Friday, March 04, 2005

The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath

Executive Summary

The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath

Todd Kauppila

On July 6, 2004, two CREM items appeared to be missing in DX-3. A wall-to wall inventory of all DX-3 CREM had revealed a discrepancy in the amount stored in a safe. The discrepancy was reported to the DX Organizational Computer Security Representative (OCSR), DX-3 and Division Office management, as well as to the Security Division, in strict accordance with Laboratory requirements. When the discrepancy could not be reconciled within 24 hours, NNSA was also notified. A local Security Investigation Team (SIT) was convened, and over the course of the next few weeks, a chaotic series of thorough and intense physical searches was conducted, both inside and outside the building where the safe resided. At about the same time, the SIT sequestered the nearly dozen people who were authorized access to the safe, and interrogated these individuals repeatedly and at great length.

Though not very likely, the possibility that the missing items could have been mistakenly put in a different repository was explored, along with thorough searches of the building where the CREM was stored and the surrounding area. Finally, a few of us who were on administrative leave, because we were authorized access to the safe in question, began to look at the CREM tracking system, past inventories, and all classified portable computers that had been used with the CREM over the past year. A pattern began to emerge that suggested there were fewer actual CREM items than the inventory listed. We analyzed all the records from the electronic tracking system all the way back to a classified international conference we participated in during the fall of 2003, where the CREM was initially generated. During this conference the CREM custodian had mistakenly entered a set of bar-code numbers into an electronic accountability system, even though the amount that had actually been assigned to specific media was less. A series of previous audits that failed to reconcile this mistake were the root cause of the difficulty in reaching our conclusion.*

When this plausible explanation was advanced by our OCSR to the SIT, it was not only rejected categorically, but also, in very short order the pertinent records were confiscated, and the OSCR was forbidden to speak to anyone about this line of thought. After nearly two long weeks of tense meetings devoted to the CREM issue, this threatening confrontation was the final insult that provoked The OCSR’s decision to resign from the Lab. Alarmingly enough, this development strongly suggested that the SIT had already reached a conclusion about faultfinding and was unwilling to consider the strong probability that the allegedly missing CREM never existed. However, this information leaked out and may have influenced the Lab to hurriedly assemble an independent team to test the hypothesis. Meanwhile, the Director had already forced a work suspension across the board, because a laser safety incident, with injury, complicated the Lab’s operational picture. Moreover, the FBI had begun to investigate the missing CREM. But before long, the Lab’s story began to change, and in an August 11 news article, Senator Domenici revealed the possibility that the CREM issue might actually be a case of a “false positive,” or that of a system indicating that something was missing, when it actually wasn’t.

In August, though the account custodian attributed the CREM issue to error and was later terminated from LANL, a series of Case Review Boards were convened to make recommendations for punitive action against others with authority to access the CREM repository. In my case, curiously enough, the Board recommended 3 week’s suspension without pay, essentially for taking excessive training and being on vacation when the CREM issue developed. Nevertheless, the Acting DX Division Leader proceeded with my firing on September 23, 2004. The Board’s review was little more than subterfuge, for the Director had carried out a threat made against me in early July for not rushing home from vacation as the CREM crisis began.

* Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and another independent panel have supported this conclusion.

The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath

(Details)

In a late December 2004 brown bag lunch held by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Director Nanos at DX-3, the Director spent more than an hour regaling attendees with stories of his military career. Posing with his black cowboy hat, he explained that he had proudly shot the cowboys who were responsible for the safety and security problems that prompted the July shutdown of the Lab. He said that he would make certain “those SOBs” would never work at Los Alamos as long as he was Director. He continued by bragging that his “government-funded attorneys were cheaper than the cowboys’ private attorneys” and he could “outlast them indefinitely”.[1]

Until now, John Horne and I have been silent regarding the “cowboy/butthead/C-student” accusations voiced by the Director in his first all-hands meeting in July 2004.[2] However, after the DX-3 classified removable electronic media (CREM) incident, lengthy investigations, Case Review Board recommendations, disciplinary actions at odds with those recommendations, and an official investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it is our hope that a narration of events leading up to and following the CREM “incident” is now timely. The Director has failed to maintain his composure and his objectivity during the entire course of the CREM investigation, unduly influencing the latter through actions and rhetoric that reflect poorly on him, the University of California, the Laboratory, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Nation. His conduct, in a word, has been unbecoming and deserves condemnation. His consuming interest was in finding scapegoats, and his quest was thus far successful. Pity that he was indifferent to the truth.

We now know the official results of the FBI investigation have become public and their conclusion matched our own,[3] that no CREM were missing at any time. These findings suggest we have every reason to expect exoneration, yet we continue to be vilified by the Director at every turn, and perhaps have only faint hope that promising careers can be rescued from the scorn and suspicion of unenlightened managers, who must demonstrate fealty first and integrity second.

Background

Procedures to account for CREM derive from corrective actions taken following the well-known Wen Ho Lee security incident of 1999, and are called Requirements for Accountable CREM. These requirements describe a lengthy assortment of nonvolatile digital storage media (removable hard disk drives, laptops with removable hard drives, floppy diskettes, CDs, DVDs, Zip and Jaz disks, etc.) that can qualify as CREM, and dictate how these items must be catalogued, protected, and tracked.[4] Traditionally, technical presentations containing text and image view-graphs are created with computer software, stored on electronic media such as a hard drive or disk, and displayed through the use of a computer-linked projector, eliminating the need for transparencies. If the display material is classified, then the computers and media used must be authorized for such use and are accountable as CREM.

At the time of the latest CREM incident in July 2004, so long as the general stipulations in Notice #0136 were met, line organizations at Los Alamos were free to develop and implement their own procedures for handling and tracking CREM. While barcoded serial numbers were required for marking CREM, a shortage of barcode scanning equipment forced many organizations (including DX) to visually read the numbers of each barcode and enter those numbers into accountability, increasing the likelihood of entry errors. Software needed for tracking CREM items could also be developed locally, and so the only common feature of LANL’s CREM process was the haphazard approach taken by the line organizations in attempting to satisfy the general requirements.[5] The CREM custodian, charged with oversight of the CREM process in each organization, generally took on this job assignment with the understanding that it was only a part-time job and an added duty that wouldn’t interfere with the person’s primary job function. The approach to training can be similarly casual and treated as a chore that could be postponed until the training time was convenient for the assignee. This assignee generally was not proficient in computer skills, but was persuaded that the simple barcode accounting task was easy to master and was not a burdensome or particularly risky task. Verification of the CREM inventory was not required and seldom occurred when custodians changed, increasing the likelihood of proliferating errors without prompt detection. Those personnel likely to generate CREM were sometimes given blocks of barcode numbers to apply to generated CREM over some period of time, and the numbers were only to be entered into the accountability system when the CREM custodian was notified that one or more of the barcodes were actually affixed to created CREM. Since the CREM incident, requirements for creating and accounting for CREM, as well as training requirements for custodians, have become more rigorous. In fact a recent job ad for a CREM custodian required “flawless performance” as one of the job criteria, prompting several letters to the editor of the Los Alamos Monitor and causing much astonishment among Lab staffers. [6]

During the fall of 2003 I served as chair for a classified international conference at the Metropolis Super Computing Center. To support classified presentations at this conference, John Horne received from his CREM custodian eight barcodes to use as necessary to mark any CREM that might be generated. Unbeknownst to us when the eight barcodes were issued to John, the issuing CREM custodian, who had held the job for only one month, immediately entered all eight barcodes into the accountability system. In the course of preparing presentations for the conference, John actually applied only six barcodes to CREM, which were delivered to the custodian by placing the properly marked CREM into a safe along with a conveyed message to enter the disks into accountability. At that point John’s obligation under existing CREM procedures was fulfilled, there being no requirement for him to oversee or witness the custodian’s subsequent activity. Thus, because of an accounting error at the conclusion of the conference, eight disks were in the CREM accountability system, while only six were actually generated (thus the “missing” two disks). Nearly nine months would elapse before we would stumble onto this accounting error.

DX-3 CREM Inventory Crisis

On July 6, barely a month after an institution-wide CREM inventory had revealed an accounting error in the DX-7 inventory (totally unrelated to this current crisis), the DX-3 inventory of CREM items assigned to John indicated that two items could not immediately be accounted for. A frantic search for the allegedly missing items ensued, but when they couldn’t be found in the first 24 hours, notification beyond the Division was required.[7]

At the time of the DX-3 CREM incident, I was enjoying a long-delayed family vacation in Washington, D.C., where I answered a page from my Deputy Group Leader on July 6 (my 20th Wedding anniversary). Upon phoning in, I learned for the first time about the inventory discrepancy. I was asked to return to Los Alamos immediately to discuss details that could not be revealed over the phone. Reluctant to terminate my vacation at that point (for the CREM items in question were not mine), I suggested instead that because I had my badge with me, I could travel to the Forrestal Building (DOE HQ) and arrange to discuss the manager’s concerns over a classified (STU) phone. The manager agreed to this offer, and in brief conversations over the course of the next two days, we discussed the problem, and the manager’s concerns were alleviated; he agreed that there was no reason to rush back, and gave me permission to continue my vacation.[8] After all, the CREM items were not in my name, and it looked like I could not be of much help even if I were at the Lab. I would later learn that this delay in my return, even though approved by my manager, had enraged the Director, who demanded that I be fired. It would take a few months for him to make good on his threat, but he clearly made up his mind that day, and all his actions since then point to that very plan.

Near the end of my vacation, my deputy group leader paged me again. When I phoned him this time, he told me that I was really needed back at Los Alamos and must return right away. I thanked him for giving me the few extra days and agreed to fly back the very next morning.[9] I left my family to fend for themselves and returned to the Lab. Upon arrival at DX-3, my badge was confiscated and I was summoned to what would be the first of numerous meetings with the LANL Security Investigation Team (SIT) that had been convened for the case.

Investigations

Once the CREM inventory revealed that two items could not be accounted for, the searches unfolded in a series of increasingly anxious efforts in ever widening circles and in all directions—up, down, and all around, canyons and ceiling tiles included. News of the suspicious incident had spread swiftly to UC, NNSA, DOE, Congress, and the media. By the time the SIT appeared on the scene (July 8th), the focus was on the roughly dozen people authorized to access the safe where the allegedly missing CREM should have been stored. Badges of the dozen people were confiscated, and everyone was treated with dark suspicion, though none more than John and myself, even though my role seemed to be little more than incidental. The presumption now was that misconduct (if not outright espionage) might well be in play, and the trail was growing colder with the passing of time.

As pressure increased, the SIT investigation stalled, with no discernible progress being made in the face of a daily requirement for a SIT status report to the Director. Our situation was complicated by the mid-July appearance of Federal investigators, who immediately targeted us for scrutiny. Frustrated by the lack of progress, though, the Director lashed out at DX managers, and in one meeting the DX Division management blamed the current crisis on the DX-3 “cowboys” who simply wouldn’t follow the rules. By declaring helplessness in the face of these few uncontrollable workers, management had attempted to deflect criticism from themselves directly to John and myself. The “cowboy” term resonated with the Director, who then used it on the frequent occasions in July and August when the CREM issue was a subject for discussion. The Director also seized on his discovery of a bumper sticker (“LANL: Striving for a Workfree Safety Zone”) as yet more evidence of a deplorable cultural mindset at the Lab. He may have seen the sticker somewhere other than DX, but the way he used it in his first All-Hands Meeting did not make that point clear. Rather than to be stimulated into probing to find out what procedural frustration might provoke someone into displaying that damning slogan, he chose an illogical extrapolation that gave him license to declare it was indicative of a general contempt for rules by LANL workers. In mid-July a laser safety incident with injury occurred and was used along with the CREM incident to justify forcing a suspension of work at the Lab by the Director. The “cowboy” label continued to be used, but now its derogatory meaning had expanded to apply to anyone who demonstrated even a hint of skepticism about the decision to suspend all work at LANL. Indeed, line managers were directed to identify “cowboys” in their organization so that these personnel could be isolated and eventually removed from LANL’s ranks. The Director was widely quoted in the press, with two notable newspaper articles appearing in the July 13 and July 20. By this time, personnel in DX were being blamed for putting the UC contract at risk, contributing to a cultural attitude that needed to be stamped out, and displaying academic arrogance that dated all the way back to the Manhattan Project.

In this atmosphere and with this kind of treatment to contend with, we had enormous difficulty concentrating on the CREM problem that was our daily and nightly cross to bear. Because the issue seemed to track all the way back to the fall 2003 conference, it was hard enough to try to piece together events that long in the past. Meanwhile, the CREM investigation was going nowhere, and so a few of us who had come under accusation, along with other colleagues, decided to go back over the records from the CREM media tracker and the computers with extreme care, to see if we could find any clues about the allegedly missing two items. Many days were spent at this task, but finally a pattern began to develop with the periodic activity and inventory records that showed the two missing items being inventoried, but then being removed from the database three times. I found this unusual activity strongly suggestive of a case where two items might have been mistakenly entered into accountability and then eliminated when a subsequent inventory failed to uncover them. As this sequence repeated with each of the inventories (supposedly verified three times since the international conference), it made no sense. Interrogating the registry on the computer confirmed the only media, which had touched the computer, had been barcoded and accounted for and that the unused barcodes never existed. This suspicion was shared with the DX Division OCSR (Organization Computer Security Representative), who then in turn revealed it to the SIT. The OCSR’s information was not only rejected, but she was also then warned not to reveal this discovery to anyone else. Nevertheless, the information was apparently credible enough that the SIT came in after hours and confiscated the OCSR’s records.[10] Alarmed by the combination of the threat and records confiscation, which was just too much for her after nearly two weeks of pointless searches and tense meetings on the CREM issue, she abruptly resigned from the Lab after more than twenty years of dedicated service.

It was this cover-up that persuaded John to hire counsel for his own protection, as the SIT’s astonishing and probably illegal action strongly suggested that John could easily be blamed for the loss of nonexistent CREM. He was convinced that he had retained the two barcode numbers and simply kept them, later shredding them with other items he no longer needed to keep during a midyear cleanout, but he couldn’t prove this claim. Now it looked like the most likely explanation was not only going to be rejected, but also any reference to it was going to be suppressed. The SIT had made it known that the most important goal of the investigation was to protect the credibility of both the Laboratory and the Director, and here was appalling evidence that the SIT would even conceal exculpatory information to achieve its aims. Nor could he necessarily rely on his own management, for the DX-3 Deputy Group Leader had recently declared at a Group Meeting [11] that “HR and S Divisions exist solely to protect the Director.” Despite the attempt to suppress the information we had given the OCSR and SIT, it leaked out anyway, and the Lab was then apparently forced to assemble an impartial team consisting of DX employees to test this theory. Only then did the Director suddenly change his official story and admit the possibility that the missing CREM might never have existed at all. This change would eventually lead to Senator Domenici’s comment on August 11 about the possibility of “a false positive” in the CREM case. Though my concern had grown sharply, I still felt that we had successfully shown—with the actual records—what probably happened; besides, I was still only peripherally involved.

The Director’s position continued to harden. A July 15 safety incident with injury tipped the scales, and he declared a work shutdown shortly after that date, again blaming “cowboys” who wouldn’t follow safety or security procedures as undermining his confidence in the entire institution. In one GLIM (Group Leader’s Information Meeting) he exclaimed, “ If innocent people get caught up in this, tough, I can’t worry about the buddy system here.” He went on to say that he was going to take them out, and if he had to restart the Lab with only 10 employees, then that’s what he was going to do.[12] Anyone who disagreed with him was threatened with dismissal. FBI investigators had been called in to reinforce the investigation into the missing CREM. Now, however, the leakage of the plausible explanation of the two CREM items clearly forced the Director’s hand, leading to his previously mentioned admission that the CREM items might not have gone missing. Further speculation by the Lab on the CREM issue ceased, and we can only sadly conclude that this shift in emphasis was influenced by the need for the Director to justify his earlier rush to judgment in his hysterical claims about worker misconduct. Firings of scapegoats were then essential, or a loss of public trust would be the inevitable result. For the CREM issue, the ones chosen for firing were those who were not yet represented by counsel (including myself, having also been targeted back in July for not returning from vacation on my 20th wedding anniversary!) Again, the sole motivation appeared to be the protection of the Director and Laboratory management.

Case Review Boards

In August, though the Laboratory was silent about progress in the CREM case, and while we were still on investigatory leave, Case Review Boards were assembled to consider charges against us, although at the time the specific accusations were unknown. I was grilled by two specialists from Human Resources for hours on Aug.22. The central points had nothing to do with CREM, but instead concerned my interactions with colleagues, weekend and afterhours time spent at work, and my training records. On September 16th, to my complete astonishment, I received an adverse action letter that invited me to supply written arguments to show why I should not be fired for cause (supposedly the Board’s conclusion). The principal charges against me were clearly trumped up and included ridiculous allegations of misconduct, such as taking too much training. I defended myself with pertinent facts at some length, but was then terminated on September 23 by the Acting DX Division Leader, who said my arguments were not convincing. Weeks later, when I learned that I could use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request a copy of the Case Review Board findings, and finally received a redacted version of the same, I learned to my utter bewilderment that the Board’s actual recommendation was three weeks suspension without pay, contradicting the claim by the Acting DX Division Leader that the board had recommended termination. In the summary, much was also made of my delay in returning from vacation, though not included was the fact that I had permission from the DX- 3 Deputy Group Leader to remain in Washington longer. The Administrative Mandate (AM) 112 requires the examination of one’s career and a bottom up investigatory approach. These requirements were not observed, and of the 22 people questioned about me, astonishingly (in violation of AM 112.09), my own Group Leader was excluded from such discussion because of an unclear time constraint. I suspect the information she would have given would have contradicted a significant portion of the review board report and was intentionally omitted.

In a brownbag luncheon meeting held at DX-3 since my termination, the Director said that he fired me because I had been bullying people since my days at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Because I don’t bully people and I’ve never worked at NTS, it is obvious that this information was manufactured to justify my termination. Clearly the Director believes that the power of his position affords him the freedom from accountability for his shameless mischaracterizations, untruths, and exaggerations. In my case, he has demonstrated that the end justifies the means, however sordid, and he apparently has the full support of UC and NNSA for this behavior. One further point deserves mention. When I filed for unemployment compensation in late October to help me at least feed my family while looking for employment, the Lab protested in writing that I had violated policy and deserved no consideration. I successfully refuted this claim at a formal hearing on December 17, as the official record shows.[13] This time I was not surprised by the Lab’s actions, for I had become accustomed to its propensity for defamatory and slanderous actions.

Meanwhile, John was unaware that a Board had also been assembled to consider his case, until he also received an adverse action letter on November 23 soliciting his arguments to show why the Board’s recommendation of two weeks’ suspension without pay should not be followed for his failure to see to it that CREM under his name was not properly entered into accountability. This letter from the Acting DX Division Leader, refreshingly enough, admitted that the two CREM items were not missing after all. We are disappointed that the Director did not officially share this conclusion with the public, although he allowed a manager to put the statement in writing. John had already passed a lie detector test on November 10 before he had been reinstated, and his detailed response to the letter was confidently written with the expectation that the Board’s recommendation would have to be rescinded. Instead, he was told on December 16 that the suspension would be carried out, and that the period chosen was from December 6-17. Having no other recourse at the time, he agreed, adding that he certainly could not bear the thought of missing a Nanos brownbag lunch scheduled for December 21. Curiously, later that same day, he was told that suspensions couldn’t be postdated, and his actual time off would have to be taken from December 20 to December 31. It seems likely that management did not want any employees with detailed knowledge of the events at that meeting. A subsequent meeting held the next week required questions to be prepared beforehand and in writing. When John obtained his redacted copy of the Case Review Board’s conclusion, the redaction was so extensive that he could read little more than the date of the summary document. He is seeking a more sparingly redacted version, although he is saving the original copy in case journalistic interest in his predicament might be expressed later—perhaps before there is a decision on the UC contract competition.

Reflections

In looking back, John and I must wonder whether our joint 42 years of spotless service at Los Alamos merely represents wasted sacrifice. Why do our personnel files not count in our defense instead of suddenly becoming weightless on the scales of justice? What was the point of sacrificing countless nights and weekends in the creation of the elaborate hydrotest procedural checklists, detailed schedules, and redundant signature protocols that were once so highly prized by the Director, UC, and NNSA? Why are our unique developments there still singled out as the gold standard for complex, multi-diagnostic, hydrodynamics experiments at DARHT, PHERMEX and other firing sites, exemplifying our dedication to safety and security, but now only in our absence? What is the gold standard for management conduct at Los Alamos, or is bronze even too much to expect? When the human cost is so severe, why is justice so elusive? If we had not been able to figure out the significance of the swing of numbers in the CREM tracking records, the terrible conclusion we would be battling right now is the assumption of two missing and highly classified disks, and I suspect that many other workers would have been wrongfully terminated.

—Todd Kauppila

—John Horne

(Communicated to Doug Roberts on March 2, 2005)




[1] Brown bag meeting with DX-3 personal December 10, 2004

[2] Nanos All-Hands meeting July 14, 2004

[3] CREM II Meeting February 9, 2005

[4] Lab/UC Notice, 0136

[5] Lab/UC Notice, 0136, Page 3

[6] Job ad # 208755

[7] July 7, 2004

[8] STU-III conversation with line manager and SIT July 8, 2004

[9] 6 am flight to Los Alamos leaving spouse and 2 children to fend for themselves July 16, 2004

[10] July 20, 2004

[11] DX-3 group meeting July 15, 2004

[12] All-Hands Meeting, July 22, 2004.

[13] State of California EDD case#1458179

Footnote

On February 16, 2005, in a meeting in front of at least 20 personnel at DX-3, Nanos called Todd Kauppila a “bullying SOB all the way back to his test site days” and was “glad to get rid of him.” In addition he exclaimed his attorneys were “cheaper than ours and would outlast us indefinitely” and then proceeded to claim John “was a fool.”


Comments:
Let me be one of the first to pledge $100 to the legal defense fund for Todd Kauppila and John Horne, LANL heroes of the first order.

-Brad Lee Holian
{Technical Staff Member, Theoretical Division, LANL)
 
LANL "Missing" CREM. The Real Story.
 
The links for the 13 footnotes appear to be broken and return a message that the page cannot be found. Is there a way to see these notes? Thanks.
 
WOW! I'm a group leader and I would contribute to a Legal Defense Fund if it were set up.
 
Although the facts are somewhat inflated for effect, I would corroborate much of what was written in the original post. Certainly Nanos deliberately misled the public, the press, the Congress, the UC Regents, his own staff, the NNSA, his subordinates, and the community. At one point, I expected an apology. As time went on, an honerable resignation might have served. It is now time to remove this man and have a special inquiry into his outrageous behavior.
 
Is it possible to court martial a military officer after retirement?
 
I'm curious. What facts do you feel were exagerated?
 
Several years ago, Bill Wray wrote several items to the newsbulletin on how he was treated. Since John Browne was DIR, the newsbulletin actually published them. Now, evidently, the treatment of these DX-3 people is much worse, and of course it won't get published in the newsbulletin. I hope you get a great lawyer who will work on a contingency basis, because its going to take a lot more that a defense fund to fight this.

I hope the various people you have been in contact with (the deputy GL?) will have the guts to tell the truth!
 
Todd and John: You are truly victims of a corrupt laboratory management. That's well know throughout this laboratory. Hopefully D.O.E. and U.C. will remove that concer proptly.
 
Another $100 for the defense fund.
David F. Simmons
Soon-to-be-Ex TSM
 
This surely puts some context around those few people who accused LANL scientists of being self-important for protesting the shutdown and refuting its justification.
 
The Todd Kauppila and John Horne cases closely mirrors others where Director Nanos scapegoated innocent employees and twisted laboratory processes for his own purposes. One of those purposes was to support his erroneous preconceptions. In all these cases, he and his culprits have denied to employees the basic due process that is guaranteed to them by the very Constitution that Director Nanos once swore to defend. If there ever was any doubt, this travesty and the other cases shout out the appropriate response to the question raised by Senator Domenici and the Los Alamos Monitor, "Why not just get over it and move along?" Any newspaper or politician that suggests that injustice be accepted and tolerated is out of touch with precepts upon which this Republic stands. When the bludgeon of injustice falls upon one human, all of humanity is bruised.
 
I hear the distinctive crunching sound of crow being eaten.
 
Senator Domenici:

How about if you get over it? Nanos' lies are exposed.
 
Todd and John thanks for an absolutely enthralling read. Even if the account were half true and slightly inflated, it tilts my judgment of Pete from him simply being an incompetent jerk, to being an evil and immoral individual who must be removed from our midst immediately. His behavior borders on criminal and certainly qualifies as textbook abuse of power.
 
Maybe the Senator and the Monitor should suggest (even demand) that the University of California "get over it " and settle these horrific cases of injustice instead of paying enormous sums to outside legal counsel to drag the cases out as long as possible in order to drive their victims into bankruptcy.
 
As awful as this situation is for Todd Kauppila, the stories of other individuals fired and belittled by Nanos are even more tragic. Hopefully they, too, will come forward with a full accounting. In one case, for example, the individual was fired just days before she would have become vested in the precious UC retirement system. I know her personally, and she is not the willful rule breaker that Nanos would like us to see. BTW, a legal defense fund for those individuals has existed for months and had over $8000 in it at one point.
 
I think the Director's attorneys will be earning their salaries on this one.
 
After reading this, I have now lost respect for S-Division and the US Navy.
 
Wow. I knew the CREM story was going to be bad, once the truth was told, but this is even worse than I imagined.

Nanos's actions go beyond "bordering on criminal," as a previous poster stated. They cross the line. Nanos belongs in jail.
 
How do those people on the SIT involved in an (alleged)attempted cover-up look at themselves in the mirror every day? To sell yourself out for a principle is one thing, but to sell yourself out for Pete?
 
I do hope those people on the SIT have bad lawyers. Because they are going to need good ones.
 
As they said in the X-Files,"Trust No One."
 
If proven true, this is sad, very sad.
 
I'm still undecided if the Director deserves my contempt or my pity for his purported actions.

As a retired Vice-Admiral in the US Navy and as Director of LANL engaging in such petty behavior. Indeed, a sad day for these two honored institutions in the United States.
 
It is time to demand action. Here are a few email addresses for people who need to know that the time has come to remove Nanos:

Secretary Bodman: The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov
Senator Domenici: senator@domenici.senate.gov
Senator Bingaman: senator@bingaman.senate.gov
Congressman Udall: nm03ima.pub@mail.house.gov
NNSA Head Linton Brooks: linton.brooks@nnsa.doe.gov
UC President Dynes: Robert.Dynes@ucop.edu
 
Perhaps the Director and a few others need to embrace the University of California's motto, "Let There Be Light".
 
UC paid off Walp and Doran millions.

Should the assertions posted here be proven out in court, UC is in so deep for wrongful termination, harassment and creating a hostile work environment, it's no wonder we've seen them close ranks behind Nanos.

The have no choice but to support him or totally undermine their defense against such a case.

John Browne fell on his sword for a mouse in the living room, while Pete's elephant in the bathtub is ignored.
 
Now this is a truly chilling account…

I just can’t understand something very simple. Didn’t Nanus realize that the truth would come out, sooner or later? That his actions would go down in history as despicable crimes against the people of LANL and, above all, National Security? Or perhaps all he can think of now is how to avoid going to jail in the immediate future?
 
This brings up the point as to who is responsible for these suits after the UC is relieved of command. I suppose it will still be the UC but the lawyers would have to come out of the UC system and would they still be reimbursed by the DOE? As a public service this account should be published in the Monitor. I’m ready for jury duty!
 
When I read Todd's post, after being aprised of it in a conversation with Todd earlier this evening, the content was not surprising to me. This is the data that DX-3 personnel have had at hand for months. That said, I was somewhat taken aback by the surprised tone of much of the commentary added following his post. I had assumed that everyone must know these facts by now. Guess not. That said, I would also like to add a few words.

First, there are a couple additional facts not discussed in Todd's post, and for those I simply point you to the February archives to an anonymous post entitled "More on CREM II Incident". Secondly, let me tell you what it's like to have the honor of being put on investigatory leave (IL) so you'll be prepared when your turn in the barrel comes out of left field. You show up to work on July 22nd as usual. Usual at this point follows several days under escort because your blue badge has already been pulled. You head to the group office under escort to sign the uncleared visitor roster, even though your clearance still exists, just to add insult to injury. Someone politely suggests there is a meeting about to begin in the conference room that "you may want to attend." After dropping your lunch off in the refrig., thinking this is just another normal/recently abnormal DX-3 day, you're escorted back to the conference room where you sit for hours without explanation. Of course suspicion grows as you look around the room and realize that its filled with the rest of the people, plus a few recently added others, who had already had there blue badges exchanged for grey. And, there is one other additional face present; it's that of a HR rep. assigned the task of watching you. As the hours pass, the remainder of the group members are asked to find somewhere else (away from the bldg.) to hang out because something bad is about to happen. While this is going on, PTLA guards are gathering and hiding in various rooms throughout the building just in case any trouble develops. To pass the time, a credible story, accurately depicting what has since been borne out through numerous investigations is laid out on the conference room white board. One-by-one, you're escorted out of the conference room to an empty office where the new acting DL (never met him before) and an HR rep are available to take your badge and provide you with a document that you are asked to sign explaining your rights and responsibilites while on IL. The document goes into such detail that it even spells out your newfound inability to enter the Motorola Bldg. to purchase a burrito and, in addition, that you avoid calling co-workers still at work since it could be viewed as harrassment. In parallel with this activity you're in the process of being berated by the Director at the first of many all-hands meetings for something that ultimately is shown to be a clerical error. You're allowed to go to your office (under escort) to retrieve personnel belongings. You're informed that if it should come to the point of being fired, you will be allowed to return and pick up whatever additional belongings you've missed. Then the silence and waiting begins, months of it. Most folks back at work are either afraid to call you or have been specifically asked not to. When your finally invited back to work, punished or not, it's as if time has been on-hold because nothing has changed and you're only at the beginning of what will become a 6 month long escapade in omphaloskepsis (had to use it once in my life).

In spite of what the director proclaimed at the end of January, we are still not back to work.
 
I have thought for awhile that Nanos may have some form of personality disorder. I am not sure the exact form but it is for people with no shame. Nanos is liar. In his mind he may not know he is lying. He thinks he is the universe. He can not hurt other people, they are simply to serve him. I think it is called the
narcistic personality. They are often capable of reaching high positions due to the lack of shame, however they often do very stupid things that bring them down. Sounds like someone we know. He is a danger. He should go to jail. By the way in light of what we have
read do you still doubt that Nanos tried to halt the Dec issue of Physics Today? I am sure he did. He may well be insane. This is our leader. A man without shame can get far. Most of us will trust what people say particularly people in power. I think it is clear that Nanos is not a honest man. He should not be the director of the lab. Who knows what he will do next?
 
I have long suspected the same. The general term is "psychopath."

See this link for a clinical description. Note in particular the description of the "narcissistic psychopath."

Excerpt: "Callous, deceitful, reckless, guiltless, often intimidating and sometimes violent is the standard description of psychopaths, whose maladaptive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving impair their daily functioning and disrupt the lives of those around them. ...


The narcissistic psychopath is less likely to be violent than the paranoid/sadistic. Hotheaded and coldhearted, he is provoked by perceived challenges to his inflated opinion of himself, . . . and more likely to respond to trivial or even non-existent provocations"

Sound familiar?
 
Many of us have children. What is it that we teach them? Not only is telling a lie the wrong thing to do, but, by necessity, it only leads to more lies. Nanos is still trying to get away with this whopper.
When is UC going to wake up? When can we as Los Alamos employees be free of this man who continues to: taint our collective reputation, destroy lives, waste money, water down our science, spend money on phony programs, redefine failure as success, cover up facts, belittle professionals, weaken National Security? Pete Nanos is the embodiment of the false-bravado, and bad behavior he claims to oppose. If he were my child, he would go take a time out for a long time.
Think about is folks - Oppenheimer, Bradbury, Agnew, Hecker, Browne, and... Nanos? Which one doesn't belong!? Which one NEVER belonged? UC, shame on you. Pete Nanos, resign! Pete Dominici, you are no Saint to me. "Get over it" indeed!
 
If Nanos knowingly keep this information from the DOE at the beginning of the CREM incident, then his actions border on the criminal. It's time for the true investigations to begin. Mr. Nanos, are you aware that plenty of good men in Congress will no doubt be interested in all this? Yes, indeed, I hope you have a good lawyer. You will soon need them. Your utter lack of character in this matter has cost this country dearly.
 
Whew...Talk about someone needing to go for a Fitness for Duty evaluation - the Director appears to be a textbook example. I think even the C students can see that.
 
I am proud that Todd and John have come forward with their stories. If we all have the courage these two fine people have, then we will be able to halt the corruption which has engulfed LANL.

I am also proud that the legal defense fund for the two people who were fired along with Todd has reached such a high amount. My hope is that some talented young attorney will take their case on contingency.

A previous poster wondered who would pay for all this legal action after the new contractor takes over. I can tell you that the same entity which has paid for litigation on all past scandles will pay for it -- that is DOE.

DOE provides limitless funding for LANL to sue its own employees. Is this how democracies conduct their business? Not in my books.

Best of luck to all Todd, John and all the other falsely fired and maligned people in DX- Division.

I believe that in the end, you will all prevail and that all Los Alamos employees will be encouraged, by your example, to tell the truth about the corruption around them.

Hang in there, folks. We are all grateful for your courage.
 
Another gem from the 'psychopath' reference posted above:

"The psychopath understands the wishes and concerns of others; he simply does not care. He believes that he has the right to do what he wants and to take what he can. He manipulates others by deception and/or intimidation, has an inflated opinion of himself and seeks out, then uses, the weaknesses he finds in others. There is no fair mindedness, no self doubt, no compassion or true affection."

Again, doesn't this sound awfully familiar?

One final tidbit from the good Dr. Adams: "It is estimated that 15-20% of prisoners carry this diagnosis."
 
Gee, those descriptions of psychopathic behavior seem to fit many in the SET.
 
Move along, people, move along. Nothing to see here. Don't waste your
time rubber-necking at that dead carcass that was once called Los Alamos.
It's gone now. It was driven into a brick wall by some guy named Nanos.
I hear he was drunk with power at the time of the accident. The really
sad part is that the passenger, UC, didn't even see it coming. They
just sat there in the passenger seat and let Nanos have the keys. Can
you imagine that?
 
There is an important fact that everyone, Secretary Bodman and Senator Domenici especially, should keep in mind: The job of LANL director is not just an administrative one. The director carries one particularly awesome responsibilty that demands the highest level of credibility. Each year, he must certify to the President of the United States that the U.S. nuclear arsenal remains safe and reliable.

Given his indisputable history of lies, cover-ups, scapegoating and white-washing, how can Peter Nanos possibly be trusted with this responsibility? If there were a dangerous defect in the nuclear arsenal that might in any way, real or imagined, reflect poorly on Nanos, you can be assured he would lie to cover it up, national security be damned.

Senator Domenici, I heard your comments at the end of the Bodman meeting last week. I assure you, the outrage at Pete Nanos felt by LANL scientists goes far, far beyond a few coarse words uttered last July. Nuclear weapons are very serious business, and Nanos has demonstrated repeatedly that he has neither the knowledge, the judgement, nor the honesty to be trusted with this awesome responsibility.
 
Enough of the amateur psychiatry
and bombast. That just makes
people who want Nanos to go look
silly. Stick to the facts like the
original post did. That's the
way to get rid of Nanos. The bare
facts plainly stated are
devastating enough.
 
Game Over.
 
I am thoroughly disgusted by the events described in The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath. It reads almost like a Dostoevsky novel. What happened is worse than I could even imagine.

Too many people I have talked to do not even want to admit that they read the blog. I hope everyone who reads The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath will ask 5 people to read it and will ask each to ask 5 others.

I am taking a copy of it to the Los Alamos Monitor this morning and asking what it will cost to publish the main article (not necessarily the comments) as soon as possible. The Monitor has been very silent about the events of the last few months, but they should be inovlved for the sake of the community.

I also would like to contribute to any employee defense funds. By paying taxes, I will be forced to contribute to Nanos' fund. Doug, if possible, could you please post a link on the right side that provides information on where and how to make contributions.
 
I am an early career foreign national researcher here. All the happenings of the last year seemed like a bad dream to me. The CREM incident description given here is a wake-up call. If I had any doubts before about Nanos, I have no doubts now. I had no idea that such a horrible abuse of power is possible in America - the leader of the world's democracy. It seems more like a story of a little banana-republic ruled by a tyrant. As I said, I am just a FN trying to make a living here. But I will sure fwd the link to this story to all addresses given above.
 
What a sad state the laboratory has deteriorated to. Its not just the director, it's all of the upper management who LIE and CHEAT to further their own careers. Since Sig was director, most of those who have made it into upper management have lied about their credentials, their use of taxpayer funds for personal travel, and countless other things. They've lied to DOE, to Congress, and to the American people.
 
Trying to send the link to adresses given above, but Domenici's and Udall's addresses appear as "undeliverable". For these two you need to go to their webpages:

http://www.tomudall.house.gov/feedback.cfm?campaign=Udall&type=Helping%20You%20

and

http://domenici.senate.gov/contact/contactform.cfm
 
Is "stunned" a good word? Does anybody still feel the need to give our director the benefit of the doubt? Myself, I had no idea that the events of the so-called missing CREM had transpired as Kauppila and Horne describe them. And still, all we get from UC is stony silence. Is the entire system as corrupt as it appears?
 
To anonymous at 7:16. The answer is:
Yes.
 
I’m glad at least an abbreviated version of Todd’s account got into the Monitor, early on I heard parts of the sordid story from DX people but I had no idea that he was this totally railroaded. After the Gibbs talk, I was at a loss to explain what Todd’s involvement, or should I say, “crime” was other than he was standing too close to the grenade when it went off. Now it appears he wasn’t even close, it came and found him. Since obviously a Staff member had to be fired over this incident, he was deemed to be the most acceptable (i.e. without legal representation).
 
I agree that we don't need to waste our time replying to folks who don't appreciate the due process provisions of the Constitution. I also wouldn't waste too much time reading from the following website that defines Serial Bullies; http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/serial.htm. However, you might find some enlightment as to what motivates someone we all know.
 
Todd and John, thanks for sharing your experience with so-called "due process". It has been a nightmare.
 
For the poster at 8:16:

You might be a mother in the ebonics sense but you aren't mine or my daddy. Don't address me as a child.
 
If there is a legal defense fund, please post where it is. When there is justice we can all move on.
 
Its interesting to note that it was DX management that originated the out of control cowboys storyline.
 
I do not beleive that DX management ever used the term cowboy or butthead.
 
Putting this aside for a moment. I do not recall any posts or comments discussing what might happen when the next serious safety or security incident inevitably occurs.
 
Pretty obvious, don't you think? Nanos will jump all over the incident like ugly on an ape, holding it up as "proof" that we are arrogant, unsafe (or insecure, as the case may be) butthead cowboys.
 
I am curious to know what Todd and John's explanation for the falsified inventory is. How do you explain that two people signed a federal government document certifying that a CREM inventory was completed when it was reported that the inventory was never done? Do you agree that if correct physical inventory was performed that it would have revealed the discrepancy earlier? Thank you for your response - I am really curious.
 
I thought all the "cowboys" were gone and everybody "Got It" by now?

I know it's been awhile, but I thought I heard the Director say at one of the mandatory meetings that "they" would shut the Lab down? Maybe he said it would just be very bad for LANL?
 
They lied out of fear
 
Now it becomes clear what a distraction from the facts the "they didn't conduct one of the required inventories" argument was. It was a huge red herring paraded across the stage to distract attention aware from the fraud lab management was manufacturing. DOE had Selgado removed over the Walp affair. If it refuses to decapitate the current management structure, the only explanation is apathy.

Any Lab employee could probably think of a hundred things they've done that could be construed as a massive breach of security. Ever walked away from your computer without locking the screen? Ever left a fire door open while moving equipment? Ever missed a training course? Ever left a project without immediately having your computer accounts and credentials revoked? The Lab's policy structure is so impossibly complex, that a damning case could be made against anyone if the management tried hard enough.

It's clear that what violations did occur in DX wouldn't have changed the outcome of anything, because the truth just wasn't an acceptable message to management in July. Nanos had his story, and he refused to give it up until long after everyone else had ceased to believe it.
 
The serial bullying link above is really informative. I found especially insightful the bully's characteristic responses to being called to account:

a) Denial
1) Trivialize
2) Call for a "fresh start"
b) Retaliation
c) Feigning victimhood to "play" others' guilt
1) Pretended indignation
2) "Poor me" drama
 
This is your moderator speaking. Please keep the comments on-topic. Keep it professional. No name calling. Behave.

I cleaned out some of the invective in previous comments. If you feel like I inadvertently removed something deep and meaningful, please put another comment in.
 
In regard to the question about the inventory discepency above. I truly believe it was a mistake probably fueled by schedules and deadlines. These individuals were good people
Todd Kauppila
 
Those guys deserved more than what they got. Trying to trivialize playing fast and loose with national security information is amazing.
 
To Anonymous 8:09 AM

I confuse easily. Who are "Those guys"
 
No one is trivializing anything. The Case Review Board recommended a 3 week suspension, yet Todd was fired. I'm not willing to accept that continuing one's vacation is a termination offense. We've already been swept into witch hunt hysteria several times. We're not going to keep jumping every time someone starts waving the national security flag in the service of their petty grudges.

To the guy at 8:09: the evidentiary basis for your position is collapsed. Inflated rhetoric is not going to restore it. I can see why the Director's supporters are afraid. You thought you could manipulate the social fabric of the Lab through fear and establish your hegemony. You have baselessly slandered good people and tried to perpetuate a fraud. You have failed. Your bag of tricks no longer works, and now the consequences are coming.

(And kudos to Doug for cleaning out the trolls.)
 
Let's all remember that if this "incident" had happened within another
US Government agency there would have been no "incident", because:

(1) Most other Agencies DO NOT REQUIRE the inventory and
bar-coding of removable media at the Secret level.

(2) Most other Agencies would place this incident in the proper
context and not go off half-cocked as our Director did,
immediately looking for people to bully and fire. They
have "circuit breakers" in place to help stop this from
happening.

DOE has placed the labs in an untenable situation. And, BTW, what
ever happened to those three pieces of classified media that NNSA
announced were missing from their Albuquerque office? The silence of
DOE/NNSA on that particular matter is very telling.
 
Absolutely True.
At 8:30 a.m. I was sitting in the LAMC waiting room. There sat George Nanos. An X-Ray tech arrived to escort him for his appointment. The first things that came to mind were: Is U.C. finally serious about investigating George? and are they x-raying him to see if he swolloed a few barcodes?
 
Was not there a guy, called Thorne? The skier?
 
I am dismayed by the censorship on this web-site. It seems that as long as the discussion is negative about the lab, it can stay. If anyone adds anything negative about this site, it disappears. Shame on you all.
 
Doug said: I cleaned out some of the invective in previous comments. If you feel like I inadvertently removed something deep and meaningful, please put another comment in.

I say again:

Malicious: adj 1: having the nature of or resulting from malice; "malicious gossip"; "took malicious pleasure in...watching me wince"- Rudyard Kipling [ant: unmalicious] 2: wishing or appearing to wish evil to others; arising from intense ill will or hatred; "a gossipy malevolent old woman"; "failure made him malevolent toward those who were successful" [syn: malevolent] [ant: benevolent]

A good definition for this site.
 
Yeah, whatever.
 
Get over it.
 
Get your head back in the game.
 
What's going on in the last few comments (all by the same person, apparently) is simply vandalism of this website.
 
To the person who wrote:

"I am dismayed by the censorship on this web-site. It seems that as long as the discussion is negative about the lab, it can stay. If anyone adds anything negative about this site, it disappears. Shame on you all."

(is that you, Pete?)

Sorry, this pathetic, disengenous attempt at discrediting this blog simply doesn't hold water. One need only look at the post "Objects to Criticism," which is supportive of lab managment, highly critical of this website, and openly insulting to its contributors, to see that your claims of censorship are untrue. Doug did delete some very childish name-calling amongst posters that blatantly violated his ground rules of professionalism in this discourse, but this site is admirably free of censorship. Face it: the reason why this blog is overwhelmingly anit-Nanos is that the LANL workforce is overwhelmingly anit-Nanos.
 
(I apologize for the typos in the post above. I accidently hit the 'submit' button while revising the post. That should be "anti-Nanos," of course)
 
The "get over it" and "get back in the game" remarks are the denial strategy of workplace bullies. They are always trying to grant themselves "fresh starts" as a way of avoiding responsibility for their actions. You can expect lots of deflections and counter-accusations of pettiness when confronting a bully. We cannot afford to let these people slip away without an accounting or they'll just come back another day to do more damage to the Lab.
 
Your moderator here again: I'm not going to delete any of the obvious trolls and responses thereto in the above list of comments. Rather we shall leave them there as an example of how not to be professional in our submissions.

Keep it it clean, keep it professional.

--Doug
 
Thanks to all who have posted here and especially Todd Kauppila.

Reading this blog is like reading the newspapers, one has to assimilate it all, maybe even information from several sources, before being able to make an informed decision that one can be confident is the "right one".

As a Labbie who considers himself to have an open mind and to be one who doesn't rush to judgement, I have always been willing to give all of the "players", including the Director, the benefit of the doubt.

Up until this time I have given the Director that benefit of the doubt, however after Todd's well written post, I do not now think there is any "reasonable doubt" remaining. It would appear to the reasonable person (or juror) that there was indeed a rush to judgement and a search for the "guilty" scapegoat. I am no longer a fence sitter.

The reason Todd's post is so convincing to me is the ring of truth that it carries. As an original "dumpee" during the infamous 1995 RIF, the processes described in the posts here, resemble very closely the processes used in 1995. The fact that I was able to find a position in another Division at that time, working for a person who knew me and the work I was capable of doing, was entirely my own doing. It was not suggested, or facilitated by the Laboratory. In fact it was somewhat difficult to effect the transfer once I had been placed on the RIF list. HR's only concerned seemed to be getting all of the "dumpees" off the site as soon as possible.

We all know how lab managment fared in those law suits, so perhaps the experience will be the same this time.

My only question -- Where do I send a check.
 
{{In regard to the question about the inventory discepency above. I truly believe it was a mistake probably fueled by schedules and deadlines. These individuals were good people. Todd Kauppila}}

Thanks for your response. I am still trying to understand. Do you mean that a mistake was made when they falsified the inventory? Or do you mean that the inventory was mistakenly viewed as being falsified when it really wasn't, or that the inventory was not falsified? Thanks!
 
Like many other readers of this blog, I am having a lot of trouble understanding how Kauppila could have been fired over the barcode incident. (And let's quit calling it a CREM incident, because it clearly wasn't!) I'm having a little trouble believing that anyone could be so stupid as to think he could get away with firing someone for not interrupting his vacation quickly enough! Nor can I believe that anyone could think that the obviously trumped-up "reasons" that Kauppila described would ever stand up.

The Director said in an all-managers meeting in December that those terminated were fired for lying, not for safety or security mistakes. What is it that he implied that they lied about? For instance, was Kauppila involved with the falsified safe inventory that Gibbs described? If not, please confirm, and dispel my last shadow of doubt.
 
The director accused Brad Holian of lying also. ("Purjury" to be exact) I'd take his claims with a 50 lb. brick of salt.

Todd admits getting an adverse recommendation from the Case Review Board (3 week suspension without pay), which I suspect was appropriate and measured to whatever violations were committed. Since the Director was trying to get all divisions to identify and fire people who were not "on board with the program" or not "getting it" to his satisfaction (I believe the original intent was to fire thousands), it's plausible he got directly involved to insure Todd's termination.
 
Am I the only here one who thinks this account is extremely biased, self-serving, and emotional?

I see little hard evidence provided by these two former employees in their case against Nanos. This account of affairs is very emotional. There are implications, allegations, and most of all, a biased interpretation of what tranpired. Many of the readers on this blog are seeing what they want to see in this letter. But I reach a very different conclusion: FORMALLY, there was a case to fire the two, probably for signing all kinds of inventory paperwork without paying close attention. No mention of teh is made.

Mayer's letter was equally self-serving and emotional (how can they touch me, I am a member of the academy?), but at least it had some hard facts and useful account of events, that one can really use against Nanos. Reading Meyer's letter, the lab management was 100% disfunctional. So why did he participate as an upper level manager in what appears to be a corrupt administration? He retired just after reaching 5 years in the US retirement system. First things, first, of course.
 
I can assure the above 5:58 poster that I never lied about the inventory and was never even accused of such. The FBI, Laboratory, and third party investigation all confirm this. If you recall the Scott Gibbs presentation a lady stood up during the question and answer period and asked "what about the third person involved" Gibbs was strangely quiet.
Todd Kauppila
 
"Am I the only here one who thinks this account is extremely biased, self-serving, and emotional? "

You might not be the absolute only one, but I suspect your view is extremely rare.

Personally I found both Todd Kauppila's and Tom Meyer's accounts extremely level-headed, cogent and unemotional, given that both men are the victims of extreme injustice. One might expect a bit of emotion to leak through in such circumstances. Biased? Both are first-hand accounts recounting personal experiences; of course any such account is going to be biased toward the author’s viewpoint. So what? Self-serving? Only in the sense that they are both defending themselves against untrue allegations and unjust punishments.

Kauppila's and Meyer's accounts, together with a wealth of other anecdotes from reliable sources, as well as first-hand experience, paint a self-consistent picture of a self-aggrandizing, megalomaniac director run amok and a Senior Executive Team too fearful for their own careers to oppose him. The very fact that Nanos precipitously ordered a multi-month, billion-dollar shutdown over so trivial an incident as this barcode discrepancy gives us the measure of his judgement. The fact that he stood before the entire LANL workforce, before congress, and before the whole world, and exaggerated the seriousness of this incident until it appeared to be a major security breakdown, painting us LANL employees as a bunch of incompetent goof-offs unconcerned about security, gives us a measure of his honesty. I know from first-hand experience that Pete Nanos is a liar. I don’t know either Todd Kauppila or Tom Meyer, but their accounts have the ring of truth, and these accounts jibe with what I know first-hand.

Nanos is throwing around accusations of lying with wild abandon; apparently, anyone who opposes him is a liar. On the other hand, scores of people, people not normally given to making accusations of lying, unanimously say that it is Nanos who is the liar. On simple probabilistic grounds, which claim is more likely to be true?
 
The real truth is lost in both accounts (Pete's and Todd's). Nonetheless, Nanos is the one who SHOULD have been fired.
 
Absolutely. I know for a fact that both Nanos and Meyer lied to their employees. The lab has a culture of half-truths and that being less than truthful is OK if it serves the greater good.

Let us be honest, many large projects at the lab are big lies.

The acount by Kaupila and Horne avoids unconvenient aspects of what happens. Think about that: if somebody at DX was more carful, this blog would not exist. This is why their account is not credible and it will not have a big impact. Did Meyer's account actually have a significant impact?

Holihan's article had such a strong impact because it contained credible data compiled outside Los Alamos. A credible and unbiased account is urgently needed.
 
I completely disagree that Meyers' letter did not have a significant impact. Tom Meyers was a credible, well respected scientist outside of LANL before he came here. The fact that he wrote such a detailed, dispassionate letter detailing Nanos' failings as director carried tremendous impact.
 
Re: the footnote about the 2/15 meeting: '...and then proceeded to claim John “was a fool.”'

The footnote is misleading. I was at the meeting. Nanos called Horne "a fool" when Horne claimed that the black cowboy hat Nanos wears is meant as some sort of symbolic message directed at DX-3. Nanos blew a fuse at this and said the reason he wears the hat is because he had a melanoma on his face a few years ago and is trying to prevent getting another one, and besides "this is the only hat my wife has ever liked on me."

I used to work at TA-3 and can verify that Nanos was wearing the black cowboy hat long before the CREM incident. Pete Nanos is sorely lacking in self-control and people skills, but imbuing every nuance of his behavior with sinister motives is just asinine.
 
PUNISHMENT FOR THE DX CREM INCIDENT WAS APPROVED AND SET IN CONCRETE BY PRESIDENT DYNES ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2004. THIS WAS BEFORE THE FBI DISCOVERY THAT THE TWO ITEMS OF MISSING CREM NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED. INCREDIBLY, NO CHANGES IN THE PUNISHMENT WERE APPARENTLY TAKEN AFTER THIS DISCOVERY BY THE FBI.

I'm sorry but this warped approach to justice is like having a person standing on a scaffold with a noose around his neck when someone runs in shouting that based on DNA testing the accused is absolutely innocent. The guy on the scaffold with a noose around his neck protests loudly, reasserting his innocence. The chief executioner, aka Admiral DOE NANOS yells back, "Shut up, you SOB! You've done nothing but complain since you got up here!" In a rage over this off-normal disruption in his formal, approved, and signet-stamped procedure, the executioner pulls the lever releasing the trap door. We all know the rest of the story. The local Senator stops by a few hours later, kicks the corpse, and yells to it, "Get up and get over it."
 
So, what's up with the falsified inventory? Who did that? And, if Horne and Kappulaa (sp) falsified it, then they should have been fired for it. End of story.
 
The the poster at 9:12pm, you imply that Kauppila and Horne falsified inventory sheets. I've been to the briefings and read the details of their story and have seen nothing that indicates they were guilty of falsifying inventory sheets. I suggest you spend some time learning the facts before spouting such drivel. You sound like a writer for CBS News.
 
In the interest of accuracy I would like to address a few of the recent comments that have been made. I am the coauthor of the CREM article, and I stand by every word of it. We were very careful to make certain that the article submitted was scrupulously accurate and could be verified. There is not a single statement in this piece that cannot be corroborated by witnesses or backed up by supporting documentation. The individual who posted his comments at 7:44 said the “account is extremely biased, self-serving, and emotional.” I would submit to you that the months of erroneous information fed to the world by the Director was biased, self-serving, and indeed emotional. Above all it was untrue.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to remain completely dispassionate when writing about an issue that one is so deeply involved in. Considering the devastating consequences of the Director’s actions and strident claims, I believe our words were reasoned and appropriate. While some might feel our account is self-serving, our right to defend ourselves with facts is completely justified. Who in his right mind would silently tolerate the indignity and injustice of a false accusation followed by outrageous punishment? In our opinion, the time for balance on these issues was long past due. Recall as well the Director’s remark that a few innocent people might be casualties before the Lab was able to resume operations.

While there was a direct case made to fire two employees involved in the barcode incident and responsible for the inventory error, Todd and I were not among them. Contrary to the assertion of the post, I am still a Lab employee. Moreover, the federal authorities found that Todd and I were “completely nonculpable,” which is a very important point. The federal investigation found that we were both blameless in the events that transpired, yet Todd was fired and I was suspended for ten days. These actions were political in nature and designed to lend credence to the shutdown and the Director’s claims that maverick employees were the cause of his CREM problems. That is why we are fighting the sanctions taken against us. Neither Todd nor I were signatories on any of the documents in question, so indeed no mention is made of that in our statement.

The 9:25 post says that we avoid inconvenient aspects of what happened based on his assertion that if someone at DX had been more careful this blog would not exist. The posted statement is a nonsequitur. We address the fact that the inventory was inaccurate, which was the root cause of the CREM debacle, and a problem, I might add, that we uncovered and reported to the SIT through our OCSR. The Director knew about the hypothesis on July 17, as did NNSA.

Lastly, I would like to address the 10:48 post. The footnote is not misleading. The Director did call me a fool. If you were actually in the room that day then you know that Nanos had lost his temper long before I told him that “his black cowboy hat was a slap in the face to everyone in the group.” Your post is misleading because you fail to provide the context for your statement. Additionally, to claim that I am asinine for pointing this out is more misleading. I have personally briefed the director numerous times. I have close friends and family that work at TA-3. All of them agree that the hat that Nanos habitually wore before the barcode incident was a leather “Indiana Jones” style hat that I have seen many times. The black cowboy hat is a new addition to his wardrobe and designed to send a statement. I stand by my comment. I believe I know who you are. You certainly know who I am. The fact that you did not have the common courtesy to say this to me personally or to post your name is telling.

I cannot relay to you exactly how stressful the last nine months have been for us. Both Todd and I have been slandered, maligned, and defamed. Our life savings have been depleted and our careers destroyed. We have had to sell personal property and go into debt to pay attorneys’ fees. Neither of us is the type of person to shirk our responsibilities. Had we deserved any of the charges made against us or the punishments exacted, then we would have quietly accepted it and moved on. However, we are also not shrinking violets that will allow unethical people to abuse us and our families. When we believe we are right we will fight for vindication.

We both realize that we are not the only ones who have been abused in this situation. The actions of the Director, UC, DOE, and the NNSA are reprehensible. All of you have been unreasonably attacked. Even those who do not work at the Laboratory have been deeply affected. Due to the uncertainty at the LANL property values have plummeted, businesses have failed and everyone here has been placed under completely avoidable stress. As lifetime members of this community we are deeply distressed and dismayed at what has occurred. We hope that you understand our defensive motivation in fighting the actions taken against us.

The information that we presented was an accurate description of the CREM incident. We tried to give as much detail as possible for the venue in which it was submitted. However, it is unreasonable to think that we could cover every nuance and anticipate every question in such a brief account. The proper place and time to delve deeply into the details should be in a House or Senate subcommittee hearing that we expect to happen later this year. We anticipate our testimony becoming a part of that record so that Todd and I can clear our names in an official capacity.

John N. Horne
 
I think Horne has now cleared the air. With regard to the questions raised in this thread about Horne's and Kauppila's culpability in the "falsified inventory" episode, I was earnestly hoping that he or Kauppila would just come out and "say it ain't so." I believe that Horne has now done so: "Neither Todd nor I were signatories on any of the documents in question, so indeed no mention is made of that in our statement."

The Director has said publicly that everyone who was disciplined in the wake of the safety and security incidents of last summer was disciplined for lying. If lying is cause for termination, then it seems to me that lying that Horne and Kauppila were disciplined for lying should also be cause for termination.

And another thing: providing to these two gentlemen only heavily redacted versions of their Case Review Board reports was pretty gutless. It suggests that someone is afraid to state what the accusations against them truly were! In America, one has the right to confront his accusers, but that's a little difficult when you aren't told what are the accusations. Unbelievable.
 
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