Security scandal prompts shake-up, firings

The Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory has overhauled the way it keeps track of classified removable electronic media, fired four employees, pressured another to resign and disciplined seven more as a result of its inquiry into security breaches that became public in July.

Los Alamos managers cleared 10 of the 23 employees they had placed on administrative leave in July and another employee remains on paid investigatory leave. (GCN story)

CREM consists of classified hard drives, Zip drives, memory sticks, compact flash memory cards and floppy drives.

Laboratory spokesman Kevin Roark said, 'The way CREM is handled today is vastly different' from the way it was handled before. 'We are professionalizing our CREM custodial function.'

The job functions of the CREM overseers now will fall under the security department rather than under the departments where they work. 'It's a much more robust, easily trackable system,' Roark said.

Roark said 'outside agencies,' which he refused to name, are continuing to investigate the security breaches. He said laboratory officials would not comment until the investigations are complete on whether classified data had fallen into the wrong hands. The personnel actions were based on the lab's own investigation.

The security breaches covered all levels of tenure at the lab and all levels of employment, Roark said.

LANL uses some thin-client systems as well as keyboard-video-mouse systems and is expanding its 'red,' or classified, network to help control custody of classified data.

Los Alamos is on track to resume full operations in mid-October, Roark said. After the July incident, virtually all operations at the lab ceased. Low-risk activities resumed within days and now are at the 100 percent level. About half of the lab's medium-risk activities have resumed as well. 'We are expecting some high-risk activities [to resume] very soon.'

Roark added, 'Due to federal and state privacy laws, we cannot be specific about who was disciplined or the specific discipline any individual received.'

The disciplinary actions included reprimand, suspension without pay, demotion and salary reduction, he said.

The laboratory's inquiry also covered an incident in which misuse of a laser caused an eye injury.

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