Feb 27, 2008

Ruling: LANL worker not to blame for 2004 breach

Quote: “I always knew I did nothing wrong. I followed the rules to the letter. It feels great to be proven right.” — John Horne, a scientist with 23 years at the lab

Sue Vorenberg | The New Mexican

An arbitrator has found innocent a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee accused of security violations that led to a labwide shutdown nearly four years ago.

In the summer of 2004, then-Director Pete Nanos suspended normal work at the lab after two classified disks were reported missing and a laser accident damaged an intern's eye. He slowly brought divisions back online over several months

The missing disks were later attributed to an accounting error, and it turned out they never existed.

John Horne, a scientist with 23 years at the lab, was accused along with Todd Kauppila, a team leader, of involvement in the incident and was reprimanded by Nanos.

Horne was put on unpaid administrative leave for 10 days as punishment and was accused of failing to follow safety and security procedures. Kauppila was fired.

Kauppila also fought the accusations, but died in May 2005 before any determination could be made.

The incident was actually caused by a "record-keeping mistake made by a LANL classified matter custodian," according to a statement released by Horne's lawyer, Timothy L. Butler.

That employee was "not reprimanded for the record-keeping mistake, but the person was later released from the lab on an unrelated matter," Butler told The New Mexican, adding the information came out in the arbitration agreement. "You can see the irony in that," Butler said.

A National Nuclear Security Administration 2005 estimate said the shutdown cost the lab up to $337 million.

An arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association on Thursday determined Horne didn't violate procedure or cause a security infraction, and concluded he should be paid for lost wages, benefits and other relief resulting from the incident.

"I always knew I did nothing wrong," Horne said in a news release. "I followed the rules to the letter. It feels great to be proven right."

Kevin Roark, a Los Alamos spokesman, said Horne continued working at the lab until the voluntary layoffs this January. "We, of course, respect the decision of the arbitrator and wish John well," Roark said.

Contact Sue Vorenberg at 986-3072 or svorenberg@sfnewmexican.com


Anonymous said...

Way to go, John.

Fuck you, Nanos. And fuck you, Dynes, Foley, Kucuck, and Anastasio.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Roark is a low-life jerk. How dare he speak so cavalier about the pain and damage this Lab's now-high-ranking managers (Seestrum) did to Horne and how they killed Todd!

Anonymous said...

Now can the Lab/DOE reimburse our program codes for the shutdown???

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Horne!
Now, can Todd's family be compensated?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2/27/08 8:04 AM has it right.

Anonymous said...

I echo 8:04AM's sentiments.

Anonymous said...


still getting paid till he's vested

Anonymous said...

Congratulations John, bittersweet though it may be.

I wish Todd were here to see this and be vindicated himself.

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree with 8:04 AM and wish to add in a F*ck You to NNSA, F*ck You to DOE, and F*ck You to LANS/UC. Oh, and add in an especially big F*ck You to all the weasles on LANL's staff who help them in this ugly little witch hunt. What these people did to Todd and John and to the lab's whole staff was unforgivable.

May those responsible for this fiasco rot in Hell. The Nanos shut down was the single most important event that signaled the beginning of the end for LANL.

Anonymous said...

Admiral Butthead got his golden parachute and the rest of these people (Seestrom et al) have all been promoted. There is no justice at LANL!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations John! I find this inspiring. The lesson is that if you are right you need to stick to you guns. Enjoy your retirement and thanks for fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

"Todd who?" -- Adm. Bob Foley

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether this was arbitration of a lawsuit that John Horne brought against the laboratory?

In the New Mexican's comment section, Chris Mechels alleges that this was the resolution of an internal grievance hearing. I just can't think why John Horne would have wasted his time using internal Lab processes instead of going straight for the Lab's jugular on this FUBAR to end all FUBARs.

Anonymous said...

Yea, let's pretend outrage now. Never mind that the Lab has a long undestinguished history of targeting employees that dare resist the workplace abuses that are so prevalent at the Lab. No outrage before, so why now? What a bunch of arrogant cowboy butt-heads.

Anonymous said...

So true 1:06PM. We employ selective outrage around these parts.

Anonymous said...

Quit whinning boys. Victims are nothing more than collateral damage. This is LANL reality 101.

Anonymous said...

So what exactly did this guy win? Two weeks pay? A reprimand removed from his record?

Did he get an apology?

Anonymous said...

Chris Mechels can take his comments and stick them where the sun doesn't shine. He is a shitbird of the highest order.

Meanwhile, Horne's case was a gross
abuse of authority at LANL.
Somebody needs to be disciplined over this.

Anonymous said...

11:38 am--

don't forget F*CK you Congress for the major witch hunt and threatening to shut down LANL.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody needs to be disciplined over this."

You've got to be kidding, 5:39. You are either new around here, or incredibly naive, or both.

Nanos got bought out with his golden parachute, and was given a cushy job in DTRA.

Seestrum got promoted.

Nobody got disciplined except Horne and Kauppila.

Where the hell do you think you work, anyhow? This is LANL. Fuck the employee.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous at 5:39 PM.
Unforetunately, anonymous at 6:02 PM
has is right. LANS/LANL does not
give a shit about the employees.

Why would anybody want to come to work at LANL. Those of us who are
already here have to stick it out
because we cannot sell our houses and the job market is not that good these days. But, for the new people, they would be advised to stay away from DOE labs.

Anonymous said...

Such anger

The F-bomb bloggers should be on medication.

It's over, move on.

Don't think this is a victory. Learn and move forward, then perhaps this will be a good place to work again.

Anonymous said...

The motto should read:

Don´t give up LANL.

Anonymous said...

2/27/08 11:39 AM. Tell me again what role LANS played in the Horne/Kauppila witch hunt?

Anonymous said...

5:39 PM -Meanwhile, Horne's case was a gross abuse of authority at LANL. Somebody needs to be disciplined over this."

Agreed, and hopefully the technicians who got punished in the DX acid inhalation incident, and the PD who was wrongly fired over the C acid inhalation incident all get vindicated soon as well. And hopefully the wright people get fired - in particular the managers who fucked up to save their own behinds (Wallace et al) and who have all been promoted or paid off.

Anonymous said...

the whole NANOS stand-down thing was an appalling abuse of power, waste of money, and all part of taking LANL down...

Anonymous said...

8:04 pm: "hopefully the wright people get fired"

Was Wright wrong or right? I can't remember, but I think he was wrong, Wright?

Anonymous said...

8:05 am: "they killed Todd!"

Yeah, I've seen this accusation slung around, but nobody is willing to actually be specific. Ok, so privacy is an issue, but please don't perpetuate slander you aren't willing to substantiate.

Anonymous said...

8:22 PM - Seestrom is directly responsible, so is Cobb and Nanos. Any other questions?

Anonymous said...

2/27 08 7:50 PM

Don´t be smart with [2/27/08 11:39 AM] if he/she doesn´t remember that the LANS, LLC takeover was June 1, 2006.

(And you most likely believe that LANL would have been better of with Los Alamos Alliance, e.g. Lockheed Martin Corp. and UT, and Dr. C. Paul Robinson as director, than Dr. Michael R. Anastasio as director.)

(Tom D´Agostino has done 2 errors, as of, February 27, 2008:

(1) The M&O Contract that went to LANS, LLC, instead of Los Alamos Alliance, e.g. Lockheed Martin Corp. and UT.

(2) RRW-1 design competition, that went to LLNL, despite the 4-2 PEET recommendation that LANL´s design was better.

Consequence: Confusion, and no momentum achieved.)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations John! I'm glad you stuck it out and proved your innocence. I only wish that Todd was still alive to be vindicated as well. Perhaps this victory might enable Sarah to successfully pursue the lawsuit Todd planned. To Anonymous 8:05AM who questions whether this incident killed Todd... I can say that as a friend of Todd's who also worked closely with him and admired his tremendous talents, the injustice of the whole affair undoubtedly took a tremendous toll on his health. Although he was beginning to rally, the incident did him in. It's horrendous that this injustice was perpetrated against him (and John, and others within DX who were vilified and sent home like criminals). To explain the details would take a short novel and many of those involved are still scared to speak out for fear they might be subject to the same treatment. Anyway, congratulations John and good luck. - G

Pinky and The Brain said...

You can read Todd's account of the events here.

Anonymous said...

9:00 pm: "8:22 PM - Seestrom is directly responsible, so is Cobb and Nanos. Any other questions?"

Uh, yes - my original ones? Like, substantiation? Evidence? Details? Reality? Like something admissible in court? (Or, does "directly responsible" for death not mean legal accountability to you?). Or are you just afraid? No foul if true, just say so.

Anonymous said...

Here is some good news for you poeple. Did you know that since LANS who controls the lab and who you work for is now a private company and bound by all laws? Do you know what this means? It means that anyone who gives you a hard time at the laboratory for any reason at all can face personal criminal charges and personal civil lawsuits without going through the laboratory. Basically you can go right down to your local district attorneys office and file a criminal complaint against anyone. Then the DA sends the police to the accused, gets arrested, investigates them and it goes to court. So what does this mean? The handy little clearance the person has goes into jeopardy and will get revoked. End of person bothering you and you go on because LANS will turn its cheek towards you and leave you alone because they know you mean business. Then you can just call up a lwayer and sue them personally pro bono! There you go!!

Problem Solved. LANL opened itself up with going private. DOE can no longer hide LANL. Game Over!

Anonymous said...

Finally. Progress.

Congrats John!

(and Chris Mechels should go hide in a closet and eat his own shit, it would a more productive use of his time for him, and for us)

Anonymous said...

"We, of course, respect the decision of the arbitrator and wish John well," Roark said."

Oh, I almost forgot... give a great big F*ck You with sprinkles on top to LANS lacky Kevin Roark.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you, 9:37. You're probably one of those people who claim there is no proof the Holocaust ever happened, either.

If you were here in 2004, you know what happened. If you weren't here, then just keep your ignorance to yourself.


Anonymous said...

"Finally. Progress.

Congrats John!

(and Chris Mechels should go hide in a closet and eat his own shit, it would a more productive use of his time for him, and for us)

2/28/08 12:13 AM"

I also send my congrats to John Horne.

Forget Mechels, he is a bitter nutcase.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to watch how some at LANL have already forgotten the bitter lessons of the '04 shutdown and now try to cast it as a beneficial event. Perhaps it's part of the LANS/UC inspired "Suck Up - Move Up" push that seems so rampant at LANL.

During the RFP contest LockMart's Paul Robinson didn't "suck up" to NNSA. He came right out and said the shutdown was a bad idea. LANS and their leadership made no such comments. NNSA, wishing to avoid embarrassment for the whole rotten episode, picked LANS for the contract, of course.

Is it any wonder that things at LANL are still screwed up and getting worse with each passing day? The pro-shutdown crowd is still running the show. At least they've not been able to hide the truth of the events that really took place back in '04. The LANS PR team can spin it anyway they want, but the public now knows the truth that both LANL/UC upper management and NNSA tried to hide from both the public and their staff.

Anonymous said...

9:38 am: "If you were here in 2004, you know what happened. If you weren't here, then just keep your ignorance to yourself."

I think the question had to do with actual legal culpability of LANL management, or not. If yes, one would have expected criminal charges, or at least an investigation by state or federal law enforcement. If such occurred, it wasn't obvious to those of us who work here.

If news reports are even remotely accurate, it is hard to see how managment caused Mr. Kauppila's serious illness.

Anonymous said...

At least Michell's has the balls to put his name to his opinions, unlike the gutless foul-mouthed whiners here om this blog who still think the world owes them. Nanos got a golden parachute after he screwed you all. UC stayed in the picture after you saw UC wipe its ass with your retirement dream. You all got kicked in the teeth when LANS took your employee rights and flushed them down the toilet. But you did what about all this? Not a damn thing! So now it's time to shut the f**k up and kiss our collective LANS ass.
--Sir Richard of LANS

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, John. Here's hoping that the Kauppila family can use this to their advantage.

So, bloggers....

There were two other people fired from DX-3 at the same time Todd was fired and John was sent home. The two people were fired over the same incident. A total of 3 people from DX-3 lost their jobs over the CREM non-incident.

Isn't it funny how no one ever mentions the other two people? Why is that, I wonder?

Were they somehow guilty while John and Todd were innocent?

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

7:58 pm: "Isn't it funny how no one ever mentions the other two people? Why is that, I wonder?"

Well, maybe because these were "security" people and therefore beneath contempt, let alone worthy of sympathy?? Regardless of how their careers were ruined also? Yes, you technical folks who formed up the wagons and excluded these people, you are guilty too!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank all of you who have been supportive of me and Todd. I am unable to comment specifically until the decision is finalized in 30 days. When that happens I will be free to answer peoples questions. I haven't paid much attention to the blogs for some time but someone told me that this posting was here and I wanted to acknowledge all of you who were behind us. It is sad that Todd is not here to share in this victory but this was a vindication for him as well.

Warmest regards to you all and God Bless.

John Horne

Anonymous said...

This is all pretty mind blowing. I didn't know all this had happened.

I've been considering working at the labs for a couple of years now since I graduated, and as I have been putting out feelers and reading New Mexico papers and generally paying attention to sources like this blog, I've realized what a total blunder it would be to ever work at such a place that puts people through the grinder.

I remember the Wen Ho Lee situation, read about accidents and things that happened where it seemed that the lab/company seem to have no regard whatsoever for the safety or even to honor these engineers and technicians who are harmed there. Just look at the anger on this blog!

If you managers and movers and shakers want to know what's wrong with the Lab, go look in the god damn mirror. Situations don't get this bad without people like you at the top fucking things up. A lot. And then promoting your own filthy types and co-scumbags. Shameful.

...And to think I wanted to come there because I thought it would be a different world. Yikes. Thanks for making me realize what a horde of scumbags the top of the pyramid is there in Los Alamos, and for making me realize what a bullet I might have dodged.

And no, it wasn't this story that made my mind, it's been a growing feeling for quite some time now. I'm just finally moved to comment.

Anonymous said...

The only value left here is the entertainment as the anti's try more and different ways to bash the lab, it's employees, and all things LANL. 12:22 am is no grad student, give me a break. Just another Mechels wannabe in training.

I agree with Noam Chomsky. When he was asked how to solve the various problems in society today, he said something to the effect of most of our problems would be solved if people spent most of their time worrying about what they see in the mirror each morning.

Get a life, people.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you, Nanos. And fuck you, Dynes, Foley, Kucuck, and Anastasio.

2/27/08 8:04 AM

Nanos and Foley for sure. Not so sure about Dynes. Certainly not Kukuck. And what does Anastasio have to do with this? And why did you not mention DOE?

Although it's a little foolish, there's something okay about going after one's computer with an axe, and there is an obligation to document things that are wasteful and stupid and potentially unsafe, but if the rules say that you keep your anti-contamination suit closed all the way to the top, you should do so.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "Forgotten Two":

Someone (7:58) posted earlier "Well, maybe because these were "security" people and therefore beneath contempt, let alone worthy of sympathy??"

They weren't exactly "security people", although at least one performed a security function. They were low-to-mid level TECs, I believe. But John was also a technician (albeit a TEC 7), and Todd was a non-degreed staff member, so I think there's little truth to the claim that those two (the not-John-or-Todd two) were forgotten or ignored because they were TECs or "security people" rather than "scientists".

I've always found it curious that they are forgotten. As an example, an earlier poster on this thread states "Nobody got disciplined except Horne and Kauppila.", and that simply isn't true. But that is what the story has become.

I don't recall Todd mentioning the "forgotten two" in his account of what happened; to my knowledge John has never mentioned them on this blog. Certainly their names rarely (if ever) came up on the revered original blog.

For the record, at least 10 people got several weeks, if not months, administrative leave; three people were terminated (Todd plus two more), and at least one person got unpaid leave.

So, again, Todd, John, Doug Roberts, the bloggers....it seems that no one ever talks (or in Todd's case, talked) about the other two. Certainly no one has championed their cause.

Again, why? Did they somehow deserve what happened to them,while John and Todd did not?

I don't have the answer, but I believe that the question is worth asking.

Anonymous said...

Nanos tops the UC Wall of Shame.
His name will live in infamy.

Anonymous said...

"Like, substantiation? Evidence? Details? Reality? Like something admissible in court? (Or, does "directly responsible" for death not mean legal accountability to you"

Right. Try Whitewash

C. Stark said...

John, I just head about the decision on the TV NEWS this week. WE all went through hell those many weeks looking for those disks that did not exist. I remember how Todd was feeling very early on. Congratulation on this ruling and on your retirement.