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Breach at lab called significant

Breach at lab called significant
Breach at lab called significant,1,6321678.story?coll=la-headlines-nation 

By Ralph Vartabedian
Times Staff Writer
November 2, 2006

A significantly larger amount of classified information from a nuclear 
weapons laboratory in New Mexico was discovered in a residential trailer 
during a police search on Oct. 17 than was disclosed by law enforcement 
officials, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

The search turned up a number of copies of classified documents from Los 
Alamos National Laboratory in the trailer park where a former employee 

Law enforcement officials last week had described finding only three 
electronic storage devices, known as memory sticks or thumb drives, 
inside the trailer. It was unclear whether the employee had knowingly 
removed secret material and placed it on the drives.

The discovery of the documents heightened concerns that the removal of 
classified information from the laboratory was not purely accidental, 
according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because they 
were not authorized to make public statements.

Spokesmen for the laboratory and the Department of Energy said they 
would not comment about the classified documents, noting that the matter 
was in the hands of the FBI.

An FBI spokesman in New Mexico said the agency did not comment on 
ongoing investigations.

But it was clear that federal officials had grown concerned about the 
security breach.

Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell and National Nuclear Security 
Administration chief Linton F. Brooks went to Los Alamos this week to 
assess the breach and oversee the administrative probe into how the 
classified information was removed.

The facility has a long history of security and safety breaches. After 
new management was installed by the Energy Department this year, top 
officials had hoped the problems were solved. But the current incident 
is "one of the utmost concern," according to lab director Michael 

Despite plans to eliminate most, if not all, of the access that 
employees have to transfer data from classified computers to removable 
storage devices, a significant ability still exists to place documents 
on disks and drives that can be taken from the lab, according to one 

The existence of a larger amount of classified data at the trailer was 
first disclosed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a watchdog group in Santa 
Fe, which said it had obtained a detailed summary of a laboratory 

Portions of the information were independently corroborated by The 

The summary indicated that police had found 228 documents with 
information printed on both sides, including classified intelligence and 
weapons data.

The computer thumb drives contained 408 separate classified documents.

Those numbers could not be independently verified, but sources told The 
Times it was a "large amount of information."

The documents originated in a classified data vault in the lab's dynamic 
experiments division, which conducts tests on nuclear weapons 
components, the summary said.

When Los Alamos police arrived at the trailer in response to neighbors' 
report of a fight, they found Justin Stone, 20, who was wanted on a 
probation violation, according to a police report.

Stone was hiding in the trailer owned by former laboratory archivist 
Jessica Quintana, and agreed to come out only after police promised he 
could smoke a cigarette before being placed under arrest.

A search of the trailer turned up a sizable amount of drug paraphernalia 
associated with methamphetamine use, and the classified data. Stone 
remains in custody.

Quintana, 22, later admitted to police that one of the glass drug pipes 
was hers, according to the police report. She has not been charged.

Quintana's attorney, Stephen Aarons, told New Mexico newspapers that 
Quintana did not know the significance of the information on the thumb 

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

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