FBI Looking Into Los Alamos Breach

FBI Looking Into Los Alamos Breach
FBI Looking Into Los Alamos Breach 

By Sharyl Attkisson
CBS News 
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."

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