Dec 18, 2008
Man was blamed four years ago for losing classified computer disks that never existed.
Former Los Alamos National Laboratory technician John Horne blamed four years ago for the reported disappearance of two classified computer disks that were later determined never to have existed has sued the lab's operator and others over the flap, The New Mexican reported.
The complaint alleging breach of contract, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress was filed this week in state District Court seeking unspecified damages from Los Alamos National Security, a private firm that operates the lab for the U.S. Department of Energy; former LANL Director George "Pete" Nanos and former DX Division leader Kevin Jones, The New Mexican reported.
"It's demoralizing to be held up as a villain when you know you did nothing wrong," Horne said in a news release. "Nothing can repair the damage they have done."
Nanos temporarily suspended work at the lab in July 2004 after two classified disks were reported missing and a laser accident injured an intern's eye, according to The New Mexican.
Horne and Todd Kauppila, a team leader, were reprimanded for following safety and security procedures, and while Kauppila was fired, Horne was put on 10 days unpaid leave and was issued a security infraction, the paper reported.
A U.S. Department of Energy investigation eventually determined that the disks never existed, and the entire incident was due to a clerical error, The New Mexican said. Horne was later exonerated of any blame in the incident.
Kauppila also fought the charges, but died in May 2005 before any resolution of his case, the paper reported.
[The lab shutdown that followed this non-event led to the original LANL blog, LANL: The Real Story and was part of the rationale for privitization of the lab. See also the John Horne and Todd Kauppila account of the TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath and The Forgotten Two.]