Los Alamos cracks down on security

Michael J. Bechetti

The loss of two classified data storage units earlier this month at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory has prompted a halt to all classified work, a clampdown on security procedures and stern directives from the department's leaders.

This instance of missing classified data appears to be more serious than previous incidents in December 2003 and May 2004, a Los Alamos spokesman said.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham condemned the security breach, and lab director G. Peter Nanos told employees during an all-hands meeting on July 7, 'If you can't keep track of classified materials, you can't work here,' said spokesman Kevin Roark.

Nanos told the employees, 'If you think the rules aren't meant for you or that security is trivial or inconvenient, then by all means seek employment elsewhere,' Roark said.

Laboratory officials declined to say what type of media was involved in the incident.

The lab's security staff is conducting a wall-to-wall inventory of classified information.

'The stand-down is going to last however long it needs to last,' Roark said. All laboratory employees who handle classified materials will attend security training courses as part of the stand-down, he said.

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