Monday, November 06, 2006

A National Security Breach

An article in the 11/13 issue of Newsweek discusses what one Los Alamos official calls, "potentially the greatest breach of national security" in decades.

Several Los Alamos police officers were dispatched to a trailer park in New Mexico last week expecting to find a domestic dispute. The police entered the trailor to find the makings of a crystal-meth lab. Dozens of items were taken with the police but none more disturbing than three computer storage devices.

On the memory sticks was more than 400 pages of classified documents from Los Alamos computers containing, among other information stamped SECRET- RESTRICTED DATA, data on nuclear- weapons designs. The trailor owner, Jessica Quintana, had recently been employed by a contractor and had been assigned to scan aging paper documents into a digital format.

Quintana had been granted a "Q clearance" giving her access to nuclear weapons designs. She was also able to override the security locks on U.S. Nuclear Weapons. While the hard drives are kept in cages (to prevent such an incidence) they are "rarely locked" and Quintana was able to access everything and take everything home with her. She claims she downloaded the info after a deadline forced her to work at home and had intended to destroy all evidence when she was done.

I read this article and asked if it was a joke. It is really possible for someone to download on a jump drive nuclear weapons designs and then leave the government facility? That is absurd. Does anyone else find it odd that a girl with this kind of security clearance was also growing meth? What kind of precautions are taken to evaluate individuals with security clearances? Clearly, she does not have the best judgement.

Is this, as the official states, one of the greatest national security breaches in decades? I will leave that to my much more intelligent classmates to answer...


Dr. Duke Nukem said...

The greatest national security breach, probably not. But it is disturbing to think that certain individuals, given the opportunity to view classified documents, would be willing to copy and sell those documents for profit.

Employee screening is a b*tch. Decapitate the contractor who employed her and stick his head on a pole, as a warning to the others.

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