More Insecurity At Lawrence Livermore Lab

The Government Accountability Office is taking aim at continuing problems with security at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a significant proportion of which is provided by contractors.

The place has been bedeviled by questions about breaches in recent years, some of them really over the top.

One year ago, a government commando team intent on testing the facility's defense quickly overcame security forces. Here's what Time magazine had to say at the time:

"The exercise highlighted a number of serious security shortcomings at Livermore, sources say, including the failure of a hydraulic system essential to operating an extremely lethal Gatling gun that protects the facility. Experts contacted by TIME -- including congressional staff from both parties informed of the episode, and experts personally familiar with safeguards at Livermore -- all said that the test amounts to an embarrassment to those responsible for securing the nation's nuclear facilities, and that it required immediate steps to correct what some called the most dangerous security weaknesses ever found at the lab."

Since then, the lab has promised an array of initiatives to fix the problems. But there are not enough measures in place to ensure those efforts are successful, according to a Government Accountability Office review.

"DOE's Office of Independent Oversight found numerous and wide-ranging security deficiencies with LLNL's safeguards and security program. DOE gave the laboratory the lowest possible rating in two security areas: protective force performance and classified matter protection and control. The Office of Independent Oversight also reported that LLNL's physical security systems, such as alarms and sensors, and its security program planning and assurance activities needed improvement."

"Weaknesses in LLNL's self-assessment program and LSO's oversight contributed to security deficiencies at the laboratory. LLNL's security self-assessment program and LSO's annual security survey failed to identify numerous security deficiencies before DOE's Office of Independent Oversight conducted its inspection.

"According to one DOE official, both programs were "broken" and missed even the "low-hanging fruit" of compliance-oriented deficiencies. More specifically, LLNL's self-assessment program should have identified the magnitude of technical problems with a key weapon system used at the laboratory. Furthermore, LSO's September 2007 security survey gave LLNL 100-percent satisfactory ratings in its security performance--differing markedly from the security performance DOE observed during its inspection a short time later. To address these issues, LSO is implementing a new program to better train security officials to perform security assessments and recognize deficiencies; however, according to LSO officials, LSO does not have a specific budget to implement this new security training program."

Defenders of the lab complained that the test attack was not realistic and that the Time story was exaggerated. Fair enough. The GAO review appears to be telling us that in any case there's more work to be done on this very important security matter.

By Robert O'Harrow |  April 15, 2009; 3:45 PM ET security
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The security disaster at Livermore Labs. is, unfortunately, typical
of the total breakdown in the protection of highly secret government military projects. This is especially true at universities who are recipients of government contracts. There is NO WAY that non-military organizations can, nor do they have the interest, in committing the manpower and resources to safeguard their highly sensitive activities. They have no idea that some of the best, most efficient espionage organizations in the world, can and have penetrated such projects, with little difficulty. When it is politics as usual at the national level, the safety and well being of this nation is being compromised on a daily basis. Those at the decision making level are,unfortunately, focused on other matters, TRUSTING, that all those involved have the best interests of the nation at heart. Such an attitude can lead only to disaster.

Posted by: hasitalldoneitall | April 17, 2009 12:28 PM

The security disaster at Livermore Labs. is, unfortunately, typical
of the total breakdown in the protection of highly secret government military projects. This is especially true at universities who are recipients of government contracts. There is NO WAY that non-military organizations can, nor do they have the interest, in committing the manpower and resources to safeguard their highly sensitive activities. They have no idea that some of the best, most efficient espionage organizations in the world, can and have penetrated such projects, with little difficulty. When it is politics as usual at the national level, the safety and well being of this nation is being compromised on a daily basis. Those at the decision making level are,unfortunately, focused on other matters, TRUSTING, that all those involved have the best interests of the nation at heart. Such an attitude can lead only to disaster.

Posted by: hasitalldoneitall | April 17, 2009 12:30 PM

LAWRENCE RAD LAB IS IN THE TOWN OF LIVERMORE CA. IT IS SECURED BETTER THAN ANY PLACE I EVER WORKED AT, AND IF YOU THINK YOU CAN BREAK IN OR SNEAK IN FORGET IT. I AM A RETIRED VETERAN AND WORKED AT LRL FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS, YOU MUST HAVE A CLEARANCE DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU WORK AT, BELIEVE ME I WAS STATIONED AT MANY MILITARY POST, NONE AS STRICT AS LRL, PLUS A PHOTO RADIATION BADGE MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES. THERE ARE MANY SECRET PROJECTS GOING ON AT ALL TIMES, HOWEVER I NEVER KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT MY NEIGHBORS WHO ALSO WORKED AT THE LAB ON SECRET PROJECTS, THESE ARE GREAT JOBS AND THEY ONLY HIRE THE BEST OF THE BEST. AND AS FAR AS TIME MAGAZINE THEY WILL SAY ANYTHING TO SELL MAGAZINES AND BECAUSE OF THE BIAS ATTUIDE OF TIME MAGAZINE I CANCELLED MY SUBSCRIPTION.

Posted by: horsun4tjsLEFTY1931 | April 22, 2009 7:05 PM

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