Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Letters to and from Senator Bingaman

Letters to and from Senator Bingaman

21 February 2005
Senator Jeff Bingaman
United States Senate
110 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
FAX 202-224-2852

Senator Bingaman:
I am a 15-year scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. We need your help to save this institution from demise at the hands of its own management. The situation is very serious and the intervention of the New Mexico congressional delegation may be the only option for recovery.

We now know that all of the reasons given for the lab-wide shutdown in July 2004 are baseless. The Los Alamos staff has always worked to improve safety and security and will continue to do so, but the charges that safety and security performance were dramatically worse than the other weapons laboratories are now known to be erroneous charges. An opinion piece in Physics Today (December 2004) showed that safety at LANL is NOT substantially worse than other DOE labs. Information that emerged in the last few weeks shows that security is NOT substantially worse than the other labs. Here are numbers of serious security incidents at the three weapons labs for the last three years:

Number of security incidents, by site and calendar year (source: NNSA Public Affairs)
CY2002 CY2003 CY2004
LANL 45 42 16
LLNL 11 53 23
SNL/CA 14 13 15
SNL/NM 69 44 47

We now know that the CREM incident of July 2004 was known within days of NNSA notification to be most likely a clerical error. The laser accident of July 2004 was serious, but similar accidents have occurred at nearly every DOE facility that makes extensive use of these research instruments, and no other lab director felt compelled to shut down those labs. The technical staff of Los Alamos will continue to work very hard to improve safety and security, but we cannot do so in an atmosphere of recrimination and threats.

It has become clear that Director Pete Nanos is not exercising good judgment on important matters at LANL. He has not been a leader who garners support. He does not take input from the scientific staff, and his attitude toward us has been one of dismissal, ridicule, and contempt. He has done some good things, but these have been overshadowed by his colossal mistakes. While all previous LANL directors have been criticized, nothing compares with the present. There is unprecedented mistrust and animosity between the Director and the scientific staff.
The past several months have made it clear that neither the NNSA nor the UC are capable of digging out of the current situation. Both organizations are blinded to the distortions that the current LANL management resorts to in describing operations at the lab. Both are apparently too busy “looking tough” to recognize that creativity and innovation in defense technology are the casualties of the onslaught of the absurdly caustic and uninformed rhetoric on the floor of Congress. It is time for the New Mexico congressional delegation to act to force an overhaul of the management. If you do not, the impacts will be felt throughout northern New Mexico for years to come. The careers of hundreds of scientists and technicians will be irreparably damaged. Ultimately, United States national security will suffer.


Bernard R. Foy
Santa Fe, NM

March 16, 2005
Mr. Bernard R. Foy
Santa Fe, NM

Dear Bernard:

Thank you for writing me regarding the current state of affairs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). I appreciate your taking the time to write.

I understand your concerns about the current situation at LANL. I remain concerned about the low morale and the impact that the stand-down at LANL has had on New Mexico’s economy and LANL employees, especially the low and mid-career scientists. When I met last year with Linton Brooks, Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration, I asked him to consider the long-term repercussions of keeping LANL closed for such a long period of time and urged him to have LANL resume unclassified operations as soon as possible. I believe that the work performed by individuals, like yourself, at LANL on a daily basis is very important to the country, and I am proud that our national labs play such a key role in helping our country meet its energy and national security needs.

It is my hope that Director Nanos and the employees at LANL can work collaboratively to ensure the safety and a quick resumption of all work activities at LANL without decreasing morale. That said, I am aware of the recent reports that many of the security lapses at LANL were in fact due to clerical errors, such as the disappearance of two Classified Removable Electronic Media (CREM) disks that in fact never existed. Safety at LANL should be of the utmost concern for the sake of national security and LANL employees. But I also believe the employees have worked very hard to ensure the highest level of safety at the LANL, and they must be recognized for their efforts. As I monitor the situation at LANL, I want to assure you that I will continue to keep the interests of the Los Alamos employees in mind.

Again, thank you for your letter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding any other matters of importance to you and your community.

Jeff Bingaman
United States Senator

FBI admits giving classified files back to man it accused - CNN - Mar 26


This is a job for crack-ass detective Director Pete Nanos. Go to it Pete!
It looks like the FBI now need your touch to help shut their place down!
"It is my hope that Director Nanos and the employees at LANL can work collaboratively to ensure the safety and a quick resumption of all work activities at LANL without decreasing morale."

Excuse me Senator but "YOU DON"T GET IT" Nanos is the reason for the low morale. The condition will continue until he is removed. You should work toward taking this imbecile from our midst rather than "hoping" we can all get along.
He is a politician. Thus the usual politico response. Actually his response is a form letter that he sends to all that have concerns about the recent events at the lab. I got the same one a few weeks ago.
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