[ISN] Media missing at Los Alamos

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon May 24 03:21:31 EDT 2004


By Sarita Chourey 
May 21, 2004

An effort to reduce Classified Removable Electronic Media (CREM) at
Los Alamos National Laboratory has yielded what federal officials call
an accounting discrepancy and a watchdog group characterizes as a
national security breach.

Workers discovered the discrepancy in their account May 17 during a
reinventory of classified media, according to officials. But
laboratory and Project on Government Oversight (POGO) officials
present different versions of the circumstances surrounding the
missing media.

Los Alamos officials described it as a bookkeeping error rather than
an actual loss of material, and said most of the errors relate to
administrative mistakes and past use of low-density magnetic and
desktop systems. The accounting hole does not constitute a threat to
national security, officials said.

But POGO officials called the event a major security breach. "The lab
can try to spin it however they want," said Danielle Brian, the
group's executive director. "Classified data is missing once again
from Los Alamos."

The item in question was supposed to be destroyed in March, laboratory
spokesman Kevin Roark said. "It's undocumented, but we believe it was"  
destroyed, he said.

Energy Department officials want to convert information to diskless
computers within five years, to prevent someone from transporting
classified data in electronic form outside the site. Brian said the
initiative should start immediately at Los Alamos.

A recently completed CREM-reduction effort cut the laboratory's amount
of recordable items by 50,000 pieces, or 60 percent from December
levels, officials said. The initiative is in accordance with a
University of California corporate policy on accountable classified
removable electronic media.

Rep. Tom Udall, (D-N.M.), whose district is home to the laboratory,
said in a statement that lab officials assured him that the
information does not contain nuclear weapons data. "The laboratory is
already taking steps to create a 'medialess environment' by moving
sensitive information to classified servers," he said.

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