By Sharyl Attkisson
Capitol Hill correspondent
Dec. 5, 2006
The FBI has conducted two interviews and may schedule a third with the
woman who walked out carrying classified documents from what's supposed
to be one of the most secure facilities in the world, the Los Alamos
National Laboratory, CBS News has learned. The incident has exposed
continuing security weaknesses at Los Alamos, which has been the focus
of security and management scandals for seven years.
Sources say 22-year-old Jessica Quintana was hired to archive data from
weapons tests, and even had access to information on how to deactivate
the locks that keep nuclear weapons from firing. Somehow, she managed to
leave the laboratory with hundreds of pages of classified documents and
several portable computer storage devices known as "thumb drives."
As CBS News was first to report, the materials were found by accident in
October during a drug raid on Quintana's roommate at their trailer home.
Now, a chief watchdog of the Laboratory, Rep. Ed Markey of the House
Energy Committee, plans to fire off a scathing letter to the Energy
Secretary demanding answers.
"These are secrets that could be valuable to al Qaeda," Markey tells CBS
News. "Our enemies want to have access to the most dangerous
technologies to hurt our country. [The Laboratory and the Department of
Energy] keep promising they're going to put better security measure in
place, but they never do."
In his letter addressed to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Markey
outlines years of high-profile security breaches at Los Alamos, followed
by promises from the Energy Department and lab officials to tighten the
ship. That includes weapons design information being obtained by the
Chinese in the late 90s and missing computer hard drives or similar
materials in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The security breach in 2004 led to a
temporary complex-wide shutdown of the laboratory that cost taxpayers at
least several hundred million dollars, according to the Department of
The Department of Energy's Inspector General, Gregory Friedman, recently
weighed in with his own criticism over the latest security breach,
calling the laboratory's security "seriously flawed."
"Monitoring by both Laboratory and Federal officials was inadequate,"
Friedman reported in his findings. He called the latest incident
"especially troubling" since taxpayers have spent "tens of millions of
dollars" upgrading security at the laboratory in recent years after
other security breaches.
A spokesman for Los Alamos tells CBS News that after the October
security incident, many new security measures were installed. These
include disabling the ability to download classified materials to
unauthorized electronic devices and banning computer memory devices in
certain areas. However, an official with the Department of Energy tells
CBS News he thought those measures had been taken long ago.
Rep. Markey echoes that, saying Congress was promised in prior hearings
that such steps were being taken -- but "apparently they weren't."
Subscribe to InfoSec News