Los Alamos Getting Sloppy (Updated)


Why should we bother putting radiological detectors in the ports when it's easier to get the stuff within the United States? The AP has this article on a drug raid at a New Mexico trailer park, which turned up classified documents from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).DirtyBomb.jpg

Local police found the documents while arresting a man suspected of domestic violence and dealing methamphetamine from his mobile home, said Sgt. Chuck Ney of the Los Alamos, N.M., Municipal Police Department. The documents were discovered during a search of the man's records for evidence of his drug business, Ney said.Police alerted the FBI to the secret documents, which agents traced back to a woman linked to the drug dealer, officials said. The woman is a contract employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to an FBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.The official would not describe the documents except to say that they appeared to contain classified material and were stored on a computer file.
While the FBI won't comment, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has some insights.
According to unconfirmed sources, the information was classified as Secret Restricted Data which means it would involve nuclear weapons data and may have concerned detection of underground nuclear weapons testing. Also unconfirmed, the person in possession of the information worked either in Technical Area 55 where all of the Labs plutonium is stored or in the X Division which handles nuclear weapons design data for a maintenance subcontractor of the Lab.
POGO also notes six previous security incidents at LANL since 9/11. No wonder that many of the DHS exercises feature dirty bomb scenarios - they must be worried about domestic terrorists getting too much National Lab material...-- Jason Sigger, crossposted at Armchair GeneralistUPDATED 10:20 AM: It should be noted that this isn't Los Alamos' first drug-related incident. Back in 2004, local authorities evicted a man who had lived for years in a cave on lab property. from a cave on Los Alamos National Laboratory land where they say he apparently lived for years with the comforts of home a wood-burning stove, solar panels connected to car batteries for electricity and a satellite radio. Ten marijuana plants were found outside the cave, and the fellow inside was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.UPDATED 4:15 PM: Whatever you do, be sure to check in regularly at the POGO blog, where they've got all kinds of fun rumors floating in. Police docs, too.UPDATED 10-26: J. here - let me clarify that I believe the combination of classified LANL documents and potential theft of radioactive isotopes from domestic sources (universities, medical labs) is what ought to get people excited about this incident. Obviously we don't know what's in the documents that makes them classified, and I am not suggesting that LANL might be the source of loose plutonium material. But unless LANL tightens up their security procedures and trains/screens its employees and contract support better, its leadership ought to be on notice.
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