By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: April 1, 2007
WASHINGTON, March 30 - The office in charge of protecting American
technical secrets about nuclear weapons from foreign spies is missing 20
desktop computers, at least 14 of which have been used for classified
information, the Energy Department inspector general reported on Friday.
This is the 13th time in a little over four years that an audit has
found that the department, whose national laboratories and factories do
most of the work in designing and building nuclear warheads, has lost
control over computers used in working on the bombs.
Aside from the computers it cannot find, the department is also using
computers not listed in its inventory, and one computer listed as
destroyed was in fact being used, the audit said.
"Problems with the control and accountability of desktop and laptop
computers have plagued the department for a number of years," the report
In January, Linton F. Brooks was fired as the administrator of the
National Nuclear Security Agency, the Energy Department agency in charge
of bombs, because of security problems. The agency was created in the
1990s because of security scandals.
When the most recent audit began, the Counterintelligence Directorate
was unable to find 141 desktop computers. In some cases, documents were
found indicating that the computers had been taken out of service.
Previous incidents of wayward computers have also involved nuclear
weapons information. But the office involved in this breach has a
special responsibility, tracking and countering efforts to steal bomb
information. Its computers would have material on what the department
knew about foreign operatives and efforts to steal sensitive
The report includes a response from the security agency that generally
agrees with the findings. But the inspector general, Gregory H.
Friedman, noted in his report that .the comments did not include planned
corrective actions with target completion dates..
A spokesman for the department, Craig Stevens, said Energy Secretary
Samuel W. Bodman .recognizes that we need to manage this place better..
The counterintelligence office was recently merged with the intelligence
office to improve operations, Mr. Stevens said.
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