[ISN] CREM goes AWOL in Albuquerque

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon Aug 23 03:30:19 EDT 2004


By James W. Brosnan 
Scripps Howard News Service
August 20, 2004

WASHINGTON - Now it's the nuclear security watchdogs - in Albuquerque
- who have lost track of CREM.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, the agency created
because of concerns over lack security at the nation's nuclear labs,
said late Thursday there is an "accounting discrepancy" involving
three electronic copies of the same classified document at NNSA
offices in Albuquerque.

The classified removable electronic media, or CREM, did contain
nuclear weapons data, NNSA spokesman Bryan Wilkes confirmed.

He would not provide any more details or say why the document was at
the Albuquerque offices of the agency.

The agency has asked the FBI to assist the Department of Energy's
office of Security and Safety Performance Assessment, an independent
office reporting directly to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, to
investigate the missing CREM.

Bill Elwell, a spokesman for the Albuquerque FBI, said Thursday: "A
case was referred to us by DOE and we are investigating. That's all I
can say."

The FBI got the case early this week, he said.

About 400 employees work at the NNSA office, Wilkes said. No
disciplinary action has been taken against anyone so far, but all
classified operations involving CREM have been halted, he said.

Wilkes said the discrepancy was discovered last week as part of
Abraham's order to all DOE facilities to stop operations involving
CREM and conduct a complete inventory of such media.

That stemmed from the reported disappearance of a disk at Los Alamos
National Laboratory, which some authorities now believe was the result
of an accounting error.

The Los Alamos incident renewed calls by some lawmakers to terminate
the University of California's contract to operate the New Mexico lab.

The latest incident involves employees working directly for the
federal government.

"Secretary Abraham's decision to require an inventory of all CREM in
the Department of Energy was a prudent one," said NNSA Administrator
Linton Brooks in a statement.

"I am disappointed that we have found another case of lax procedures
in protecting classified information. I expect NNSA employees, both
federal and contractor, to adhere to the highest standards of

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