Sunday, February 04, 2007


It's Time to Hear from the Scientists, Don't You Think?

This, from Anonymous, deserves a top post. Congressmen: Are you listening?


So Stupak and Barton say to close down LANL and fire everyone. Bodman blames the scientists for all of LANL's problems. It is clear that the scientists are not to blame, so in effect this whole thing is a way to disgrace the workforce.

Is it really a good idea to disgrace the workforce and than fire all of them? It has been understood that a large number of scientists forego the possibility of academic positions by working on national security research that cannot be published. In academics it is your publication record that determines if one gets hired. So if we just throw thousands of scientists out on the streets where are they going to go? In many cases these people have spent years learning how to do very specialized work that is only done at a few places.

The people at the other labs are observing what is happening at LANL and know they are next. The message will also be clear to young people, "do not go into science" your own country will publicy disgace you and throw you away.

And what message is this sending to the rest of the world? LANL is the largest physical sciences laboratory in the United States. On just the basic science side of things, which is only a small part of Los Alamos, LANL publishes more papers than LLNL and Sandia combined. I am certain, but I belive LANL is the third-ranked institution in the United States in terms of scientific output. We are saying to the world that we are destroying our own scientific infrastructure. We are also saying to the world that we are destroying our own national security infrastucture.



Amen to that, Brother! (Or Sister!) Judging from the suggestions posted here on The New Blog, I would propose that some of you LANL scientists get together in the next couple of days and organize a press conference. There are plenty of contacts in the mainstream media who could be called upon to hear the scientists' side of the story, and then throw the panel open for questions.

On another front, but closely related, the most salient part of Mike Anastasio's written comments to Dingell's committee were thoroughly buried. I would like, in all fairness to him, to air them here (my only criticism is that Mike was way too soft-spoken in front of the Congressional grandstanders, which has led to criticism of him for not defending the Lab's scientists from the unfair statements of Sec'y. Bodman):

"From my meetings with several of you and with Subcommittee staff, I know that, very understandably, there is a strong desire for a big, dramatic—even revolutionary—change to fix the problems, security and otherwise, at Los Alamos. I will tell you, however, that I do not believe that such a silver bullet exists. When the LANS team evaluated and bid on the contract, we concluded that what we were inheriting was a great Laboratory with brilliant minds, but an organization that had grown up in secrecy and necessary compartmentalization. As a result, LANL became a less cohesive laboratory and more a set of independent organizations, each with its own manner of operations and expectations. ... I also want to raise this caution: we are aggressively reducing security risks, but we cannot guarantee zero risk as that would necessarily prevent us from performing our mission. All of us who care deeply about national security must continue to work together to both protect our nation’s most sensitive secrets and allow our nation’s best scientists to do their essential work for our future."
--Director Anastasio's written testimony before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Bodman appears to be using exactly the same approach Nanos used successfully (for himself). Specifically, he is calling the scientists at Los Alamos "arrogant" and blaming them for all problems. THAT IS very much like the movie groundhog day. It worked well for Nanos who got a golden parachute and it will probably work for Bodman too. Congress appears much more interested in sacrificing Los Alamos rather than face the reality that there are security problems at every large institution that need to be addressed.

BTW, I wonder if any one remembers what Bodman said at Los Alamos on his first visit when he was asked if he thought Los Alamos scientists were arrogant? Bodman basically said that it was not arrogance if it were true and lavished praise on the history and current work of Los Alamos. I guess Bodman 's view has changed suddenly.

I know many scientists at Los Alamos and the vast majority care a great deal about safety and security, not to mention this country. But it is worth being called names and threatened for the actions of a few?

I'm glad I already found my way to the exit...
I think my future earnings potential has been severely impacted by the Secretary of Energy's defamatory remarks. Anyone else? Class action lawsuit?
Ok - let's take bets. How likely is there to be any "press conference" from the scientists, or a class action lawsuit, or any other action other than silence and grumbling to ourselves? Is it possible to take such a stance without guaranteed retribution, or at least, subtle promotion to the front of the RIF line? I know I'm not willing to martyr myself (sorry - but judging from the pervasive use of anonymous posting here, I'm not alone). Is there a route where there is protection for those who speak out, or are we just screwed if we try?
Sorry to pop your bubble 12:11PM, but Nanos got a golden parachute because he knew about some things that that involved UC folks and they did not want him blabbing. Everything got kept quiet...
Given the long history of security lapses, safety incidents, and environmental issues that have occurred at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and exposed in the media in recent years, we must include employee abuses, it’s also imperative the U.S. Congress conduct public hearings regarding the need for much more effective employee protections at this institution. The ability for workers to speak openly and without fear of retribution is, in fact, the essence of meaningful accountability. Without that ability, the scandals of the past are destined to be repeated.

Without accountability, the mission of this institution becomes clouded by the ambitions of those in charge. And as we have seen in recent scandals involving the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the national security mission of the institution has become secondary to the desire of those in charge. Simply maintaining their positions at all costs becomes the priority, and this cannot continue without workers and the communities that surround this great facility being placed at risk.
Let's not forget employee abuses at the expense of those trying to protect their own careers. Many of the recent safety incidents at LANL were pathetically "managed" by Terry W. - he took out several lower level managers to protect his own position.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, far, far away from Los Alamos....


Harley-Davidson Strike Closes Plant - Time Magazine, Feb 2, 2007

(YORK, Pa.) — Union workers began a strike Friday at Harley-Davidson Inc.'s largest manufacturing plant, with small groups quietly picketing each entrance of the York facility.

Union members said they felt the contract represented a step backward because it contained a two-tier wage system they said would penalize new hires. It also contained a requirement for employees to contribute toward health insurance premiums and pension concessions, they said.

Nevin Bechtel, 59, who works in the plant's painting department, said the two-tier wage system would hurt morale. "We'll still keep building first-rate bikes, but when the second-rate people take over, what are we going to build then? Second-rate bikes?" Bechtel said. "There's no sense in doing this if we're not going to stick together," Bechtel said. "If we regress now, we've lost everything we're struggling for, and the company will think they've won."

A union guy named "Bechtel" at a factory with the name "Harley-Davidson" ? !

My canine mind is whirling, like when a cat and a car race by on either side ...
No manager has ever been punished by Terry Wallace - he has however promoted managers and TSMs and punished distinguished Director's postdocs and allowed them to be fired because he would not do the right thing and fire the postdoc's superiors!! I guess in the end Terry got promoted so all is well in the world up on the hill.
Terry W is not very ethical. He sent email out to everyone under him saying that he would listed to any problem and people could email either to his lanl address or home address and he would not disclose who sent him email and what was in it.


And the proof exists.
Secretary Bodman must be desparate. DOE chose to hire LANS to manage Los Alamos at a cost of over $175M/year to pay for what? A few additional managers. A value of less than $10M / year. Where does the rest of the money go? To pay additional gross receipts taxes to the State of New Mexico. To pay the $73M award fee to LANS and it's parent corporations.

If there are Congress members that haven't yet figured this out, the $175M comes out of LANL's operating budget. Funding that could have been used to finance security upgrades, safety upgrades, and funding that could have been used for programmatic work that would buy this nation additional security. But no, DOE/NNSA chose to structure LANL's Management and Operating contract to cost the taxpayers over $1B in non-productive costs over the 7 year contract with LANS. Congress expects improvements in security at Los Alamos and NNSA took $1B out of LANL's budget and flushed it down the toilet. Who made the decision at NNSA? Tom D'Agastino. Who did Bodman promote to replace Linton Brooks? Tom D'Agastino.

Message to Congress: if you want to see improvements at Los Alamos, you need to restore the missing $1B dollars. Can't afford it? Then you need to restructure the LANL M&O contract. Simply choose a non-profit institution, maybe University of New Mexico, University of Texas, or even UC to pay the salaries of the workers. The non-profit can hire the other LANS partners as subcontractors to provide whatever expertise they bring. The subcontract to hire the LANS managers would cost no more than $10M / year, the current value LANS brings to Los Alamos. Reduce the fee to what Lockheed gets to run Sandia, and, presto! $125M / year, $875M total, is saved. This money gets returned to the LANL operating budget where it can be used to make any needed changes.

The LANS contract was a colossal mistake. D'Agastino's mistake. Bodman's mistake. So Bodman has no one else to blame except the LANL scientist. He must be desparate.
To 2/04/2007 6:15 PM,
Uncle Ezra is watching. People who obtain their academic credentials by performing extra credit assignments with their faculty advisor are hardly in a position to judge what the "right thing" is.
At least the Brits seem to support us:
Beneficiaries from the closure of LANL (feel free to change the order...)
1. China
2. Russia
3. Iran
4. North Korea
5. Bin Laden
6. any other terrorists, malcontents, biowarfare "hobbyists",...
I would have put LLNL at the top of the list.
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