Friday, January 26, 2007
Anastasio on the Stand
--Pat, the Dog
ABQ Journal, Santa Fe Edition
Friday, January 26, 2007
LANL Director to Testify In D.C.
By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer
Los Alamos National Laboratory director Michael Anastasio is among the witnesses who will testify next week before a congressional subcommittee investigating security problems at LANL.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
A committee spokesman said Thursday that the witness list has not been finalized, but LANL spokesman Kevin Roark confirmed that Anastasio has been asked to testify.
"We're looking forward to cooperating fully, and (Anastasio) is eager to explain what we've done to manage cyber security risks since October," Roark said.
The congressional scrutiny comes after classified materials including electronic documents stored on a computer flash drive were found in the home of a LANL subcontractor during a drug investigation in October.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General subsequently determined that important security controls weren't working properly when former archivist Jessica Quintana removed the materials from the lab.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., said earlier this month that the breach "raises great concern over other possible security lapses."
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., whose district includes Los Alamos, does not sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee. But Udall spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said Thursday that he plans to attend the hearing and will likely have an opportunity to question witnesses.
"There have been many problems with security at LANL over the past years, and it's something that Congress should examine," Padilla said. "(Udall) would just like to get some answers and work toward a solution to the problems that they've had."
Authorities have remained tight-lipped about the nature of the classified documents found in Quintana's home, though LANL officials have said that most but not all were classified at low levels and were 20 to 30 years old.
Quintana, who has not been charged with a crime, claimed she took the documents home to catch up on work and did not intend to distribute them to a third party.
Knowingly removing and retaining classified material without authorization is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Quintana's attorney Stephen Aarons said Thursday his client will not testify at Tuesday's congressional hearing because she's at the center of an ongoing criminal investigation.
However, Quintana could appear in future congressional proceedings once the outcome of the criminal investigation has been determined, according to Aarons.
"There were negotiations about (testifying Tuesday), but because there's an ongoing criminal prosecution, or pre-prosecution situation, they're not going to mess with her Fifth Amendment rights until we figure out what's going to happen with her," Aarons said.
Quintana has met with FBI investigators and federal prosecutors several times, and the investigation is winding down, according to Aarons.
Audio link at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/ksfr/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1031068
Bechtel came in with the idea that there were mountains of money being wasted. They are finding that the reality is quite different. I am told they are getting pretty desperate. Desperate times breed desperate measures, such as violating the two-man rule to save money, and hence allowing contractors to walk documents out the door.
How much money will the drug-testing cost, and will it really do any good? Or is it just for show?
Did NNSA hire and clear a person, at the highest level, who had a history of using drugs? Did they know the person's history? Was the usage recent? We deserve answers from the NNSA. They will doubtless try to hide those answers.
Is the drug testing program being put in place to cover for the failure of the NNSA's clearance process?
How many other security problems will be revealed that are traceable to the LANS changeover? We already know of significant numbers of layoffs of security and safety personnel. What is the long-term impact of those layoffs?
Serious, and possibly fatal, damage has been done to LANL by Domenici's monster, the NNSA. Even if LANL does not survive this mess, can LLNL be saved? Can the Congress admit that the NNSA is a failed idea, and return to status quo ante? Or do we just sacrifice another national lab because people in DC can not admit they make a mistake?