Jan 31, 2009

One morning in the middle of a conversation Charlie Wolf suddenly found himself unable to speak. He could understand what was being said to him, but whatever he tried to say came out as gibberish. His wife drove him to the emergency room while he struggled to remain conscious. That was over six years ago.

Today Charlie is in a better place and the world is a lot emptier. Goodbye Charlie. Many of us have a few letters to write and will keep you in our thoughts as we write them.

Open letters on special occasions - after my death

Laura Frank, Rocky Mountain News

Charlie Wolf's friends and family - and likely some who never met him but were inspired by his spirit - will gather today for his memorial service.

And some might be surprised to hear from Charlie himself.

Wolf, a former manager at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver, became something of a local celebrity for beating the odds against brain cancer, the stock market and the federal government.

Ever the project engineer, Wolf had organized a file filled with letters during his nearly seven-year illness. Most were penned at least two years ago, before he lost the ability to write.

Wolf, who died Wednesday, had marked each letter to be read on special occasions: his daughters' graduations, weddings, all the important moments he knew he might miss.

He also wrote for the little moments, such as the letter for his wife labeled: "Kathy, Read when you're feeling really bad."

Today, his family will read his funeral letter.

It will be a mixture of thanks, humor and spirit - quintessential Charlie.

"You knew he loved you," said one of his three daughters, Charlotte, 26. "But to read it now is really nice. He was our hero."

Wolf, who lived in Highlands Ranch, was a hero to many others, too.

There are the dozens of fellow nuclear weapons workers. He helped some prove they deserved medical and financial aid because their work building the nation's Cold War nuclear defense made them sick.

There are hundreds of people who were inspired by the two books he wrote. Each chronicled how he survived recurring brain cancer, a bone- marrow transplant and years of experimental treatment, all with humor and a zest for life.

There are thousands more who read about him in the Rocky Mountain News and The Wall Street Journal. He appeared in both last July: The Journal wrote about how his brain cancer might actually have sparked a savantlike ability to beat the stock market.

The Rocky told the story of how he beat the odds to survive more than six years with brain cancer that was supposed to have killed him in six months. It showed how Wolf needed the help of a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, his congressman and even his insurance company to overcome the hurdles of the troubled federal program for sick nuclear weapons workers.

Wolf finally won half the compensation he believed he deserved. He was denied the rest shortly before he died.

But he never gave up.

"What a hero," said his doctor, Edward Arenson of the Colorado Neurological Institute in Englewood.

"He was someone very special. And so is his family."

Arenson said Wolf's willingness to try experimental treatments for his brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, will help others in the future.

"He wanted to help people," said his wife, Kathy Wolf.

While his family cherishes their letters from Charlie, there is another letter that leaves them feeling disturbed. Just weeks before Wolf died, the U.S. Department of Labor informed him it planned to deny him the final portion of compensation for his brain cancer.

If he disagreed with the decision, the letter said, he should write back within 60 days.

Wolf had not been able to write for two years.

His wife, Kathy, responded on his behalf. No, she wrote, they didn't agree with the Labor Department's decision. The government had failed to address multiple issues Wolf and his team of experts first raised during a hearing on his case nearly two years to the day before he died.

She asked the Labor Department to document its responses to Wolf's expert testimony.

On Jan. 21, one week before Wolf died, the Labor Department sent a form letter in return. It was addressed to Kathy Wolf, but started with a puzzling: "Dear Mr. Mr. (sic) Wolf." It made no reference to any outstanding issues. If you have additional evidence to submit, the letter said, please send it within 20 days.

Wolf had submitted thousands of pages of evidence during the more than six years he fought for full compensation. Now, his wife Kathy wonders, what could the Labor Department possible want?

"Now that Charlie is dead, are they going to make me start all over?" she asked, noting that some widows Charlie helped had to do just that.

But that worry is for another day. Today, his family will relish the letters he left for them, and the impact he had on the lives of friends, family - and even strangers.

frankl@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5091


* The public is invited to a celebration of Charlie Wolf's life at 2 p.m. today at the Denver Marriott South, 10345 Park Meadows Drive, Littleton. Donations may be sent to the Colorado Neurological Institute, thecni.org/donations.

[See also Udall enlists in Charlie Wolf's War.]

Jan 30, 2009

Plutonium found in Los Alamos runoff


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state Environment Department says runoff last summer from part of Los Alamos National Laboratory contained high levels of plutonium and other radionuclides.

The department measured elevated levels of plutonium, americium and strontium in the runoff that resulted from a large potable water spill and several storm events in Los Alamos Canyon in July and August.

In July, a water line break at the lab's Technical Area 21 triggered monitoring equipment maintained by the state in Los Alamos Canyon.

About 4 million gallons of potable water released over a 26-hour period eroded soil and carried contaminants into the canyon and beyond lab boundaries. Analysis of five samples showed plutonium levels about 100 times greater than levels detected during normal storm events in previous years.

Jan 29, 2009

Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health – Meeting 61

Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health – Meeting 61
Doubletree Hotel Albuquerque
201 Marquette Avenue Northwest, Albuquerque NM, 87102
Phone: 505-247-3344; Fax: 505-247- 7025
Teleconference Phone: 866-659-0537
Participant Code: 9933701

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NOTE: All times in Mountain Time

1:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Welcome Dr. Paul Ziemer, Chair

1:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. NIOSH Program Update Mr. Larry Elliott, NIOSH

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. DOE and NIOSH Security Plans Dr. Patricia Worthington, DOE, Mr. Larry Elliott, NIOSH

3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break

3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. DOE Update Dr. Patricia Worthington, DOE

3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Department of Labor Update Mr. Jeffrey L. Kotsch, DOL

4:30 p.m – 6:00 p.m. LANL SEC Petition Dr. Greg Macievic, NIOSH Petitioner(s)

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Break

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Public Comment

7:30 p.m. Adjourn

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Welcome Dr. Paul Ziemer, Chair

9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Westinghouse Atomic Power Mr. LaVon Rutherford, NIOSH
Development SEC Petition Petitioner(s)

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Tyson Valley Powder Farm Mr. LaVon Rutherford, NIOSH
SEC Petition Petitioner(s)

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. SC&A New Technical Support Sandy Cohen, President, SC&A

11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. General Steel Industries SEC Petition Mr. David Allen, NIOSH

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Break

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Hood Building SEC Petition Dr. Sam Glover, NIOSH

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Blockson Chemical SEC Petition Ms. Wanda Munn

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Break

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Public Comment

Thursday, February 19, 2009

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Welcome Dr. Paul Ziemer, Chair

9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. SEC Petition Status Updates Mr. LaVon Rutherford, NIOSH

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Science Update Dr. James Neton, NIOSH

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Subcommittee & Work Group Reports Chairs

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Board Working Time Dr. Paul Ziemer, Chair

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Future Plans and Meetings Dr. Paul Ziemer, Chair

3:30 p.m. Adjourn
[Download a copy of the draft agenda here. And thanks Andrew Evaskovich for all you've done for the people who made LANL great!]

Jan 28, 2009

Los Alamos notifies employees, visitors of possible beryllium exposure

News Release 09-002

CONTACT: Kevin Roark, 505-665-9202, knroark@lanl.gov

Los Alamos notifies employees, visitors of possible beryllium exposure

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, January 28, 2009— Los Alamos National Laboratory is notifying approximately 1,890 current and former employees and authorized visitors of potential exposure to beryllium based on recently discovered beryllium contamination at one of the Lab’s technical areas.

For approximately 240 employees who worked at the facility, documented experience shows that approximately two percent (2%) of these workers exposed to beryllium could become sensitized, and an even smaller percentage could develop chronic beryllium disease. For the remaining approximately 1,650 visitors, the risks of exposure are extremely low because of the activities performed and the relatively short period of time spent at the location. Authorized visitors include approximately 1,000 former and current Lab employees and 650 non-Lab personnel who generally took classified tours at the Laboratory.

Current and former Laboratory employees and contractors who either worked at or visited the facility have been—or are in the process of being—notified of the beryllium levels. For affected personnel, the Laboratory’s Safety Help Desk, (505) 665-7233, will have an operator standing by for questions or concerns. The help desk will be open Monday through Friday, during regular business hours. A personal consultation with an industrial hygienist will be arranged for those concerned about exposure.

All current and former employees and visitors to the facility will be offered a beryllium sensitivity test.

These potential exposures were discovered in November and December of 2008 after industrial hygiene sampling at Technical Area 41 identified the presence of beryllium on some surfaces.

The location is used to store legacy and surplus materials. Access was immediately restricted and posted as a beryllium contamination area. Decontamination of the facility has begun and should be completed by February.

Beryllium is a silver-gray, nonradioactive metal that is extremely light, melts at a relatively high temperature, and is very stable. As a metal with many applications in electronics, aerospace and weapons work, beryllium also is used in consumer items like golf clubs and recreational bicycle frames.

Beryllium is a hazardous material in a particulate or finely powdered form. In certain susceptible individuals, inhalation of beryllium particles can result in a medical condition known as chronic beryllium disease (CBD), which can impair lung function.

For more information on beryllium exposure hazards, please go to the Department of Energy’s beryllium information website at http://orise.orau.gov/oews/be-studies-testing.htm.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and the Washington Division of URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

Operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC for the National Nuclear Security Administration

[Download a copy of the news release here.]

Jan 27, 2009

What Passes As News

I was emailed a request yesterday to post a new Time article titled Obama's Showdown Over Nukes. Normally I post nearly anything requested, but I couldn't let this one pass without comment. Written by Mark Thompson, the article blends facts and quotes with opinion and agenda. The article belongs in the editorial/opinion category. It is not news.

Thompson begins by faulting Gates for not changing his opinion on the need to modernize our nuclear deterrent after being selected by President Obama to remain as defense secretary. Thompson probably didn't mean to imply that President Obama was too stupid to choose a "yes man" for the job, but that's precisely what he did imply.

Next he attempts to make hay out of a portion of a single sentence on the new White House web site, "They will stop the development of new nuclear weapons;".
"Obama would have a difficult time reversing course on what is now a stated policy of his Administration instead of simply a campaign promise. And any move to produce new nuclear weapons will be read by other nations as a U.S. push for nuclear supremacy, even as Washington urges the rest of the world — Tehran, are you listening? — to do without the weapons. Russia would very likely respond by upgrading its own arsenal."
President Obama may choose to stop the development of new nuclear weapons if it is in the nation's interest. He may choose to restart development if it is in the nation's interest. Either way, I doubt the decision will be announced in a sentence fragment on a web site. And by the way, the Russians are already upgrading their nuclear deterrent. And they haven't been complaining about RRW. What has them upset is ten missile interceptors and a radar in Europe. Put your agenda aside when you read the news, Mark. Maybe you'll start to notice things like this.

And finally, Mark, you're a little rusty on math. Using two weapons which are 50% reliable does not result in 100% confidence that at least one of them will work.

Billion Dollar Stimulation

From the Senate Appropriations Committee today:
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Weapons program gets $1 billion for maintenance and general plant project backlogs, construction activities, decommissioning and disposition activities, various energy projects throughout the complex, as well as funding for advanced computing development.
[Download the entire press release here.]

Jan 26, 2009

Anastasio all-employee meeting is today

Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio will talk about opportunities, challenges, and priorities for the coming year at an all-employee meeting Monday, January 26. It begins at 1 PM at the NSSB Auditorium.

The regional community leaders breakfast / 'splainin' session is tomorrow.

Any predictions?

Jan 25, 2009

Atomic Bombshells

Shaping up America's nuclear deterrent.
The Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook - 24 January 2009

The Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff lost their jobs last year after two incidents involving the misuse of nuclear materials. In one, nuclear-armed cruise missiles were loaded on a B-52 bomber and flown across the country without anyone noticing for a day and a half. In the other, nose cones fitted with nuclear triggers were erroneously shipped to Taiwan.

Neither of those mishaps ended badly, and in retrospect the nation can say thanks for the wake-up call. The blunders focused attention on a problem that might otherwise have gone undetected until catastrophe struck: the neglect of U.S. nuclear forces and -- even more dangerous -- a lack of understanding at the Pentagon about nuclear deterrence.

These are the key findings of the Pentagon's task force on nuclear weapons management, which recently released its final report. The task force was appointed by Defense Secretary Bob Gates in the wake of the Air Force scandals and was led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger. Its initial report, last September, examined the Air Force's errors in its stewardship of nuclear weapons and made several recommendations. These mostly have been implemented, and the latest report commends the Air Force for its swift action.

The task force has now cast its eye more broadly and concludes that the "lack of interest and attention have been widespread" throughout the Pentagon's leadership. The exception is the Navy, which is responsible for submarine-launched nuclear weapons. Even there, though, not all is well. While the report finds the Navy's handling of nukes acceptable, it says there is evidence of some "fraying around the edges."

The Schlesinger panel makes a series of recommendations aimed at improving oversight and policy. They include establishing a position of assistant secretary of defense for deterrence, reducing the nonnuclear related responsibilities of U.S. Strategic Command, and beefing up inspections.

But the task force's most worrisome finding will require a new mindset. The panel finds a "distressing degree" of inattention to the role of nuclear deterrence among senior civilian and military leaders, especially regarding its psychological and political value. It proposes educational measures to "enhance understanding" of why we have a nuclear deterrent -- which, put simply, is to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. If adversaries believe the U.S. deterrent is weak, they might be tempted to use nukes against us or threaten to do so.

But there's a proliferation point too. The U.S. provides a nuclear umbrella for 30-plus countries. If our allies lose confidence, Mr. Schlesinger said at a press conference announcing the report, "five or six of those nations are quite capable of beginning to produce nuclear weapons on their own." This is precisely the opposite of what the nuclear-free-world types like to argue: If only the U.S. would get rid of its nukes, other countries would follow suit.

It's now up to the Obama Administration to move on the task force's findings. But adopting the management and personnel changes the report recommends won't be enough. "Strengthening the credibility of our nuclear deterrent should begin at the White House," the report states. If the new President makes clear his commitment to the U.S. nuclear deterrent, that attitude will echo down the chain of command.

Jan 24, 2009

Ten Year Site Plans

A comment this morning reminded me of two comics I hope you like.
NTS will get the next "DARHT type" facility. LANL will attempt to get more science work.

I know, I know. I won't quit my day job.

Jan 22, 2009

Chu confirmed as energy secretary

The LANL Daily News Bulletin

To speak to DOE employees this morning

Steven Chu was sworn in as the new secretary of the Department of Energy on Wednesday. The United States Senate on Tuesday confirmed Chu to lead DOE.

Chu is scheduled to speak to DOE employees at 11 this morning (Mountain Standard Time). Check LABNET Channel 9 for the talk.

Chu comes to DOE from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he has been director.

A Nobel Laureate physicist—he shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light—Chu also is a professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Chu's numerous awards include the American Physical Society's Arthur Schawlow Prize for Laser Science, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's Senior Scientist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the Academica Sinica, the American Philosophical Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology.

Chu earned undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Rochester in 1970, and a doctoral degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976. He was a postdoctoral fellow at UC, Berkeley from 1976 to 1978, when he joined ATT's Bell Labs. He moved to Stanford University in 1987, where he was a professor of physics and applied physics, and where he received high academic honors and held a number of administrative posts before joining Berkeley lab in 2004.

Jan 21, 2009

New Obama Orders on Transparency, FOIA Requests

By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

In a move that pleased good government groups and some journalists, President Obama issued new orders today designed to improve the federal government's openness and transparency. The first memo instructs all agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests, while the second memo orders the director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue recommendations on making the federal government more transparent.

"The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama said in the FOIA memo, adding later that "In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public."

His memo on government transparency states that the Obama Administration "will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government." The order directs the yet-to-be-named chief technology officer to work with the OMB director to develop an "Open Government Directive" in the next four months.

Just in case new OMB director Peter R. Orszag needs any suggestions, the Sunlight Foundation -- a group dedicated to improving government transparency -- has several.

"I’m pretty damn pleased that the issue of transparency in government is such a high priority for the new administration," said director Ellen Miller. Each agency should do an audit of its information and data how it makes it available, Miller said. The administration should also redefine the definition of "public information" to mean that government information is not public until it is posted online in an easy-to-download format.

"The devil is in the details," Miller cautions, noting that the new new memos and executive orders had not been posted on the new White House Web site by late afternoon Wednesday.

Obama today also froze the salaries of senior White House staffers and issued executive orders on presidential records and new ethics guidelines for presidential appointees.


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 2009


SUBJECT: Freedom of Information Act

A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.

I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency, and to publish such guidelines in the Federal Register. In doing so, the Attorney General should review FOIA reports produced by the agencies under Executive Order 13392 of December 14, 2005. I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish such guidance in the Federal Register.

This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 2009


SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of

Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

Welcome Aboard, Dr. Chu!

"Dr. Steven Chu was confirmed on January 20, 2009, as the new Secretary of Energy."

That statement and Dr. Chu's photo appear on the DOE website this morning, though DOE has yet to issue a press release, post his bio, or update it's org chart. The new stealth Secretary of Energy also seems to have taken LANL's NewsBulletin by surprise. They don't mention his confirmation at all.

Welcome aboard, Dr. Chu!

Jan 20, 2009

Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century

2009 Conference

The third annual Conference on Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century (SW21) will take place January 29, 2009, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The conference is co-sponsored by Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

Theme: When and How Do We Hedge Against Uncertainty

International Dynamics, Policy, and Strategy Working Group
Assessing Risk and the Need to Hedge

Chairs: Ash Carter and Keith Payne

Against what developments must we hedge, and what should guide our policy to mitigate risk? What are the key threats driving policy and doctrine? Against what possible future threats do we really need to hedge? How do we hedge against uncertainty? How do we qualitatively describe the risks? Why are most countries modernizing their nuclear forces and infrastructure or proposing to? The defined threat and the options for the next administrationís threat assessments needs to be clarified. What policy objectives are we trying to achieve when we modify readiness and hedge against uncertain future developments? What is our policy on risk analysis and mitigation? How much do we need to rely on forces in being and high readiness? To what degree can we rely on the industrial base or a responsive infrastructure? What are the advantages of reduced readiness and what are the dangers? How do we calculate the lowest acceptable levels of forces and infrastructure required to assure our allies and ensure our own security?

Forces, Infrastructure, and Science and Technology Working Group
What are the Options for Hedging?

Chairs: Rich Mies and Sid Drell

What options in force readiness, infrastructure responsiveness, and R&D futures would permit hedging safely at lower stockpile numbers, fewer deployed weapons, and reduced alert levels? What forces, infrastructure, and S&T investments will be required as we reduce the number of nuclear weapons? How do you posture the forces in the absence of a well-defined threat? What are the technical challenges associated with a responsive infrastructure that is designed to support the lowest possible levels yet ensure our security against any adverse future developments? How do we address tactical vs. strategic responsiveness?

Key Issues From Contemporary Studies and Commissions
Chairs: Bill Perry and Jim Schlesinger
Panel Members: John Hamre, Larry Welch, Rich Mies, Bill Schneider, Sid Drell, Desmond Bowen

Roundtable Discussion: The Path Forward
Chairs: John Hamre and Larry Welch

What are the key issues that complicate a national consensus on strategic forces including nuclear weapons? What are the issues about which there is the most misunderstanding? Examples: What are the relationships between nuclear forces, offenses, defenses, conventional forces, and information operations? How do strategic capabilities positively and negatively influence security developments with friends and with potential adversaries? How do we deal with dual use, e.g., platforms? What is meant by hair trigger, de-alerting, etc.? What is a "new" system and what should be our policy about things that might be "new"? How near-term are the conditions required for the elimination of nuclear weapons and what should that mean for our near- and intermediate-term planning?

Jan 19, 2009

Security science complex named after Domenici


Environment Secretary Samuel Bodman saved one of his last official gestures for former Sen. Pete Domenici, who retired Dec. 31 after 36 years in office.

Bodman, whose tenure will end with the advent of a new administration in Washington on Tuesday, announced a virtual memorial in Domenici’s name.

A group of buildings in the main administrative area of Los Alamos National Laboratory will be known as the “Pete V. Domenici National Security Complex.”

The designation honors “Senator Domenici’s long and distinguished career as a U.S. Senator from New Mexico and is a testament to the vision and leadership of a great public servant,” the DOE’s announcement stated.

“Senator Domenici has been a strong advocate for the important work done across the DOE complex and particularly at Los Alamos National Laboratory,” said Bodman in the press release. “He realized that it was the people at the lab, selflessly serving our country, who made the lab what it is today. I appreciate the support he gave to them, to me and to the nation.”

The honor reflects Domenici’s years of leadership on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriation Subcommittee when he shepherded funding for many projects in the Energy Department and nuclear weapons complex.

The three buildings included in the designation include the National Security Sciences Building, the main administrative office building; the Nicholas C. Metropolis Building for Modeling and Simulation, where what is currently the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Roadrunner, is housed; and the Nonproliferation and International Security Building, where the laboratory’s Threat Reduction Division has its headquarters.

During one of his last “goodbye” visits to Los Alamos in August, Domenici addressed laboratory employees and heard tributes from lab director Michael Anastasio and former directors, Harold Agnew and Robert Kuckuck, along with National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas D’Agostino.

Anastasio took the occasion to announce that the auditorium in the National Security Science Building was to be renamed the Pete V. Domenici Auditorium.

As the closed, all-employees’ meeting was portrayed in the laboratory’s Newsbulletin at the time, Domenici drew a chuckle from employees when he said, “We kind of hit it off,” after listening to the remarks.

Later, he added, “I had so many good times representing you. I think it’s pretty clear you have been a special constituency of mine.”

In all the three building, grouped together at the heart of a new administrative core, total 742,000 square feet and were a start on a larger project of renewing the infrastructure of the 60-year-old laboratory.

The 7-story National Security Science Building, where many of the senior managers work, anchors the north side of the central campus. The NSSB is the newest of the buildings, having opened in 2006 at a cost of $97 million, according to laboratory reports.

The NIST Center opened in early 2003 with 164,000 square feet and cost $63 million.

The Metropolis Center is the largest of the buildings, with 303,000 square feet. It was dedicated in 2002, at a cost of about $93 million.

Jan 18, 2009

Three Laptops?

A reader sent me this from The New Mexican today.
"January 18, 2008
Police Report
An unknown person kicked in the back door of a residence Friday between 9 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. in the 1300 block of Madrid Road and stole an iPod and three laptop computers belonging to Los Alamos National Laboratory."
They did not include a comment, but I imagine they were wondering the same thing as I - Who has three work laptops?

I wonder what the rest of the story is....

Former LANL Worker Sues CBS

By Raam Wong, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

A Phoenix auto parts company has settled with a former Los Alamos National Laboratory worker who claimed she was duped into buying a souped-up Ford Mustang with a lab credit card.

Before the alleged scam became known, the purchase triggered congressional hearings and sensational media coverage depicting Lillian Anaya as a rogue lab worker spending taxpayer money on fast cars.

After she was exonerated, Anaya filed a defamation suit against LANL and media outlets, as well as All-Mustang Performance and its owner.

All-Mustang settled with Anaya in November, according to court documents. John Boyd, Anaya's attorney, said he couldn't discuss the confidential settlement, while an All-Mustang attorney could not be reached Friday.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge James Browning last month gave the go-ahead for Anaya's defamation lawsuit against CBS Broadcasting to proceed.

Public person?
Six years ago, Anaya was a veteran purchaser at LANL when anchorman Dan Rather and other CBS News reporters went on the air and told the Mustang story.

Anaya had only appeared in the media once before when she was listed as a survivor in her uncle's obituary. So it must have come as a shock to find herself the subject of five CBS Evening News broadcasts.

"Hey, nice car!" Rather said during the opening of one such broadcast as a picture of a shiny, black Mustang convertible flashed on the screen. "She bought it and charged it to you, the taxpayer."

As the media frenzy took hold, a frightened Anaya hid in her home with the blinds drawn and wept, according to her lawsuit.

"This was a woman who prided herself on her job and her integrity and had worked at LANL for more than 30 years and all of a sudden she's appearing in the national news as a criminal," Boyd, her attorney, said in an interview last week.

Last month, Judge Browning granted a partial victory to CBS, while at the same time clearing the way for the case to head to trial.

At issue was a central question in media law: At what point does a person enter the public arena and open herself to scrutiny?

The answer is important in defamation cases because public people — whether Brad Pitt or Bill Richardson — face a higher bar to prove they were slimed.

In seeking a summary judgement, CBS argued that Anaya's work made her a "public official." The network noted her top-secret clearance and million-dollar monthly credit limit.

But the court sided with Anaya's argument that CBS was overstating her job description. She had no employees beneath her and four layers of management above her — not the sort of position that invites public scrutiny, her attorneys said.

The court then addressed a second question: Did the controversy surrounding the Mustang story at least make Anaya a "public figure"? CBS argued it did. The law says individuals can become public figures after injecting themselves or being drawn into a public controversy. The court determined that Anaya was not a public figure during the first three broadcasts because she tried to avoid the attention.

"CBS attempted to contact her and interview her, but ... she chose to decline CBS' requests and to avoid contact with the media," the court found.

But, in June 2003, Anaya took a different tack. The lab had exonerated Anaya, and her then-attorney, Dan Cron, tried to use the media to set the record straight, according to the court.

Instead of simply answering reporters' questions, the court found that Cron was engaged in "exchanging blows with detractors and pushing the story that exonerated Lillian Anaya."

As a result, Anaya had become a public figure by the time of the final two CBS broadcasts, in October 2003 and April 2004, the court found.

That means Anaya will have to prove that, for those broadcasts at least, CBS acted with malice — defined as making statements that the network knew, or should have known, were false.

Acting in malice
The court found sufficient evidence that CBS and its reporter may have done just that during the final two broadcasts.

By the October 2003 program, reporter Sharyl Attkisson had a "mountain of evidence that there was no car," according to the court.

The court pointed to the lab's explanation for the Mustang:

In May 2002, Anaya phoned what she believed to be an established lab vendor to order 21 pressure transducers. LANL's business records were outdated, and Anaya unintentionally reached All-Mustang, which had acquired the vendor's old phone number.

Thinking she was dealing with Fluid Conditioning, Anaya faxed All-Mustang her order. The company then charged her card nearly $30,000.

But despite the exoneration by LANL, CBS ran subsequent reports that implicated Anaya.

The October broadcast included an interview with All-Mustang owner Tom Thompson who claimed: "She wanted a late-model Mustang, black convertible, with, like, black leather interior. She wanted it loaded up with all the options, and then she wanted to make it go fast."

The broadcast included LANL's explanation for the mix-up. But the court found CBS' description of the LANL story made it sound "ridiculous."

"The Court believes that, after the wrong-number theory came out, and after LANL officially exonerated Lillian Anaya, Attkisson should have become more cognizant of the possibility that Lillian Anaya was innocent," Judge Browning wrote.

The court also found evidence of malice in Rather's April 2004 statement: "She's at it again. A government worker using your tax dollars for more questionable purchases."

The anchorman was referring to an Inspector General report that reviewed past questionable transactions by Anaya and, for the most part, confirmed her innocence.

Yet CBS made it sound as if Anaya was continuing her extravagant spending in the wake of her exoneration, the court found.

Attkisson is a defendant in the case, while Rather is not. An attorney for CBS in Santa Fe could not be reached Friday.

Another defendant in the case, the University of California, the lab's former manager, agreed to pay Anaya $475,000 in 2006 on behalf of the school and three former lab employees named in the suit.

Jan 17, 2009

Shovelhead Ed - Round Two

I get the feeling Shovelhead Ed can go ten rounds without breaking a sweat!

Good day all, it’s Shovelhead Ed………. I’m baaaaaaack!!!! Hope everyone is doing just ducky today!!!!! Just going to address a couple more points. This bloggin’ thing is fun huh!!!!!!!!

Anonymous #6 (garden hose CAN be used…..put out spot fires……threaten to spread to a home)
Thanks for your input. And relatively good points were made on your behalf, however, please let’s look at the intensity of what was and is involved in a firestorm. That’s what the C/G was…. And all your intense wind driven fire events are. Garden hoses can work to extinguish small fires, but what are these spot fires? Why are they presenting themselves? WHAT R THEY??? They are the precursor to the inbound firestorm behind them. Nothing more…nothing less. Spot fires start showing up……. Get worried. They pop up with more and more frequency and intensity …….. get out. WHY R THEY SHOWING UP? They are the wind driven fire brands/embers that are pushed off of and ahead of the main body of fire by intense natural and fire created winds. Their direction fans out ahead of the main onslaught in all directions up to distances of 1 to 3 miles. Their presence routinely enlarges the main incident and assists in the preheating of the fuels within the collective path. Wetting down the roof is an admirable effort, however, one must take into consideration one irrefutable fact. No amount of moisture on that roof is going to repel the intense heat that will be upon it very shortly. Roof type, when living in the wildland /urban interface environment; would be one of the greatest “aces in the hole” that the homeowner can possess. Pro-Panel roofs, trees and vegetation removed from the immediate vicinity of the home, clean yard, etc. will do more than the garden hose. AKA defensible space. Remove or drastically reduce your fuels………….. remove or drastically reduce your chances of spot fires inundating the perimeter. As for the rest of the firestorm following…….. the chips will fall where they may. Nothing mortal on this planet has any control at all over it. Garden hose fire attacks at this stage of the game are too little……….. too late unfortunately. Please reference any and all wildland/urban interface incidents, locally, domestically and abroad. There is but one common thread between them all. They are indiscriminate takers of life and property. Thanks much for your input. Been fun visiting with you. Hope your days are great and peaceful. Chiao!

Anonymous# 7 (hoping my comment….. elicit a number)
LOL… totally too cool!!! Thanks bunches for your blog. I would derelict in duty to not accommodate thee. I sincerely hope that you find #7 an appealing and pleasant number. May it bring you great luck and fortune throughout your many days and years to come!!!!! Have a wonderful day!!!!!

Anonymous #8 (hero is a soldier/Marine…… garbage cans on fire) OHHH MY!!!!
You’re right man. A hero IS the soldier/Marine….. any man or woman serving or has served in harms way. Yer preachin’ to the choir here dude, (dudette). When it comes to the honor and respect for our military personnel, I’m all over it…… same as you. We don’t worry too much about the trash can fires either…… we use garden hoses for that. Thanks for the input.

Anonymous #9 our dictionary friend
As Bartles and James used to say…….. “Thank you… for your support!!!” A valid point you represent. Thanks so much for bringing it to the table.

HAAAAAAYY FRANK!!!!! How’s it goin’ man. Good to hear from you again. I’m back again for round 2. Man ... the defending of ones livelihood and brotherhood sure rattles some cages huh!!!!! LOL Totally cool. That’s what a free speaking forum should do, I think. Be a helluva world if everybody wore the same color of socks and had the same thoughts and opinions. Thank you for your kind compliments. Much obliged brother. Thoughtful of you to interject them on my behalf. Beer thirty any time…. Let’s put it together. But only if I may have the honor of a couple of rounds on me for your refreshment!! The camaraderie and conversation will be welcomed. Peaceful, “non-postal” days to all!!!!!! Talk soon man. And Frank……. always remember this brother ……. “If worms had machine guns… birds wouldn’t fuck with them!!!!!!!” LOL Enjoy the weekend and days to follow. Ed

Sig Hecker and Bob Cowan honored

[Absentee Lab Director Sighted at Ceremony]

By ROGER SNODGRASS, The Los Alamos Monitor

Two hugely influential scientists received Los Alamos National Laboratory’s highest recognition.

LANL Director Michael Anastasio bestowed the 2008 Los Alamos Medal on Siegfried S. Hecker and Robert D. Cowan in a ceremony and reception at the J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center Thursday afternoon.

Hecker, LANL director from 1986-1997, is now a professor and co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Sharp and precise as always, he recalled in his remarks that he had become laboratory director 23 years ago to the day.

A legendary figure in many ways, he is the only lab director who worked his way up from a graduate student.

Robert Cowan is the internationally known father of atomic structure calculations and the author of “Theory of Atomic Structure and Spectra,” the fruit of 25 years of effort considered “the bible of modern atomic physics.”

His children in attendance said he was always a father first and found it remarkable that at the age of 89 he continues to tutor English-as-a-second-language students and tutor math with local students.

Cowan was introduced by Joe Abdallah, a colleague from the lab’s Theoretical division, who said he met Cowan in the late ’70s and that he would always be grateful for a quilt that Bob and his wife Wilma gave him after he lost everything in the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000.

In accepting his reward, Cowan reviewed the scientific basis of his spectral studies starting with one of the first primitive computers he had to work with in 1951.

“It only did two operations a second, but that was 50 times faster than the motor driven desk calculators that were used,” he said. Later he progressed to “serial number one” of the IBM 701 Defense Calculator.

“It didn’t always work,” he said, “but it speeded up things a great deal.”

He was especially proud of a series of international degrees he received and his travels to England, the Netherlands, Sweden, China and the former Soviet Union

“I don’t do physics anymore,” he said, except for occasional queries from former theoretical division colleagues. “I’ve had a long and interesting and worthwhile run in my career and so I’m happy.”

Dave Clark, head of the lab’s Seaborg Institute for Actinide Science, introduced Hecker, who made his name and reputation on his research in plutonium, the king of the actinides, the always and ever more remarkable element.

Clark reviewed Hecker’s enormous accomplishments as director, as the chief navigator through the transitions at Los Alamos as the test moratorium put the brakes on the nuclear weapons race, stockpile stewardship began, and the Soviet Union dissolved.

Clark also gave away Hecker’s well-established secret for remembering literally everybody’s name, recalling a time when the former director ran across a parking lot to ask him his wife’s first name and then ran all the way back to a gathering to greet her by name.

Hecker’s talk, by turns characteristically perceptive, comprehensive, witty, chatty and challenging, was about why he came (skiing), why he stayed (people at Los Alamos), and why he left (because he always wanted to be a university professor).

“I didn’t come to build bombs or save the country or the world,” he said. “I had no desire to become a lab manager. Like many of my colleagues, I did it for self defense – so somebody else who could make my life miserable would not get the job.”

He also said he did it because others had made the sacrifice from which he had benefited.

Being a director was like wearing ski boots, he said. “It was fun while wearing them, but God does it feel good when you take them off.”

He said his advice was ignored, when Congress insisted on fixing the problems at the lab by taking it in exactly the wrong direction, into the hands of private industry.

He cautioned that nuclear weapons were fundamentally the responsibility of government.

To meet the new challenges of clean energy and climate change he suggested that the laboratory rise to the occasion.

“Los Alamos and nuclear energy are joined at the hip,” he said. “Nuclear energy can electrify the world or destroy it and there is a fine line between them.”

He’ll be back, he said, to talk about global proliferation issues, the subject that has preoccupied him most in recent years. He’s scheduled for a director’s colloquium next month, before he takes another trip to North Korea.

“Frankly, I’ll never leave Los Alamos,” he said.

Hecker and Cowan bring the total of inductees into what amounts to the laboratory’s hall of fame to 11.

The tradition began in 2001 when then-director John Brown awarded the 2001 medal to Hans Bethe, the Nobel laureate and former lab director Harold Agnew.

Lab Cleanup Money Sought in Stimulus

By John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

New Mexico's two senators have joined an effort to add substantial funding for nuclear weapons cleanup to the federal stimulus package now being considered by Congress.

Details are unclear, but the requested increase would mean additional money for cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory if the senators' congressional colleagues agree.

The lab got $152 million last year for cleanup work. Federal officials estimate the total cost of cleanup at the northern New Mexico nuclear weapons site at between $2.6 billion and $3.6 billion.

Cleanup funding at Los Alamos has fallen short of what is needed in recent years, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a telephone interview Friday. The stimulus money offers an opportunity to fix that problem, Udall said.

It also meets the needs of the stimulus program, he said. "These are jobs we can get going quickly."

"The stimulus package must invest in initiatives that have an immediate impact on jobs. DOE cleanup projects are a particularly good fit because many of them are ready to go right now," Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a statement Friday. "I also see this as an opportunity to make significant progress on DOE's longstanding waste problem."

Udall and Bingaman joined senators from Ohio, South Carolina, Idaho, Washington and Oregon in a letter this week calling for an additional $6 billion of stimulus money to be spent on cleanup, which would double spending on the program.

All of the senators are from states with major nuclear facilities requiring cleanup except Oregon, which is downstream from the heavily contaminated Hanford nuclear weapons complex.

The House is considering a bill that includes a more modest $500 million increase for nuclear cleanup work. The amount of money that might come to Los Alamos has not been determined. Nationwide, according to the eight senators backing the spending increase, the $6 billion could create 10,000 jobs.

Los Alamos environmental cleanup chief Michael Graham said Friday the additional investment would be "a very positive development." Such money would help cleanup and create jobs in the state, he said.

The lab has already given thought to how quickly it could ramp up work, according to Graham. Some work could begin immediately, while other projects could be ready to go later this year and next, Graham said.

Jan 15, 2009

Anti-nuclear Nuclearism

Darwin BondGraham and Will Parrish | January 12, 2009

Editor: Miriam Pemberton

Foreign Policy In Focus

(Editor's Note: This is part of a strategic dialogue on U.S. nuclear policy. Please also see Russ Wellen's Abdicating U.S. Nonproliferation Leadership and his response to this piece.)

The Obama administration is likely to continue a policy that we call “anti-nuclear nuclearism.” Anti-nuclear nuclearism is a foreign and military policy that relies upon overwhelming U.S. power, including the nuclear arsenal, but makes rhetorical and even some substantive commitments to disarmament, however vaguely defined. Anti-nuclear nuclearism thrives as a school of thought in several think tanks that have long influenced foreign policy choices related to global nuclear forces. Even the national nuclear weapons development labs in New Mexico and California have been avid supporters and crafters of of it.

As a policy, anti-nuclear nuclearism is designed to ensure U.S. nuclear and military dominance by rhetorically calling for what has long been derided as a naïve ideal: global nuclear disarmament. Unlike past forms of nuclearism, it de-emphasizes the offensive nature of the U.S. arsenal. Instead of promoting the U.S. stockpile as a strategic deterrence or umbrella for U.S. and allied forces, it prioritizes an aggressive diplomatic and military campaign of nonproliferation. Nonproliferation efforts are aimed entirely at other states, especially non-nuclear nations with suspected weapons programs, or states that can be coerced and attacked under the pretense that they possess nuclear weapons or a development program (e.g. Iraq in 2003).

Effectively pursuing this kind of belligerent nonproliferation regime requires half-steps toward cutting the U.S. arsenal further, and at least rhetorically recommitting the United States to international treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It requires a fig leaf that the United States isn’t developing new nuclear weapons, and that it is slowly disarming and de-emphasizing its nuclear arsenal. By these means the United States has tried to avoid the charge of hypocrisy, even though it has designed and built newly modified weapons with qualitatively new capacities over the last decade and a half. Meanwhile, U.S. leaders have allowed for and even promoted a mass proliferation of nuclear energy and material, albeit under the firm control of the nuclear weapons states, with the United States at the top of this pile.

Many disarmament proponents were elated last year when four extremely prominent cold warriors — George P. Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn — announced in a series of op-eds their commitment to "a world free of nuclear weapons." Strange bedfellows indeed for the cause. Yet the fine print of their plan, published by the Hoover Institute and others since then, represents the anti-nuclear nuclearist platform to a tee. It’s a conspicuous yet merely rhetorical commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. These four elder statesmen have said what many U.S. elites have rarely uttered: that abolition is both possible and desirable. However, the anti-nuclear posture in their policy proposal comes to bear only on preventing non-nuclear states from going nuclear, or else preventing international criminal conspiracies from proliferating weapons technologies and nuclear materials for use as instruments of non-state terror. In other words, it’s about other people's nuclear weapons, not the 99% of materials and arms possessed by the United States and other established nuclear powers.

This position emphasizes an anti-nuclear politics entirely for what it means for the rest of the world — securing nuclear materials and preventing other states from going nuclear or further developing their existing arsenals. U.S. responsibility to disarm remains in the distant future, unaddressed as a present imperative.

Exclusive Route around the CTBT

Concerns about the nuclear programs of other states — mostly Islamic, East and South Asian nations (i.e., Iran, North Korea, etc.) — conveniently work to reinforce existing power relations embodied in U.S. military supremacy and neocolonial relationships of technological inequality and dependence. By invoking their commitment to a "world free of nuclear weapons," the ideologues behind the anti-nuclear nuclearist platform justify invasions, military strikes, economic sanctions, and perhaps even the use of nuclear weapons themselves against the "rogue states" and "terrorists" whose possession of weapons technologiesvastly less advanced than those perpetually stockpiled by the United States is deemed by the anti-nuclear nuclearists the first and foremost problem of the nuclear age.

Unfortunately the Obama administration is likely to pursue this Orwellian policy of anti-nuclear nuclearism rather than taking a new, saner direction. A strong early indication of this trajectory is his selection of many Clinton administration advisers and officials as national security officials in his Cabinet. The Clinton administration fought hard for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999, which would commit the United States to cease all nuclear explosions. But, in true anti-nuclear nuclearist fashion, it also gave the United States nuclear weapons labs the Stockpile Stewardship Program, by which they could move forward with a massive scientific effort to develop the knowledge and scientific expertise for virtual weapons design and testing via a multi-billion dollar infrastructure of supercomputers, laser, and flash X-ray facilities that brazenly give the United States an exclusive route around the CTBT. Meanwhile, the United States has further violated the spirit of the treaty by detonating an average of 10 so-called "sub-critical" nuclear bombs every year at the Nevada Test Site since 1997: explosions involving as many as 3.3 pounds of plutonium that stop just short of splitting the atom.

Because non-nuclear states aren’t able to go nuclear without actual testing, the ostensibly anti-nuclear CTBT would lock in less technologically advanced states into a nuclear status quo. By conducting nuclear tests, the non-nuclear nations would justify sanctions under the treaty and presumably trigger military action by the United States.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said as much in her testimony before Congress in 1999:

Since America has no need and does not plan to conduct nuclear explosive tests, the essence of the debate over the CTBT should be clear. It is not about preventing America from conducting tests; it is about preventing and dissuading others from doing so. It's about establishing the principle on a global basis that it is not smart, not safe, not right, and not legal to conduct explosive tests in order to develop or modernize nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration has been widely viewed by both former Clinton staff and conservative "realists" such as Brent Scowcroft and Kissinger as having squandered opportunities to enact an anti-nuclear nuclearist regime. By pushing aggressively and publicly for new nuclear weapons programs, George W. Bush lost the necessary perception of moral high ground required for such a strategy to succeed. But then again, the neoconservatives have never believed in the "softer" forms of hegemonic power advocated by the Democrats and previous Republican administrations.

Picking Up Where Clinton Left Off

Obama's administration will inevitably pick up where the Clinton administration left off. Senate Republicans voted down the CTBT in 1999. The Stockpile Stewardship program moved ahead smoothly but is incapable of serving as an effective program for designing the new generation of nuclear weapons envisioned by the U.S. nuclear establishment. Thus, the next stage of the new nuclear imperialism is now being enacted: the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, an effort to develop new nuclear arms and reinvigorate the nuclear weapons complex under the rubric of "replacing" existing nuclear warheads.

Over the next four years, we’re likely to see an increasing commitment to international treaties like the NPT and CTBT on the part of the United States. The Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty's (SORT) goal of reducing the U.S. strategic force to 1,700-2,200 operational weapons is likely to be achieved and made permanent, thereby creating a false veneer of U.S. intention to disarm. Further cuts might proceed. Most assuredly we’ll witness incredibly aggressive efforts to stop proliferation of nuclear technology aimed at Iran, North Korea, and beyond, involving the use of diplomacy, force, economic coercion, sabotage, proxy attacks, political destabilization, and more.

What’s harder to predict is the fate of the RRW program. On the surface, antinuclear nuclearism is incompatible with new weapons development, and RRW is most certainly a new weapon, no matter what Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratory scientists and administrators claim. But herein lies the unknown. It’s possible that the RRW will get the go-ahead eventually. Just as the Clinton White House relented and gave the weapons labs the Stockpile Stewardship Program, partly as a political pay-off to ensure they wouldn't obstruct the CTBT's ratification, so might the Obama administration ratify the new program now so strongly desired by the nuclear weapons complex, so as to secure room for U.S. officials to pursue their nonproliferation efforts at the international level.

Not coincidentally, technological advancements under the Stockpile Stewardship program enable U.S. development of the RRW without the politically taboo need for nuclear testing, as Robert Gates — Bush's Defense Secretary and now Obama's — noted in a November 3 speech before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Gates, of course, was simply referring to an outcome that that Clinton's Energy and Defense departments sought from day one: the ability to develop and test nuclear weapons using the new virtual weapons development infrastructureat the weapons labs, all without violating the letter of the CTBT. Thus, U.S. status as the world's leading nuclear hegemon is ensured.

For any of this to happen, the RRW, or the RRW by another name, will have to be significantly repackaged and re-sold to the U.S. public and international community so that it appears as a design intended to reduce U.S. dependence on nuclear weapons and facilitate large cuts in the stockpile, alongside a downsizing of the weapons complex. Leading nuclear weapons scientists, military leadership, and U.S. nuclear officials are calling the RRW "not a new weapon," and uttering assurances that its purpose is to facilitate reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. That it would give the United States nuclear weapons complex a new lease on life into the distant future, cost untold billions of dollars, re-establish plutonium pit production in the United States, and hand over a brand-new weapon design to the military are all rhetorically de-emphasized by the program’s proponents.

Then again, this may all be a worst-case scenario. Perhaps the Obama administration will undertake a more visionary and just campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons? The incoming president could reintroduce the CTBT, nix the RRW and any new weapons designs, cut the nuclear weapons budget in half, stop construction of the plutonium bomb pit factory in New Mexico, close one of the weapons labs, and downsize the entire nuclear weapons complex. Obama could dismantle the profit-driven system of contracts that have made such powerful lobbying interests out of firms with government nuclear contracts. His administration could enjoin talks toward implementing Article VI of the NPT. He could go against the explicitly pro-nuclear power Energy secretary he appointed and enact a ban on new nuclear power development. Continuinity of the status quo, however, is altogether more likely. Hope and change, as this election showed, are possible, but only if those who desire it unconditionally demand it.

Darwin BondGraham is a sociologist who lives and works in New Orleans. Will Parrish is an anti-imperialist organizer and scholar living in northern California. They are coauthoring Atomic Trust: the University of California, Nuclear Weapons, and the Pentagon of Power, a book about nuclearism and academia, and are both Foreign Policy In Focus contributors.

NSA is Hiring!

Here's a note from a fraternity little sister. It's OK to post my name. I've removed her home phone number and email, so if anyone wants more info, they can contact me at d.w.thomson@att.net or 505-672-4053.
Dave Thomson

Thanks Dave!
As many of you already know, I am a "technical" recruiter for NSA. That means that I have a full time position doing other NSA "stuff" and I volunteer to support the Recruiting and Hiring Office. Some of you may have observed, while I was at Homecoming last October. In any event the Agency sent out email to the entire workforce this morning encouraging employees to "refer qualified candidates to apply to our hard-to-fill vacancies." The Agency is even awarding monetary and time-off incentives for referral(s) who actually "enter on duty". Since I'm already involved with recruiting, I get zippp, except possibly a pat on the head, and that's only if you mention my name in the referral. The economy is impacting everyone, but NSA is hiring! I want to offer any assistance to anyone who's interested in submitting a resume. "No skill community has been left out." Visit www.nsa.gov.

The entire web site is supposed to be updated tomorrow, 15 Jan to make it easier to navigate and provide a totally different look/image for NSA. I know and understand the system, since I've been a technical recruiter for over 12 years (even recruited for NSA while I was on active duty.) I am more than happy to answer questions about the Agency or provide pointers on your submission so that it isn't circular-filed before a human being reviews it.

The focus is on technical areas-computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, math, foreign languages (the hard/more obscure ones or multiple language skills), business/financial/acquisition (especially experience in federal government related acquisition, like contracting), and intelligence analysis.

For me this coming weekend is a 4-day holiday due to the Inauguration. So I should be available or leave a message and I'll return the call. My work number is 202-282-8384. I'm the only one who answers, so leave a message and I'll return the call. Sorry to be so long-winded, but I wanted to inform you all of an available resource (me) and if interested, provide an opportunity. Any discussions with me will be kept strictly confidential.

Your Little Sister,

Jan 14, 2009

Senator Domenici's Exit Interview - Selected Excerpts

By Tom Michael, Innovation: America's Journal of Technology Commercialization

What advice do you have for the national laboratories, often called the crown jewels of American science and innovation?

Diversification. Los Alamos National Laboratory, for example, is not creating a great mix of science. They’re predominantly weapons and defense-oriented and they are just beginning to see some daylight on some other scientific options. On the contrary, at Sandia National Laboratories, a big percentage of what they do is new. More than 50 percent of their work is something other than defense. We’re not going to dramatically change overnight what the labs do, and where they get their money, but clearly they need to start diversifying.
"Do you have any comment on the organization of the DOE or advice for structuring the agency moving forward?

I was the one who got the National Nuclear Security Administration established. It was supposed to be a much cleaner operation from the expectation of security breaches or violations. When I look at it, I determine it’s not working very well...

[Read the entire interview here.]

A Note from Doug Roberts

Congratulations on the recognition that you are receiving from Trip Jennings of the New Mexico Independent, Frank. You're doing a great job running the blog. As long as there is an operation as poorly managed and as poorly run as LANL, there will be a place for a blog like LTRS [the original LANL, The Real Story].

Given LANS' demonstrated track record of maintaining a "closed door" policy on sharing unhappy information about incidents occurring at LANL, blogs like yours are the only place where the true facts regarding the operations of the lab will initially see the light of day.

I remember quite clearly early one morning in July 27, 2005 when I checked my email and found the email message contained in the LANL, The Real Story link below.


The claim seemed outrageous, even by LANL-UC standards, but after a few hours I was able to verify that the incident had in fact occurred as reported in the email. Subsequent investigations by the press verified not only that the incident had occurred, but that the contamination had spread to a three-state region. As unbelievable as the fact of the incident was, it was even more incredible that LANL management had attempted to keep a lid on the story for 10 days, until it finally broke on the blog.

As long as there are employees of the lab who are outraged by the complacency, and frequently the outright incompetence often demonstrated by the M&O of Los Alamos National Laboratory, stories of their misdoings will leak out and see the light of day on blogs like yours.

I am aware that running a blog like LTRS under one's real name is a bit like living in a fish bowl. In fact, the attached cartoon is often, if oddly, appropriate.

Keep up the good work!

PS: the original LANL, The Real Story has recently moved to its final archival resting place:


Doug Roberts
LANL, Retired 2005

Thanks for the kind words and for providing the example for me to follow. We've discussed your blog post on the Americium contamination event of July 2005 before, and I read it again today. It's depressing how much worse things have become since then. You were able to confirm the facts in a few hours. In my case I've been trying for over two years, including over a year before I started blogging.

PS I love the cartoon.

For any readers who don't know yet, I became very sick after working on equipment at TA-55/PF-4 that had been contaminated by a spill from a broken pipe. Knowing only what I saw while I was there, I began to research and was able to deduce that the pipe carried high-level radioactive liquid waste. I contacted the lab and reported this in March of 2006. I asked for and was promised an answer to the question, "What spilled out of those pipes?"

No answer was ever given. A FOIA request filed by my congressman was blown off as well. A complaint to the DOE Inspector General's office took over a year to produce a "response" which did not answer the question.

If you haven't seen it, take a look at LA-UR-02-1673 Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility Plant Test Conducted April 2001. It gives very specific information that I believe characterizes the waste in those pipes, including typical and maximum concentrations (as high as 1100 nCi/L) for gross alpha. Also rad composition broken down into gross alpha, gross beta, and tritium. And in Section 6 the data is given for U-234, U-235, U-238, Pu-238, Pu-239, and Am-241.

When I found this document and forwarded it to the Inspector General's office, LANL removed it from their website.

That is why I run the LANL blog. The day I receive an answer to my question is the day I will begin to consider shutting down the blog and moving on.

Jan 13, 2009

Obama’s energy nominee — incoming head of LANL and Sandia — gets a warm welcome in Washington

By Trip Jennings, The New Mexico Independent

Steven Chu, who will oversee the labs at Los Alamos and Sandia as energy secretary, got his first taste of Washington Tuesday.

And by all reports it was a friendly affair.

Chu appeared Tuesday before Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s committee, Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the federal department. And neither controversy nor tension reared its ugly head between the lawmakers and Chu, a physicist and Nobel laureate.

According to the Associated Press, Chu said “he will aggressively pursue policies aimed at addressing climate change and achieving greater energy independence by developing clean energy sources.”

The AP added:

“But he also told lawmakers that he views nuclear power and coal as critical parts of the nation’s energy mix and said he was optimistic that ways can be found to make coal a cleaner energy source by capturing its carbon dioxide emissions.”

Chu is an advocate for much more energy research and for exploring alternative energy sources.

Later, Chu said “nuclear energy produces a fifth of the nation’s electricity and 70 percent of the carbon-free electricity” and “is going to be an important part of our energy mix,” the AP reported.

It was unclear where Chu stands on the future of New Mexico’s two labs, however. And as of this writing there was little analysis on LANL’s must-read blog, LANL: The Rest of The Story. But that could change.

During his testimony, Chu said high gasoline prices were a threat to the economy, which The New York Times noted was a retreat from earlier statements Chu has made, including that prices should be higher. Of domestic oil production, “Chu reiterated Obama’s views that some expansion of offshore oil and gas development should be included as a broader energy plan,” the AP reported.

Bingaman, for his part, said Chu had the “insight and vision” to press Obama’s energy policies at the department.

Bingaman, the AP reported, said he saw no serious opposition to Chu’s nomination and that a committee vote approving his selection would likely occur later this week.

[See also: LA Times: Jeff Bingaman not informed of Obama’s energy, interior choices.]

Selected Excerpts from the Prepared Statement of Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy-Designate, Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

The work of the National Nuclear Security Administration in maintaining our Nation’s nuclear defense and promoting nonproliferation throughout the world is critical to our national security. I take this responsibility extremely seriously, and I am committed to working with the President, the National Laboratories, other agencies, Congress and other organizations in the community to assure a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile and to address proliferation concerns as part of a long-run vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

The Department also has legal and moral obligations to clean up the wastes left over from 50 years of nuclear weapons production. I know that many of you represent states where the Department has not yet fulfilled these obligations. Cleanup of these materials is a complicated, expensive, long-term project, but I pledge to you to do my best to accelerate these efforts in order to protect human health and the environment, and to return contaminated lands to beneficial use.
As diverse as these missions and programs are, my efforts as Secretary will be unified by a common goal: improving management and program implementation. Simply put, if the Department is to meet the challenges ahead, it will have to run more efficiently and effectively. One of my first priorities will be to put a strong leadership and management team in place – one that shares not only my vision for the Department, but also my commitment to improving the way the Department does business.

I do not underestimate the difficulty of meeting these challenges. But I remain optimistic that we can meet them. I believe in the dynamism of our country and our economy. And as a scientist, I am ever-optimistic about our ability to expand the boundaries of what is possible.

If I am confirmed as Secretary of Energy I commit to you that I will provide strong, focused, energetic leadership for the many missions of this Department. In particular, I look forward to a close partnership with this Committee. In my role as Secretary, I look forward to a new chapter of collaboration with this committee and others in Congress as we embark on an ambitious, and urgent, mission to move to a sustainable, economically prosperous, and secure energy future. The challenges we face will require bipartisan cooperation and sustained effort. I know that President-elect Obama is committed to exactly this kind of effort. If confirmed as Secretary, I will do my utmost to serve him and our great nation to the best of my abilities.
Dr. Chu's prepared remarks can be downloaded here. An archived video of the confirmation hearing can be viewed here.

[The first 15 minutes and 14 seconds is just a title screen. Fast forward to 15:14 to view the hearing.]

Shovelhead Ed

We MUST meet! I will make it happen and I will buy the beers. People like you are hard to come by these days. Mostly busy in the far corners of the world, unfortunately. No matter what happens there always seems to be someone like you who will go to hell and back to come get me. God I love this country!

From a comment on Lab Firefighting Ability Questioned.

Shovelhead Ed sez:
I am a fireman. I am a Los Alamos fireman. With this in mind, let us begin this literary soirée. First off, I consider “anonymous” writings to be an exercise in the lack of a quality known as “Pride in Ownership.” Whatever your reasons are for this, suffice it to say they are but yours…. And yours alone. This allows you pious mouthpieces within this hallowed blog hallway, to fire away clandestinely at everyone else without fear of retaliation or retribution. The veil of anonymity perhaps does hold a protective, sheltering quality for the timid of mind and heart. If what you write here ARE genuine truthful statements, why the anonymity? Be proud of your writing, of your opinion. Writing is an art form…. A gift. If you’re proud of it .. put your name on it. I will be now, and in the future; addressing some of these bloggers who have chosen to feebly attempt the degradation of my career and brotherhood with various examples of what one would only refer to a phonetic dungstorm. So…. Anonymous authors… you will be given a number. “Anonymous 1 thru ??? whatever. You will know who you are… who I’m referring to. Remember that number… It’s yours. You own it. How does it feel to be a number instead of a name? So, without further adieu, let us begin? O.K.???? Oh and let’s try not to get our feelers hurt …o.k? freedom of speech and all you know!!!!

Anonymous #1 ( a collection…..inexperienced prima donnas)
This inexperienced prima donna fireman you’re addressing here is a 19 vet. 17.8 years of that serving your shit spewing shell. Feel the need to bag on our trucks…… ok---- fine . Wanna trim some fat? Hey great… I’m all over it man… nobody’s bigger. Perhaps YOU should assist our administrative officers with the ordering of these apparatuses. Know anything about vehicle specs for a quad, a quint, an aerial?? Site and dept. specific for Los Alamos??? I’m sure they’d appreciate your vast knowledge and insight. You ARE the fire apparatus guru, to be sure!!! Yeahhhhh, guilty as charged goin’ to Smith’s. We’re kinda funny that way. Food procurement and daily meals has throughout the years been a mainstay and a constant for us. We’re strange people….. we like to and further more, have a need to eat. Starvation status quo for you? Or what?? We’ll never find you at Smith’s will we? Oh and by the way… thanks for compliment… I haven’t been called a young buck in decades. Feels good… as for response times…. We’ve been through this with you people before so I’ll tell you again. Maybe this time it’ll sink in. If we had a 4-5 minute response time on the scooter wreck it was from the SECOND IN ENGINE AND MEDIC (relocation companies) COMING FROM LOS ALAMOS. Not the first in response companies coming out of White Rock. Times are recorded. Perhaps before you inundate us all with diarrhea of the keyboard, you should know certain facts. One last thing……….. you have little use for us?? Best news I’ve heard today. Let’s keep it that way. You remember one thing…. When you have a need, or a use for us…… you’re having a bad day bubba. It is my sincerest wish that you and yours never need us. Thanks for your time. Have great days.

Anonymous #2 (Two points…… heroes of the Cerro Grande)
Hey 2 points. First off I’m a volunteer in one of those departments who showed up here to serve. I have extensive service with these brothers as well. We ARE extremely practiced. We fight a shitload of fire. You will understand one thing…… there may not be a lot of structure fires here in L.A. , but I’ll tell you, with my extensive training and experience, these brothers and sisters of mine here in L.A. are ready to and HAVE answered the call, and are damn good hands. Let’s talk about Cerro Grande. I am a Cerro Grande vet. Are you? Your job was to run out of town. Ours was to stay and fight. We did. The experienced right along with the inexperienced. All that stayed….. all that fought were the heroes. Where were you? Stand down… you don’t have a dog in this fight. Find something else to nitpick on. You a military vet? I’m seriously doubting that. If you were… you’d understand and have respect for those who do stand in the face of adversity. The experienced were the heroes huh??? Guess what genius. After that fire… everybody had experience. Good day. Hope the new year treats you well.

A special shout out and thanks to YOU…… Frank Young…… thanks much for your guidance and tutelage. Much appreciated. Enjoyed the phone conversation. Have great days brother!!!!!!

Anonymous #3 (true story…. Hour-by-hour)
Yeah sure man…. Abandoned by L.A.F.D. as too dangerous. You are to be addressed in the same fashion as your buddy 2 points above you there. Let’s look at your statements logically here….well we’ll ---attempt to anyway….. not much to work with certainly… but we’ll try. The large sections of town that were “written off” that you refer to, were the areas that we were in the god damn middle of (western area) attempting to extinguish fires that were already involving homes. Homes that were “written off” were the structures that had achieved or were about to achieve “full involvement” status, and there were a lot of THEM bubba. Those were let to burn in order to foam down and attempt to save those homes that were salvageable, or otherwise unimpinged by fire yet. And I mean YET. Also don’t give me your bull crap blog about saving homes with garden hoses. The north community burned. Have you seen aerial photos? Place looked like Rolling Thunder over Hanoi. Only thing standing were the chimneys. I’m all about learning from others, and I’m fascinated with learning new techniques to improve my quality of care and service that I provide throughout my beloved career. So I would really appreciate you and the rest of the garden hose fire company to come forth and teach us how to repel firestorms with 5/8 inch garden hoses. That’s cutting edge firefighting technology right there. And if you can pull THAT off….. market it buddy….. you’ll make millions. You’re pathetic. I was in the middle of it…………. You weren’t. And if you were you weren’t much help. Where was your silly ass know-it- all attitude then? Best of luck and times throughout your days!!

Anonymous #4 (cush job)
Hey c’mon man….. Cush jobs. Who has those? You? Me? Frankly, given human nature if there was one on the planet everybody would be clamoring and chomping at the bit to get it. Own a little piece or a bigger piece of the pie right? Everybody wants longer vacations, better vacation spots, nicer cars, bigger homes, mo’ money, the hottest women, the kinder, more sensitive understanding man…. I mean the human’s list goes on and on. We may not have a plethora of structure fires or metro type calls daily, but we still have many tasks and details to attend to. I cordially invite you to stop by Fire Station 1, on A-shift and I’ll give you the grand 25 cent tour. I would be happy to genuinely show you what we do, and why it’s to be done. It’s obvious that you are unaware of how we live by your choice of verbage. “Gotta be” and “must be” are what’s perceived as “ guess” terms. It’s cool. You don’t know…. I’d be happy and proud to enlighten you. Would love it if you’d stop by. Oh… and uhhhh …It’s not boring. Thanks for your time. May you be in heaven an hour before the devil ever knows your dead!!!!

Anonymous #5 (suck it up young man)
Suck it up young man??????? Stick it in your g/d ear!!!! You need to understand something clown. I have credentials out the wazoo too. Your 24 yrs. of schooling and achievements have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on me serving here or anywhere else for that matter. I choose to serve here. Here’s just a small brief breakdown for you. While you’ve been in school and in your ivory tower, I’ve been out here and elsewhere….. serving 2 departments….. 2 cities for almost 18 and 20 years respectively. In that time, I’ve saved 3 lives. 3 people are walking this earth because of me. You got 24………. I got 3. Hmmmmmmm. 24 to 3? I win. You are a sad little soul… and I feel for you. I sincerely hope your psyche changes and you can feel better towards the world. Must be lonely being the only one, or one of very few in it. Good day.

Well that’s it… for now anyway. For those of you who have read these blogs and have supported , cared for, genuinely concerned yourselves on our behalf and well-being, I say unto you all…. Thank you so much from the bottom of mine and this family’s heart. WE appreciate you. It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve you. I look forward to many more years. For those who navigate by means of negativity , cynicism, and misinformation, I really hope you can find a more positive outlet for your frustrations. Try positive living …… you’ll be happier and there won’t be a need to attempt to bring others down. Best of luck in your endeavors.
One last thing…. This fireman does not ask for “hero” status. I don’t even give a damn if you thank me when we see each other on the street or at the lab sites. But the one thing that I will insist on… for me and this family of mine here…. Is basic respect. We have, by God earned it. I will accept nothing less. Thanks to all who have taken time in your lives to spend some time here with me. A peaceful good night to all.
Los Alamos F.D. Firehouse 1