Imagine the president of a large bank chain telling the local newspaper that one of his branches recently underwent a security audit and they found that the security cameras didn’t work, the vault’s time lock wasn’t all that secure and the front door sometimes could be opened by pushing hard on the supposedly locked door. But not to worry, some of the cash was actually stored in a converted metal overseas container in the next block. Couldn’t happen? Well, if you are the United States Government …
According to CNSNews.com …
“Nuclear-Bomb Materials Stockpiled in Suburb Were Not Adequately Protected Against Terrorists, Says Government Report”
“ The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory--which stores weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in the midst of the heavily populated San Francisco Bay Area--was discovered last year to have “significant weaknesses” in its security, ‘particularly in [its] protective force’s ability to assure the protection of weapons-grade (special) nuclear material,’ according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.”
This is the type of “open source” intelligence which is gathered by friends and foes. It does not require spies and it certainly is much cheaper to obtain as the news is delivered directly to your computer where it can be analyzed for keywords like “nuclear” by relatively unsophisticated software.
And the government’s defense claiming that the weaknesses have been remedied are, well, weak. First, we are speaking about government systems which tend to degrade over time. So the likelihood of a similar occurance at this facility or another facility some time in the future is probable. And second, it provides a blueprint to those who want to examine other non-related facilities for weaknesses. In my humble opinion, and that of the disbanded Strategic “Peace is our Profession” Air Command, never comment on all things nuclear – including the location of weapons, fissile materials, security and personnel.
“In April 2008, the Department of Energy inspected the lab and found ‘numerous and wide-ranging security deficiencies,’ said GAO.
‘ ‘The Department of Energy (DOE) has long recognized that a successful terrorist attack on a site containing nuclear weapons or the fissile material used in nuclear weapons—called special nuclear material—could have
devastating consequences for the site and its surrounding communities,’ GAO said in its report.”
" ‘Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), located in Livermore, California, is one of three national laboratories responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear weapons
deterrent,’ the report explained. ‘For these and other missions, LLNL stores and uses special nuclear material. Special nuclear material—including plutonium and highly enriched uranium—is considered to be Category I when it is weapons-grade and in specified forms and quantities. The risks associated with Category I special nuclear material vary but include theft, and the potential for sabotage in the form of radiological dispersal, also known as a 'dirty bomb.' ‘"
“The report said that the Department of Energy inspection ‘gave the laboratory the lowest possible rating in two security areas: protective force performance and classified matter protection and control.’" The DOE found that the laboratory’s security forces were not adequately prepared to defend the nuclear stockpile from an attack or attempted armed theft.”
The DOE’s Office of Independent Oversight inspected the facility to “evaluate the ability of LLNL’s [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] protective security force to successfully defend the Superblock facility against a mock terrorist group.”
“As a result of this inspection, LLNL earned the lowest possible rating--'Significant Weakness'--in two of seven security performance areas, including protective force,” the report reads.
Hasn’t the government also revealed that a number of nuclear secrets allegedly wound up in China and that a number of spies, both real and imagined, have been found within our nuclear laboratory system?
“The lab also failed a test of how well it could protect sensitive nuclear secrets, according to the GAO, because the lab failed to follow ‘basic’ security protocols. ‘LLNL failed to comply with basic security requirements, such as the frequency of changes to safe combinations,” the report says.’”
Self-inspection in a politically-charged corporate environment involving an outside contractor is never effective …
“The report also said that the laboratory’s own internal security checks--conducted by its on-site security office--had given the laboratory a 100 percent satisfactory rating just six months before DOE’s internal inspectors found failing security conditions. ‘LSO’s (Livermore Site Office) September 2007 annual security survey, completed only six months before (DOE’s) inspection, resulted in 100-percent satisfactory ratings,” the report says.’”
Fire their asses from all projects as a warning to all government contractors. Make it painful. Screw up in protecting the nation’s vital materials and secrets even once and your company is history. And, no simply changing corporate names and re-applying. History. Finito. Toast! Again, failure is not an option and one is encouraged to recall the Strategic Air Command’s prescriptive: “To err is human and to forgive is devine – neither one being part of Strategic Air Command Policy.”
(For those wanting SAC Humor Patches – Click Here)
“The site’s security is run by a contracting firm and overseen by the federal government, through the LSO. Both the contractor and the government failed, according to the GAO source.”
“In reference to the GAO’s findings, John Belluardo, public affairs director at Lawrence Livermore, told CNSNews.com in an e-mail: “The Laboratory has implemented corrective action plans for all of the findings resulting from the 2008 inspection. Specifically, the Laboratory initiated an aggressive recovery plan to improve the effectiveness of its protection strategy.”
'”Physical communications and system security upgrades were implemented, upgraded weapon systems were deployed, and a multitude of force-on-force exercises were conducted that demonstrated significant improvements in protective force response.”
Stupid is as stupid does …
While most of the “open source” reports may have a “classified” counterpart, I believe that this type of information should be closely-held and that members of the intelligence and security oversight committees should also become vulnerable for any security lapses that occur on their watch and not immediately remedied.
I would also like to see nuclear security removed from major hyperpartisan bureaucracies and settled squarely on the shoulders of an un-forgiving organization like the former Strategic Air Command. And this does not only concern nuclear weapons, but also biological and chemical laboratories – as well as any other laboratory doing classified research. And harsh as it sounds, no trips to foreign countries by those who may have friends and relatives in these countries – especially China.
In a time when our government leadership seems hell-bent on moving the United States towards socialism and is controlled by people pandering to the far-left anti-war, anti-America activists, more – not less – security precautions should be the order of the day. And anyone caught deliberately leaking information about classified military activities, a mandatory stint in solitary confinement.
As for Lawrence Livermore, problems continue to exist as evidenced by the research links that I have included below. It is time to fire the contractor’s ass and return control over our nuclear laboratories to a military command with dedication, purpose and a non-political, non-profit approach.
A simple keyword “Lawrence Livermore” on the GAO site produced this treasure-trove of open intelligence.
- Nuclear Security: Better Oversight Needed to Ensure That Security Improvements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Are Fully Implemented and Sustained
- GAO-09-321, March 16, 2009
- Quick View Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 41 pages) Accessible Text Recommendations (HTML)
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS