Archive for Sunday, June 25, 2000

Lab reports two more security breaches

June 25, 2000


— An inventory of all classified data at Los Alamos National Laboratory, taken in response to criticism over the disappearance of two top-secret hard drives, has found two more possible security breaches, a lab official said Saturday.

Two 10-year-old floppy disks containing classified information were reported missing Wednesday at the nuclear weapons lab.

However, they were found a day later, attached to a paper report in a nearby, secured area. And apparently no classified information was compromised, lab spokesman Jim Danneskiold said.

This and the second case, involving an unlocked door, aren't as serious as the missing computer hard drives, but Danneskiold said the disappearance of the floppy disks will be investigated by the Department of Energy, which oversees the lab.

The disks "are obsolete. Very few, if any, computers are around that can read them," he said. The disks had last been recorded in an inventory conducted two years ago.

Danneskiold said he didn't know how the disks got misplaced and would not disclose what type of information they contained.

In the second incident, Danneskiold said a computer repair person left a closet unlocked inside a secure room. The room door was locked, however.

Danneskiold said the lab is itemizing all classified data in response to the uproar over the disappearance of the hard drives last month.

"We've instituted a number of additional security measures beyond what's required," he said.

A grand jury has been convened to look into the two-month disappearance of the two computer hard drives from the lab's top-secret X division. The drives resurfaced mysteriously behind a copy machine near the vault where they were first discovered missing on May 7.

The drives held information that would be needed to locate and dismantle U.S. or even foreign nuclear devices that might be used in a terrorist attack.

In addition, former Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee is in jail awaiting trial and could face a maximum of life in prison for security violations. He was arrested in December and accused of illegally copying top-secret nuclear weapons files while also working in the X Division.

The alleged copies of the files have not been found.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.