Give Now

We must close the loophole that allows law enforcement to buy our personal data without a warrant.

Press Release

Another Computer Hard Drive is Missing at Los Alamos

Investigative Lead - A computer hard drive that contains classified data has been missing from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) since October 2002, but top officials at the Department of Energy (DOE) have failed to investigate the loss, sources have told POGO. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was briefed on the incident Tuesday.

LANL officials discovered the missing hard drive in an annual audit of the Classified Removable Electronic Media (CREM) system last fall, but only reported to DOE headquarters security personnel that "media" was missing to downplay the serious nature of the loss. Sources tell POGO that DOE never investigated the loss of the hard drive and its container. At one point, LANL told DOE officials that the missing hard drive had been destroyed, but there is no evidence to support this. The container was later found, but the hard drive has not been located.

This was not the first time a hard drive has been lost at LANL. In the summer of 2000, the FBI investigated the disappearance of two hard drives from a vault in the SuperSecret X-division of Los Alamos. Later the hard drives mysteriously reappeared behind a copy machine.

The 2000 loss led to the development of a supposedly new and improved system that required bar codes on all stored hard drives and sign-out sheets. The latest disappearance, however, highlighted the fact that rather than barcoding the hard drive, lab officials instead only barcoded the holders containing the hard drives.

While LANL has admitted to DOE this hard drive is unaccounted for, there remain 263 stolen or missing computers, which remain in question. These computers were identified as missing by the two investigators fired by LANL in retaliation for uncovering widespread mismanagement at the lab. No one outside LANL itself has attempted to determine the whereabouts of these computers.