Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Kiss of Death: Nuclear Weapons Stealth Takeover

My google news alert caught this phrase in an article:

"Some people say Domenici is a sucker for big science. And they may be right." -Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), when asked at a press conference last week if his vigorous support for his state's Los Alamos National Laboratory had helped create a culture of complacency that contributed to last month's security and safety lapses.

So before the flood of criticism starts about the obvious orientation of the article, read about the group that produced the piece,

Then check out the piece itself for an alternate view:

And then, I suppose, let the flood of cricism start. Regardless of one's view, however, there is some interesting perspective in the article.


A number of inarguables in the article. Here's one:

"At this time in history, it is incomprehensible how a nation can enjoy the benefit of the most sophisticated communications technology in world history and remain so uninformed… or dumbed down."
Doug, did you actually read this thing before posting the link to it? It is such obvious lunacy (not to mention demonstrably inaccurate on some things) that I can't see what possible value it contributes to discussions of the lab.
We should take up a collection. This guy needs more kool-aid. He left out black helicopters and Roswell.
Yep, read the whole thing. Then I read it again, then I read the "about" link which describes the media group that produced the article. Then I went and had a cup of coffee, thinking about how many of the anonymous contributors to the blog would react, but I decided to post it anyhow, as it presents (in part) a perspective on the recompete issue that one would not find elsewhere.

I don't write the articles that I post here, and as far as the blog is concerned, I don't have an opinion about them either. I'm not going to selectively post articles on the basis of whether or not I like them. If I feel that there is something interesting in an article, as it pertains to LANL or the recompete, then I will generally post it.

Brooks was not an admiral but a captain. He wasn't even a graduate of the Naval Academy but of Duke University. He is a part of the naval armada that seem intent on sinking the US nuclear program.

This posting "The Kiss of Death" makes some good points and an equal number of awful points which on average means it has zero informational content. That is figuring out which points are which is squarely in the eye of the beholder.
"This posting [...] makes some good points and an equal number of awful points which on average means it has zero informational content."

I guess that puts it on a par with your average Santa Fe "New Mexican" article, then.
I actually saw an earlier version of this article about this time last year. So from my perspective, this is just recycled "news."
Here is another source for this story

Look at the date.
Its plain and simply. The world is not at piece and if left unmonitored we may in fact see WWIII with death tolls higher them all of the wars put together. Spying is a must.
Here is what we really should concern ourselves with at this time. From another post:

Abolishing Academia at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Contract FY 2007

To whom it may concern,

For the first time in my twenty-two years as an employee of LLNL I can honestly say that the plan to establish a corporation to manage Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees is an absolute brilliant venture, if the mission is to restructure the system without fear of law suites.

For me, my only question to the University of California and to DOE is; just how kind will they be to their loyal employees after twenty to thirty years of service when in fact it was their dedication to duty during the cold war era that kept this country free.

For many of us it is imperative that the answer to this question be delivered on time and without procrastination by April of 2007. After all, you are playing with people’s livelihood where vital decisions must be made with extreme precaution.

For my final input to the success or demise of LLNL I am going to leave you with this fact. As of today the July 29th 2005 I have not talked to a single person who was at age fifty that says they are going to stay at LLNL if and when the UC loses the contract. I will wager that you will lose at least 50-60% of your FTE’s on the day before the new contractor takes control. I am one of those, especially after reading the LANL presentation attached.

So with that said I am going tell you what the employees of LLNL believe they are in for. This is what they are anticipating and quite frankly I don’t believe that their worries are far from being the truth.

· Fears of the new contractor and rumors taken as facts:

· Cut medical coverage – should be retained

· Termination of UC Retirement and 403b – Shameful to say the least

· Evade any possible law suites – good idea

· Employ the step system for pay and salary – absolutely necessary

· Reduce manpower to reasonable levels – not a bad idea

· Freeze wages at their current levels – not good

· Cut middle management by at least 50% - 75% -great idea

· Abolish employees between assignments - issue pink slips- not a bad idea

· Allow all support facilities to be contracted out – not a bad idea

· All employees including PhD’s to become contract labor- equal rights

· Give the employer an easy path for employee dismissal – not a bad idea

· Reduce the population by at least 50% - promote early retirement

· Moth-ball NIF – not a bad idea and great saving to all

· Transfer the Pu facility to NTS – a great idea

· Make LLNL and Institute not an R&D facility - cost effective

I cannot say that all of the above bullets are a bad idea. It is true; the labs need to be restructured. If that means a RIF or the termination and closure of large projects such as NIF and the Pu facility then so be it. But please give the people who are fifty year old with twenty years of service a golden handshake before Sept 29th 2007, and above all retain the medial benefits for all. The medical benefits are the MOST important thing one can have.

In conclusion I will say this to all I am leaving behind in 2007. Be happy that you were not working for United Airlines, Enron or General Motor’s.

LANL Contract Proposal Pay close attention to page 15-second paragraph and page 16.
I said:

" Larry Creamer said...

Here is another source for this story

Look at the date.

8/07/2005 10:21:37 AM"

Let me try that again

Look at the date.

You are fumbling the opportunity that chance has placed in your lap. You oversee a steady degradation of the blog because of your stubborn unwillingness to refuse to disable anonymous hatchet-jobbing, cloaking that in the guise of a commitment to providing an environment free from official retaliation. Now you are choosing to link to pretty much anything that contains "Los Alamos", providing a broader dissemination for the tinfoil-hatted rantings of crazies than they could hope to accomplish on their own. Lunatic blither like "All governments are terrorist organizations" is not "an interesting perspective"; it's a sign that the writer needs to have his can kicked up to his shoulderblades twice a day and thrice on Thursdays. Separate the wheat from the chaff, for heaven's sake. You're the only thing this blog has which resembles an editor. Edit.

Just my opinion, though I happen to think it's worth more than most since it's got my real name attached.
Jim Hill: 8/07/2005 11:46:26 AM said:
" Doug:

You are fumbling the opportunity that chance has placed in your lap. You oversee a steady degradation of the blog because of your stubborn unwillingness to refuse to disable anonymous hatchet-jobbing, cloaking that in the guise of a commitment to providing an environment free from official retaliation."

Following is a comment I made to the top post:

That's a problem with blogs. Anyone who reads this blog can say they are from LANL and sound like they are . Actually, anyone can say they are me just by using my name.

I hope people who are trying to learn about the problems at the Lab understand this.
Jim, for what it's worth: I value your opinion because you signed your name far more than if had it been submitted anonymously.

I disagree with parts of it, however. In fact, the violence with which you appear to disagree with the right of the free press to publish articles with which you seem to disagree detracts a bit from your argument.

Regarding whether or not to continue to allow anonymous submissions to the blog: believe me, I would prefer to retract that submission venue on this blog. I was convinced, grudgingly, to continue to allow anonymous posting by the number of people who responded the last time I suggested it.


Methinks you misunderstand my position on a free press. One would be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of a free press than I. However, the late William Henry was spot-on when he wrote that just because all men may have opinions does not imbue all opinions with the right to be taken seriously.

I believe in the marketplace of ideas. I believe that bad ideas (e.g., National Socialism and the endlosung) are better defeated by exposing them to light, reason, and ridicule rather than by attempting to suppress them as today's German government has done.

However, there are ideas good and bad, and then there are ideas just too stupid to bother refuting. I wouldn't deny a man with a pulpit the right to post an essay explaining that the ills of the Lab today are attributable to George W. Bush's habit of eating infants but I'd certainly chastise you if you chose to link to it and called it "an interesting perspective".

And that, as Mr. Gump once said, is all I have to say about that.
There is nothing in the concept of a
free press that says you are obligated
to let someone speak at a podium you
paid for. It just means you can't
go an push him off of his.
The article linked to is just too wacko; never mind all the blatantly obvious factual errors, sloppy editing and tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories.

I have to think this article's assertions wouldn't have made it onto the X-Files because it was too rediculous.

I have to agree with Jim Hill's position.

While it does stimulate postings on the blog, it's irrelevant for its wacko-ness and is only an interesting perspective in that it helps exemplify why America seems to be circling the drain while China and India eat our lunch and take our jobs: much of our society seems to be too stupid and gullible to accept as fact anything that doesn't read like a hollywood movie script.

To highlight such fruitcakes I think brings down the property value of the blog.
t sure sounds to me as if Jim Hill, and a couple of the anonymous posters who followed him in this thread are volunteering to help weed out publications with acceptable content from "tin foil" publications.

Offers accepted: Send me mail at

and I will see that you are added to the list of blog maintainers, if my other co-maintainer agrees.

Names required, of course.

Vast global conspiracies among the rich and powerful are always dismissed as lunacy. This is the "conventional wisdom" espoused by corporate media. How convenient and how ideal for those engaged in conspiracies that they set the terms of the debate; where to point out obvious collusions and objectively verifiable linkages among people and institutions merits the label of paranoia.
I've posted before anonymously, for a number of reasons, but three of your posters who use their names, and whom I respect greatly, have convinced me to do the same. I've commented on the situation at Los Alamos on my blog, WhirledView.

Part of the reason I've posted here anonymously is the sheer volume of garbage and mean-spiritedness deposited here. My comments here have had to do with looking at what the employees want Los Alamos to be.

A number of books have been published this year on Robert Oppenheimer and the Laboratory. One of the characteristics of the Manhattan Project was that, even while they were working flat out to develop and build the bombs, most of the scientists kept larger goals in mind. That means national policy and how the bombs were to be used.

There are few now working at the Lab who recall those times directly, and a few more who know people who can (or could; many of them are gone). Fascinatingly, some of the blather on this blog resembles some of the withdrawal behaviors that were manifested then in reaction to the dreadful reality of the bomb.

Likewise, in the larger society, most adults were born and educated after the days when they had to learn to dive under their desks in case of nuclear attack, when some of us contemplated the futility of that little action in the face of megaton weapons. The danger of those weapons is being lost as they are being conflated as WMDs with chemical and biological weapons--also horrifying, but much less destructive.

So now I come to the document that Doug has linked.

Yes, it's full of inaccuracies, conspiracies, and controversies that most at Los Alamos are unlikely to agree with. It's got its absurd side.

But what it does that this blog has not done is take the larger view. What do nuclear weapons mean to our society? How should their production be managed? What are the incentives for a private corporation? A university? What are the downsides to either type of management?

Los Alamos had a purpose during the Manhattan Project. It then went through a period of drift and confusion until the decision was made to develop thermonuclear weapons. The Cold War arms race kept Los Alamos busy enough that its extension to other projects during that time went unplanned and unconsidered.

As a result, Los Alamos is made up of many kinds of scientists and engineers doing many kinds of research and development, so there are many voices.

Those voices need to be talking to each other, not sneering, and they need to be asking the big questions.

Los Alamos can engage the nation in discussing these questions. I suspect there are many retirees besides me who would join in actively if we saw some faint flicker of concern for something beyond the 9/80 work schedule and trashing managers.

What kind of nuclear future do you want?

Cheryl Rofer
I like the fruit cakes. I find them amusing, and terribly saddening. They are the reason for such failures here at this lab.

Forget this business of having others censor anonymous posts. You will just get fascists involved in doing the censorship. We have the LANL newsbulletin when we need censorship.

Yes, some of the anonymous posts not very good (malicious, stupid, etc). But, that is the price to be paid for a free press.

Indeed, if a few LANL managers get trashed by name, that is not the worst thing that could happen.
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