Energy probes another data loss

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A trail of mishaps

The National Nuclear Security Administration is investigating the Energy Department to see whether the Los Alamos National Laboratory is complying with departmental security directives, according to a statement that NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks issued today.

The action came after police in New Mexico found what appeared to be information from the lab while arresting a man for possession of drug paraphernalia earlier this month, according to published accounts.

The FBI was called in on the case because the information, which police discovered on a computer, was classified. The owner of the mobile home where the arrest took place -- who was not home at the time and not the person arrested -- had once worked for a Los Alamos subcontractor.

“This appears to be a new low," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. "Even drug dealers can get classified information out of Los Alamos."

In his statement, Brooks emphasized the importance of security to NNSA.

"NNSA and the Department of Energy have made extraordinary efforts in the last three years to put strong security procedures in place at Los Alamos and other national laboratories to ensure that sensitive information is not compromised," Brooks said in the statement. "Our job now is to assess what happened at Los Alamos, to determine whether procedures have been diligently observed and to decide whether additional steps need to be taken."

Brooks directed NNSA’s chief of defense nuclear security to personally investigate the lab. He also sent a cybersecurity team from DOE headquarters to assess the lab's security compliance, he said in the statement.

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