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Posted By Paul Sperry On 02/13/2001 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
The nation’s nuclear weapons laboratories are easy targets for terrorists looking to steal nuclear materials, a lab security consultant has warned new Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in a blistering 4-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.
The long-time Energy contractor, RETA Security Inc., charged that the Clinton administration — which recently assured the public that the labs are “safe and secure” — ignored its warnings over the past eight years that the nuclear stockpile is at risk.
“Considering the lax security at DOE (Department of Energy) … terrorists have a ready supply of special nuclear materials already existing and available within our borders,” said RETA President Ronald E. Timm in his Feb. 9 letter, which he also sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the chairmen of the congressional intelligence committees.
“The DOE has avoided addressing this serious fact for the past eight years,” he said.
Timm also charged that Energy’s inspector general “minimized” the contractor’s warnings in reports issued last year, even though RETA had provided more than 200 classified documents “clearly exposing the risk” at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site and the Transportation System Division.
What’s more, Timm claims the Clinton administration retaliated against whistleblowers within the department, including a senior security analyst who tried to provide details of security dangers at Los Alamos to the media.
“He has been placed on temporary assignment and has had his clearance suspended,” Timm said without naming the worker.
Last year, two hard drives containing highly classified nuclear-bomb data were found missing from an emergency-response kit at Los Alamos, prompting former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to name a “security czar” to tighten security at the labs.
But Timm asserts that nuclear materials continue to be vulnerable to sabotage or theft.
“Shockingly, nothing was done,” he said.
“I urge you to take this matter seriously,” Timm wrote Abraham, “and provide the leadership necessary to resolve these dangers to our nation before an accident or deliberate terrorist action causes the loss of many lives, or even the loss of one of our cities.”
Energy spokesman Joe Davis says he’s not aware of the letter.
“I can’t confirm that we have it,” he said. “But I do know that security at our national labs is a high priority for the secretary.”
Davis added that Abraham is working with Gen. John A. Gordon of the National Nuclear Security Agency to “address the issue.”
Last year’s shocking news of the missing nuke hard drives, which mysteriously turned up later behind a lab copying machine, followed on the heels of a bipartisan congressional report documenting massive Chinese espionage at the labs, including the theft of design secrets to all the warheads in the U.S. arsenal. Eight of the 11 reported incidents occurred during the Clinton administration.
Also last year, former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee was convicted of stealing the historic library of secret codes to U.S. nuclear warheads, including bomb-testing data extremely valuable to ambitious nuclear nations such as China. Several of the computer tapes onto which Lee downloaded the classified data are still missing.
“There’s nothing left for the Department of Energy to lose except for an actual weapon,” said a former Energy security official.
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