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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 15, 2009 with no responses

Dept. of Energy Frustrated with Los Alamos Nuclear Facility over Computer Thefts


The U.S. Energy Department has sent a harsh letter to the security division of the Los Alamos nuclear lab notifying them of the department’s frustration over the handling of 67 of the facility’s computers being unaccounted for.

“This DOE memo shows that the Lab admits that 67 computers are currently ‘missing’, and that 13 have been lost or stolen in the past year alone,” says Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight. “It is troubling that the contractor only informed the government of this during investigations into the most recent thefts.”

POGO said they’re also concerned that the memo does not mention a LANL BlackBerry that was recently lost in a “sensitive foreign country.” The information about the missing BlackBerry was brought to light after POGO uncovered an internal e-mail documenting the occurrence. There was no further information as to where the BlackBerry went missing, or what information was contained in its memory.

The Los Alamos lab has a history of missing computers and mishandled data.

Former lab scientist Wen Ho Lee, pleaded guilty to felony mishandling of sensitive information during the 1990s but was acquitted of espionage.

“It’s great to see that the federal overseer is more aggressively pursuing its oversight role,” says Peter Stockton, POGO Senior Investigator.

Three computer’s went missing from an employee’s residence in Santa Fe, read the Energy Department letter.

The Energy Department said they were frustrated that cyber security elements were not engaged in a timely and productive manner to address the potential loss of significant information.

The laboratory has now been ordered to treat any loss of computer equipment as a cyber security issue, and to immediately report it to the Department of Energy.