Monday, February 14, 2005

My heart goes out to my professional colleagues at the LANL

I have been retired from LLNL for over 11 years. I was once asked if I ever took classified home with me. I replied that I did, every night (in my head). And, of course, so does everyone else with a Q clearance and access to classified information. I believe that the attempt to force security about nuclear weapons through the application of draconian measures and increased paperwork, ignores the rather obvious fact that security depends absolutely and completely upon the loyalty of the individuals in the work force.

It is certainly true that a dedicated ideologue (like Klaus Fuchs) will successfully acquire all your secrets and make off with them, no matter how many controls are put in place to punish even the most minor infractions of the rules. The conflict over secrecy certainly goes back at least to the Groves/Oppenheimer disagreements during the Manhattan Project.

The present-day operative model in Washington politics seems to be that of the Strict Family (replete with the autocratic, 'always right' father, who uses old-fashioned disciplinarian measures to correct 'errors' made by his subservient wife and children; i.e., the Old Testament and/or Islamic model), rather than the Nurturing Family (where husband and wife share responsibility and the children are respected and loved into adulthood, not spanked, shamed and humiliated). Alas, it is quite true these days that when congress (or 'whoever' in authority - you fill in the blanks) wants to punish someone, someone will be punished, regardless of whether the outcome is unfair, or even counterproductive.

My heart goes out to my professional colleagues at the LANL, who are presently bearing the brunt of the mindless and punitive response to errors that have (and have not) occurred. I'm afraid there will always be those who are more concerned with punishing than with progress, with scaring subordinates than with scientific success, with building up themselves than buoying up their associates.

--Cal Wood

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