Senators hit Energy again over disks
- By Judi Hasson
- Jun 15, 2000
Republican senators told Energy Department officials yesterday that their
explanations about the disappearance of two computer hard drives containing
nuclear secrets was not good enough.
At a contentious hearing, the lawmakers repeatedly berated the department
witnesses for a three-week delay in reporting the missing material and their
failure to impose tight controls over classified information at the Los
Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
"Some of their most sensitive nuclear information seems to have walked out
the door," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence.
"I seriously question whether we have better security at our Wal-Marts than
at our labs," said Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
Lawmakers were also angered because Energy Secretary Bill Richardson declined
to appear at the hearing. As the nation's chief energy official, he is responsible
for overall security at DOE's nuclear facilities.
John Browne, the director of the lab, testified at the hearing that he had
not been informed about the missing material until June 1, three weeks after
employees discovered they were not in a vault for classified material.
But T. J. Glauthier, deputy secretary at DOE, told the hearing: "Frankly,
if one of these people had discovered that his car was stolen from a garage,
they would not have waited one day."
The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the disappearance of the
material. Law enforcement officials intend to administer polygraph tests
to 28 people who had access to the computer drives and did not have to sign
in to get to the material.