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Anastasio's "Honor System" Security

On November 9, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) director Mike Anastasio testified before the state of New Mexico Legislature's LANL Oversight Committee about the cyber security debacle at the lab. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Anastasio testified that Jessica Quintana had been trained in lab security procedures and should have known not to remove classified documents from lab property.  "I can't explain what she did or why.  That's for others to do," said Anastasio.  "But I think we had all the mechanisms in place that she should have known what the responsibilities were."  Doesn't he understand the problem after all the cyber security incidents at LANL?

The problem isn't with employees who follow the rules (though if the rules are not good enough then they need to be changed).  The problem is with employees who intend to break the rules.  No matter how good the rules are, rules are not enough to stop or catch the persons who try to break them. 

It was recognized some time ago that the labs had to make it impossible, or nearly impossible, for an insider to remove data from the lab--that is what medialess computing is all about. It should also be noted that nearly all of the known spies caught have been trusted insiders with high level clearances. 

If an insider happens to be a spy for a terrorist group and removes sensitive data on how to circumvent PALs and locks on U.S. nuclear warheads to detonate a warhead in an American city--what would Anastasio's response be?  Oh dear, the guy didn't follow the rules--we told him not to take classified information off lab property! 

The U.S. taxpayers are paying Anastasio nearly $500,000 per year to manage Los Alamos, about twice what the President makes.  It's not too much to ask for some serious public statements on his part.  Let's just hope he's put much more thought into his actions as the head of Los Alamos than he has into his testimony before an oversight body.

By: Peter Stockton
Sr. Investigator, POGO

Peter Stockton, Sr. Investigator Peter Stockton is a senior investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Peter's investigations include security and safety issues at the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and nuclear power plants.

Authors: Peter Stockton

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