Monday, May 30, 2005


Los Alamos contract puts UC in PR battle
Texas partnership leads opposing bid to run weapons lab

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The competition to decide who runs Los Alamos National Laboratory is now fully under way, and its outcome will decide whether California loses one arm in its two-handed grip on the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

Last week, after three years of Los Alamos scandals that ranged from the sinister to the tacky to the dangerous -- scandals over missing computer disks containing secret bomb data, an alleged mispurchase of a Ford Mustang , and a woman who suffered a severe eye injury while working with a laser -- the University of California finally, definitively decided to fight for its job as the lab manager. It faces a single titanic competitor, a team jointly led by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and the enormous University of Texas system.


Full Story

For reasons having to do with the mistreatment of its employees, I am not pro-UC. However, there was no CREM missing in the DX case, there was no Mustang purchased, and, while accidents have happened, the overall safety record at Los Alamos National Laboratory is outstanding. It is a shame that a few members of the media seem compelled to fabricate or plagiarize demonstrable lies to sell newspapers. Where does that media practice rate on the egregious scale? Pretty high, I would suspect as Dan Rather and others have recently found out.
Keay also chose to state that our former director (John Brown) was "fired" and Nanos brought in to "clean up the mess" when he was no more "fired" than Nanos was.

UC/NNSA/DOE made decisions about changing our director, but to say "fired" is a bit much, in either case. It is sensational and disengenious.

Deep in Keay's story is a description of the FBI having "turned LANL upside down" looking for missing disks and then implying the two that never existed were not the only ones "lost".

He leaves it wide open to assume the worst when the shutdown was staged *precisely* to make sure *nothing else* was "missing", not *because* it was as he implies.

I don't think Keay Davidson is one of "a few members of the media compelled to fabricate or plagiarize demonstrable lies"... I think he is typical of the business and that it never occured to him that by re-reporting what others had reported (plagarize?) with another spin of sensational implication that he had done anything significantly wrong.

"Just doing his job". Like Nanos when he fired some scapegoats to make it look like he was "draining the swamp" or like the person who bypassed the safety on the laser that lead to the accident that put the icing on our cake last summer, or like the person(s) who didn't handle the barcodes that helped keep track of CREM properly.

Is journalism to be held to a higher standard than we are? Or a lower one? What is at stake when we don't handle our business well? What is at stake when Journalists don't handle theirs well?


I challenge Keay Davidson and other members of the press to dig a little deeper, to assume for one moment that perhaps the "scandal-riddled nuclear weapons laboratory" is not what they think it is, that the "scandals" do not catagorically suggest what they seem to.

There is one hell of a story to be had for the journalist who asks some deeper questions, who at least flirts with some of the conspiracy theories about militarization and industrialization of LANL and later LLNL.

Science and Journalism are supposed to share at least one thing, a search for objective, proveable truth.
The work of journalists for quite a few years now is way worse than anything "scandalous" at LANL, so, should they be rid of their pensions and put under bidding process of some kind?
To 5/30/2005 12:53:14 PM, excellent point about "I challenge Keay Davidson and other members of the press to dig a little deeper..." and "There is one hell of a story to be had for the journalist who asks some deeper questions...". I believe if there is a deep well-executed investigative effort into this, some real sewage would turn up and maybe lead to a Pulitzer. There is FAR more than meets the eye to all of this. If one just looks at the $$$ alone, the recompete makes no sense whatsoever to the American tax payer (and should not make any sense to Congress)...something is terribly amiss (i.e., rotten) and there may be money changing hands under a table somewhere. Also, I have repeated a previous post I did on a different thread that applies here.

"Phrases like “scandal plagued” are sensationalism. Bottom line: sensationalism sells papers, magazines, and advertising. Does anyone really believe that a similar article about all of LANL's positive research, discoveries, patents, and awards would sell? Almost without exception, the negative articles are shallow rehashes of older articles even to the extent of repeating grammatical and factual errors in the reporting. I have seen very little in the way of original news articles and almost none that have required a true ethical research into the facts that would refute many of the allegations."
To 12:53 --

John Brown *was* fired. The last two weeks of his tenure were mostly spent down at Abuquerque area office ingaged in shouting matches with DOE. You should perhaps research your claims a bit more carefully before slamming someone else.
Good for John. was PN our punishment for him sticking up for us. John Brown was a good director.
You are correct in your statement that there was no Mustang purchased. Was the pruchase stopped before it was delivered? Was it ever ordered is another? Maybe someday the truth will come out or is it classified. Maybe you should ask PN. Why are those that had nothing to do with it still being grilled?
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