Los Alamos Loses Top-Secret Information, Again!
June 20, 2000
Don't you hate it when your hard drives containing top-secret Nuclear
Secrets disappear? Another security compromise occurred at Los
Alamos National Laboratories last month when two hard drives containing
top-secret nuclear information disappeared from a 10 x 20 foot vault.
The compromise occurred in the "X-Division" where nuclear weapons are
designed. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Los Alamos is one of
28 Department of Energy Laboratories within the United States. With an
annual budget of $1.2million, and over 9,000 staff, Los Alamos is the
largest employer in Northern New Mexico.
more than 50 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory's primary mission has
been to apply science and technology to problems of national security.
According to Los Alamos Director John C. Browne, reducing global nuclear
danger is one of the laboratory's focus areas. The Department of Energy
Secretary, Bill Richardson, was roasted by Senate Republications when
he failed to appear at a joint hearing of the Senate Intelligence and
Alamos National Laboratory was founded in the midst of WWII as a response
to the fear that Adolf Hitler would make nefarious use of the Nazi German
discovery of fission which occurred in 1938. In March of 1943, a small
group of scientists, whose mission was to find a way to end WWII, started
collaborating at the Ranch School for Boys in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
1. Fuller Lodge, Ranch School for Boys
The potential impact as a result of this compromise of National Security
is enormous. According to Dr. Browne, the system for accounting for users
of secret documents was ended in 1993. Dr. Browne verified that the hard
drives contained a variety of U.S. and foreign nuclear weapon designs,
and conceded that there was no audit trail of who might have used them
last. Though the hard drives disappeared sometime before May 7, Dr. Browne
first learned of the compromise on May 31st.
2. John C. Browne, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory
secretary Richardson is calling for disciplinary action and accountability.
So far, six employees of Los Alamos have been relieved of their duties.
Using lie detector tests, the FBI is investigating an elite team of nuclear-weapons
scientists and engineers to help determine why and how the two hard drives
April the computer network at the DOE's headquarters was audited for security
vulnerabilities. The audit revealed numerous network weaknesses, the ability
to be penetrated, and that even the security of closely guarded systems
was vulnerable to compromise. The department's director of security and
emergency, Eugene Habigier has blamed Congress for not giving the department
the extra $28million it requested last year. In 1998, an audit of DOE
networks discovered hundreds of sensitive agency information files available
from the Internet.
1998, Los Alamos began a program called the Threat Reduction Directorate
(TRD). TRD was supposed to respond to and head-off threats posed by nuclear,
biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
a presentation made by the DOE Safeguard systems Group earlier this year,
it was documented that both "outsiders" and "insiders" remained a threat.
It is apparent that Los Alamos National Laboratories is no longer capable
of carrying out their mission to enhance the security of nuclear weapons
and nuclear materials worldwide. This laboratory, which had been originally
commissioned to preserve the earth through advancements in science and
technology, may in fact be unknowingly sabotaging their own mission. Had
proper due diligence been taken, the loss of two hard drives would not
pose that much of a threat if the information had been appropriately encrypted.
security mistakes that are being made at Los Alamos are sloppy and unacceptable.
Directors of Federal Agencies need to start being held accountable for
National Security, or suffer extensive consequences -loss of funding,
loss of employment, and possible criminal investigations.
3. The mission of enhancing Global Nuclear Security at Los Alamos