Friday, May 06, 2005

Domenici blasts LANL remarks

CAROL A. CLARK and ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Staff Writer

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., blasted Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, for being out of touch with the history and value of the Los Alamos National Laboratory during a telephone conversation this morning.

"Why do we have to have this lab?" Stupak asked Jerry Paul, Principal Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration during a House investigative hearing Thursday.

"How are you going to fix it?" he asked again later. "What is going to change with the new manager?"

Domenici said comments that Los Alamos should be closed because of problems were made by someone who doesn't know about what Los Alamos does.

While the laboratory has had some problems, Domenici said, "the problems are on the way to getting taken care of.

"The laboratory is the United States of America's science security blanket. While this lab does many things in the interest of national security, it is also our security against science breakthroughs that might adversely affect our people."

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Thursday that Los Alamos has filled a significant role in national security since its creation as a top-secret World War II project to develop the atomic bomb.

"Anyone who would question the lab's importance clearly does not have an understanding of all that this lab has done and continues to do for the country," Bingaman said.

Domenici was also unhappy with the answers about the lab provided by the NNSA deputy administrator.

In answer to the question of how to fix the lab, Paul referred to an unfinished study that has been cited by NNSA Ambassador Brooks to justify a possible $3 billion cut in the weapons laboratory budget over a number of years.

"What is so special at LANL?" Stupak continued. "Why do we need Los Alamos? What can't be transferred some place else?"

Paul said an outside group was examining that question concerning the entire complex and its critical missions.

"Where do they need to be done and what are the critical missions that are needed?," he asked.

The study, commissioned by Rep. David Hobson, R-Ill., chair of the subcommittee that holds the pursestrings for the energy department, was due at the end of April, but Paul said it is now expected at the end of May.

Sen. Pete Domenici objected recently to funding assumptions based on a study whose conclusions had not been adopted.

"I was very disturbed by the quality of the representation by the NNSA (DOE). The gentleman who appeared seemed to me to be poorly equipped and grossly uninformed about the laboratory," Domenici said.

"How he could do such a terrible job of describing the value of the lab is beyond my understanding, and I will complain directly about that to DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman and NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks."

Hurray for Domenici. He hit the nail on the head. DOE/NNSA is the most incompetent, out-of-touch, pompous government department -- and that is saying a lot. Their arrogance is what caused the shut down of Rocky Flats: "Plutonium in your drinking water? Well ... we could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you, Governor, because we're top secret and sooo special. Ha ha, isn't that funny?"

NNSA routinely sends clueless Washington D.C. bureaucrats to head "study teams". They won't listen to people who are experts in their fields and have a miniumum 30 points higher IQ, because they are from Washington D.C. and they are "large and in charge!" Nanos was clearly from this same school of "management."

And talk about overpaid! Don't get me started. Keep hammering DOE/NNSA, Congressman -- they richly deserve it.

Next, you need to set your crosshairs on the DNSFB. That is a totally lard-filled organization whose mission was fulfilled by 1994. Now they are just riding the gravy train and milking the taxpayers. They prance into the labs and production plants, are treated like kings, find a few nebulous ill-defined "problems," demand they get fixed immediately, then engage in narcissistic self-adulation at their great accomplishments.

We could save big bucks by eliminating the DNFSB entirely, and cutting back DOE/NNSA by at least 50%. Even though the weapon complex is much smaller than in 1989, the DOE/NNSA oversight has mysteriously increased! Something is very wrong with this picture.
It is not uncommon for Congress to hold an Executive Branch organization accountable for poor performance and draw illigitimate conclusions. Neither is it uncommon for Government organizations to blame their Contractor. All this is old news.

The new news was when the Contractor CEO agreed with the critics! Our past Director broke trust with his own organization and declared open season on LANL. I sincerely hope our new Director joins ranks with the dedicated and hard working members of our organization and defends us to the myriad of critics.
When all this insanity started after the Rocky Flats shutdown in '89, my head was spinning at one ludicrous "new initiative" after another. Many completely counter to what is right versus what is wrong; the American Taxpayer; national security; altruism. I was frustrated...I still am, however a wise man told me: "As long as you are on the path of righteousness, keep doing what you are doing."

The "path of righteousness" is not some mythological thing. It is like the Supreme Court Justice (Potter Stewart, William O. Douglas?) famously said about pornography: "I know it when I see it." And so do we all know the path of righteousness. It means hard work, hard science, making things better because it is the right thing to do, implementing engineering solutions using scientific results painstakingly achieved by dedicated LANL, LLNL, scientists -- for all scientists.

Perhaps I am being naive. But, why can we not go back to those halcyon days when we had a purpose, we tried hard, we did the right thing? Or at least STRIVE to do the right thing?

With Nanos the jaded self-serving double-dipper gone, let's try to get back to what's right. Even if it can't be achieved -- the pursuit is of righteousness is its own reward.
Do your homework, Monitor. Hobson is from Ohio, not Illinois. In fact he is the representative for Battelle Memorial Institute, which has managed to get the contracts for four of the five National Labs that they run, thanks to Hobson's advocacy and Battelle's generous donations to Hobson's campaign coffers. Any "studies" initiated by Hobson are most suspect.
Domenici's baby is NNSA he was a big backer of this now he doesn't want it, make up you mind. Sorry Petey too little too late.
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