko oversees an investigative team of about 10 staffers, including Steve Rangel, the son of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), and an expert on telecommunications issues from his earlier work at the Federal Communications Commission.

Already this year, Sopko and his team have cut a wide investigative swath, holding hearings on the shutdown of the Prudhoe Bay oil pipeline in Alaska, the security of the nation's food supply and reports of mismanagement at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico.

Through it all, Sopko said the lessons of his days as a federal prosecutor are never far from his mind. "I learned a degree of skepticism when I interviewed bad people," he said.

"Even if I am interviewing an executive from (an oil company) on pipeline safety … I work just like a prosecutor," he said. "I ask a lot of questions; I want to see the scene of crime."

Sopko also worked as an adviser to then-Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, leading several delegations to Latin America to investigate narcotics trafficking. Although Sopko was content in the private sector, once the Democrats regained congressional power, incoming committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

"Dingell's got oversight in his blood and a fire in his belly," Sopko said.

Another seasoned investigator back on the Hill is Jack Mitchell, the head investigator for the Senate Special Committee on Aging. A former CNN reporter, Mitchell was a protégé of Jack Anderson. The late columnist was considered by many to be the father of modern investigative journalism.

Earlier at the Food and Drug Administration, Mitchell had investigated the tobacco industry, working with Jeffrey Wigand, the industry whistle-blower and inspiration for the movie "The Insider."

Mitchell also worked for Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on the Oversight Subcommittee of what was then the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, helping to expose military procurement scandals.

Mitchell said that once he learned that Sopko and other longtime investigators were coming back, he decided to give congressional oversight another shot.

"It's like riding a bicycle," he said. "Once you remember how to do it, you realize how much you enjoy it."

The number of congressional investigators is hard to quantify because some serve multiple functions and others are hard to identify. But here is a snapshot of some key players:

* Jim McGee, an investigator for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who worked at The Miami Herald and The Washington Post. At the Herald, McGee staked out the Washington home of Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, helping to break the story of the Colorado senator's relationship with Donna Rice.

* Lorry Fenner, a retired Air Force colonel and a former staff member on the 9/11 Commission, is reviving the House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

* Elliot Mincberg, the new chief oversight counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, previously served as general counsel and legal director of the People For the American Way Foundation, a liberal advocacy group.

* Forensic accountants Michael Zola and Ryan Holden have been hired by the House Education and Workforce Committee to examine spending at the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.

Both Zola, the committee's chief investigative counsel, and Holden, the committee's senior investigator, came from the Government Accountability Office's Forensic Audit and Special Investigations Division.

Crane Safety conference nears

22 May 2007

Less than two weeks remain before the start of the sixth Crane Safety conference at London's Grange City hotel on 4-5 June. A late presentation is an exploration of the use of overhead cranes to dismantle the Chernobyl, Ukraine nuclear power station.

Under this year's theme of power and energy, other speakers include Havator president Erkki Hanhirova about the huge Norwegian Snow White project, Bechtel rigging manager Keith Anderson, UK power generation firm RWE npower safety manager Mike Rock, Mammoet safety manager Bryan Cronie, and others.

Additional presentations include a workshop led by wire rope designer Roland Verreet, and workshops on safety management and hook and condition monitoring.

A factory crane session will include a discussion of anti-sway controls from Kimmo Hytönen of Innocrane, a report of British Nuclear Group Sellafield's overhead crane buying requirements, and more.

May 22, 2007

The Truth About Lie Detectors

By Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience Bad Medicine Columnist
posted: 22 May 2007 08:20 am ET


Washington is a city of lies, so perhaps it is no surprise that those in the nation's capital wishing to expose the truth have been fooled by lies about a polygraph's usefulness.

According to White House spokesman Tony Snow, earlier this month, the White House will consider administering a polygraph to Clinton-era National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who pleaded guilty to lifting documents from the National Archives in 2002 and 2003. Some say the documents, now nowhere to be found, might point to failures of the Clinton administration to uncover the 9/11 terrorist plot.

Politics aside (it was 18 Republican congressmen who wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January requesting that Berger take a polygraph, but that was before allegations of certain falsehoods on Gonzales' part made the request a little awkward), the polygraph is no way to get to the truth.

Good liars

Good liars have little to lose and everything to gain from taking a "lie detector" test. It's the truthful people who need to worry about polygraphs.

A polygraph not a lie detector; it never was. A polygraph detects physiological expressions associated with lying in some people, such as a racing heart and sweaty fingers. The determination of truth vs. falsehood is a subjective interpretation by the polygraph examiner.

Not surprisingly, the examiner is often wrong. The anxiety associated with "oh no, they will detect that I'm lying" is rather similar to "oh no, they're going to think I'm lying when I'm not."

The polygraph is essentially a four-tier medical device that closely monitors respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure and electrodermal response, which is a method to detect minute changes in perspiration, usually from the fingertips. The machine is a marvel; its accuracy in detecting these physiological changes is not in question.

At the bequest of the U.S. government, the National Academy of Sciences (an organization of some of the smartest scientists in America, no lie) conducted an extensive study of the polygraph in 2002 and concluded "polygraph tests can discriminate lying from truth telling at rates well above chance, though well below perfection."

The Academy said the polygraph "rests on weak scientific underpinnings despite nearly a century of study." The high incidence of false positives-a truthful response determined erroneously to be a lie-makes the polygraph useless, the Academy said.

Just how bad?

The Academy researchers even provided a pertinent example for the Feds. Given the modern polygraph's strengths, the machine could uncover 8 out of 10 spies working at, say, a national atomic laboratory with 10,000 hypothetical employees. Sounds good, but the detection comes at the price of finding 1,600 innocent employees guilty of spying. While about 8,400 good employees would pass the test, 1,600 careers would be ruined.

Although government officials commissioned the study, they didn't like the results, so they have decided, apparently, to continue to use the polygraph in the war on terrorism. As reported by physicist Robert Park in his weekly electronic newsletter What's New, about 8,000 employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been notified that they will be subjected to random polygraph tests.

Many researchers say that the standard polygraph based on blood, breathing and perspiration rates is a dead end and that the next-generation "lie detector" will involve a brain scan.

Researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia have found that certain regions of the brain seem to be implicated in lying, and these can be detected by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. This research is in its very early stages, however. And such a truth-detecting device could still be flawed, for some people are so good a lying that the lies become their truths.

Christopher Wanjek is the author of the books "Bad Medicine" and "Food At Work." Got a question about Bad Medicine? Email Wanjek. If it's really bad, he just might answer it in a future column. Bad Medicine appears each Tuesday on LiveScience.

May 21, 2007

Viper Concordiam

PATB,

It is rumored that Ostendorff will be visiting the lab next week. He is the deputy NNSA administrator, now acting. He was not involved in most of the recent nonsense. LANL staff should give him the benefit of the doubt.

If the general lab staff are invited, it would be a good idea to attend. I understand why most skipped the Schoenbauer and Bingaman visits. However, a message can be sent by attending this all hands meeting. Unless you are in one of the directorates where LANS has forbidden questions, questions should be encouraged. Please be professional.

I request that you post a comment to this effect on the blog. If you wish you may post this email with my name attached.

Thanks

John M. Pedicini

P.S. Thanks for picking up the blog duties.


No problem, John. And for those who missed it, you can read about Bill Ostendorff here.

Ruling may have chilling effect on whistle-blowers

Labor Department document says laws may not protect all against retaliation.
By David Goldstein - Mcclatchy Washington Bureau

Last Updated 12:21 am PDT Saturday, May 19, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A6

WASHINGTON -- The sentence was buried deep within a recent Labor Department ruling, but the message was clear: Whistle-blowers, beware.

More specifically: Whistle-blowers relying on the protections against official retaliation contained in several major environmental laws, proceed with caution.

The sentence was in a footnote at the end of a ruling against a federal whistle-blower. It said the Labor Department recognized only the protections written into the clean air and solid waste-disposal acts, not laws governing clean water, drinking water, toxic substances and hazardous waste.

"This is the latest attack in a systematic war to gut the environmental whistle-blowers' statutes," charged Tom Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit watchdog group.

The Labor Department has jurisdiction over environmental whistle-blower cases. Steven Mandel, an associate solicitor for the department, said it took those complaints "very seriously."

"I do not believe there has been any change in policy or practice in this area," he said. "We think we do a very effective job protecting whistle-blowers."

Whistle-blower advocates, however, view the footnote as more proof that the Bush administration makes it harder to expose problems in enforcing environmental laws.

In 2005, the Justice Department said the Clean Water Act's whistle-blower protections were invalid.

The Environmental Protection Agency has said in court papers involving another case that it doesn't recognize the protections in any of the six major environmental laws.

That was underscored this past week. Asked about those protections, the EPA said in a statement that it supported whistle-blower protections passed in 1989 and in 2001 that cover all government agencies. But the agency didn't mention the safeguards in the laws that it administers.

Several federal scientists and other environmental experts said government employees would be less likely to speak out if demotions, pay cuts and other types of reprisals were to be the result.

"If you're an employee, it has a very chilling effect," EPA whistle-blower Cate Jenkins said.

An EPA scientist, Jenkins has claimed that the agency downplayed the health dangers of the dust around the World Trade Center after 9/11.

The list of environmental concerns that whistle-blowers have exposed is long. It includes pesticide testing on infants, leaking underground storage tanks, arsenic in drinking water and the threat of mercury contamination in food.

"When there are obvious problems, employees need to be able to go to the (Capitol) Hill or go to the media and talk about it," said Bill Hirzy, an EPA chemist who's a union official for agency employees.

Even environmental-movement critic Bonnor Cohen, who charged that its supporters "engage in shameless scare campaigns," said whistle-blowers needed better shields.

All federal employees have whistle-blower protections under the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act. But employee disclosures under the law must meet very specific requirements for the protections to apply.

They must show, for instance, an imminent danger to public health or safety.

At issue is the Bush administration's view that since the government has "sovereign immunity" -- individuals can't sue it unless it agrees to be sued -- only Congress can waive that immunity, and it hasn't done so with all the environmental whistle-blower laws. If true, an employee can't sue the government for lost wages or other punitive measures that might have been taken as a result of the employee's speaking out.

The footnote in the Labor Department ruling said Congress had waived sovereign immunity only for the clean air and solid waste laws. But there appears to be a dispute within the department about whether other laws also could be covered.

About the writer:

* The McClatchy Washington Bureau's David Goldstein can be reached at (202) 383-6080 or dgoldstein@mcclatchydc.com.

May 20, 2007

DARHT ushers in new era

By Kevin N. Roark
May 17, 2007

Facility conducts fully contained hydrotest

The Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest facility successfully fired a first ever fully-contained, high-explosive experiment on Tuesday inside a steel containment vessel.

This test marks the beginning of an era of fully-contained tests at DARHT as virtually all future testing at the facility will be conducted inside huge steel vessels, eliminating nearly all environmental hazards.

"This hydrotest was the culmination of almost a decade of work, and required the dedicated efforts of a large cross-section of the Laboratory," said David Bowman of Radiographic and Pulse-Power Systems (HX-6). "Excellent teamwork by all involved resulted in a return of very high quality data."

The experiment, number 3643, and called a "dynamic core punch" test, was the first to occur inside a containment vessel to prevent releasing the explosion's by-products, including pieces of metal shrapnel, to the environment. Post-test sampling and monitoring confirmed that the experiment was completely contained, according to Bowman.

One of the major issues at DARHT is the time between experiments due to the clean-up requirements at the firing point after all tests. With the move to fully-contained experiments, program managers hope that not only will the Laboratory gain from a more environmentally responsible stance, but also will be able to conduct more tests in less time.

This also was the first DARHT hydrotest to utilize a unique "Bucky Grid" camera system. This camera system significantly improves the quality of the radiographic data and enhances the ability to perform quantitative radiographic analysis. Simple Bucky Grids already are used in medical X-ray imaging, and are basically devices that produce highly parallel beams of X-rays--thereby reducing scatter and improving image quality.

Hydrodynamic tests are high-explosives-driven experiments that produce radiographs and other data from implosions of mock nuclear weapons components that are used to confirm, support, and inform computer models and weapons codes.

This experiment involved DARHT's highly reliable first axis, an electron beam accelerator used to create a single pulse of high-energy X-rays. The facility's second axis will undergo full energy commissioning later this summer, and is designed to produce a four-pulse beam of X-rays at a 90 degree angle from axis one, allowing scientists to capture short movies of experimental implosions and to create three dimensional images. Axis two is scheduled for completion in 2008.

Study reveals Los Alamos National Lab still leaking plutonium

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
May 18, 2007


Officials say pollution poses no immediate health risk

Canyons downhill from Los Alamos National Laboratory continue to release plutonium and other radioactive contaminants into the soil and the Rio Grande, a new state Environment Department report shows.

However, state officials and a spokesman for the nuclear-weapons laboratory said there is no immediate health risk from the pollution, tracked in a nearly decadelong study released Friday.

One of the report’s authors stressed that no plutonium has been detected in any drinking-water wells in Northern New Mexico.

While the New Mexico Environment Department sees no immediate health danger, the constant release of plutonium — a highly toxic substance used in nuclear bombs — still worries the state agency.

“Basically we haven’t seen the levels of plutonium decrease in the storm water over the last six years,” said Ralph Ford-Schmid, a department employee who helped write the report. “So we think there’s still a lot of plutonium leaving the lab. Pueblo Canyon appears to be the primary source of the plutonium.”

Most of that plutonium was dumped there by the lab in the 1950s and 1960s, he said. Increased erosion after the massive Cerro Grande Fire in 2000 exacerbated the release of the contaminants.

Plutonium is created from uranium in nuclear reactors, and ingestion by humans “is an extremely serious health hazard,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says in educational materials.

“It generally stays in the body for decades, exposing organs and tissues to radiation, and increasing the risk of cancer,” the agency has reported.

In one location near the Rio Grande, state investigators found plutonium levels 170 times higher than normal in sediment suspended in the water. In another, they found plutonium in storm-water runoff at 16 times the safe drinking water standard.

Ford-Schmid said the plutonium in sediment is diluted greatly when it hits the Rio Grande. He also said water-treatment processes can remove such pollutants to undetectable levels.

Santa Fe is working on a project that eventually will draw water directly from the Rio Grande and treat the water for use in the city and county utility systems. The city of Albuquerque already has begun diverting surface flows from the river.

Lab spokesman James Rickman pointed to three studies — performed by the lab, the Environment Department and an outside firm — that show no health risks even under the most extreme circumstances. Those studies were commissioned after the Cerro Grande Fire.

“All three of those studies unquestionably found that even under the most extreme scenarios, where every bit of contaminated sediment was washed off site and was ingested through even the most extreme ingestion scenarios by the public ... that these sediments did not represent any credible health risk whatsoever,” Rickman said.

Rickman also stressed that the lab has worked to mitigate the problem by replanting vegetation and building structures to trap the sediment in arroyos.

Both the Environment Department and a Santa Fe citizen’s group said the lab must do a better job to keep the contaminated soils in place on lab property.

“This report shows something must be done now to protect New Mexicans and the environment from continued discharges of harmful contaminants to the Rio Grande,” Environment Secretary Ron Curry said in a news release.

Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety said her group and others, including the New Mexico Acequia Association, have filed a notice warning the lab they intend to sue “for failing to install and maintain the required pollution-control measures for storm water or flooding as required by the Clean Water Act.”

Rickman said lab managers are willing to meet with the department “to see if there are other measures to be taken to provide even greater protection.”

Arends also said the latest report shows why New Mexico’s congressional delegation should push hard for money to pay for environmental cleanup at Los Alamos.

“It’s not OK for the plutonium to be rolling down through these storm events to the Rio Grande,” Arends said.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.