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Stolen Los Alamos Papers

  1. Oct 25, 2006 #1
    Is security really that bad at Los Alamos, or is this just media hype? I don't know if there is anyone here who works there, or has worked there, but from the way CBS wrote this article it sounded like this type of security problem is ongoing and uncorrected. I certainly hope that isn't the case, since leaked or stolen classified documents is never a good thing, especially the type regarding nuclear weapons. Is there anyone here who can verify or deny this, because as troubling the story is, I don't trust news medias not to exagerate it.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2006 #2
  4. Oct 25, 2006 #3

    Its a lot of media hype, but there were serious problems in the past. Security there is not bad at all--if you mean keeping people out of places they shouldn't be in. But how do you stop someone who is trying to actively steal information after they've been granted access? You can't. No matter what kind of security policy you institute. You can certainly catch them after the fact, but the information has still gotten out. There is nothing you can do to stop someone inside the fence from walking out with information, short of strip searches, and laptop scans at every security gate (and there are a lot of ID checkpoints and gates at Los Alamos). That has nothing to do with the quality of security--that has to do with the quality of people that have been hired.

    I worked there over the summer, and from talking to people in several divisions, the impression I got was that things were bad when Nanos was the director in many ways, but that things have been greatly improving since he left. Nanos instituted a lot of bad policies, that mostly just got in the way of doing legitimate work, and didn't do anything to improve security or safety. He also shut down the entire lab because one dumb grad student nearly blinded himself with a laser.

    My impressions of the new management that jsut took over when I got there have been largely good. The new director (He was previously a director at Livermore) seems to be a good manager from what I've seen (I met him, briefly).

    As another note, just because the documents were classified doesn't mean they have anything to do with nuclear weapons. The lab has a very broad variety of research programs and the majority have some kind of classified material.

    edit: Just checked, and she was a sub-contractor employee. Meaning she was an employee of a company hired by a company hired by the lab.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2006
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