Whistleblower Beating: Victim Blamed

lanl_nm.jpgBlame the victim -- or, at the very least, question his motives. That's the attitude some anonymous trolls on this Los Alamos blog are taking towards Tommy Hook, the lab whistleblower who was brutally assaulted over the weekend.

"Hook was beaten up by common thugs in a random act of violence... he decide[d] to make up a story about being intimidated as a witness... because he is embarrassed about being found in the parking lot of a strip club.""Sounds very fishy to me. He had two drinks? They always say a couple of drinks. I think this has nothing to do with LANL [Los Alamos National Lab].""Something is very, very wrong with this story, and POGO [Project on Government Oversight, a lab watchdog group] needs to be investigated immediately."
The attitude shouldn't come as much of a surprise, really. For years, a core of lab employees has been angry and resentful at what they see as outsiders meddling in their jobs and in their lives.Congress, POGO, the press, even the Energy Department -- none of them really understand the important work that goes on at the birthplace of the atomic bomb. They're just piling on the lab's scientists to further their own agendas, the logic goes. And they're helping second-rate institutions that don't know a damn thing about research get control of the "crown jewel" in the country's tiara of government-sponsored labs.Anyone who is seen as helping these outsiders -- guys like ousted lab chief Pete Nanos, who made a questionable call to shut the lab down after security and safety lapses should be instantly branded as a thief of that prize, or worse.I got a flood of screaming e-mails from Los Alamos employees after I took an unauthorized stroll through a secret section of the lab back in 2003. Most of them were along the lines of this note:
"I can only assume that you hate the scientists at national laboratories, and you have contempt for the fundamental scientific work being done to protect your lousy ass from biological, chemical, and nuclear attacks."
The comments I got about Glenn Walp and Steve Doran, the ex-cops who were fired for uncovering fraud at the lab, were even worse."The stupid thing was to hire them in the first place," one Los Alamos scientist told me.Another said, "They should be shot."This isn't to say that all Los Alamos employees are some kind of nuclear Klanners. Not even close. But there is an element that is beyond angry. And that element may have had something to do with the shoe marks across Tommy Hook's face.THERE'S MORE: Speaking of whistleblower retaliation, Paul points out this case from Lawrence Livermore National Lab in 2000 -- a case that has yet to be closed, five years later.
Frustrated Livermore police detectives are accusing Lawrence Livermore Laboratory of stonewalling an investigation into the slaying of a reclusive designer who uncovered a serious flaw in the lab's troubled $1 billion weapons testing program.Lee Scott Hall, 54, was discovered beaten and repeatedly stabbed in the bedroom of his Livermore home October 20 by two co-workers. Hall was a lead designer on the $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility, which when completed will monitor the nation's nuclear stockpile without the need for underground testing.For a year, Hall had been trying to bring attention to a miscalculation in a multimillion-dollar installation of super laser beams that is part of the ignition facility. But only in the weeks leading up to his death had the laboratory acknowledged his findings and begun to deal with them.Officials are searching for a motive in the crime. "Is it personally related?" asks Livermore Det. Sgt. Scott Robertson. "Family related? Job related? Or just some criminal? That's what we haven't been able to determine."
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