Friday, September 09, 2005

A few recent comments

Some comments from the



What a pack of cowards!! Is John the only one willing to stand up for what is right here? Just because Nanos is gone doesn't mean that you stick your heads back in the sand and go on like nothing happened. Just because a criminal leaves town doesn't mean you stop pursuing justice. Now that Todd is gone is John going to have to fight these criminals alone? The least you can do is show some support and quit with the Domenici "get over it" lines. Until there is justice there is no getting over it.


"What a pack of cowards!!"

Unfortunately true. I have been struck by the general cowardice of the bulk of LANL employees. They cowered before Nanos, they continue to cower even after he is gone. There are a few who are not afraid to speak out about what is wrong at LANL: Sara Kaupilla, John Horne, Brad Holian, Doug Roberts, Dave Hanson, a few others.

Many of the rest, unfortunately, are cowards.


9/07/2005 08:19:13 PM Said:
"Just who is even going to read all this crap except those who have a vendetta? Doesn't anyone want to just get over this? Nanos is gone. Who in hell will care about revisting his sins? Get on with life, because it is going to get a LOT more interesting in the next few months. If you want to live in the past, you either don't care about or are oblivious to the potential disasters in the near future. Fasten your seatbelts."

Those are nice lines, but it's justice I seek, not vengance...and I have had my seatbelt fastened for over a year now, and it's still not doing much to protect me or my family. I have to ask the author of the above comment how he or she feels I should "get on with life." The management of the lab and the politicians pulling strings killed my husband and deprived my children of thier father by using him as a scapegoat and deliberately ruining his career so that things would appear other than they are. I'm sorry, but I'm having a little bit more trouble than you getting on with life.

If it helps put things into perspective, even when John Horne obtained a lawyer last fall, Todd was still certain that reason would prevail. He didn't get a lawyer at the time thinking that certainly they'd figure it out and all would be well. In fact, I remember Todd noting that something like this could only help upper managment to fix the procedural problems with security that he and his coworkers had tried for some time to call to upper management's attention. The point is that Todd had a "my employer will take care of me" attitude. Guess what? Your employer will chop you into pieces on a whim to protect themselves. You are expendable. Upper managment has been quoted to say "HR exisists only to protect the Director" (just in case any of you thought HR was on your side.)

Many of you are out there thinking stuff like this won't happen to you. So did we...and we were wrong. If you think that because Nanos is gone all the bad is're delusional. The rest of the players in this farce are stil here and well employed with apparently no regrets for their part in this. Todd is dead and despite the generosity of the community, I'm faced with whether I can afford to stay in this town because the lab took life insurance away that we'd had for 20 years. For those who were comforting themselves on the comments made shortly after Todd's death about how the lab was "looking into" our situation... Please be assured that the lab and UC continue to do nothing but ask for extensions to and exemptions from legal rules.

Everything John Horne said in his post is true. There is proof that will be presented in proper courts of law. In the meantime, please don't be lured into thinking that things are well... unless you are one who is ok with watching a wrongful hanging as long as it's not you.


Sara Kauppila

Good luck with the lawsuit, Sara. It won't be a slam dunk, because you and John will be fighting lawyers paid for out of the deep coffers of UC and DOE.

You will win, though. You have the facts of what actually happened on your side, and you have lots of friends. UC, DOE, and their lawyers can all go screw themselves. We'll help see you through this.
Don Cobb can also go screw himself for having made the empty promise "that we are already working on it" way back last June when he was asked what was being done to help Todd Kaupilla's family.
It is to say the least disheartening to read comments such as sent by anonymous: 09/072005 05:17:46 PM. The writer states that only those who have a vendetta will read "THIS CRAP". Well all who know the real story will read "THIS CRAP" and there are many of us who will help carry the cross with Mr. Horne until justice is served. The writer asks: "Doesn"t anyone want to just get over this?" Ask Todd's family that question. Ask others who were directly effected by the events orchestrated by Nanos and those weak coward that supported his lies and deceit. The writer also states that Nanos is gone and then asks "Who in hell will care about revisiting his sins?" Nanos and his accomplices are not gone. They are still on the University of California's payroll. Yes, his sins must be revisited here and now because he is very likely guilty of perjury and other felonies related to the "CREM" cover up. Those administrators who knew of and supported those events must also be held accountable. Mr. Horne's effort to bring the truth to light is not a vendetta, it is a cry for justice. Those who know the truth must keep the pressure on until those representatives who have assited in keeping the truth undercover show the courage to do the job they were entrusted to do. Those events that have cost the tax payers over a billion dollars, destroyed the lives and professions of so many and has so heavily hindered the operations at this laboratory must surface and those involved must be revealed publically.
As noted, it is tough to go up against UC/LANL because they hire the best trial lawyers in the state to oppose you, and the DOE picks up the tab. Even if your attorney is adequate you are outgunned. And should you win the trial, you face an appeal. The other advantage that LANL has of course is simply perjury. They set a story and LANL personnel are expected to support it, period. Perjury works, and it happens all the time, in good part as it is virtually never prosecuted especially against the powerful.
With such a slanted playing field it could perhaps be more useful to seek help from Congress. Udall and Domenici can resolve this, should they choose to. For those supporting Sara, you might do well to write your Congressman, and copy Sara. Depending on the legal process for justice is frequently fruitless.

You are a bigger person than me. Last night I was agonizing on how to tell the 9/07/2005 08:19:13 PM poster to go screw himself.
After reading this blog almost since its inception, I have found perhaps the underlying reason for the whining, accusations, and revelations contained herein. The stuff reported here has been going on for twenty years. For twenty years, there has been a vacancy of ethics in the lab. Too many people have lacked personal integrity and far too many others have tolerated it. This is one sick laboratory and I can pinpoint when it was infected. Allowed to propagate unfettered, this illness will eventually and inevitably kill the host.

I think we have seen the result and there is plainly the need for a carefully cultivated spirit of ethics and fair dealing in the management and administrative processes of the lab. The basic and fundamental honesty of scientific research does not seem to inspire personal integrity. The ethical emptiness of the lab has resulted in mass mistrust, suspicions, complacency, and complicity. It ends with one's refusal to carry out unethical directives of superiors. Like Socrates, who refused to be the conduit of illegality and injustice in the orders of The Thirty to kidnap Leon from Salamis for execution, one simply finds a way not to channel the unethical directives of management. Do not accept attempts to explain "professionalism" as necessary unethical action from anyone. It is false. Refuse to allow "accountability" to mean finding a scapegoat instead of ratifying responsibility.

Everyone must buy into personal integrity and ethics for this to work. At this turning point in the direction and management of the lab, there is an unprecedented opportunity to hold every decision and every action to ethical scrutiny and if senior management is not on board, ways must be found to bring it on board by collective protest, the courage to stage a job action, and the resolve to make this place where all involved in producing and supporting science can work without fear and loathing.
Deleted comment went here.

Language, language.

I am 9/7 8:19 pm. I sincerely apologize to Sara and others, for whom I hold the utmost respect and sympathy for their loss, if I offended them. However, I was speaking about the institutional needs. Do we or do we not want this insitution that I among many others have labored for years to support in its national security mission, to succeed or fail? Does anyone think this question is not germane? For the institution, it is time to refocus. I certainly understand the ongoing need for some to seek justice. But the institution must now pull together. This blog is the most visible evidence of the fact that a significant faction out there hates LANL and wants it to go away. For the sake of the country, we cannot allow that to happen, or to provide "aid and comfort" to those who want it. Indeed we must "move forward."
When anyone talks about "ethical emptiness of the lab," they should be brought up short: "Ethical emptiness" may very well apply to a FEW unethical, cowardly managers, and maybe a FEW sycophantic underlings, but in general, let me say this:

Do NOT impugn the integrity of Todd Kauppila or John Horne. These gentlemen--GENTLEMEN--in contrast to those Upper Managers, whom I will not name in this same paragraph, exemplify the spirit of Los Alamos National Laboratory, at least as I would like to remember it.

Carry on, Sara, for us and for your family. The Lab may come to ruin, but it won't be because you lacked courage, or that Todd was somehow misguided in his hope for justice.
I spent 20 years at LANL. I hate what it's incompetent and corrupt management has allowed it to become. I want it to either change or to be shut down. Is that clear enough for you, 08:02:07 PM? If not, let me put it another way. For more than twenty years I was LANL, and to an extent I still am.

It is not some vague, malevolent "them" outside somewhere who wants LANL to either change, or die. It is us.
For the benefit of those like 9/09/2005 08:10:28 PM, let me say once more: it ain't least not ALL OF US, anyway. The ones upon whom you should focus your ire are the Nanophiles, the Sycophants--particularly those above the level of group leader. The ones who stayed quiet and kept their high-paying jobs and kept their heads down low...They know who they are, and their faces bear that bright red blush of shame.
9/09/2005 08:08:05

The ethical emptiness is there, not with these fine folks, but is endemic in the organization and it's bringing it down. Pointing fingers is useless, but refusing to be an instrument of unethical behavior directed from above and cultivating personal integrity through one's work is vital to arresting the downward spiral and asserting one's own role and responsibility is vital for the future of this laboratory. Ascriptions of blameworthiness to others is useless at this point. Creating a island of integrity over one's scope of supervision and control is the way to jump start the reform.
Identify the problem.
Jump-start the reform.
9/09/2005 08:10:28

It is us. We have to change, look at the big picture, examine the forces that are destroying the Lab. We begin by demanding ethical behavior of the people we supervise and the people who supervise us. We do so by refusing to transmit unethical decision making downstream, putting our jobs on the line if it comes to that, "This is unethical and I refuse" like Socrates. The way to secure ethics is to make the Lab unmanageable without ethical introspection of every action, no matter how trivial. The lab is a complex institution, thickly layered in management, with ambitious people, cold hearts, numb minds, but it must rise from this detritus of the abject worst in human nature to a state in which it is its own identity, immune to the whipsaws of funding, immune to the forces like those that destroyed the great library of Alexandria. But the lab will prevail only if the people working in it are willing to strive to make it great, and that requires a commitment from every staff member and technician, every bean counter and administrative assistant, everyone on board to ensure that this is the place to work. It is us.
Those who can read should try, as best they can, to prevent the burning of the Library at Alexandria. It requires a a reality-based love of science...and courage.

First, identify those who, through their apathy or their antipathy, wish to see the Library burn. Isolate them, and keep them away from the building.

When that task is done, then add more books to the Library, and insure that those books encourage others to think for themselves. Honor the Library and the legacy of those who have gone before.
9/09/2005 08:27:06 wrote:

"The ones upon whom you should focus your ire are the Nanophiles, the Sycophants--particularly those above the level of group leader. The ones who stayed quiet and kept their high-paying jobs and kept their heads down low."

It is us, not them, by not expecting and demanding better. Everyone stood around while Nanos may have accelerated the downward spiral, initiated some 20 years ago, by approaching the lab as simply another Naval command. Nanos was the wrong person at the wrong time, a disaster perhaps other than bringing long simmering problems in the lab to a focus. The downward spiral of the lab began with the Don Kerr administration and its ineptitude allowed illegitimate forces to gain influence, and then the whole dysfunctional complex snowballed and gathered considerable strength when DOE direct programs were cut and we were told to whore ourselves to DARPA and other research sponsors who treated the lab as a deliverer of accomplishment upon schedule instead of when the science was right. I fought like hell against these people and lost. I was called into meetings accusing me of not being appropriately servile for $400,000 worth of funding. Ultimately, a staff member with little regard for the history of the lab and the tremendous spirit for basic research engineered my RIF because he wanted my job to advance his career. And I was happy to go because if the lab had come to this low a point, my integrity and ethical values were worthless, and it was the Lab at that point that declared them surplus to its mission. The seasoned scientists I supported and fought for began retiring, not because they wanted to but because the lab was no longer a worthwile place to work. I won't name them but you guys are still citing their papers in your publications. Most of them are deceased now, but they live on in my imagination of the lab that once was and maybe for those who are far better and braver men than the garden variety lab employee, the lab can once again be the place it once was.
A very valid point (9/09/2005 10:06:22 PM), but I doubt that anyone who has been at LANL for more than 10 years has escaped the vagaries of a bad manager or a vindictive "colleague." (I could do some regaling here, but I'll save it for a more appropriate time--over a beer or two.) It's part of life, along with a mostly failed system of rewards and punishments (LDRD, for example).

Yet, one can manage to sneak past most of those hurdles, maybe even more often at LANL than in academia--I won't argue that point very strenuously, in any case.

But I still maintain that Los Alamos National Laboratory is worth fighting for, since good science can still be done here. And it will be done, at least for a while longer, no matter which private limited liability corporation manages LANL after next May. Keep struggling; don't give up, comrades.
9/09/2005 09:02:39 PM wrote:

First: Identify the problem.
Second: Jump-start the reform.

We seem to be focussed upon ascribing blame in a situation in which blameworthiness is diffuse in the system. Identification is less useful than implementing grass roots reform. It is far better and braver to refuse to be a conduit or instrument of implementation of unjust or unethical directives than to spend time trying to identify the bad actors in the chain of command. The agents of change in the laboratory are those who act to change something, not those who accuse others of misconduct.
What a load of crap 10:33. There are a number of people in the "chain of command" that deserve blame. The best thing that could happen would be for Nanos and his minions to end up in jail. That would send a strong message that intentionally placing LANL employees under enough stress to kill them and bilking the taxpayers out of $350,000,000 will be frowned upon from now on. Strong punishment for corruption is the best agent of reform.
So, who will be coming at this festering sore with hydrogen peroxide ("Strong punishment for corruption is the best agent of reform")? Certainly not UC. Certainly not the DOE, or the Bush Administration.
UC, DOE, and the Bush Administration are not the ones to ask. The oversight responsibility is with the Congress. They have subpoena power and the legal authority to look into this. After that it can be refered to the judicial branch. So, as long as the legislative branch is ducking their responsibility this is going nowhere. How unfortunate.
We can't use hydrogen peroxide. It is not specifically listed on our IWD.
Touche', 9:40.
While I sympathize with Sara and the insurance problem, I am a bit confused. Earlier in this blog it was stated that "...Kauppila was without life insurance following the firing. Although he began contract work for Keystone International on Jan. 20, the contract position did not carry benefits."

Yet, Sara says now that the Lab took the life insurance they had for 20 years away from her.

Which circumstance regarding the life insurance is true?
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