Friday, January 07, 2005

Wallace Harbin's letter

Jan. 6, 2005

Attacks against the Lab

I agree with Mr. Clarks' assessment and concerns, almost. We are no longer an army of 10,000. Many of us are not fighting terrorist or external attacks, but internal ones. The Laboratory used to be a good place to work, where we took pride in our work and felt satisfaction for a job well done. These things have changed. I no longer feel that the Lab is working for our best national defense, but for its own self defense.

The many attacks directed from outside the Lab were numerous and cruel, and most of us took them for what they were worth because we knew these people did not know what they were talking about. These people do however have control over our fate. But when the attacks started coming from within, that was too close to home, from people who supposedly knew us, what we did, and what were capable of. When [Laboratory] Director Nanos stated that we were liars, cheats and cowboys, that hurt. When the director agreed with outsiders that said they just couldn't "understand how any group of people that purported to be so intelligent can be so inept," and when the director said that Richard Feynman couldn't work here today, that, at least put things in perspective for me.

Four years ago, I was told that I was one of the best employees at the Lab, at least that's what I believe they were conveying to me when then-Lab Director John Browne handed me a Distinguished Performance Award. I now must be one of the worst. I only make that judgment based on the fact that I have done little or nothing for the last six months, with no real prospects for the next six, and no one misses the work I did. If indeed the project I work on ever gets up and running again, it will be to shut it down. Due in part to a statement from Director Nanos, the important production mission I worked on is being moved to Sandia, at great taxpayer expense. This project, although small in scope, provided about a third of our groups' operating budget, and supported about a quarter of its' employees and nearly a score of scientists in other groups.

I have noticed from Mr. Clarks z-number that he is a relative newcomer to the Laboratory. I believe most of us who have worked long and hard (for me more than 30 years in the defense of this country) have now got to think about ourselves and our families, and leave the battles to the younger folks. When Congress, the Department of Energy and Lab management are out to change our way of life, when well meaning employees call people who choose to retire this summer deserters and saboteurs, who needs terrorists?

--Wallace Harbin

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